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Tips for design of inside of coop, please share must do and don't do ideas!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kwphotomom, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 7, 2017
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    My Coop
    Our shed will be delivered today, which means the next week or two will be the fun part, designing and building the inside of the coop to get it ready for our birds! I know there are some must haves, nest boxes, roost, etc, but what are some things I should consider when designing this space for our chickens?

    And a few questions...
    Does it matter how high/long the roost is?
    Should we have multiple levels of roosts?
    How many nest boxes for 12 hens?

    Also, any ideas on where to put what in here would be great!

    The overall dimensions are 8'x12', and the cute little front door opens in two sections, I figure that will be perfect for letting them in and out of the run! The loft can be modified, it is roughly 4x8, we are thinking about removing the railing and ladder and turning it into a storage shelf with cabinet doors. The little windows open, we will need to put a stronger wire on them to keep predators out.

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  2. TeeMom

    TeeMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Super cute! You will need to add more ventilation. I had my husband build a couple brooder pens opposite the roosting bars with storage underneath (which is now used as our duck pen)and they have been invaluable in my coop. That would only be necessary if you plan on adding to your flock, but I've also used it for injured or quarantined birds. It's perfect for a,broody hen on eggs and my husband recently threw together a quick frame with hardware cloth that slides in a foot or so up in the brooder pen so I can make it an all wire floor as a broody breaker. So handy!
     
  3. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 7, 2017
    Oklahoma
    My Coop
    GREAT ideas! I had thought about adding a brooder in there, maybe convert an old piece of furniture, but I like the way your hubby built it in. Maybe I can figure out a way to do that with the loft area, or at least a portion of it. Could probably add a lower shelf area in a similar way as well. Will have to figure out a way to do that! Do you ever wish the brooder pen was on ground level so the babies could slowly start to integrate into the flock with mom when they are ready? Perhaps I could just move them to a dog crate with bedding at that point. But...this would mean my new babies would be in the coop instead of in the house with me, I couldn't check on them obsessively all day long, lol! Certainly perfect for 4 week old babies as they grow though, by then I'm tired of the mess and smell! Haha!

    Thanks so much for posting your ideas and photos!
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks for the photos and the information you’ve provided. That helps me know better how to approach this.

    First for your questions. It does matter how high the roost is. It needs to be noticeably higher than your nests or anything else you don’t want them sleeping on since they like to sleep in the highest place possible, but I don’t like them to be too high for different reasons. My main roosts are five feet off the coop floor. The way I suggest you determine roost height is to first determine the height of your floor, including bedding. Then position your nests. Some people are quite happy with nests really low, some people like them higher up. If you have a bad back you might not want to bend over to gather eggs. I find people worry about nest height a lot more than the chickens do. Anyway, I then position the roosts about a foot higher than nests or anything else. If you have chickens that can’t fly, like Silkies, that could make this more complicated.

    I don’t believe in magic numbers for about anything to do with chickens, including roost length. I’ve seen everything from 7” to 15” suggested. They don’t take up much room when they are settled on the roost, but if they fly up they need room to spread their wings and fly. They need enough room to land. During colder weather they tend to bunch up when they settle down but in hot weather they are more likely to spread out.

    I’ve noticed that the chickens are most brutal to each other as they are settling down for the night. The chicken highest in the pecking order gets to sleep wherever they want. They can be pretty brutal in enforcing that right or knocking chickens out of the way if they are blocking access. It’s also possible that a higher ranking hen can be pretty brutal if a lower ranking chicken tries to sleep next to them. What I find is that the higher ranking chickens sleep in one spot, the lowest ranking hens sleep as far from them as they can, and the ones that rank in the middle sleep in the middle. So instead of giving them so many inches per chicken, give them room to get away from the others if they need to.

    Since you mentioned brooding chicks, you have another roost issue. Immature chicks are not welcome on the main roosts with the adults unless a broody he is up there with them to protect them. What often happens when the hen weans them is that the immature chicks leave the roosts to find a safer place to sleep. You don’t want that to be the nests. The way I solved that was to put a juvenile roost lower than the main roosts and horizontally separated from the main roosts yet higher than the nests to give them a safe place to go. I integrate younger chicks all the time, this has saved me a lot of grief. And stress.

    You say you’ll have 12 hens. How many will you have in the future? You mention baby chicks, will you be keeping pullets to add to your flock? You can get different recommendations for this and the bigger your nests the more they can generally handle, but for the size flock you will have and how I think you will manage them, plan on 1 nest for every 4 hens.

    I guess now is a good time for a couple of photos. The first shows my main roosts with a built-in brooder under them. The top of the brooder is a droppings board. The brooder did not stretch the entire width of the roosts so I use plastic bins on the end to catch the poop there.

    [​IMG]

    The next one shows my nests with the juvenile roost over them. The top of my nests are also a droppings board when this roost is used.

    [​IMG]

    My brooder is not for a broody hen and chicks. I let my broody hens raise their chicks with the flock. This brooder is for chicks that I brood myself, either straight from the incubator or from the post office. It has a ½” hardware cloth wire floor so chick poop drops straight through and is caught in plastic bins underneath. It stays very dry. When I have baby chicks in it I usually put something on the bottom for them to stand on, I’ve been using a black tray that comes with a wire dog crate. When I need to I dump it into those plastic bins underneath. If I don’t have chicks in it, I can use it to isolate a chicken if I need to or as a broody buster. If I need to bust a broody and this is not available, I hang that wire dog cage in the coop and use that. I don’t use it for the dogs anymore. You can put your brooder anywhere you want and use it any way you want. I don’t isolate my broodies from the flock when they are incubating and hatching but many people do.

    My suggestion is to build into your coop as much flexibility as you can. That means add places you can use to isolate chickens and bust broodies, or at least figure out how you will do that in the future and make allowances for it now.

    I made a couple of my nests so I can lock a chicken in there if I wished. That’s come in handy for a few different things. I’m glad I added that feature.

    I see you are next door to me, thanks for including that information. I sort of understand your weather and such. Good luck tonight and tomorrow with the weather. But as far as positioning things inside, your hot sides are going to be the south and west. I don’t know which direction that coop is facing or what your nests will look like, but I’d avoid putting the nests on the hot sides. You don’t want the nests to turn into ovens. Positioning the roosts is not as important, mine are on a hot side and they do OK, but if you can you might want them on a cooler side. This ties into ventilation though.

    You need to add a lot of ventilation to that coop. That coop is already built and cute, you won’t want to mess up the cute, so it can be a bit of a challenge. I’d go with gable vents as high as I could on both ends. I don’t know what the top of the walls under the overhang or those soffits look like. The top of mine are open, but covered with hardware cloth to keep critters out. Provide as much ventilation up high as you can, even in winter. As long as the roosts are below any cross breezes in winter your chickens can handle the cold fine and ventilation helps get rid of moisture in freezing weather, which can help prevent frostbite. In our summers cross breezes hitting them isn’t a problem, it will feel good.

    Something else I suggest is that you put in a spot for ventilation in summer down very low and on the north side if you can. Basically cut out a window and cover it with hardware cloth. Warm air rises if cool air can replace it. The coolest air will be in the shade on the north side. A vent that allows cooler air in can make a world of difference in how much your coo cools off as long as you have high ventilation to let that hot air out of the top. You can cover that low spot in the winter to keep breezes from hitting your chickens on the roost, but in summer it can be very valuable.

    That’s enough. That should make a very nice coop and it’s big enough to give you some flexibility in how you manage them. Flexibility is a very good thing. Good luck!
     
    Richard Pryor likes this.
  5. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 7, 2017
    Oklahoma
    My Coop
     
  6. TeeMom

    TeeMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really did mean to reply to this post the day you posted it, but I am not sure what happened. As a matter of fact, I have moved most of the things that I had in the pen underneath as storage up to one of the brooder pens on top. The top pen is perfect for a broody hen on eggs (I do move mine away from the flock because they just seem a lot more content on their own and it eliminates a lot of problems), but then I move the hen and chicks down to the bottom once she leaves the nest to meet the rest of the flock. After a few days of that, I open the bottom door during the day so they can come and go as they please and then shoo them out after a week or so of that. I currently have 12 week old ducklings in that bottom pen, so they are already getting acquainted to the chickens. I know what you mean about the need to obsess. I have been putting chicks directly into the coop since my husband built this one last spring. I haven't had a mishap yet, but I still wake up in the middle of the night and think I should go check on them, talk myself out of it and then lie there thinking about all of the awful things that could be occurring at that very minute. lol. It got really cold this morning and I was convinced that I would go out to find a dozen icicles in that bottom cage, but they were all huddled up under their heating pad just as cozy as could be.
     

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