Seeking Feedback on Design & Plan

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Dragonid, Jan 29, 2013.

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  1. Dragonid

    Dragonid Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 6, 2012
    This is a design I have been tweaking for a year or so, with intentions of building the final version this year in time to raise chicks before winter. I'd like to get feedback on the general design and specifics of the internal layout.

    Here is a list of the general goals and parameters I had in mind when working on this design:
    • A stand alone structure to house the birds, their feed, and misc supplies for their care.
    • Interior divisions for: adult birds; brood chambers, or breeding pens; and feed/supplies.
    • Exterior divisions for: adult birds; brood chamber, or breeding pen; and garden/forage/outdoor-isolation pens.
    • A sturdy base and exterior frame capable of supporting the structure through one or more moves, with moderately easy to modify non-permanent interior divisions and elements.
    • Maximize run space, and provide sun/rain shelter for the birds by raising the structure on 'stilts' in the style of small coops or tractors. (also facilitates easier transport of non-permanent structure by permitting a trailer to be backed under it)
    • Provide space for a number of birds sufficient to produce 2 large fowl for consumption each week through hen-reared clutches. Eggs for consumption, and bedding-manure for garden compost, are merely byproducts of the primary chicken-producing goal.

    Now the pictures:

    The first six images are focusing on the internal layout (most of the building exterior is removed from the image). Floor level dimensions of the structure are 10'*20, and the height of the gap between the floor joists and the ground is 3'. The posts supporting the base will extend into the ground below the frostline, but below grade structure and dimensions are not depicted.
    [​IMG]
    ^#1. View down from the left front.
    [​IMG]
    ^#2. View down from the left.
    [​IMG]
    ^#3. View down from the left rear.

    These first three images show the internal design from a "left" exterior view (relative to the human entry). The human entry is on the right, and the first chamber is the feed and supply room; it measures roughly 4'*10', and has the doors centrally aligned; one window, in the door, will be in the supply area. A couple of small grain bins are pictured, positioned to the right when entering the door. Modular shelving of some type will be to the left when coming in the door.

    The second and central chamber is for the adult birds. It has a floor space of ~100sqft, and a total area of ~160sqft including the roosts. For the target number of 21 birds (18 hens and 3 roosters) it is approximately 4.8sqft/bird floorspace, and 7.6sqft total space, with linear roosting space of 1.4'/bird (1.8'/bird if the roost on the front of the nest boxes is included). The bird door is a ramp, centrally located, leading to the sheltered area beneath the structure. The interior feeder and waterer are depicted in the center of the far side of the first three images; the waterer will have a sink type basin under it to minimize drippage infiltration of the bedding and flooring. The nest boxes are hung from the wall dividing the supply room from the adult bird chamber, and will have a solid backing that may also be a set of doors, allowing eggs to be collected from the supply room. The remainder of the wall dividing the supply room from the birds will most likely be covered in hardware cloth or poultry netting (not counting the bottom 1'-1.5", which will be solid to prevent bedding mess from leaking into the supply room). The adult ramp may be detached, and a small trailer/cart or wheelbarrow may be placed under the coop, allowing bedding to be swept out and directly into the conveyance. 6 additional windows, two on each exterior wall, will be spaced around the adult chamber.

    On the left side of the first three images, underneath the roosting area for the adult birds, are two smaller chambers meant primarily for broody hens to raise clutches in, though they may also serve the purposes of breeding pens or isolation pens for rowdy or injured birds. Each brood chamber is ~30sqft, at a target of 16 chicks per brood that is 1.5sqft per bird (with the mother hen counting as 4 bird units (20 total bird units)). Each brood chamber has a door/ramp that leads to a run separated from the main one, though the design currently only allows for one ramp to be lowered at a time, due to the length necessary to reach the ground at a 30 degree angle, and the left-right alignment of the floor joists. The door of the brood chamber is designed so as to allow the top half to be opened separately from opening the lower half, to accommodate access to their feeder/waterer without letting them loose into the adult bird chamber (similarly, the adult ramp may be lifted/closed during that time, or when i want to allow the chicks to explore the adult chamber, but not their run).

    [​IMG]
    ^#4. View down from the right front.

    [​IMG]
    ^#5. View up from the right.

    [​IMG]
    ^#6. View down from the right rear.

    These three images show the layout from a "right" exterior view. Image #5 is of note for showing the relative position of the bird entrances/ramps, as well as an exterior waterer and feeder hung beneath the structure from the floor joists in the main run area (optional during accommodating weather).

    [​IMG]
    ^#7. A cutout view of the interior lining, showing the relative proportion of internal elements to the walls and ceiling, as well as relative alignment of the primary set of bird windows. Additionally I may use a transparent ridge cap (like this) on the roofing, to provide both ventilation and illumination. I am considering insulation options for the walls, ceiling, and possibly the underside of the floor (fiberglass or rigid polystyrene sheeting primarily).

    [​IMG]
    ^#8. A top down view from the front exterior, showing the structure exterior and run structure. A set of movable steps to the human entry is not depicted, nor are any of the human gates into the run or between sections thereof, which there will be several of.

    [​IMG]
    ^#9. A depiction of the usage plan for the run. The grey grid represents the area beneath the coop structure, 10'*20'. Black lines represent poultry netting fencing, surrounding and dividing the sections of the run, 30'*30' total area. The white areas are the main run for the adult birds, with an area of 560sqft, giving 26.6sqft/bird (21bu). The green areas represent parts of the main run that will be seasonally isolated, and filled with chicken friendly garden/forage plant growth, each having an area of 100sqft, each seasonally raising the total run space per bird to 31.4sqft (21bu). The yellow area represents the brood/isolation run, with an area of 140sqft, providing the chicks with 7sqft/bird of run space (20 bird units, counting 4bu for the hen).

    Occasionally, the brood run will be opened to the main run (I expect the brood run to see relatively low wear) when not in use by chicks or isolated birds, the area available to the flock will then be 800sqft (only one green section would not be available to the flock during its grow/fallow phase), giving 38sqft/bird (21bu, representing the breeding adult population). During a period when there is a clutch of chicks growing out, and running with the adult birds (only one green section is not available to the combined flock), density would be 24.3sqft and linear roosting space would be 1.15'/bird (33bu total, 21bu for the adults, and 12bu for the young (0.75bu/bird for 16 young)). Things get a bit tight as a clutch matures, but return to a more spacious level as many of the young roosters and some pullets/hens are culled.

    Hopefully I was able to divide the images and description up enough to make it manageable to read. Thanks for your feedback.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  2. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    A couple of comments:
    1) You will probably regret having the pop doors in the floor. It will be a pain for bedding and will take up a LOT of floor space.

    2) Your poop tray seems to be at an angle. You won't be able to put any sand, bedding or pdz on it.

    3) I'm not sure how big your roosts will be, but if they span 10' across, you may want a central support.

    Also, your broody areas look like they'll be really dark. I don't suppose there's any way of putting a low window in for them?
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  3. Dragonid

    Dragonid Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 6, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback.

    The poop board below the roosts is slightly pitched, though it could be at a more shallow angle. The current rise is 1' in 6'4", approximately 9 degrees, and was intended to facilitate cleaning.

    The structural supports for the roosts, or the poop board, or the nest boxes, weren't included in the image to keep it easy to read.

    I had been visualizing the brood areas with the ramp open, but you're right, when they're both closed it will be rather dim under there. I'll look at some porthole type simple windows. A broody hen who hasn't hatched yet may appreciate the secure shadowiness, helping to give the hen a psychological impression of a nest hidden in the underbrush, but the rest of the time it could probably use some extra lighting. I was generally hoping to avoid needing any electrical lighting, but it may be added anyway, as I anticipate wanting to use a heater for the inside waterer seasonally.

    With the pop doors in the floor, I have considered adding a small vertical threshold to hold back bedding (2-3"), a smaller version of the kind of concept you see in lots of homes' attic entries to hold back blown in insulation. Such a threshold would extend past the top of the ramp 4-6", creating a small landing, so that the birds have only a small hurdle to hop over after they're up. The birds may have a tendency to sit on it. It would be a slight obstruction to sweeping the bedding out, but that's kind of the point.

    I was planning to use the ramp under the coop instead of one at the side of it to provide much more shelter to the ramp and a bird on it, as well as the psychological impression of going under a tree and then rising up into it to shelter/roost. It is also much easier to weatherize the hatch, protected from any precipitation, and when closed very unlikely to allow a draft. And if I were to want to redesign or repurpose the structure, a hole in the floor can be relocated and covered up much more easily than one in a wall.

    Even subtracting the 3.75sqft for the pop door, and 2sqft for each of the waterer and feeder, the birds have 92.25sqft of floor space, or 4.4sqft/bird, 7.25sqft including the roosting area. With youngsters growing out that's 2.8sqft floor space, 4.6sqft incl the roosting area. The pop door is only about half the size of a large doormat, in a 10'*10' floor space, that doesn't account for much.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  4. Dragonid

    Dragonid Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 6, 2012
    A closeup of the floor hatch pop door with a threshold.
    [​IMG]
    ^#10.
     
  5. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2007
    Colorado
    We use a floor hatch and love it! It does need a decent threshold but is fantastic for keeping the rain and a lot of the wind out. Hubby built a little landing that the ramp attaches to - without the landing the chickens just would not jump onto the ramp from the edge of the threshold.
     
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    How high does your dropping board sit off the floor? If I'm looking at this correctly (and I'm probably not, because my brain's not working too well today), the door to the brooder area is below that (since the brooder area is beneath the roosts/dropping board?). Just be aware that a short door/opening is going to be somewhat difficult to get to, moreso because you're going to be accessing a rather deep space (is the brooder 6ft. deep?). So you'll want your roosts/dropping board as high as possible, and may need chicken ladders in place to access them, depending on your breeds.
    Also, since you mentioned backing a trailer up to something, in your run, you may want to go with sunk posts - and panels built separately that are screwed in place onto the posts. We went with removeable panels on our main run, and they've really paid off for us.

    Your plan looks great, although it about made me go cross-eyed reading over it...lol.
     
  7. Dragonid

    Dragonid Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 6, 2012
    The door into the brooder pens is a 3' square, and there is a 2"*4" over the door supporting the poop board, so around 4' to the first roost. I am anticipating putting a ladder or two from the floor up to the first roost/edge of the poop board. Yes, the brood pens are approx 5'*6', minus walls. The top roost has a ~30" gap between it and the ceiling.

    I considered a variety of heights for the brooder, with very low ones meeting the needs of the birds, and higher ones meeting the needs of human access. I ultimately pushed the height up as much as I thought I could while retaining three slightly staggered roosts overhead. A 3' tall brooder is about even height to most counters, and taller than most desks, tables etc, and the vast majority of the time I will be able to reach the nest box, waterers and feeders from the 3' door without needing to kneel under the poop board. The relatively large door should also make using a broom or shop squeegee to clean the brooder easy. The pop doors for the brooder/breeder/isolation pen should also be easy to open/close from the outside, as they are positioned right at the very back of the building, so there will be few reasons to need to reach the back of that space by hand. Technically, I could stand in the opening for the pop door at the back of the brooder, as the coop has a 3' clearance, the 'ceiling' of the brooder would be around 6-7' from the ground.

    Most of the time I think the area under the coop would be accessed from the side, from within the run. Considering the potential volume of bedding being cleaned out, I might make the fencing at the 'front' of the pen/coop, the side with the human entries, a set of removable panels. That would allow everything to be cleared out in one go on a trailer, rather than numerous trips with a wheelbarrow or garden cart. The partitions inside the run would be entirely made of panels, just so that they could be reconfigured.

    Thanks for taking the time to decipher it. I appreciate the feedback.
     
  8. Dragonid

    Dragonid Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 6, 2012
    I'm glad to hear from someone for whom the floor hatch is working so well. How large a landing do you have, and how steep an angle is your ramp at?
     

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