So many plans so little money...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by NewCr8ion, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. NewCr8ion

    NewCr8ion Hatching

    May 28, 2013
    I have been planning our first coop for months (well, years actually, but chickens just became legal in my city) and I have to confess I am more confused than EVER. We know we'll have to sell a kidney for the hardware cloth. But we are trying to do most of the build from re-purposed and reused materials from our garden fence and the kids old fort and swing set. We have been piling up materials from the side of the road and neighbors odds and ends.

    We have an already fenced in area in our yard that was supposed to be the dog area (yeah, right). So now I am designing coop after coop, and I just can't wrap my head around a final design.

    So here go my questions, at least this batch...

    How large of a coop do I need for 6 chicks? (have seen and read everything from tiny to something I could sleep in)

    What materials are off limits? (new pressure treated, old weathered pressure treated, etc)

    What is the one thing you wish you had in your coop that you didn't think of till after you built it?

    What is the one thing you did you could have done without?
  2. voissara

    voissara In the Brooder

    Aug 10, 2013
    Me and my husband just finished building our coop we bought new supplies for it but I think if you have the wood it will save you a lot of money. I think size wise from what I read you need to have enough room on the roosting poles and the nesting boxes and thats how you determine how much room you need. From what I've read it's 10" to one foot per bird for the roosting pole and you can have 4 to five chickens per one nesting box. We just built our coop and so far we like the design of it I just wish the ground was a bit more level I may get some sand to level it out a bit. We made our coop big I didn't realize it when we were building because we just kept adding things but we wanted room to expand if we decided.
  3. ChirpyChicks1

    ChirpyChicks1 Songster

    Jul 22, 2013
    1) Most people recommend that you have 4sq ft inside the coop per bird, and 10sq ft in the run per bird. So for 6 chickens you should go with 24sq foot coop.

    2) I know whatever is used to treat wood now is okay to use for coops. I"m not sure when that starter though. How old is some of the wood you'll be using?

    3) My poop door is a sliding window turned on it's side. It looks awesome, it locks and nothing is getting in it. BUT it holds water in the tracks, it holds poop in the tracks, it holds bedding in the tracks. Now combine those three thing together and you can imagine the nasty mess I have to clean out (with my fingers!!!) every single night in order to close the darn door. It's disgusting and it stinks badly.

    4. My coop is big. It's 6'x8' for 6 chickens. I have no idea how tall it is though, never bothered to measure lol, I just know it's super tall. I love my coop. It's connected to my garage wall so I was able to run an extension cord through the wall to give the flock a fan during hot weather. During the winter I'll be able to supply them with light so they will continue to lay and I can give them a water heater if needed.

    If you choose to make a coop that you can not get into I recommend that you make an entire side removable, or at least something that swings open. You'll need alot of room to be able to clean the coop properly.

    You can click on my name and go to my albums to see a few pictures of my coop. I'm hoping to add inside walls before winter sets in [​IMG]

    Things to consider:
    Are you wanting something that you can walk into?
    Do you want storage inside the coop?
    Do you need to be able to supply the coop with electricity?
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  4. GardenDave

    GardenDave In the Brooder

    Aug 5, 2013
    First thing I would suggest is to assume you are building it for ten. That way they chickens have plenty of room to live, you have plenty of room to clean and there is also room to increase your flock slightly should you wish to in the future (which I bet you do lol).

    When you say coop do you mean coop on its own and the chickens free range, or the coop above a run and the chickens are in a secure run? If they are in a secure run remember to build it so you can easily clean it. For instance, I have a coop above a run (they come out when they wish and play in the secure run until I get up and let them out of the run into the garden). The run is on flag stones which are easy enough to clean by just running a garden hoe over them to loosen the mess, then into the compost it goes. However, getting to the flag stones is a real pain. Immediately inside the door is OK, but to the right and under the coop it is just mesh wall - no doors. So I must either get down on my knees and crawl inside in which case the only thing I can use is a paint scraper, or lift and move the whole unit to the side and back, which is a two person job without question. So in answer to your design question, I would certainly add doors, even if they are just a foot tall, all across the bottom just to be able to get the hoe or spade and a sweeping brush under.

    As for the inside - my coop is designed for five and I have plenty of room to clean properly through the side door and next boxes but as ChirpyChicks1 has said, a whole opening wall would be much easier.

    I have no idea about the wood being treated or not, or the condition the wood you are using is in, so I would recommend trying to dry it out as much as possible and treating it yourself just to be on the safe side.
  5. chynasparks

    chynasparks Songster

    Jun 21, 2013
    We (my husband and I helped) built our coop this summer. We had to buy everything. We built a 4x8x6 run/coop enclosure. We spent about $700. It's very sturdy and my 4 peeps are doing well in it. In hind sight, I wish it were 10 feet long but we built it to sit on an existing concrete slab and hubby wanted to uses the standard wood sizes. It's good though, not unhappy. I'm not planning to add birds. That $700 doesn't include money spent on feeder and waterer. I've had a time if it coming up with the ideal way to feed and water them. We ended up making a gravity feeder. Saved on run space and has eliminated a lot if feed waste. The nest box area is adequate. May decide they need more room but don't know yet. Hubby used wood screws where ever possible so that if we want to make changes we can. I can move the coop wall if I think they need more room. The main structure was put together with a nail gun so that can't change. But we can add to it if we choose. We still have some spending to do. We need to build them a moveable run. I can't free range them so they need a run to get them out and on grass. The run in the enclosure is on concrete with sand. We have to wait for a couple of paychecks before we can make this run. That's our situation, hope there is something in here that helps with your plans. Good luck
  6. fiddlebanshee

    fiddlebanshee Songster

    Mar 11, 2010
    Frederick, MD
    You've gotten good advice already.

    My top things to have a in a coop:

    1. walk in height, minimum 6'. so much easier on your back and for maintenance, same for the run.
    2. poopboard underneath the roost with pdz (or a sand/pdz mix if money is a problem), eliminates odors and super easy to maintain. Poopboard at about 3 ft height so that it is easy to clean without bending over. Roosts about 6 to 10 inches above the poopboard.
    3. nest boxes underneath the poopboard with outside access through a hatch. The nest boxes do not have to hang outside, mine are on the floor of the coop and I just cut an opening in the side wall to access the eggs.
    4. make popdoor opening at least 6" if not more higher than the floor of the coop. Otherwise your floor bedding will end up in the run. (I forgot about this in my first coop. [​IMG])
    5. electricity to the coop, if at all possible. This makes it so much easier in the winter time. no need to haul water several times a day because it freezes solid.
    6. lots, and lots and then even more ventilation. Especially in the winter. Large windows, vents near the roof line over the heads of the birds for cross ventilation.

    For 6 chickens you need a minimum of 24 square feet (4x6). I'd go much bigger if you have the option (4x8 is a nice standard side for sheetgoods saving you money on the siding and plywood). 10 sq ft per bird in the run is 60 sq ft (6x10) but again I'd go bigger if you have the opportunity.

    I say go bigger because as it happens with all of us it won't stay with 6 birds. I will bet you that next year this time you'll be on here with questions on building a second coop because you ended up with 12 chickens. I started with 14 and now have 46 2 years later, just sayin'.

    The only material off limits for me is cedar. i know people use it for building walls/roof/siding etc. but since cedar shavings off gas something toxic to birds, I wouldn't chance it for any of my coop build projects.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  7. Biologrady

    Biologrady Chirping

    Apr 12, 2012
    Things I like/couldn't do without...

    Sheet vinyl on floor, easy to sweep, protects from moisture. And removable for tilting into wheel barrow.

    Electrical power and hose in easy reach.

    Movable fencing. We have repurposed both a huge dog crate (3x4x5') and a 8' square kennel that can be reconfigured relatively easily. During the heat wave I moved their run into my wooded area and carried them out there in the morning and back in the evening in a dog carrier! The rest of the summer their run has been up against the coop so they can get shade or shelter in there if they need it, all I have to do is open/close their door. We also can move them onto fresh grass, the garden, the compost heap, etc. We are sure to cover the top of the run with (cheap) plastic netting, the kind you put on fruit trees. Beware this is not going to be enough protection if you have daytime predators such as coyotes or foxes, or if a predator is likely to dig under and reach the chickens. In my suburban yard the biggest worry I have is hawks and owls...and I'm sure my girls are in their hardware-cloth lined crate behind the shed doors once the raccoons are out around here.

    I've seen bucket nest boxes and PVC feeders that look like good inexpensive options. We repurposed some old saw-horses for a roost. Take the advice above about making coop access for easy cleaning a priority.

    I could give better advice if I knew your list of predators better... I'm describing my suburban set-up but I also have a flock at my mom's rural place. We're well fortified against mink and even bears, but still lose one occasionally when free-ranging.
  8. chynasparks

    chynasparks Songster

    Jun 21, 2013
    One thing I feel bad about is not being able to free range. I wishe we could have been able to budget in some material for a moveable roomy run. We have to wait a bit. So may advice, maybe not in your case but anyone who can't free range, budget this in. My peeps seem fine, but they need "freedom" to dig in grass. When we started all this, already had the chickens we discovered that we had a nest of baby hawks in our pine tree looking right down over our driveway. The grew up watching us build the coop. Now they hang around my yard, come down and look on the coop at my birds. I don't dare even supervise free range. I have to wait until we can afford the run material. I'm a school bus driver so I don't make much. But I'm deteined to get it done. So my advise is dont wait make the run if you can't free range. Maybe my birds are fine but I'm not vi wanted better for them.
  9. Biologrady

    Biologrady Chirping

    Apr 12, 2012
    You might get away with making a chicken tractor out of free stuff. There's a post on here somewhere where someone used an old trampoline...and I'm thinking an old greenhouse frame or ping-pong table could work, just something you could use as a lightweight frame for chicken wire.
    Or, you can just bring some brush, grass clippings, or garden leavings to their coop:)
  10. chynasparks

    chynasparks Songster

    Jun 21, 2013
    I do bring brush and clippings to the coup. In the morning before I leave t throw in some scratch. I've seen trampolines used before. Not sure where to get my hands on one. Never thought about a ping pong table. I'll have to look around. Thanks. [​IMG]

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