Seeking comments on 4' x 8' coop design (was: ....ultimate chicken tractor/mobile coop...)

Poppy Putentake

Chirping
Aug 5, 2015
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87
Vermont
This is a continuation of the thread here..

I'm planning a coop for up to about 10-12 hens, at this point have narrowed my ideas down to this list of features I want:

• Walk in, for ease of cleaning, adjusting ventilation, catching chickens, etc.;
• Built-in feeders and waterers
• Probably 4'x 8' for construction ease, with the human-door in the middle of the long side, which is also where the gable ends will be (in other words, the eaves will be on the short sides)
• Use space as efficiently as possible, by having the roosts on poop boards/platforms with space underneath.
• Definitely outside access to the nesting boxes (outside access door hinged at bottom as shown). To use the space efficiently and maximally, I'm planning on leaving space underneath the nesting boxes and also putting a poop board/platform above them.

I have a small tractor which has proven close to ideal for rearing baby chicks with a broody hen, so the new coop will be just for grown hens. (Giving the chicks an entirely separate space seems to work well.)

I've made a model to see how some of my ideas would work -- see pictures. Note the inside nesting boxes with a bottom-hinged outside access door. BTW, if you have a board across the bottom of the nesting boxes to retain the bedding when you open thee access door, and if that board is removable, it makes cleaning out the bedding really easy. The side that is missing rom the model would have the human-door. There isn't much extra room for a human to walk around in there, but there is enough, a the entire interior of the coop is accessible from the space just inside the door. The blue colored mesh represents where I might put openings for ventilation. I might make the upper roost shorter so it only goes just above the nesting boxes. Still need to work out lots of details, like whether to have ramps to the platforms and where to put them.
Comments and suggestions are welcome.

4'x8' Coop Model.jpg
Nest Boxes Model.jpg
 
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21hens-incharge

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I would rethink it.

The long roost does not allow much room for a landing zone when birds get off the roost. I fear they will crash into the wall.
Birds on long roost will poop on birds in the short roosts.

I would draw it out on graph paper to scale. Try drawing it with the roosts on one end only and external nest boxes.
I think that would free up more space for the keeper to tend with ease.
 

rosemarythyme

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OMG the little model is so cute!

Looks like a good amount of ventilation. I agree with 21hens-incharge that I'd rethink the roosts. You could ladder roosts on one side (you'd need 3 roosts across the 4' span) and nest boxes can go across on opposite wall, or possibly under the roosts with a poop board on top, or yes if floor space is really a concern make the boxes external.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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I love the model too!
Nicely done!
I assume it is built to scale.... 1" = 1'?

I used to build all kinds of full scale prototypes for operator access projects.
Sigh...flashbacktime...sorry.

Anyway....I agree with the above, tight space, for both 10-12 birds(in Vermont in the winter) and for the keeper. Sure you can reach everything up top, but are you going to be able to bend over to take care of anything on the floor? (Oh, maybe your knees work better than mine)

Not a bad design concept, tho I'd put nests under poop boards and make all roosts at same level. But, really hard to work with that 4'. I made my coop partition 4 feet with a 1' poop board and it's hard to work in there, and I've seen many others struggle with that dimension too. Are you married to the 4x8 size and the 10-12 birds? Yes, time for a rethink.

8x8 fits construction norms, extra piece of plywood for roof overhangs, and you'd have a much easier time fitting everything in, including you during those raging winter storms.
 

Poppy Putentake

Chirping
Aug 5, 2015
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87
Vermont
Thanks for your replies.

OMG the little model is so cute!
My significant other said, "What's that, a chicken doll house?" :p
The model is 1/16 scale -- 34" = 1'.

The one problem I'm not trying to solve is more floor space for a human visitor -- I'm not expecting to be strolling around in there. From that central open spot, I should be able to reach everything, although, as aart mentioned, I'd have to squat or kneel to reach under the platforms.

My thought was that this would be portable on wheels (maybe with the wheels on a removable dolly). That woulld tend to make things like protruding external nest boxes a disadvantage.

The problems I'm mostly concerned about are, a way for the chickens to get up on the platforms, and the right amout of roost space and number of nesting boxes for however many chickens could reasonablly fit. On the number of birds -- I'm planning to gradualy increase my flock by adding maybe 3 new pullets each year, not sure how many I will stop at. (Not planning on going into the egg business, do want some extras to give away.)

...I'd put nests under poop boards and make all roosts at same level. But, really hard to work with that 4'. I made my coop partition 4 feet with a 1' poop board and it's hard to work in there, and I've seen many others struggle with that dimension too. Are you married to the 4x8 size and the 10-12 birds?.
I'm flexible about the dimensions. Was originaly thinking of 5'x7', then someone suggested going with the same size as a sheet of plywood. Height of nesting boxes and of the poop boards and roosts are important questions! I've seen conflicting advice aout having roosts at the same height or different -- some say the hens like to be all together, elsewhere it says it's good for the lower-dominance birds to have a place to retreat to.

I like the idea of separate spaces for baby chicks, sick birds, etc., but plan to use my existing tractors for that.

Another idea I'm toying with is a second movable greenhouse with chickens wintering in it. The problem there is getting a chicken house into the greenhouse for winter and out again for spring.
 
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rosemarythyme

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My thought was that this would be portable on wheels (maybe with the wheels on a removable dolly). That woulld tend to make things like protruding external nest boxes a disadvantage.

I'm flexible about the dimensions. Was originaly thinking of 5'x7', then someone suggested going with the same size as a sheet of plywood. Height of nesting boxes and of the poop boards and roosts are important questions! I've seen conflicting advice aout having roosts at the same height or different -- some say the hens like to be all together, elsewhere it says it's good for the lower-dominance birds to have a place to retreat to.
I have a 6x10 for up to 12 birds with internal nest boxes. I would've gone with a multiple of 4' but the shed company didn't charge more (or less) for going by increments of 4 so I just went with the size that I originally wanted. But costwise an 8x8 would probably be better for you, if you can swing that, and it would give you the extra space you'd need for internal boxes as well as more options for placing roost bars.

My roost is laddered, 2 bars across the 6' width, which currently works for me, as the lower bar lets them get to higher (which sits around 40-44" high) pretty easily, and my flock of 7 actually does sit 6 on top, 1 on lower roost. I've watched them launch off the top roost in the mornings and there's just enough landing space to keep them from slamming into the nest boxes which I have opposite the roosts.
 

leslielbk

Songster
My original coop was 4 by 8 because I wasn't sure that I would be able to cut plywood since I'd never built anything before. I decided to double it and move it, so I shimmied it up onto 4 rolling dollies and I could push that thing all over the place with one finger. Yeah, it's heavy but it's not a chicken tractor either.
 

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Poppy Putentake

Chirping
Aug 5, 2015
46
45
87
Vermont
Hi leslielbk,

I''m intrigued by your coop, what are the dimensions? What is the interior like?? I want what I'm planning to be movable several times a year, not a tractor to be moved every other day.
 
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leslielbk

Songster
The original coop was 4 x 8. It is now 4 x 19. I simply built a duplicate of the first one, moved the door and cut it down to 3'. There's an additional 3' plywood section on the back side.
It just sits on the concrete and I caulked around the bottom to keep water out (ha). There is no floor.
The original coop was on the other end of the concrete slab, about 20' away. In order to move it I used a pry bar and levered it up one side at a time, slowly raising the height off the ground until I had about 4" clear under it. A while back I purchased 4 flat dollies that are about 18" x 24". They were cheap and I thought I'd find a use for them, maybe to move heavy pots or something. They're very sturdy even though they are just made of plastic and the casters are quite heavy duty. I slipped them under each corner of the coop and rolled it around the concrete like it was a feather. I was tickled with myself.😁
For your purposes that might work out really well even if you build a floor inside or just use chicken wire or whatever you're planning for the bottom.
I'll dig up some pictures of the inside for you.
 
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