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Tell me everything that's wrong with our coop plans!

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

  1. epluim

    epluim Out Of The Brooder

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    My husband and I are building a coop. It's made from an old play structure we've had forever (he actually built it in high school). We're adding a run to the back so the chickens have some dirt to scratch in.

    Basically, it's like this: the structure is about 6 1/2 feet square (over 6 feet tall as well). It is wooden and very sturdy. There are "windows" (wire-covered openings) on all sides. There's a front door for people or chickens. There' s back door that's 3 feet of wire on the top and open at the bottom into the run. Inside, we have a shelf for roosting with nesting boxes under it. We also will have a roosting pole, a suspended feeder and waterer and plenty of bedding. The floor of this section is wooden slats, so nothing can come from underneath.

    The run, which is permanently attached, is about 8 feet long, 6 feet wide and 4 feet tall. It's a wooden frame covered in wire. There's wire buried a few inches under ground, too, to keep out predators. The run also has a door so we can get in/let chickens out.

    We're planning on 2 locks on each door.

    We live in an area where there aren't many predators - a couple of cats, some predatory birds, maybe a lost raccoon, so I'm not so worried about that. We have little yappy dogs to chase things away as well.

    So, what haven't we thought about? What do our chickens absolutely need us to change or do before they arrive?

    I'm thinking this will be an on-going project for quite some time, so "This would be good in the future" and "This is something you HAVE to do NOW" are both welcome!

    Thanks!
     
  2. rachlore

    rachlore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The windows on all sides are wonderful for preventing respiratory diseases (just wanted to mention that). Anyways, do you have easy poop clean-up for under the roosts? That really comes in handy! You simply have to put a plastic or metal tray underneath. Also, try to cover up all crevices because dirt and poop can fall in there and become stale and hard to clean. If you paint the base of the coop, then that also helps with easy clean up- it smooths out/ covers up all the splinters and scrapes in the wood so the bedding can easily be cleared off and it protects the wood. Hope this helps!
     
  3. JanetS

    JanetS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can you post a picture? This would help. What kind of wire did you use? 1/2" hardware cloth is the best. As for predators, you will have them if you have chickens. They will come. Having a coop/run that is predator proof is a must.
     
  4. epluim

    epluim Out Of The Brooder

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    I thought a couple pictures might help.

    [​IMG] Unfinished coop


    [​IMG]Wire added

    I also have a question: if I have 2-3 birds, how many nesting boxes do I need? 1? 2?
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. JanetS

    JanetS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That looks like a nice size coop but I would replace the chickens wire with 1/2' hardware cloth. The chicken wire you are using not strong enough to
    keep out predators (raccoons, possum). Chickens wire keeps chickens in but doesn't keep predators out. Just trying to save you the heartache later.
    2 nesting boxes should be plenty for 3 chickens. Good luck.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1 nest box would do but 2 would be better.

    My initial thoughts of your playhouse/coop are:

    1. Very OPEN. Nice for squelching hot days but a mostly closed coop is what you want. A coop that provides security, shade, and keeps out rain and winds is the main goal. I would add shutters or removable boards to all those open sides. High up vents under a roof eave are ideal. Yours can have hinged board flaps over them to keep out weather. The sides can be open during hot days but you don't want rain or storm winds getting in.

    2. Does this have a flat roof? Rain will need to be repelled off to one side or multiple sides. You don't want water dripping down on your birds if the roof is not waterproof.

    Looks like a nice big coop area for the few birds that you have!! Good Luck. [​IMG]
     
  7. epluim

    epluim Out Of The Brooder

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    We finished the first round of construction on our coop. And now people from all over are offering us chickens! I only want three now, but how many could our 7x7 coop and 8x8 run hold? About 3?
     
  8. I wouldnt go more than 6. Plus if you get a chicken from 1 person, 2 from someone else and so on - they may not all get along. And they'll fight. Try to get some from the low end of the Pecking Order. If youuse the Search Field on here, there's a good list of breeds of chickens. Each page, per breed, will mention the Pecking Order. Very helpful for selecting a chicken. Not to mention, those pages will tell ya which breeds lay more than an egg a day. ;-) *
     
  9. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicken wire keeps chickens in (unless it is open on the top, then they fly out. 4' is NOTHING for a chicken to clear).

    I like it - "if you build it, they will come" changed to "if you provide chickens, predators will come" [​IMG]


    What AZGF said [​IMG]
    Minimum 4 sq ft per large fowl unless they have access to outside space each and every day from not much past sunrise to sunset (when they will go to bed by themselves).

    The pecking order isn't too bad if you get a bunch of day old chicks because they figure it all out from day one. Imagine taking a bunch of teenagers that don't know each other and stick them in a room where they have no more than 4 times the amount of space they take up lying down (being generous). How fast will that turn into a melee? If you get grown birds from different sources, you need to introduce them slowly. And, again as AZ said, get "low birds". Two "high" birds ARE going to fight to retain their "proper" place in the chicken world. One HAS to lose.

    NO chicken will regularly (or even frequently) lay more than one egg a day (yeah, I saw the wink), but "those pages" WILL tell you approximately how many eggs a breed will likely lay per week. Also, how big the eggs are, what color, how cold or heat tolerant the breed is.

    OK, here goes (remember, you asked, right??)

    1) The hammer suggests use of poultry staples - GOOD! But as Janet said - The chicken wire will not keep predators out. Since poultry staples are harder to remove than put in (which isn't all that easy given their shape), put 1/2" hardware cloth over it.

    2) IT IS WAY TOO OPEN for 24 hour, 4 season use. Critical point number one: Ventilation NOT draft. You do NOT want wind blowing over the birds while they sleep, especially in the winter. If you can enclose 3 sides, leaving one (the nest box side) open (except for the hardware cloth) AND no wind can get in under the floor or out the top, it will be fine. It will also be fine if the air can come in the "front" and go out ABOVE the birds on the roost . LOTS of ventilation but NO draft. VERY IMPORTANT. To that end, consider using clear tarps on the 3 sides. The birds will enjoy the light and the view a lot more than 4 solid walls with perhaps a small window or two. The 30 mil clear tarps are VERY strong. You could also use sheets of plexiglass but it is a LOT more expensive than clear tarps.See Jack's open air coop: https://www.backyardchickens.com/u/55557/jacke . The fact that the wind can't blow THROUGH creates back pressure. You might want to be able to close it on rainy days. The rain won't blow through but that doesn't mean none can make it into the open "front" part of the coop.
    2a) Chickens DO NOT need heat but they need food and water so if you live where it goes below freezing, check the threads on providing water for the birds in the winter.

    3) Put the roost along the side opposite the nests. You need MINIMALLY 1 foot per bird. They will squish together in the winter making you think you have WAY too much roost space, but they'll spread out in warmer weather. Also chickens like to roost HIGH so give them the opportunity to do so. Put the roost at 4' to 4.5' (given the headroom in the coop) and a foot from the wall it parallels.

    4) Get rid of the "roosting board" it will be a MAJOR poop collector. Chickens poop wherever they are, day and night. If you want a "top of the wall" height viewing area (which is a lovely idea), put in another roost 9" FARTHER from the wall than the top roost so those above won't be pooping on those below. It will also serve as an intermediate "staging" area and "mid" point step for them to use until they are big enough to fly directly to the upper roost. 2x4s on the flat or 3" round fence rails work well. Then tilt that "roosting board and make it the top of the nest boxes. [​IMG]
    5) I'd put in 2 nests when they get close to laying, with a design that easily allows more for when you get more chickens [​IMG] If you put them with the bottoms 12" to 18" above the floor, you have lost zero floor space. Also. consider replacing one of the boards on that side with hinged access so you don't HAVE to go in the coop to get the eggs. Less chicken poop on the ground outside to get on the bottom of your shoes AND the chickens can't try to escape as you enter the coop.

    6) "The floor of this section is wooden slats, so nothing can come from underneath." Uh-huh, nothing except small predators like weasels. That gap at the bottom of the walls? First: open invitation if not covered in hardware cloth. Second MAJOR source of DRAFT. Close it up. Also, mice can get in REALLY small holes. They won't hurt the birds but will eat the food and chickens apparently have a natural dislike for rodents. I found a bloodied and dead vole in my girls' outdoor run last year. It was no threat to the girls and I don't think it was a case of suicide. And they REALLY didn't want that chipmunk to get from one end of the barn alley to the other. You want that floor solid against predators AND wind.

    7) Even if you aren't doing "deep litter", consider putting a board a few inches high in front of the doors (on the inside - makes a nice "no gap" door jamb) to keep the litter in the coop. Chickens like to scratch and will toss the litter everywhere. Make it easy to remove so you can easily rake the litter out.

    8) You don't need 2 locks on every door. In fact, unless you have HUMAN "predators" you don't need any locks. What you need are latches that require an opposable thumb to operate. I know of no predators with opposable thumbs.[​IMG] I found a barrel bolt that has a hole in the "sleeve" for a lock, or in my case, a carabiner. I also put self closing hinges on the door so it closes behind me when I go in the coop. I saw a good suggestion here on BYC - a Dutch door. You can open the top to toss in treats or whatever but the birds won't come running out the bottom like they can with a full height door. I can see where this would be helpful with my girls.

    9) You want to be able to "seal" them inside at night. so unless the run is "Fort Knox (as the coop SHOULD BE), you might want to put in a chicken door rather than (or built into) a people door from the coop to the run. Something you can operate from outside the coop and run. Otherwise, the birds put themselves to bed as it gets dark, then you have to go in the coop to close the chicken door and they all think it is time to go out because you had to have light to see what you were doing. I don't know how many times I've said "GIRLS!! It it bed time, get back in the coop". Which, of course they hear as "blah, blah, blah". In any case you WANT those door openings sealed from wind and weather, NOT "a back door that's 3 feet of wire on the top and open at the bottom into the run." The "run isn't Fort Knox" not withstanding, you do NOT want wind blowing in from the run all night.

    10) Hang the food and water. Otherwise you'll get litter in both and have to clean them ALL THE TIME. Also, consider a nipple water pipe inside the coop along a wall with the source "bucket" outside. Easy to check and fill the water. Never spill any in the coop that way.

    When do you plan to enclose the "penthouse"? I bet they would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that area if you make it accessible AND waterproof so no rain or melting snow can drop into the coop. It could be done with chicken wire if it is "day use only".

    Hopefully you will take all these as constructive comments, not criticism. I know and they will have a GREAT coop and you will enjoy your chickens as much as I enjoy mine.

    Bruce
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
    2 people like this.
  10. rachlore

    rachlore Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Goodness sakes Bruce! You sure know your chickens.
     

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