Two story coop question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by aschrimp, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. aschrimp

    aschrimp Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    We have 16 one to two week old chicks, and have a coop to build. We had originally planned to have..well...8. And now we have 16. I am learning that this is a common occurrance (at least we didn't already build the coop - that would be a bit of a disaster!!)

    So we need to double the size of our intended coop. I want it to be movable, since eventually we want to have the chickens help us out with rotational grazing. Our original plans were for a 4x8 tractor, raised 2 feet off the ground, with food and water underneath, and a fenced, covered, detachable (for moving) run, plus we will likely free-range for at least part of the day when they get older.

    We live in a fairly warm climate - it rarely even gets to freezing here, and it never, ever snows, but regularly is over 100 degrees in the summer. The original plan was to make a double-sized Purina Mills style coop, but due to our warm summers, I was thinking that I'd only enclose 3 sides, and have one of the long sides just be hardware wire, and possibly have one of the shorter sides able to be taken off (with hardware wire underneath) in the summer. I'd have a tarp available to close off the open side in the event of a really wild winter storm, I guess, since I wouldn't want soaked chickens and bedding.

    If I raise what would have been the main floor of the coop to 3 feet off the ground, and enclose the bottom level the same as the top, and add in a ramp to the second floor, would that give me my extra square footage? Would I need another plywood floor for the bottom, or could the ground act as the floor of my lower level? We are on 5 acres, so it really wouldn't be any problem at all to dump shavings on the ground under the coop as we move it around. We would just rake up yucky litter and carry it to the compost whenever we moved the coop, or, depending on where it was, just let it compost in place.

    FWIW, from what I've seen of friends chickens in the area, they are outside even when it's rainy here. Most people seem to do more like 2 sq ft of inside coop space per chicken (all the 2x3 ft coops claim to fit 3 chickens). They probably get away with it because just about everyone also either free-ranges or has a roomy run that gets used year-round. I guess it just doesn't get cold enough to keep them in. My guess is that even in incliment weather they will make full use of at least the entire covered portion of the run. Do you think I'd be ok with the two story desgin? I don't want anyone over-crowded.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I agree in your climate you can probably get away with less than 4 sq ft per bird, especially with a partially covered run; they will be outside except in the worst of storms. They will go wherever it is coolest most of the year. I think what happens to many who try to build a moveable coop of any size is, they wind up not moving it. Unless I missed it, you didn't mention whether t would be moved by hand or machine. The challenge might be to keep the upper story cool enough that they will use it.
     
  3. aschrimp

    aschrimp Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Moved by hand for now, but eventually towed by vehicle - we don't have a tractor yet, but have been watching for a small one - we will have to mow firebreaks before fire season starts in July, so I would imagine we will find something before then. We are going to put the coop on riding lawnmower tires, so it should be able to be rolled by hand (barring all else we could rig it up to the trailer hitch on our minivan!)

    I don't know that the heat issue in the upper story would be any worse with the lower level partially enclosed - if nothing else, it would give them a cooler space down below where they would still feel secure about laying and roosting in, since most of the heat in the upper level is going to come in through the roof, not up from below or from the chickens. I am not shortcutting on the roof - I'm doing plywood with UV blocking plastic roofing on top, so there should be some insulation value in that. I could even put in attic fans if I can find some smallish ones.

    We have basically no natural shade in our yard yet - the trees are all still pretty young, so it's not like there is a prime, shady location that we could tuck a permenant coop into and keep it cooler. With the mobile coop, during the summer, we can at least turn the open side of the coop into the evening breeze that we get most evenings.


     

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