Tweaking prefab coop & nest box question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by rosemarythyme, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I have a small prefab coop (I know, I know, we're city slickers) which is working fine at the moment, but thanks to Chicken Math I ended up with 4 birds instead of 3, and as they keep maturing (they're 13 weeks now) I worry that roost bar space is going to become an issue. They're all good with crowding up there right now but I'd rather give them more space if at all possible.

    My idea was to replace the existing roost bar with one that runs from front to back of the coop, which should give them 1 more bird's worth of space, but that means removing the built-in next box where the roost bar currently ends at. That's the easy part, if I can figure out how to cut wood haha.

    So my questions are:
    1) Does the next box actually have to be in the coop? I'm assuming yes, but I have a nice, small dog house that was left on the property that I was thinking could be recycled as a nest box. The dog house is 14"x25" with a fully removable roof, of course I could close off some of the excess space inside to make it cozier.

    1a) Would it be too crazy to attach the dog house to the coop, if that's a valid nest box option as long as it's part of the coop? I was thinking I could cut some of the welded wire at the back of the coop's mini run area, and just make a short tunnel leading to the dog house.

    2) Will the girls use a nest box that's sitting at ground level, or do they prefer ones that are off the ground a bit? I see plastic ones on the review pages that are meant to be tacked up but also plywood ones that look like they could just sit on the ground. The dog house would have to be at ground level. Of course I also need to keep in mind accessibility, since the egg access hatch will only open up to the roost bar section once I do my tweak.
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Nest box does not have to be in the coop. And birds prefer to lay at ground level, actually. Raised nest boxes are for human convenience [​IMG].

    I think your plan sounds pretty workable. Can you post pics of the inside of the coop? With pics, a lot of the builder type folks here could give you some pointers.
     
  3. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Attaching the dog house to expand the coop will work just fine. The hens don't mind the nesting boxes being at ground level. Mine prefer the ones nearest the ground. They prefer the darkest most private locations for laying eggs so the dog house extension may be what they will like the best. With a removeable top, it may be the easiest for you too. At just 13 weeks you've got some time to make it all work.
    We definitely need to see pictures of the setup to make more recommendations.
     
  4. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I should've posted photos at the start, I know it's hard to visualize based on written description.

    [​IMG]
    The current roost and rear nest box (stock photo). Taking out the nest box will give them 42" of roost (not optimal but an improvement) and maybe room for a ramp.

    [​IMG]
    The old dog house. Needs to be cleaned out but otherwise seems adequate. Entrance is 12" tall, the interior is about 14" x 24". Roof lifts off for easy access; we could probably add latches if predators look like an issue.

    [​IMG]
    Rear of the coop (stock photo). We could maybe attach the dog house by cutting through to the area in red and making a very short hardware cloth tunnel to connect the two parts. Or we could leave the dog house detached, if the chickens really don't need access to a nest box at all times.
     
  5. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Attaching the dog house at that location should be a simple and effective add-on. If you don't want to do that, you could screw a couple pieces of plywood to the sides of the run, at the red circle, and they would lay straight on the ground. Just make a way for you to reach the eggs easily. They definitely need the extra roosting space you planned.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    What is your climate?...Will snow accumulation be an issue?
     
  7. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm in western WA, it's fairly mild most of the time and we get no snow some years and maybe 1-2" other years, but that's more unusual.
     
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  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I think this is a very workable idea.
     
  9. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks to everyone who gave feedback! Looks like our project for the next weekend or two will be: clean and inspect dog house, remove old nest box/roost bar and install new roost bar, cut an opening in rear and make a tunnel to connect the coop to dog house. [​IMG]
     
  10. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here's the results! Took a little longer than I thought, but I'm not at all handy (nor good at measuring, planning) so I'm actually pleased I have something to show for all the work.

    First part of the project was making a new longer roost bar from a branch. I also lowered it and centered it a little better than the original, to give the girls more head room and more room to get on and off. Branch came off a tree in our yard, brackets are from reclaimed wood from a remodel project.

    [​IMG]

    Second part was remodeling the dog house to become a nest box. I cut out "windows" for ventilation, and then dismantled the old next box face to provide wood to sandwich hardware cloth over the windows. More old nest box wood plus the old nest box floor became the new tunnel leading to the dog house. Since this is sitting on grass I put the dog house on brick risers so the floor won't soak up excess moisture.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The girls have gone inside the nest box to check it out but none of them are ready to lay yet, so I haven't put any bedding in. At least they don't seem to dislike the new addition and I sometimes see them napping in front of it.

    Total cost: about $4 for extra screws. Time spent: about 1 hr a day on and off for 2 weeks.

    And here's the coop and runs, since I don't think I ever posted a photo of the set up all together. I really like having the double run, because when I'm doing work in one run (i.e. when I was installing the dog house) I can just shut the girls in the other.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016

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