Top tips & ideas for "Dream" coop or barn (handicap accessible)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by littlecritters, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. littlecritters

    littlecritters Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    New York
    Hi all,
    Hoping you can share ideas for a "dream" coop that will be walk in and handicap accessible. Any and all thoughts will be appreciated! Please share your best tips for a coop or barn holding a least 20-25 bantam Silkies and some Nankins. I'm hoping the collective wisdom of folks here on BYC will help us create a great barn for my daughter.
    Regards, Tina
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have had Nankins and Silkies (still have silkies). I have shed coops. They are great!

    Silkies like to huddle on the floor the best. You will find that they sometimes will enjoy a roost that is maybe 8 inches off the floor. They don't like ramps. They don't fly.

    They aren't hawk-savvy either, and so overhead netting is good (think snow load and heavy knotted netting) or plenty of shelter under something to hide. Covered runs are good for silkies. They just get drenched in the rain and will stand there rather than go back in the coop. So rain shelters are good- I have pallets they can stand under too, elevated on concrete blocks.

    Inside the coop, nest boxes need to be at floor level for them (silkies).

    Nankins on the other hand, LOVE to fly. They are excellent fliers and will go out of your fencing, no matter the height. Happily, they don't like to stray far from the coop. They are security-oriented and will stay together and near the coop. They aren't cold-hardy. Just like silkies they feel the cold. They don't like to be handled unless tamed. Once tamed they are very tame! Watch out that they don't get confused and enter the wrong nest if you have them setting on eggs.

    I would recommend an insulated shed. My metal shed is freezing and drips condensation from our fog. My plastic double wall shed is great in winter but in summer is hot. I have to open the door all day long for both sheds in summer.

    Additionally, make sure there is enough ventilation up high over the chickens' heads so there is no wind blowing on them but fresh air can enter. You might install flaps so that you can close them in case of a blizzard. 1/2 inch hardware cloth over the windows is the only thing that will keep rats and weasels out (who kill chickens).

    You might consider giving them a 100 watt bulb or heating the water with something that provides a little heat. There is a sweeter heater that is expensive but safer than bulbs supposedly. I use a 100 watt bulb in with my bantams when it goes way down lower than what they are used to. If you watch them you will be able to tell when they are suffering.

    Some don't heat their silkie coops but we have a damp cold here in the Pac. NW that soaks you to the bone. You can freeze to death here even above freezing.

    Oh just saw that you have silkies already...I apologize but won't edit...someone else might be interested to see it LOL.
  3. Feathersprings

    Feathersprings Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2012
    Fort Bragg Ca.
    Having just gone through this process myself ( coop, not handicap accessable) and making a few mistakes :) ... are you going to set up permanent fixed pens inside or portable ? Are you storing the feed and supplies in the coop ? if they are going to be in breeder pens how many? Do you need a grow out pen ? Do you need room for extra Roosters or a cockerel pen ? Having it to all over again I would locate my door differently and make use of every inch of space lol! I have found for my Silkies I like 3 or 4 max in a 4x4 pen. 3 is perfect . Also consider making convertable pens that can open and make one double size. For access I think a center aisle with pens on each side or all pens on one side with a walk through that can accomodate a wheel chair and turing radius would be necessary. You could put the feed if kept in the coop in that space as well. Full sized doors for access as well ? Does Lindsey use a wheelchair all the time ? I would also put a small shelf/table in an area attached to the wall to set food bowls ,birds, grooming stuff at a comfortable level for her to access.
    You have a lot of things to consider :) It will be a great project !!! I cant wait to see what you come up with and what ideas people have.
  4. delisha

    delisha Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 13, 2012
    Racine, WI -
    My Coop

    Old houses scheduled for demo..can be converted pretty easy. Make a few phone calls to your local builders or put an add in craigs list.

    My coops are easy for wheel chair entry. The doors are ground level. The top picture is my coop and will be converted some day to the bottom coop.


    Even the flight pen is wheel chair accessible.

    Nest boxes can be made at the right height

    Fencing gates on old baby carriage wheels are easily opened.

    a bit dusty and unused for years..but it should give you some ideas of interior easy access containment.
  5. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    I would position the coop at the edge of the run, so that it forms part of the enclosure. Raised off the ground the right amount the floor can be positioned at a convenient height for wheelchair or standing access to the birds, their food, and eggs. I don't keep water inside because of the potential for a watery mess.

    With the coop on the edge of the run, your daughter can tend to the chickens without having to enter the run. Depending upon your circumstances, the run can be a messy, slippery place for a wheelchair to get gummed up with poop or for crutches or a walker to slip. I suspect that having to clean a wheelchair after a trip into a messy run is quite a chore.

    You could build a shelf along part of the fence of the run for the chickens to stand on when they are inside and she wants to hand them treats from the outside.

    Depending upon her abilities, you might want to take extra care to shield exposed wire ends that can cause lacerations. The entire coop and run is surely contaminated. Cuts and splinters can cause some nasty infections around coops.

    One potential problem with entering a run, is that the chickens are going to be headed out as soon as you open the door. Chickens underfoot is another opportunity for a fall.

    It is always better to think through these things so you can adapt as you go.

    Good luck,

  6. littlecritters

    littlecritters Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    New York
    Thank you all for the insights and wonderful thoughts. The pics are very helpful and I will be starting to sketch ideas. Yesterday, we did a walk thru of the garden sheds on display at Lowes to get a feel of the different sizes. It may be possible for us to order a shed at a reasonable price that we can customize. I may also see if our local vocational school is able to build a barn for us. I'm working on a tight budget and need to get the most out of our money.

    At the moment, Lindsey is not in a wheelchair full time but we definitely need to accommodate one just in case. I am hoping to reduce daily maintenance and labor by making everything as efficient as possible. Lindsey has fatigue issues and I'd rather that she spend time enjoying the chickens than cleaning and getting tired or miserable.

    I'm hoping to convince my hubby to have plumbing run to the new barn and plan to install a utility sink for bathing birds and general cleanup. I'll be trying to utilize a nipple watering system that eliminates waterers in each pen. Not sure yet how that will work. Running plumbing may be cost prohibitive due to the need for pipes to below frost level.

    What do you all do about brooding chicks and growing out juveniles? Do you have separate areas? I'll try to design pens that are flexible and can be reconfigured easily. I'd like to use vinyl lattice as dividers between the individual pens. That way I can make larger or smaller spaces based on need.

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