Small Coop Interior Set-Up Ideas? Help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by HJECG, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. HJECG

    HJECG Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello experienced chicken folks! I am in the process of converting a Rubbermaid resin shed into a coop. My chickens are currently locked up in a very small, prefab pet store coop overnight, and then they are able to freerange around our securely (8 foot, wooden privacy) fenced backyard during the daytime.

    My new coop is going to be a sturdy plastic Rubbermaid storage shed, which we already have, and which is in like-new shape. The she'd has many things to recommend it as a chicken coop, but it's pretty small: 4ft7in by 4ft4in by 6ft2in. I wish it were bigger, but it's what I have to work with, and it's far nicer than the cheapo rabbit hutch-as-chicken coop thing that I have currently.

    Here are my plans for converting this Rubbermaid storage shed into a nice little coop, and then I have some questions that I hope you guys can answer.

    - I'm drilling one inch ventilation holes every few inches around the entire perimeter of the shed, just below the roof line.

    - I'm building a raised platform base for the shed to sit on. It will ultimately be about two feet from ground level.

    - It will have a locking pop door with a ramp from the coop to the ground. I'm using a Petsafe brand large cat door for this, and my husband will install it in the side of the shed.

    - We're using a jigsaw to cut out a space in the side of the shed for a hardware mesh covered window that will be located about 4 or 5 feet up, and which will be about 2 x 2 in size. We will probably wait until April when the weather warms up (we are in East Tennessee) to put the mesh window in, and then I'll have slatted shutters installed on it by the time October rolls around so we can close the window but still have ventilation.

    - The shed has a plastic floor which should make clean-out easy! I plan to use the deep litter method.

    That's about all for my plans for the coop so far. I welcome (encourage!) your feedback.

    Now here's where I have questions; I am having a tough time figuring out how to most efficiently use this shed's limited square footage - AKA floor space. I have six hens. As I said, they have a access to a large fenced yard during the day, but I want the coop to be a comfortable retreat when they want to lay/eat/drink/roost, as well as a secure home for them at night, when I will lock both the pop door and the human-sized entrance. So I need some suggestions for maximizing this limited floor space with smart placement of roosting bars, as well as one or even two nest boxes, and their food/water. That's a lot to try to stuff into that floor space, so placement is key.

    Roost bars: I have three full sized hens who tend to fall rather than fly off of anything with much height when they try to get down, so I don't want to place their roost bar too high. I also have three Silkies who seem to prefer a separate, even lower bar. They all seem to like roosting on dowel sized roosts as opposed to 2x4s (I've been experimenting). However everything I read online seems to recommend 2x4s as healthier for their feet, so I am unsure what to do in regard to roost bar type. Also, my first plan was for a ladder style roost bar set-up, but then I realized just how much floor space that would eat up in my small coop since nothing can be placed under the ladder.

    So here's my small-floor-space coop-planning dilemma: which type of roost bars should I use? And how can I place them to maximize floor space so that I can also fit one or even two nest boxes in the coop? All ideas for placing the roost bars so they don't eat up too much floor space very welcome!

    Food and water: it seems like hanging them from the roof in feeders made to hang is the most efficient way to be able to fit them into the coop, but I've had really bad luck so far with hanging waterers in particular. They don't stay level or steady when hung and water ends up sloshed all over the coop. What am I doing wrong? Is there a particular brand of hanging waterer that doesn't do this? Or should I rethink hanging water and feed and go with some different, more space efficient set-up? Again, all ideas most appreciated.

    Well, my coop under construction may be small, but this post ended up super long! Sorry about that. I am really looking forward to hearing your feedback.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Is the 6'2" dimension the height? That gives you essentially a 4x4 floor which is barely big enough for the birds, minus nest, food or water. If the floor is 4x6 that is still barely enough for food to be inside. Honestly, I would take it apart and use it for roof and sides of a 3 sided, open ended structure, using hardware cloth for predator protection, and not requiring a pop door at all. Here is a thread showing a number of structures of this general design. Remember that the birds will have a lot more trouble dealing with the heat of summer than the cold of winter. All they really need or want in winter is a windbreak and a roof.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/163417/please-show-me-your-hot-weather-coops/0_20
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    As another spring project, I would be looking at building exterior nesting boxes mounted to the RM shed, with access holes cut through for the hens. For now I'd just stick a small covered litter box under the roosts - it'll get pooped on, but it's only temporary.

    I know you said you use DL, but to conserve floor space, I'd do a low (maybe 18 inches) 2 ft. dropping board across a 4 ft span. Place one roost 10-12 inches from the wall about 16 inches off the dropping board, and another about 20 inches off the wall, about 6 inches off the dropping board. This should be low enough for the silkies to hop up onto, and won't hurt the big girls hopping/falling down. This also keeps the floor space beneath the roosts clean, so you could place a feeder or waterer below the dropping board (which is what I do in my coop)...
     
  4. chixmaidservice

    chixmaidservice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hj- My coop is a converted extra large dog house which I also raised onto a platform so that I could stand at the door to clean and gather eggs. I have less floor space than you so I use the coop only for sleeping and protection. Originally, I was going to have the food and water suspended underneath, but then changed this area into a dust spa w/sand and sawdust and added a mid level( think extension of coop floor) "porch" roof on the south side and that has their water bucket, food and grit/ oyster shell feeders underneath. This is working well for me even through winter. They have a dry place to hang and eat and use the coop for laying and roosting only. My "porch roof" is low enough so no one can jump up on the food and foul it, and of course it is still protected from the elements. My coop is in a fenced area so no one else gets to eat my layer crumbles ( a few birds) and I can free range by opening the gate. I read it is not good to have water inside coop as it increases moisture, and no matter how you plan it they will foul it if possible.
     

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