Still overwhelmed!

RoseCassFarm

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 23, 2013
52
0
39
Connecticut
I didn't anticipate being so overwhelmed by designing a coop!

Should I put it near the house or further from the house? I have a garden that's about two hundred feet from the back door; it would make sense to keep them near the garden so I can let them have some time in there at the beginning and end of the growing season and so that they can keep the bug population down near the plants.

Then again, would it be better to have it closer to the house to make collecting eggs, watering, and letting them into the run easier (as I have two small children)? Will they be too smelly and noisy to keep near the house or does that not matter?

Should I insulate the coop? I live on the shoreline in Connecticut. I can get pretty cold during the winter but definitely nothing like places farther north from here.

Do you have lighting in your coop? We're certainly not raking in the cash at the moment so I don't know if this is a plausible option. Did you bother putting in lighting or did you feel it was unnecessary?

I don't know if I'm just overthinking all of this at this point :)
 

Chick Charm

Songster
10 Years
No need for insulation. Having a light in the coop is a nice luxury. You can do without a light, but it sure is nice to have.

Your other points to figure out are going to have to be based on YOUR opinions and preferences. I like to hear the hens lay, so I usually like my coop within a hundred ft of the house. I don't want my chickens in my garden, except in the winter. I would fence your garden in or your chickens, one or the other.

Hope the best for ya.
 

Keltara

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,670
79
173
Small Town U.S.A., Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I understand that things can feel overwhelming when it's a big unknown and there is so much info to filter through to figure out what will work for you. You certainly do want to get things right the first time, so I"m going to try to help.

Coop and Run Size:
First of all, I don't know how many chicks you have, but we'll start there. The size of your coop needs to reflect the amount of birds you have. The rule of thumb is 4 sq. ft. per bird for the interior of the coop, and 10 sq. ft. per bird for the run. If the coop and run are too small for the amount of birds that you have, they will be stressed. As a result, they will start pecking one another, their immune systems will be compromised, their ability to lay with be affected and they will live unhappy lives. In short?....bigger is always better! And even BIGGER is even better, in case you ever want to expand the size of your flock. It's much easier to go bigger the first time rather than starting over later.

Insulation and Electricity:
Insulation is NOT necessary. Chickens do much better in the winter than they do in the heat of summer. I live in Michigan and the only time I add heat (via a heat lamp with a red bulb) is if someone is molting. This tends to happen often, but insulation is not necessary. Electricity is necessary for the heat lamp and also to keep the water thawed in the cold winter months. I use a heated 1 gallon dog bowl in the winter months. Trust me, you don't want to spend your days constantly bringing more hot water out to the coop.

Ventilation:
Ventilation in your coop is critical for the health of your chickens (especially in winter). People tend to think that they need to seal up their coops in winter. This could not be further from the truth! Chickens do not urinate. Most of their moisture is expelled through their breath. When a winter coop is sealed up, it creates a very moist environment at night when all the chickens are filling the air with their breath. Mornings, in conditions like this will bring a frost bite mess on the feet of the chickens and on their crowns and wattles. So ventilation is EXTREMELY important, and plenty of it!

Roosting Poles
Some people like to put branches for chickens to roost on in their coops. In climates where winter is cold, I do not recommend this. What you want to use are 2x4's with the "wide side" up. The reason is this: It gives the chickens the ability to roost with their toes spread out at night and during the cold winter months, they can snuggle their bodies down onto their feet and protect them from the cold. I recommend the same type of roosting poles in run for the same reason.

Proximity to house due to fear of smell:
I am going on my 3rd year of keeping chickens. I used to think that chickens were smelly animals. I have come to understand that chickens are subject to conditions that their owners provide for them. I have a 100% odor free chicken coop and chicken run 365 days per year. The reason for this is that I used sand as bedding inside my coop, and also in my run. I did a very comprehensive blog post about how to maintain a coop and run with sand and what type of sand to use. Click here to see that. The amount of time and effort that I spend cleaning my coop and run is extremely minimal! The cost of using sand as bedding is CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP! As a chicken owner, I can tell you that it is very fun to have them within eye shot from a window. I would opt to have them closer to the house for that very reason (along with what you had said in that it makes less of a walk with two little ones and the need to collect eggs).

Lighting:
Some people like to have light in their coop so that during the shorter days in the winter months, the chickens will keep up egg production. They will give the chickens an extra few hours of light since it does affect egg production. I personally have never added lighting to my coop. I have Buff Orpingtons and they are very good layers even during the winter months. If I had another breed, I still would probably not add the light. If they need a break during the shorter days, I would allow that for my birds but that is strictly a personal choice.

Predator Proofing:
I can not stress how important it is to ensure that you have a very predator proof coop AND run. No matter how close you have your coop to your home, predators will eventually realize that you keep chickens, and they will try to break in. One of the easiest ways to keep them out of your run, is to form an apron around the perimeter of it. Hardware cloth is the best thing to use, but chicken wire will work also. Predators will go right up to the side of the run and begin to dig. They don't have the intelligence to back up and begin digging where the apron ends. Grass will grow up through it, and it can be mowed or weed wacked. Here is an image of what it looks like (this is not my coop. Just an image off the Internet, but is a good visual of the apron):
james_chicken_coop_hen_house_fully_boarded_with_mesh_apron-high_wycombe.JPG

I hope this helps to clear up some of the unknowns that come with starting out. Please be sure to visit my "Coop Management" post as it will put a visual to all that I have shared here. When you see my coop, keep in mind that all the materials used to build it cost us $200.00. That may help give you a financial prospective.

Building the coop is hardest and most expensive part. Once you have that out of the way, keeping the chickens will be such a joy for you and your children!


Kelly
✿​
Our Country Chronicles
✿​
 
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RoseCassFarm

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 23, 2013
52
0
39
Connecticut
Thank you for so much information!!

Yeah, I probably should've mentioned how many chickens I have...lol. I have four -- two Araucanas and two Buff Orpingtons.

I don't know why this is so difficult for me! There are so many ideas, so many options -- maybe I'm just overloaded because I have so much to pick from. :)

Thank again for all of your help!!!
 

RoseCassFarm

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 23, 2013
52
0
39
Connecticut
One other question, as you own Buffs, too -- can you tell yours apart? I'm trying to figure out which one is which based on personality but thus far it's still pretty tough, lol. Just wondering if I'm dopey or this is normal, hehe!
 

Keltara

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,670
79
173
Small Town U.S.A., Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
One other question, as you own Buffs, too -- can you tell yours apart? I'm trying to figure out which one is which based on personality but thus far it's still pretty tough, lol. Just wondering if I'm dopey or this is normal, hehe!
Problem solved. Go to Home Depot and buy some colored zip ties. Pick a color for one of the Orps and one of the Araucanas , just take a small pair of wire snips and put new one's on for the growing legs. Here's a picture of ours as day old. We knew they were going to be pets, and so this was our way of knowing who was who.
smile.png
Our girls still wear them to this day, and I don't ever have to change them any more. I'm so excited that you have Buff Orpingtons! They are the friendliest chickens ever!!

 
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RoseCassFarm

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 23, 2013
52
0
39
Connecticut
Oo, excellent idea!! Thanks! I'd thought about using nail polish on one nail but figured it'd end up being messy and chipping off, lol. I did notice today, however, that they have different colored eyes (although I don't know how constant chicken eye color is, so that might not be the best thing to go by!). I was worried at first -- I'd read in a few places that some people found their Buff Orpingtons to be sort of flighty and not as friendly -- so far, they're SUPER friendly! They've taken to me much faster than the Araucanas (which are petrified of every move I make and only come near me because they're jealous of any and everything the others do, lol!). One of them is especially snuggly -- she's constantly hopping onto me and settling down to rest -- I'm loving it!
 

Keltara

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,670
79
173
Small Town U.S.A., Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Oo, excellent idea!! Thanks! I'd thought about using nail polish on one nail but figured it'd end up being messy and chipping off, lol. I did notice today, however, that they have different colored eyes (although I don't know how constant chicken eye color is, so that might not be the best thing to go by!). I was worried at first -- I'd read in a few places that some people found their Buff Orpingtons to be sort of flighty and not as friendly -- so far, they're SUPER friendly! They've taken to me much faster than the Araucanas (which are petrified of every move I make and only come near me because they're jealous of any and everything the others do, lol!). One of them is especially snuggly -- she's constantly hopping onto me and settling down to rest -- I'm loving it!
I feel so bad for the people who have Buff Orpingtons and say that they are unfriendly. I have 6 of them, and they ALL have great dispositions! I'm so happy all mine are treasures. I did a BYC review on Buff Orpingtons. You should check it out! You'll get a peek at what you have to look forward to. ✿◠‿◠
 
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