Starting my coop this week and would love some advice.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Ringo71, May 18, 2008.

  1. Ringo71

    Ringo71 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 17, 2008
    Ohio
    I just stumbled onto this site a few nights ago. So far I've learned more about chickens than any site I've browsed over the past few weeks. Seeing how I now have a great resource of knowledge to pull from, I went and ordered me 12 buckeye pullets from Meyer Hatchery, which I was thrilled to find out it is located only 8 miles from my house. lol The entire time I was looking at all the different chickens listed on the site, I never noticed the phone number was in my area code and same state!!! I can basically get any kind of chick I want without waiting! woohoo! l[​IMG] Well, I have to wait on the eggs to hatch, but I don't have to mess with the mail. hehe

    Anyhoo...


    I was thinking of building something similar to https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=6791 with an area that is totally fenced in as well as putting another fence that would surround the enclosed pen so I could let them roam around a bit more, but not wander off to the neighbors yard, or get into trouble with my dogs or coyotes. One area with netting on the top and the big area with a normal fence with no top netting.

    I'm also thinking of making 2 sections of fenced in area so I can keep the grass growing without moving the coop around. When one side gets a little wore out I can close it off and open the other while the grass recovers.

    Questions:

    1. Anyone have opinions on whether it would be necessary to partition off 2 grazing areas or just make on big open area? If all goes well I plan on getting a dozen adding about a dozen more chickens and maybe getting a rooster. lol

    2. I was reading about birds getting sick from galvanized fencing, especially from fence made in China. Something about the galvanizing process and the 1% lead content? Is this an issue with chickens? I wouldn't think so seeing how all the chickens I've ever seen in pens were surrounded with galvanized fence! lol

    3. How high should my fence be in the open area to keep the chickens confined within the space I want to provide them with? 5 ft?

    4. How many nesting boxes would 20 hens need? I read on this site where they share boxes?

    5. What would be the best material to put in the coop? Pine shavings, straw, other?

    6. I read that chickens like to poo while perched. I think the site said that 2/3 of all pooing takes place on perches? Would it work to make a removable box under the perches? Maybe put a medal tray under it for easy cleaning without having to remove all the bedding material out of the whole coop?

    7. I'm going to be insulating the coop for the cold winters we have in Ohio. I'm a little concerned with the water freezing in the winter and wondered what would be the best way to keep the inside of the coop above freezing without wasting money? Seeing how the coop will be open for them to get out and run around a bit it would seem that a heater would run 24/7 and might send my electric bill through the roof! lol I'm most concerned with how people handle the cold weather more than anything really. I don't want my ladies turning into ice cubes or not getting enough water!!!

    Well, this has become quite long and it's getting late. I hope to get a few ideas before I get back from the lumber yard tomorrow. I build residential houses for a living, so the building part will be relatively easy. I'm just worried that my ideas on how I want to build the coop are practical and useful. I've learned over the years that just because an idea seems great doesn't mean it's going to work, especially when it comes to livestock.

    I'm mostly building this coop and getting chickens for the eggs. Even though I love to eat chicken meat, I'm not sure I could butcher something that I'll probably have a name for. The other reason I want chickens is so my niece and nephews can come over and have fun feeding them and collect eggs to take home for breakfast. It's kinda boring when they come over to my bachelor pad and don't have anything interesting to do. They might hate me if I kill their pets!!! lol Although... chicken raised in my backyard would probably be tastier than frozen chicken from the super market. [​IMG]

    Thanks in advance for any replies. This site is wonderful!!!

    Oh... anyone have experience with the Buckeye breed of chicken?
     
  2. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

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    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    [​IMG] and congrats on the order. I just ordered 21 from Meyer...now I have to wait until July 21st for them to hatch. LOL

    1. Anyone have opinions on whether it would be necessary to partition off 2 grazing areas or just make on big open area? If all goes well I plan on getting a dozen adding about a dozen more chickens and maybe getting a rooster. lol

    2. I was reading about birds getting sick from galvanized fencing, especially from fence made in China. Something about the galvanizing process and the 1% lead content? Is this an issue with chickens? I wouldn't think so seeing how all the chickens I've ever seen in pens were surrounded with galvanized fence! lol

    3. How high should my fence be in the open area to keep the chickens confined within the space I want to provide them with? 5 ft?

    4. How many nesting boxes would 20 hens need? I read on this site where they share boxes?

    5. What would be the best material to put in the coop? Pine shavings, straw, other?

    6. I read that chickens like to poo while perched. I think the site said that 2/3 of all pooing takes place on perches? Would it work to make a removable box under the perches? Maybe put a medal tray under it for easy cleaning without having to remove all the bedding material out of the whole coop?

    7. I'm going to be insulating the coop for the cold winters we have in Ohio. I'm a little concerned with the water freezing in the winter and wondered what would be the best way to keep the inside of the coop above freezing without wasting money? Seeing how the coop will be open for them to get out and run around a bit it would seem that a heater would run 24/7 and might send my electric bill through the roof! lol I'm most concerned with how people handle the cold weather more than anything really. I don't want my ladies turning into ice cubes or not getting enough water!!!

    Well, this has become quite long and it's getting late. I hope to get a few ideas before I get back from the lumber yard tomorrow. I build residential houses for a living, so the building part will be relatively easy. I'm just worried that my ideas on how I want to build the coop are practical and useful. I've learned over the years that just because an idea seems great doesn't mean it's going to work, especially when it comes to livestock.

    I'm mostly building this coop and getting chickens for the eggs. Even though I love to eat chicken meat, I'm not sure I could butcher something that I'll probably have a name for. The other reason I want chickens is so my niece and nephews can come over and have fun feeding them and collect eggs to take home for breakfast. It's kinda boring when they come over to my bachelor pad and don't have anything interesting to do. They might hate me if I kill their pets!!! lol Although... chicken raised in my backyard would probably be tastier than frozen chicken from the super market.

    1. I do not think there is a need for two separate grazing areas but certainly if you want to then go right ahead. If you have hawks and such in the area, I would not leave the top of the run open though.

    2. I have never heard of a problem with chickens and galvanized fencing. The chickens certainly are not going to try to eat it so I would not think it would be a problem.

    3. I would make the run 6' tall...a chicken, if spooked, can clear that. They are not going to constantly gly over it but they are capable of making it if they really need to or want to.

    4. 20 hens, I would have 1 nest box for every 3 or 4 hens...so 5 on the minimum side and 8 on the max side. Buckeyes are not overly large ( approx. 6.5 lbs hens) so a nest box the size of 12" x 12" should do just fine.

    5. Pine shavings is best...do not use cedar, it is toxic to them in enclosed areas especially.

    6. Many people make a droppings box to slide in and out under the roosts to make cleaning easier. There is nothing wrong with that.

    7. You can buy a waterer heating stand. They keep the water in the waterer from freezing. The waterer sits on it and comes on when the water reaches a certain temperature. On the same note, you can use a barn heater, hanging inside the coop, that comes on when the temperature reaches a certain level. So, it will come on and off as needed. Buckeyes are cold hardy birds, so if the inside of the coop is kept around 60 degrees, once they are fully feathered, they should do just fine. They will have a harder time in the heat than in the cold. So, plan on a fan in the coop during the summertime. Just switch the heater and the fan out seasonally as needed.

    If you want to raise meat chickens (which will taste better than the stuff you buy in the store), buy the cornish varieties that are slaughter ready in about 6 - 8 weeks, keep them in a smaller tractor/coop, do not name them unless it is something like "Fried", "Sandwich", "With mushroom gravy" [​IMG] Worry less about them being friendly and so forth...treat them like soon to be food. Your layer flock, name, love, pet, play with and enjoy.

    Good luck with your new flock when they arrive. I hope my thoughts help answer your questions. EDIT: I do not have any experience with Buckeyes personally but I was told they are friendly, handle confinement okay and lay medium brown eggs. I almost ordered some but when with others breeds.​
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  3. Ringo71

    Ringo71 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Thanks for the great advice. I guess it's off to Lowe's to get started on the coop then. lol

    It's funny that you mention hawks now that I think about it. I was watching a hawk get dive bombed by a dozen or so barn swallows this morning. I'm probably going to make a totally enclosed run for when I'm in the house or at work and then surround that area with a 6 ft fence for when I'm outside working in the garden or mowing lawn.

    I think the added fence around the enclosed fence will help keep the coyotes out that have seemed to flourish around here lately. The hawk, stray dogs, and coyotes will probably be my biggest threat. I'm curious to see what else starts showing up around here once I get my chicks. lol

    Yeah, when I was looking into ordering from Meyers I saw where most of the breeds were sold out. It turns out that they are not available because they have to wait till they get so many to ship. Something about needing a certain number of chicks to ensure they don't die from getting cold.

    I'm headed over there to check out the operation sometime next week. I'm so excited to have it so close to me. Instead of having to pay extra for small orders, I can jump in the car and be at their door in about 10 min. I can't wait to get my chicks!!!

    Thanks for the advice Cetawin. I swear, chicken people have to be the nicest bunch. I think I'm really going to enjoy this. [​IMG]
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I'm not sure I'd bother unless they are *giant*, as both will eventually get trompled into weedy dirt, but there is no reason not to partition it if you prefer.

    I would suggest, btw, that the part of the run nearest your coop be completely predator proofed -- that means not just netting on top, but Actual Real Wire Fencing or even a roof. That way, if you ever need to be away for a day or something, you can leave the birds with some outdoor access without them being vulnerable to raccoons, foxes etc. (the only thing that a netting top will keep out is hawks/owls).

    2. I was reading about birds getting sick from galvanized fencing, especially from fence made in China.

    Chickens don't bite or chew the wires, so I would not worry at all.

    3. How high should my fence be in the open area to keep the chickens confined within the space I want to provide them with? 5 ft?

    Taller would be better, unless you are going to be clipping one wing. THe problem is that chickens can on occasion be quite decent fliers, and you can never tell when or if the occasion will present itself to their fluffy little heads [​IMG]

    4. How many nesting boxes would 20 hens need? I read on this site where they share boxes?

    Four or five. Also remember that even if you ordered all pullets, you are probably not going to have 20 pullets - a couple are likely to turn out to be roos.

    6. I read that chickens like to poo while perched. I think the site said that 2/3 of all pooing takes place on perches? Would it work to make a removable box under the perches? Maybe put a medal tray under it for easy cleaning without having to remove all the bedding material out of the whole coop?

    I am a big fan of droppings boards (not the kind Gail Damerow's book shows, but a solid shelf that you scrape off each morning). 'Search' this forum for 'droppings boards' and you will find a buncha threads about them.

    7. I'm going to be insulating the coop for the cold winters we have in Ohio. I'm a little concerned with the water freezing in the winter and wondered what would be the best way to keep the inside of the coop above freezing without wasting money?

    The chickens themselves will be perfectly fine and need no supplemental heat (specially seeing as they're buckeyes, with pea combs and all that!). However you need to have electric run to your coop -- preferably PROPERLY, as an extension cord strung across the backyard all winter is hazardous -- so that you can run a heated waterer. THey use next to no electricity but keep the water from freezing. You *could* repeatedly bring out rubber pans of water from the house during the day, but it's kinder to the chickens and easier on you to let electricity do the job [​IMG]

    I build residential houses for a living, so the building part will be relatively easy. I'm just worried that my ideas on how I want to build the coop are practical and useful.

    One piece of unsolicited advice [​IMG] -- build in a WHOLE LOT of closeable ventilation. Chickens create enormous amounts of moisture and ammonia, and you really need good ventilation all year round, even in winter. High on the walls is best, but not right above the roosts. It is better to have more vent openings than you need (screened with hardware cloth) than to have to take the reciprocating saw out there in January [​IMG]

    Have fun,

    Pat​
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Hmm, I am guessing you live in California or somewhere like that, Cetawin? [​IMG] CHickens do not need to be any 60 degrees -- in fact it is probably healthier for them to be in the 30s or 40s when such temperatures are available, and chickens are fine well down into the 20s and even teens.

    I'm in southern Ontario, not all that different a climate than Ohio, and I =assure= you Ringo that your chickens will be absolutely 100% fine without your heating the coop in the winter. (I have brown sex-links here, which are about the same size as buckeyes but with single combs which are more prone to frostbite than anything a buckeye has, and mine do just fine, although I will admit they're in a building that doesn't get below about 15 F. But look at all the other people on this site who have unheated coops down to zero and below...)

    I would not worry all that much about a fan, either, but it is true that there may be a few days during the summer when your chickens would be happier if there's somewhere you can plug one in. Really, good design will take care of most of the potential hot-weather problems in a climate like Ohio's (I know it is different in some hotter parts of the country). Just make sure they have plenty of shade, esp. afternoon shade, and really good cross-ventilation in the coop, and a place to sit in the afternoon that's in the shade but does not have your prevailing breezes blocked by any obstruction, and they'll be fine.

    JME,

    Pat, who lived in SW Ohio for about 2 years some while ago
     
  6. Ringo71

    Ringo71 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 17, 2008
    Ohio
    Awesome info!

    I picked buckeye chickens because of the cold weather thing, and because I'm a buckeye fan! lol I wasn't sure how cold of weather chickens could withstand. I've seen them in coops when the temps were in the teens, but then, I've seen dogs chained to houses out in the cold too. This is all new to me so I figured that just because people do it, doesn't mean it's good for the chicken. lol

    I'm going to run electricity and water to the coop. I think I'm going to put a roof vent with a fan in it. The one I'm looking at has a thermostat in it and kicks the fan on when the temps become too hot. If I put screened windows in, it should pull enough outside air through the windows to keep things nice and dry. They are kind of like bathroom fans, but weather proof.

    Seems like I should be fine with the cold. I guess I need to concentrate on keeping things cool in the summer more than winterizing the coop. I'll be sure to keep the humidity thing in check now too.

    You guys just saved me a headache with the whole heating issues. The fan vent will be much easier to install than a heating system. lol Probably would be a good idea to use it in the winter too. With the coop all closed up it would act much like a bathroom vent. Would pull moisture out without making a draft. I guess it might pull a little air from the door, but that doesn't sound like it would hurt if I placed the fan in a good location.

    I'm about 45 min south of Lake Erie. We get pretty nasty weather due to that wonderful lake. Thanks for clearing up the cold concerns. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2008

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