They're officially outside, but now I have to 'design' their room - help?

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
Yesterday I put up some chicken wire and posts to keep the chickens corralled into one small area of the yard. We have four foster dogs left that should be leaving in the next month and then I can take it down and let the chicks have free run of the entire back yard with our dogs, who are chicken safe.

For the time being I've got their little bucket and some grass in the room and their lamp over it to keep them warm. Temps at night are around the 50s although it's possible it could drop down again. Weather has been all kinds of wonky this year. If that happens I'll create a 'tent' for them with their bucket and drop the light lower for more heat. Or maybe I'll just put another bucket out there upside down with a hole along the side so they can walk in and have the light over it. Anyway, I'll make it work if that happens. And given the nasty weather right now, that could be a project for me today. Ugh!

Anyway, these are photos of their room. So far the tentative plan is:

*Remove the rest of the 'table' that's on the entry side. I'd like to use that side of the room as storage. Feed, straw, etc.
*Build a double stacked row of nesting boxes on the far side where the window is. Question - should I cover that window with plywood? I like the idea that when it gets really hot in summer I could open it for any breeze or to let the hot air out, but at the same time my brain is seeing so many hazards that could happen because of the window. So I'm leaning toward just screwing a piece of plywood over it.
*The roof of the room is open and about 10 feet high so at least that would allow the heat in the summer to rise and flow out so it doesn't get stifling hot, but at the same time when it's cooler we could lose vital heat. I will keep a couple heat lamps in the room and put them over the nest boxes though so it won't get cold. Is that good enough?
*Double row of nest boxes or single row? It's about 8 feet across on that side. I currently have 10 hens and I'm picking up about half a dozen more today. Will a single row work or should I stick with the double row? Or move the nest boxes along the back wall which is about 12 feet long? I've got White Rock, Black Austrolorp, Barred Rock and RIR.
*What size should the boxes be? I've read that you don't need a box for every chicken, that they don't mind sharing. I'm *hoping* I'll wind up with at least a couple broody hens. Does that make a difference in the design plan?

Any other ideas after looking at the pictures? Anything you see that's a danger that needs to be changed? Anything I should add to the plan? I'm going today and getting a bail of straw for the floor and in the nest boxes so I can get the last of that cedar bedding out of there.

 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,806
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St. Louis, MO
...

For the time being I've got their little bucket and some grass in the room and their lamp over it to keep them warm. Temps at night are around the 50s although it's possible it could drop down again. Weather has been all kinds of wonky this year. If that happens I'll create a 'tent' for them with their bucket and drop the light lower for more heat. Or maybe I'll just put another bucket out there upside down with a hole along the side so they can walk in and have the light over it. Anyway, I'll make it work if that happens. And given the nasty weather right now, that could be a project for me today. Ugh!

...

*Remove the rest of the 'table' that's on the entry side. I'd like to use that side of the room as storage. Feed, straw, etc.
*Build a double stacked row of nesting boxes on the far side where the window is. Question - should I cover that window with plywood? I like the idea that when it gets really hot in summer I could open it for any breeze or to let the hot air out, but at the same time my brain is seeing so many hazards that could happen because of the window. So I'm leaning toward just screwing a piece of plywood over it.
*The roof of the room is open and about 10 feet high so at least that would allow the heat in the summer to rise and flow out so it doesn't get stifling hot, but at the same time when it's cooler we could lose vital heat. I will keep a couple heat lamps in the room and put them over the nest boxes though so it won't get cold. Is that good enough?
*Double row of nest boxes or single row? It's about 8 feet across on that side. I currently have 10 hens and I'm picking up about half a dozen more today. Will a single row work or should I stick with the double row? Or move the nest boxes along the back wall which is about 12 feet long? I've got White Rock, Black Austrolorp, Barred Rock and RIR.
*What size should the boxes be? I've read that you don't need a box for every chicken, that they don't mind sharing. I'm *hoping* I'll wind up with at least a couple broody hens. Does that make a difference in the design plan?

Any other ideas after looking at the pictures? Anything you see that's a danger that needs to be changed? Anything I should add to the plan? I'm going today and getting a bail of straw for the floor and in the nest boxes so I can get the last of that cedar bedding out of there.
I would go with pine shavings rather than straw which can get moldy and cause respiratory issues. You'll be much happier. The straw is OK in the nests.

For chicks, just a heat lamp or two is all they'll need. No tent needed.
For adults, don't worry about losing valuable heat and don't cover the windows with wood. Use hardware cloth. Chickens need a square foot of opening per bird. Chickens don't die from cold, they die from respiratory disease and excessive heat. So for 22 chickens, that's big openings.
If you add heat lamps in winter the electricity will cost more than the eggs you get.
Most breeds you're likely to have were developed in cold climates long before there was electricity.
You'll only need about 5 or 6 nests for that many birds.
Just make sure you can keep it dry inside and predator proof.
 

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
Really? I've been SO worried all along about how I'll keep them warm enough! Good to know I can relax!

They had a warm spot last night - I turned a Rubbermaid bucket upside down and cut a hole in the side so they could go in and out, and a hole in the bottom which was now the top so the lamp could sit on top of it to warm it inside. Went out this morning to find they'd made a nest BESIDE the bucket and were just leaning against it for warmth. And it had been in the 30s last night, so that did make me feel better.

The area is definitely predator proof. It's a concrete block room with a solid wood door and it's attached to the main house. The only problem would be an owl or something that would fly into the garage, which is the other side of the shop, and into the shop AKA their chicken coop, since the ceiling is all open. I'd thought of closing it but I do like the open top idea for the air circulation. I can't imagine an owl or something would be smart enough to fly in there. Although I suppose I could staple some chicken wire to the joists up there to keep anything out just to be safe. Hmmm...... maybe I'll head to Lowe's again tomorrow.

Ok, you've made me feel much better. I was afraid the room would be too small and there wouldn't be enough boxes or it wouldn't be safe. I'll grab pine shavings tomorrow for the floor and keep the hay for the nest boxes!
thumbsup.gif


**loving these little smilies!
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,806
27,234
1,077
St. Louis, MO
I would worry about the open top for predators. Hawks and owls can fly in. I had a hawk fly all the way through a 40 foot long, 6 foot wide, 3 foot high hoop pen to get to the chickens. Raccoons can climb a sheer wall and a fox can jump about 10 feet high. I'd cover it with hardware cloth.
Doesn't the rain come in?
As for temps, just because you're cold doesn't mean the chickens are. They're wearing a down body suit.
What breeds do you have?
Properly acclimated, most breeds of adult chickens can handle temps well below 0 F. Heat lamps use a lot of electricity which ain't free. I can think of several reasons besides the cost why one shouldn't add heat. Going from heat to cool back and forth is very stressful and doesn't allow proper acclimatizing. What happens when you have a power outage in an ice storm? Then your once cozy chickens will freeze.

By selecting breeds adapted for one's climate, heat will never be needed. The breeds that most people keep were developed in cold climates in the 18th and 19th century or even much earlier. How did they provide heat for them without electric and heat lamps? They didn't. They still exist so they didn't die.

American class, Jersey Giants, Wyandottes, New Hampshires, Plymouth Rocks, Delaware, Dominique, Buckeye, Java, Rhode Island - those are all developed in some cold states.
Chanteclers - Canada is real cold.
Araucanas, Ameraucanas, EEs. Chile gets real cold.
Continental class, Welsummers, Barnevelders and Polish come from Holland. Holland is cold in the winter.
Campines, D'Anvers - Belgium is cold in winter.
Marans, Houdans, Crevecoeurs, Faverolles, LaFleche - France gets cold in the winter.
Orloffs - Russia - pretty darn cold.
Naked Necks - Romania - pretty darn cold.
Jaerhons - Norway, yeah cold there too.
Icelandics, need I go on?
Same goes for the English class.

My point is, if you must have birds like Shamos, Cubalayas and Fayoumis, be prepared for a big electric bill and being able to keep that heat up in a power outage.
welcome-byc.gif
 
Last edited:

Time-Out

Songster
8 Years
Jun 29, 2011
1,170
46
153
The Peak District, UK
frow.gif


That room looks PERFECT!

I agree with ChickenCanoe about the window; you definitely want to keep that. How is your ventilation otherwise? I use cinderblock buildings (old stables) for most of my chickens too. I have meshed over the top part of the stable door. They have enough ventilation for me to be able to cover it in winter (with clear plastic to still allow a lot of light in), so the cold wind doesn't blow in (or the snow). In the summer, I take the plastic down to increase air circulation even more.




If you build a single row of nestboxes raised off the floor, on the wall, you won't lose any floor space. This isn't an up-to-date photo (there are four nestboxes on either side and pop doors now), but it shows what I mean.


Chicken wire under the roof will stop any potential air strikes and escapes.

4 or 5 nestboxes (1' x 1') will be plenty for 16 hens. Or are you getting 22? How big is the room? It doesn't look too small from the photos.

Looking forward to your updates!
 

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
I would worry about the open top for predators. Hawks and owls can fly in. I had a hawk fly all the way through a 40 foot long, 6 foot wide, 3 foot high hoop pen to get to the chickens. Raccoons can climb a sheer wall and a fox can jump about 10 feet high. I'd cover it with hardware cloth.
Doesn't the rain come in?
As for temps, just because you're cold doesn't mean the chickens are. They're wearing a down body suit.
What breeds do you have?
Properly acclimated, most breeds of adult chickens can handle temps well below 0 F. Heat lamps use a lot of electricity which ain't free. I can think of several reasons besides the cost why one shouldn't add heat. Going from heat to cool back and forth is very stressful and doesn't allow proper acclimatizing. What happens when you have a power outage in an ice storm? Then your once cozy chickens will freeze.

By selecting breeds adapted for one's climate, heat will never be needed. The breeds that most people keep were developed in cold climates in the 18th and 19th century or even much earlier. How did they provide heat for them without electric and heat lamps? They didn't. They still exist so they didn't die.

American class, Jersey Giants, Wyandottes, New Hampshires, Plymouth Rocks, Delaware, Dominique, Buckeye, Java, Rhode Island - those are all developed in some cold states.
Chanteclers - Canada is real cold.
Araucanas, Ameraucanas, EEs. Chile gets real cold.
Continental class, Welsummers, Barnevelders and Polish come from Holland. Holland is cold in the winter.
Campines, D'Anvers - Belgium is cold in winter.
Marans, Houdans, Crevecoeurs, Faverolles, LaFleche - France gets cold in the winter.
Orloffs - Russia - pretty darn cold.
Naked Necks - Romania - pretty darn cold.
Jaerhons - Norway, yeah cold there too.
Icelandics, need I go on?
Same goes for the English class.

My point is, if you must have birds like Shamos, Cubalayas and Fayoumis, be prepared for a big electric bill and being able to keep that heat up in a power outage.
welcome-byc.gif
The roof of the house is over that room. But there's open floor joints from the attic before you get up to the roof. Hard to describe. I'll go take a picture. And then cover it in chicken wire. Predators, though a PITB, are pretty amazing. We've got Rhode Island Red, Speckled Sussex, Barred Rock and a Delaware that are all adults and White Rock and Black Austrolorp that are about a month old.
frow.gif


That room looks PERFECT!

I agree with ChickenCanoe about the window; you definitely want to keep that. How is your ventilation otherwise? I use cinderblock buildings (old stables) for most of my chickens too. I have meshed over the top part of the stable door. They have enough ventilation for me to be able to cover it in winter (with clear plastic to still allow a lot of light in), so the cold wind doesn't blow in (or the snow). In the summer, I take the plastic down to increase air circulation even more.




If you build a single row of nestboxes raised off the floor, on the wall, you won't lose any floor space. This isn't an up-to-date photo (there are four nestboxes on either side and pop doors now), but it shows what I mean.


Chicken wire under the roof will stop any potential air strikes and escapes.

4 or 5 nestboxes (1' x 1') will be plenty for 16 hens. Or are you getting 22? How big is the room? It doesn't look too small from the photos.

Looking forward to your updates!
Thank you! The room is about 8x12 I think. The wall the window is on is about 8 feet and the opposite wall is 12 feet and that's the wall the door is on. The room is an old shop and it's attached to the house. We used to have land tortoises that stayed in there in the winter. Right now we've got 11 babies and just added 5 adults and will be bringing 3 more adults in next week, all hens. So I'll have 2 roosters (one adult if he returns, one baby) and 17 hens.
This is what winter is like for chickens in Missouri and no heat.







Oh my wow!!!!!!!!!!!!
ep.gif
MO is my next door neighbor (we're in middle TN at the base of the Cumberland Plateau). I had no idea you got THAT MUCH snow! And no heat huh? Ok, you've all got me feeling MUCH better about not using a heat lamp. It is unplugged and shall stay that way. I'm hoping our month old chicks will be taken up by our new adult hens. One is a broody hen so I'm hoping that means she's got a bit of a maternal streak. Maybe?
fl.gif
 

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
Here is what the roof looks like in that room. You can see the trusses by standing in the room and looking up. They just never put any drywall or anything up there to enclose it. We left it open because it allowed air flow into the room and we were using it for garden storage at first and then the tortoises after. So I'll just get some chicken wire and staple it up there on the underside of the trusses.


 

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
It's just the garage and it's partially open anyway. I'm not sure who built this house - or what kind of wonderful things they smoking at the time - but it's all kinds of wonky! The garage wall on one side is made of the same decorative block that tops the wall that runs along our property. Nice, but it lets all the pollen and everything else right into the garage so nothing in there stays clean. I don't even bother parking in there. Some day we'll have to have a 'grown up' 2 car garage added on and just use this garage as the new shop / store room.
 

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