Slightly overwhelmed newbie.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bawkbawkbawk, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Three weeks ago the only thing I knew about chickens was that they come in white meat and dark meat.

    But now I have developed some kind of a sickness, a"chicken fever", as in, I want chickens. Now. Pronto. Stat. I yearn for them. What is with that????

    It's so much more complicated than I realized! What comes first, the chicken or the coop? I held off on ordering chicks until we could lock in a carpenter. Then it was too late to get chicks in April, so now I have to wait until June due to travel plans. Then the hows and the wheres of the coop are turning out to be A MUCH BIGGER DEAL than I'd realized.

    Any comments on what we're thinking so far would be appreciated so we don't get too far into it and make a big mistake.


    Chicken owner at our feed store told us there's no fool-proof way to keep rats out. True? Our plan is to build the coop like Ft. Knox but the run will be of cyclone fencing covered about three feet up with hardward cloth (a brand new terminology for my former desk jockey husband - we're both on a steep learning curve here!) Will rats try to get in the run during broad daylight? We also have coyotes, raccoons, skunks, owls and hawks, all of which except the coyotes pay direct visits to our property - the coyotes only walk brazenly down our street in broad daylight. Haven't seen snakes in that area of our property...yet. The coop and run will be inside a larger cyclone-fenced area. Are we naive to think that will help?

    I've impressed upon DH that we have to provide below-ground protection around the run. The carpenter suggested sinking 12" pavers vertically around the three exposed sides of the proposed run (the fourth side will be an existing stucco wall).


    Any recommendations as far as the easiest-to-keep clean flooring? A little confused, as I see some with wire that appear to allow droppings to fall through to a tray but then I've also read that chickens will catch their feet on wire. I saw a recommendation re "making sure the floor drains" - does that mean putting an actual drain inside? (Bear with me - zero direct experience with hammers, nails and the like.

    We're planning to build the coop on an existing concrete pad. Electricity within two feet. We're aware of the need for ventilation and plan to have windows on the east and west side of the coop at the top in addition to windows facing north. The back of the coop will be against an existing stucco wall. It will have a human sized door, possibly two.

    Since we live in coastal southern California we aren't planning to insulate the coop. Lowest temperatures we get here would be maybe in the mid-high twenties at night during the winter. We might get a few 90 degree days during the summer but the vast majority of the year, temperatures range between 55-75 degrees.

    My plan is to get five female chicks and we've noted that having a coop big enough to subdivide is recommended.

    Lastly, can anyone recommend a resource for learning how to set up a web cam? I was thinking it would be great to have one in the coop (and at the beginning in the brooder) so the grandkids on the east coast can tune in and watch the birds.

    Oh, and lastly, lastly, almost afraid to ask this question: what do people do if they end up with a rooster by accident? Our neighbors would not be amused..

  2. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    sounds like you have it covered pretty well. Maybe some other California people can give some advice. I can say I used vinyl flooring which seems to be popular due to its ease in cleaning. Also, take your time and learn as much as you can on here. Read, read, read! I understand the desire, I still dont remember how I became interested in chickens and found this site. Its all a blur before BYC. [​IMG]
  3. Emzyyy

    Emzyyy Runs with Deer

    Jul 14, 2008
    Derby Kansas
    Know exactly what you mean, I never even imagined there was as many breeds of chicken as there is. (Oh and sand in the run is nice to have too its horrible when it gets muddy, and you can scoop the poop out like a kitty litter box)
  4. DarkWolf

    DarkWolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 11, 2008
    Murray Kentucky
    Quote:Mmmmm.. Sounds serious...

    Quote:In my case, the chickens... Adds to the "ARGH! WHAT NOW!" factor since I only have... oh... 5 weeks to keep them indoors.

    Quote:There are endless options for this. One is called Sams Club... A nice play house would be a fine coop.. Little cramped if you wanted to go in though.. Unless you're short.

    Quote:Rats can chew through anything... I used to keep them.. Not the wild kind, the domestic kind.. LOVED them, I must say. But yes.. They can get in if they want. I'd be more worried about larger predators who would go after the chickens, not the eggs. Just keep your feed in a metal container.

    Quote:I live close to that.. They have fancy remote gun turrets.. I love the plan! Darn coons will never know what hit them.

    Quote:Yup... Rats are the least of your worries.. Are you planning on doing a COVERED run? If not, coons will have free reign and will happily munch on a chicken.. or five.

    Quote:I had one walk past me one day like that. Was absolutely beautiful.. The smooth graceful stride.. The strong stance and rock solid head. Swear it was floating.

    Quote:Snakes will just munch on eggs . It's unlikely any will ever kill a bird. Unless you have rattle snakes or copperheads. But those will be defense only. Chicken snakes are harmless though.. Well.. Beside to eggs.

    Quote:Not really.. There's always the option of installing electric wire along the fence bottom and two strands along the top edge. Hobby sized chargers are cheap, say... $25 or so and will handle 2 acres of line. Just make sure there are signs posted if it's accessible to public traffic.

    However, that said it will not help with hawks, who may make a snack of your birds... But if you have a rooster and he does his job, he'll sound an alarm well before a hawk strike.

    Quote:Or, just bury welded steel wire fence along the run and attached to the vertical fence making sure it extends around 2' out.. Dogs and such are not smart enough to dig back away from what they're trying to get under. They go up against and dig down, taking the direct route. Only to find a nice wire blockade.. Then plant Daylillies or something around the run.. [​IMG]

    Quote:Lay down cheap OSB for the sub floor and install cheapish vinyl sheet flooring over that. It'll be pretty! [​IMG]

    Quote:That's for under the roosts, where the bulk of the pooping will take place... Makes cleanup easier.. I'm thinking of trying the sand pit method, myself.

    Quote:That's actually not a bad idea if you intend to hose down the inside during a spring cleaning.. Else just take it to mean that the floor should not stay wet... Puddles of water are bad. It could just pitch slightly towards the door and drain under it.

    Quote:All good ideas, though I might recommend framing that 4th wall instead of butting it up against the stucco. It's possible the birds will damage it which will cost money and may harm the birds.

    Quote:Heck, I sure wouldn't... Be a waste of money if your area.. You'll need to pay more attention to ventilation than insulation.

    Quote:That's 20 square foot of coop space. You'll no doubt build bigger than this, which is good for when you get a few more birds. [​IMG]

    Not sure what you mean by subdivide though...

    Quote:Oh it's been years since I'd done that... I still have a camera on hand, though B&W, with a 50' cord..

    Most webcams come with their own software making it easy to stream the video, or push it to a website hosted elsewhere so it all depends on the webcam you get.

    I wouldn't go cheap cheap (no pun), but I wouldn't go high end either..

    USB cables are limited to 16' before data degradation prevents operation, so if your computer is within this range then it's as easy as running the cable. Else you will need to get a good, powered USB HUB to run in between that will take the signal and amplify it.

    See this page for annoying technical data on USB cables. [​IMG]

    Quote:Option 1. Check with your local schools and see if they have any 4H programs. If so contact the teacher and see if there may be a student who might want it.

    Option 2. Freecycle..

    Option 3. Umm... Dinner? Well... Naa... Don't see you as that kind of chicken keeper.. Me either.. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2009
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Chicken owner at our feed store told us there's no fool-proof way to keep rats out. True?

    More or less true. But, you can make them unlikely to get into the coop at night, and if you feed outdoors during the day and put the feeder into a ratproof container at night, there will not be a huge incentive for them to try real hard to get in.

    If you know you have a real rat problem, I would suggest either a slab-floored coop with cement-block kneewalls or metal flashing under the bottom 3' of siding (=spendy!!), or a coop whose floor is raised at least 18" above the ground, with lots of light and airflow under there and nothing for rats to hide in anywhere nearby, and wire under (or embedded in) your floor.

    If rats are just a theoretical possibility but you have no reason to believe there are many in your neighborhood, it may not be as bad a situation if you can keep the feed ratproof at night and generally discourage them from digging into the coop itself.

    the run will be of cyclone fencing covered about three feet up with hardward cloth

    That sounds like a good plan. Have you thought about whether you will cover the run with wire mesh or a roof? It is a whole lot safer, although if you don't mind the risk of hawk attacks and will shut the chickens into the coop at dusk (without fail!) it may be reasonable to go without. Or you could use netting as a top, which will not keep out four-legged predators at all but will pretty much eliminate hawk problems.

    I've impressed upon DH that we have to provide below-ground protection around the run. The carpenter suggested sinking 12" pavers vertically around the three exposed sides of the proposed run (the fourth side will be an existing stucco wall).

    That's not a bad start but things that dig can often dig more than 1' deep. If you wanted to be really cautious, there are other designs that could be used. OTOH it's not like 12" is massively underbuilt or anything, and you *could* just do that and see how it goes -- chances are fair that you'll have warning of things trying to dig in, if you are paying attention.

    For the coop floor, use your existing concrete pad (lucky! [​IMG]) as long as it is in one piece and not breaking up. Just put a decent amount of bedding down on top of it, and concrete makes a *great* floor.

    Rest of plans sound good to me [​IMG]

    what do people do if they end up with a rooster by accident? Our neighbors would not be amused.

    If you mail-order chicks from somewhere that sexes them, you are less likely to get a roo than if you buy from the feedstore... but even then it can still happen. If you can't keep a roo, your choices are basically a) dinner, b) someone else's dinner, or c) try to find a non-dinner home for it (which is not successful all that often, esp. for common breeds or sexlinks, but does sometimes happen).

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    We're in a high coyote (as in they were all yowling just outside my backdoor the other night...), wolf, hawk, eagle, racoon, you name it area we got it ... bear north of highway 7 sometimes finds itself down here. ANYWAY we don't let our chickens out at night, and in the evenings they go in just as its getting dark.

    i know that just cause its light don't mean something aint going to get them, but really you do have less of a chance especially if your coop is close to civilization. Ours is just outside our front door to the right of our house probably 20ft away. Our dog sits outside on nice days and watches them (chained up cause heck i know he'd eat them if he had the chance LOL) and when he's not outside its not a nice day and i so they stay in with treats to spend their day munching on like cabbage or lettuce hung from the ceiling of their coop and they spent HOURS on that thing.
  7. mmtillman

    mmtillman Chillin' With My Peeps

  8. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Bless you all for your comments! This is really helpful!

    "Its all a blur before BYC"


    Yes, there will be a roof on top of the run and we will frame the side of the coop that's against the wall. By 'subdivide", I mean allow for a partition in case we get more birds as seems to be the way it goes from what I read here [​IMG]

    Good idea on the sandbox in the run!

    DarkWolf, thanks for the great (and witty!) input.

    I wish rats were "theoretical" where we live, but unfortunately, they're very real. We'll put metal bands around the nearest trees to keep them from climbing up and over to the coop/run. You'd think with four cats it wouldn't be an issue, but I have Himalayans, lazy and, according to our vet, genetically "slightly retarded"[​IMG]

    I wonder if my husband will be open to my thoughts on wiring the coop for music. I read somewhere that chickens like it. Am I going too far here?​
  9. foweler

    foweler Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 10, 2009
    Chico, CA
    But now I have developed some kind of a sickness, a"chicken fever", as in, I want chickens. Now. Pronto. Stat. I yearn for them. What is with that????

    Happened to me a while back and I just got my 3 girls a month ago. That's after getting my wife up from 2 to 3. I tried to go to 4 but it didn't work.....yet.

    My family, and I do mean all of it, thinks I'm crazy. My in-laws, who grew up on a cattle ranch and have seen plenty of chickens, had to come over to see the crazy man and his chickens [​IMG]
  10. ChickBond 007

    ChickBond 007 Licensed to Cull

    Feb 26, 2009
    Madison County, Iowa
    Quote:Well in a couple weeks at BYC, you'll not only yearn for chickens, more chickens, and different chickens, but you'll be hatching eggs soon too.
    What a neat experience for grandparent to share with the grandkids through technology. You must be awesome grandparents.
    While I can't help you with the coop, I can tell you that the chicken yearning thing is contagious. Good luck.

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