So Many Questions... Where to Start

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by WagarFamilyFarm, May 13, 2008.

  1. WagarFamilyFarm

    WagarFamilyFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    May 13, 2008
    Nashville, IN
    Group,

    I am new to Chickens and to this forum so please be patient and kind.

    In one week, I will be the proud parent of 25 white rock chicks, so in preparation for when they can begin to live “outside” I am in the planning process for a coop. I have read through various books on raising chickens, but none of them really point to what the dimensions of the coop should be. Let me explain my situation: My wife and I are planning to raise free-range hens for our family and close friends. The plan is to coop them at night (and during severe weather) and then let them roam (within a 150 ft diameter area around their coop) the rest of the time. The 150 diameter is set by the portable electric net fence that we are purchasing and our plan is to move this “range” every week or two to a different part of our 5 acres. So with this the coop no matter the size will need to be mobile (i.e. wheels attached allowing it to roll where we need to put it). Oh and every year we’re planning to add another 25 chickens (allowing us to always have 50 or so chickens laying at a time) after two years or when they slow down on laying they will most likely be turned into stew meat if you know what I mean.

    So now that you have the background here are the questions:
    1. What size coop will I need for 50 hens (25 this year and another 25 next year)?
    2. What do you suggest from a portability stand point?
    3. My understanding is that two to three hens will share a nest, is this true can I get away with between 15 and 20 or so nests?
    4. What exactly is a dropping pit or board? Does the pit actually fit under the coop and slide out for cleaning? If so, are the chickens always walking on the wire mesh which covers it?
    5. I know that there are many designs out there, but has anyone built something similar to what I am looking at? If so, could you please post pictures?
    6. What type of wood are most of you using? Regular Pine which is painted with outdoor paint? Pressure Treated which may cause issues with the hens?

    I am sure I will have more questions as I am sure you will have some questions for me. I have about 4 weeks to build it so, I know I need to get started, but I was hoping that I could get a little help from the “experts”. So just let me say THANKS in advance!!

    WagarFamilyFarm
     
  2. catfish

    catfish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 13, 2008
    Greenbrier, Arkansas
    [​IMG]

    http://www.freewebs.com/professorchicken/coops.htm
    This site helps with sq footage per bird.

    I would be weary of the electric fence idea, great on the outside the keep predators out but I wouldn't put it where my birds could touch it.

    150 foot circle is pretty big I wouldn't expect you to move it more than once a month if that. I have 11 teens (5week old) and 1 brood hen with 7 chicks in a 40' x 30' pen they've not even come close to killing the grass except right around the coop.

    Good Luck with your birds. and again.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Cats Critters

    Cats Critters Completely Indecisive

    3. My understanding is that two to three hens will share a nest, is this true can I get away with between 15 and 20 or so nests?

    this Q Is the only one I positive of the answer it is:
    4 or 5 hens to a nest​
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2008
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]
    Quote:If they're just using to roost at night and lay their eggs, something like 100 sq ft, e.g. 10x10 or 8x12 should do. If you often have very lousy weather, e.g. burning hot sun or days and days of rain, you may need more space, or at least a well-engineered way for them to get underneath the coop for shelter.

    2. What do you suggest from a portability stand point?

    Check out the book by J. Pangman (I think) on building chicken coops -- the last third of the book is devoted to larger-scale range shelter systems like you're interested in, and there are several designs there that would probably be relevant to you.

    3. My understanding is that two to three hens will share a nest, is this true can I get away with between 15 and 20 or so nests?

    Yup.

    4. What exactly is a dropping pit or board? Does the pit actually fit under the coop and slide out for cleaning? If so, are the chickens always walking on the wire mesh which covers it?

    If you're using a moveable shelter, all you need to do is screen the area below the roosts (making sure it is WELL below the roosts so raccoons, if they should get past your fencing, can't reach up and grab sleeping birds on the roost). The poop will fall through; but soon you will move the coop anyhow.

    6. What type of wood are most of you using? Regular Pine which is painted with outdoor paint? Pressure Treated which may cause issues with the hens?

    I don't know of any DOCUMENTED issues with hens from pressure treated -- hens don't eat wood the way some other animals do -- but in any case there isn't a lot of point in using pressure treated except when there's direct contact with the ground. Since a shelter as large as you'll need will almost certainly need to be on wheels (or pulled with a tractor, but then it will need a floor so's not to squish chickens), you probably won't *have* any ground-contact wood. Just prime and paint.

    BTW I would not worry about the electric fence and chickens, a LOT of people use it extensively in the exact situation you describe, and while it may only be 99.9% safe for the chickens, it is obviously generally workable [​IMG]

    Pat, with chickens on a much smaller scale, tho I do have one half-length of electromesh fencing [​IMG]
     

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