Urban Coop Design and Construction underway. Please review.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by pasta514, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. pasta514

    pasta514 Out Of The Brooder

    Hello Chicken People!

    What a wonderful resource this site is! Thank you all!

    We are embarking on the adventure of adding three hens
    [​IMG]
    to our family which is currently 5 humans, 1 dog, 2 cockatiels and 2 fish.

    We have the chicks in the garage now, living in a warm box they are nearly 4 weeks old (picture above is 1 week old) and I am trying to finish up their coop pretty soon. So let me describe the our environment and coop design and I have a few questions.

    We live in a suburb of northern California near San Francisco Bay in a very temperate climate; rarely freezing in winter. A permit is required to keep poultry and I intend to get one. They allow us up to 6 hens, no roosters. The backyard is ~30x60feet and mostly lawn and plants. In the past there have been raccoons in the neighborhood although I am not aware of any now, but want to design something coon proof anyway. Of course there are rats, squirrels, feral cats, crows and the occasional bird of prey.

    The coop I am building is 3'x4'. Bottom floor is 3' high. Total height 6' at peak, 5' at the eave. The bottom will rest on the earth with a ramp up through the floor into the coop above. Two nesting boxes and a roost or two. Keeping this thing clean is a priority, so one of the features I have is an easy opening top/side and also a removable floor. If the floor gets really nasty it could be easily replaced as well.

    I typically go overboard on design, so here are some of the things I'm doing based on what I've read:
    :|downstairs has 2 solid walls to give the hens a safe corner to run to in case a coon tries to get them. The other 2 walls will be 1/2" wire.
    :|The bottom will have wire fence 1”x3” to prevent anything from burrowing in, but letting the hens have access to the earth
    :|I plan on moving this thing if they are scratching too much in one area. Maybe even a couple of wheels on it.
    :|I plan to build a run which would attach, maybe 4'x8'

    I welcome any feedback or advice.

    Questions:
    1.How much light is needed in the coop? I could put in window(s) or I could use the transparent sun-tuf roofing. I was afraid the clear roof would roast the occupants, but I've read they need light inside. I'm confused.
    2.How much ventilation is needed? I'm assuming on hot summer days they will need a breeze, so was planning on some vents, just not sure if they should let light in as well or not. Was planning on making them closable for winter.
    3.The permit asks about lime washing and how frequently it is applied. What is that? Should I leave the interior bare wood or should it be painted (or lime washed?). I was not planning on painting 'cause I assumed the hens would peck at it. As an alternative I have some BEHR deck sealer which I think is silicone based. Would this be a good or bad alternative to paint or bare?
    4.I've seen several coops with linoleum flooring... now I'm wondering if I should add that too? Or should I be leaning towards a wire floor like this one? 2story Coop

    Here a picture so far:
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking!
     
  2. newchickmom

    newchickmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 8, 2007
    Lafayette, Indiana
    Welcome! I'm a newbie myself.
    I can't wait to see the finished coop! I just love looking at everyones coops! [​IMG]
     
  3. Xtradust

    Xtradust Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Orange, CA
    I wouldn't worry about the permit unless you had a neighbor problem or something.

    You're just keeping a few hens, no big deal.

    You shouldn't be treated differently than someone who bought three puppies.

    Chickens need enough light in the coop to see. Ventilation is nice to dry the droppings inside the coop and for warm days, but it shouldn't be a wind tunnel.

    Never heard of "lime washing" and I doubt you will again.

    Shiny lino is good, but the chickens would slip around. Hardware wire with a pan underneath is good too. A wood floor with some pine shavings and then a dropping board/pit under the roost works good too.

    Chickens are sooo easy. They just need to be dry and out of the breeze in winter and they need shade and water in the summer.

    Good luck!
     
  4. NorTracNY

    NorTracNY Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 1, 2008
    Macedon, NY
    Welcome. I'm also in the process of building a chicken tractor. I plan to also have a pull out floor for easy cleaning. I will use linoleum on it to help with the easy cleaning and to let the floor last longer. Good questions with the light. I don't have the answers. I plan to vent just under the roof with just chicken wire.
    From responses I've gotten, I don't think you need to do anything different for the winter.

    Mark
     
  5. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County
    They are so cute!!!
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    1.How much light is needed in the coop? I could put in window(s) or I could use the transparent sun-tuf roofing. I was afraid the clear roof would roast the occupants, but I've read they need light inside. I'm confused.

    Enh, enough for them to see easily. If they will spend extra time inside the coop during the wintertime because of poor weather, having it decently lit will also improve winter egg production. I would not use a clear roof, but a clear window panel(s) somewhere(s) would be an awfully good idea.

    2.How much ventilation is needed? I'm assuming on hot summer days they will need a breeze, so was planning on some vents, just not sure if they should let light in as well or not. Was planning on making them closable for winter.

    a) having windows openable for ventilation (but permanently hardware-cloth screened for safety!) is usual and a good idea.

    b) you will still need ventilation in wintertime. Othewise it will get really damp and ammonia-y in there, neither of which is good for the chickens' health (as well as being real unpleasant). Cold is not as much of a problem as damp and ammonia-y, at least up to a point, as long as there are no direct drafts. In a very small coop like that you may have to 'hood' vents so wind doesn't blow directly in real hard, but then you should be ok.

    c) Gail Damerow's book suggests 1 sq foot of vent space per chicken in a typical coop. I think that is a reasonable ballpark from which to begin (although some coops are fine with less) --- but in your case, because it is a very SMALL coop and thus less total air volume I would construct at least that much or more vent space. It is much much easier to close vents and never use 'em than to complete the whole coop and then have to get out the reciprocating saw and hack an ugly hole in it [​IMG]

    3.The permit asks about lime washing and how frequently it is applied. What is that? Should I leave the interior bare wood or should it be painted (or lime washed?). I was not planning on painting 'cause I assumed the hens would peck at it. As an alternative I have some BEHR deck sealer which I think is silicone based. Would this be a good or bad alternative to paint or bare?

    You mean the building permit? I have no idea why they would be asking that, you should talk to the folks in the municipal office to find out what they want there. Or if it's a chicken-keeping permit, or whatever. They will probably roll their eyes and tell you not to worry [​IMG]

    4.I've seen several coops with linoleum flooring... now I'm wondering if I should add that too? Or should I be leaning towards a wire floor like this one? 2story Coop

    *Personally* (opinions differ) I would not use a wire floor unless you're in a real hot climate and need the extra ventilation. It's hard on their feet, and not as much easier to clean as you might think. I'd recommend a solid floor with litter on it (like pine [NOT cedar] shavings, the animal-bedding kind you buy in big bales at the feedstore). I would not use vinyl flooring 'naked' although if you use it as the floor underneath the litter it can make cleanup a small bit easier. Naked it would be too slippery, and anyhow, trust me, wet poo sticks pretty darn well to bare vinyl flooring, slippery or not [​IMG] If you're me you actually use deeper bedding for a vinyl-flooring-ed floor (I have vinyl in the winter coop and wood floor in the summer tractor) to offset the slipperiness, so in that sense it might actually be more economical to use a plain ol' painted plywood floor because you'd go thru less litter. An especial consideration if your composting space is limited [​IMG]

    Good luck and have fun,

    Pat​
     
  7. mandomama

    mandomama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    corvallis oregon
    Thanks Pat, I was thinking about the vinyl floor, but now think i'll stick with painted plywood as you suggested.
     
  8. pasta514

    pasta514 Out Of The Brooder

    Quote:You mean the building permit?

    Thanks Pat. I'm referring to the required livestock permit. And based on input from other local chicken keepers I know it's better to have the permit than to have animal control show up one day and take the birds if a neighbor complains. Fortunately there is a spot in my yard which is 25 feet from all 3 property lines bordering the back yard, otherwise I would have to have WRITTEN permission from any neighbor whose property line is withing 25 feet of the coop.

    As for the coop floor I was reading about DLM today and am now thinking of putting in some bins instead of the plywood. I sure am glad I left my floor options open!

    As for vents I'll probably swing by the hardware store and see if they have vents with sliding louvers.

    I think I have a piece of plexiglass laying around as well.

    More to come. Thanks for the advice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2008
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    deep litter doesn't work well in very small coops -- too hard to ventilate enough to control damp/odor without making it too drafty on the chickens. Also a coop as small as yours is so easy and quick to clean that there is not much real point in deep litter anyhow. I would really not recommend it.

    Have fun (sounds like you are already [​IMG]),

    Pat
     

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