So now the Coop begins! A few questions before i build...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by clinto, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. clinto

    clinto Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 10, 2015
    Palm Valley FL
    I am just over 2 weeks in with my chicks and am now getting to the coop design. I plan on have 12 chickens eventually so i am planning everything for that. I have 5 now. Here are my few basic questions for everyone. 1) Does it matter if i build a shed style with 7' ceiling or a shorter height with 4' ceiling. i am in florida so heat will matter in summer and i plan to have eve vents and roof ridge vents along with operational windows. 2) do they need complete dark in the coop to sleep? i am putting in a few windows that will be facing my house that has flood lights on occasionally. 3) should i cover the run? i want to free range while im outside with them and there is a huge oak over the top of the site that is well over 100' tall. We do have owls, hawks and other ground predators. 4) do i need to bury the welded wire fence in the ground or can i do a skirt of hardware cloth just under the surface of the dirt for diggers around the run? 5) Are they ok with a 2'x4' dust bath box or do i need to make a larger sand box type of area for them? 6) can i use bamboo for the perches? 7) do they need water/ food in the coop or just outside? i think that is it for now. Thanks
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    No they don't need complete dark, but you shouldn't ut a light in a coop either. It should be naturally lit so they can see the daylight coming and going from inside.

    In warm climates, small coops tend to overheat, and heat will be your challenge. Cold never will be.

    You ccan lay your wire on the ground and let the grass grow to hold it in place. Of course you'll need some concrete blocks or staples or something til then. Be sure it is fastened well to the lower edge of the coop.

    They really don't need a dust bath box, just a place to make their own in the sand/soil. They will make a shallow bowl for themselves.

    They are more comfortable with wide roosts so their feet don;t have to try to hang on; chicken feet don't really wrap around a roost the way most other birds' do. A 2x4 on its side or a wide tree branch work well.

    You will most likely need a roofed run with owls and hawks around -- expecially owls, depending in both cases on which secies, of course. We have hawks living nearby and I've never lost one of my large fowl adults to a hawk.

    You might consider a more open coop in tht climate, with no front wall at all, just an attached run. The open side probably should face the west to help keep rain out. Most of the year, they will need a good breeze and plenty of shade to survive the heat.
    Drafts are not a real issue down here. Take a look at these setups for our southern climate:

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

    ClockRoach Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 14, 2014
    Central VA
    1) The chickens will do just fine with 4' ceilings, but remember that you have to get in there and clean it out. You can keep it shallow enough that it's easy to reach in, or you can make it bigger and raise the ceiling so you can walk inside.
    2) Darkness isn't necessary. My coop just has clear plastic over hardware cloth for a ceiling. Many people even put lights on 24/7 to encourage laying, particularly in the winter.
    3) Obviously, covering a 100' oak tree is going to be impractical. If you want maximum protection, you could set up two run areas: a covered, enclosed one that they have access to all the time, and an uncovered one that they're only allowed to use while you're around. Hawks and other predators might still strike while you're around, but you'll be a strong deterrent.
    4) Burying hardware cloth is very effective, but a skirt will work, too.
    5) It depends on just how much run area they've got access to. They may even make their own dust bath area if you're giving them dirt flooring.
    6) You'll need to make sure it's relatively thick (at least 1 1/2" or 2" diameter). Even then, I don't know if they'd have trouble gripping slick bamboo. Branches from trees with normal bark might be better, or just 2x2s from the hardware store. Lots of people also use 2x4s, but that's partly for warmth and I don't think you'll need that in FL.
    7) They'll need access to food and water at all times during daylight hours. Once they tuck themselves in to bed, they're not going to get up and ask for a glass of water.
     

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