"We're Gonna Need A Bigger Coop." (sic.)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by FlyWheel, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the pen...

    [​IMG] Yeah, I know, Chicken Math Strikes Again. That and the fact that my roomies have gone egg crazy is forcing me to rethink the size of my flock (seriously, they go through almost three dozen eggs a week!). Anyway, the coop I'm conceiving will be a walk in, mainly to make it easier for me to conduct cleaning. And while I have ideas for the design, I also have questions. And I will probably concoct more before I'm done. For now, here are a few that I've thought of...

    I have a Black Australorp, a 3 year old Production Red, a Cuckoo Marans and the rest are Easter Eggers. What would be the best roost heights be for these breeds? I assume different breeds prefer different heights, so I'd like a range based on what I have.

    I do intend on including 'poop-catchers' underneath the roosts, but I was wondering; if the roosts are not a great distance from the walls would the chickens tend to roost facing away from it? Towards it? Or whichever way they [email protected]^ well please?

    While I do have ideas to ease cleaning, I am also considering the possibility of a deep litter system. How often and involved would the cleaning be? Or does it never need to be shoveled out?
    Thanks for your replies, wisdom and patience.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. AllynTal

    AllynTal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To answer the second part first, the answer is whichever way they each decide to on that particular night. Make your poop-catchers wide enough to accommodate the poop falling from both sides of the roosts.

    I have Delawares, which are fairly big, full-bodied birds. It's my experience that heavy birds will stay low if they have to but lighter birds will go as high as they can. If you give them different height options, they'll likely hop up the levels until they get to the top roost.. (and then eyeball the rafters to see if they can go higher.) I know that isn't a definitive measurement. Give them enough headroom to sit on the top roost. If you make different level roosts, make the roosts at least 18 inches offset from the one above it so the higher birds aren't pooping on the lower birds.

    I solved my roost situation like this:
    [​IMG]

    That roost rack is hinged so I can flip the whole thing up and hang it on a hook on the ceiling to clear floor space for cleaning. They could just fly up to the top roost, but they don't. They hop up on the lower roost, then hop to the middle roost....eyeball the seating options on the top roost and then pick their spots and go for it. That back wall is five feet high, to give you a point of reference.

    I have no comment about deep litter because I use sand. I'm sure lots of other folks will be in to talk about their experiences.

    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Great response from AllynTal. I would not term what I use as "deep litter", but I simply put dried grass clippings and leaves, anywhere from 6"+ deep under the roosts and rake it over every morning. It works very well - no odours and I change it about every three months, or when it does eventually begin to smell. I also put the same litter in the laying area as my girls apparently prefer making their own nests over using the nesting boxes.

    In terms of roosts, I lowered the height of mine to accommodate my large breed birds. I made them all the same height (2ft) as the clamour for the highest roosting point was too a bit crazy, even for the heavy birds :)

    All the best
    Ct
     
  4. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Actually, I was thinking of two or three roosts, one along each side and one on the back wall. Since there will be three separate roosts I could of course stagger them.

    A couple more questions; can the nesting area/boxes be at floor height or should they be slightly higher and if so how much higher?

    And do I count the nesting areas as part of the total floor space when figuring in the "4 Ft2 / chicken" rule? I know the roost don't count.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Sure, if you put litter in a nesting space it works, but it does not count for your area calculations. I have used plastic basins at ground level. The 4sqft is a guide only. Management style, weather and free ranging or not (among others) affect these calculations. Pushing your flock to the max in terms of coop size is not a good idea IMO.

    Ct
     
  6. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote: Brilliant! Love that!
     
  7. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, having the 'boxes' close to floor level will work very well into my design. would a couple of inches be OK? They will be littered, naturally.
    What hen would want to lay on bare wood? Let alone nest.[​IMG]



    My birds are Semi free-range. They will be (are) kept in a run, mainly to keep them from wandering into the dog's area, but that run is 300 ft2; For less than a dozen birds that should work out to a fairly liberal amount of room; almost thirty square feet per bird. Since I live in an area that can get rather warm and somewhat humid in the summer I am also thinking of making an outdoor roost, at least for the summer months when it almost never gets below 70F (21 C). Let the chickens choose where they want to sleep.

    I wish I could let them have the run of the yard, at least the 'Lower 40' portion.
     
  8. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They need some swings to swing on! And plant some cover crops that will attract all kinds of insects for them to eat! And a sand pit for them to roll in!

    And a fountain they can run through!
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
  9. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Sounds like an ideal set up. Sure, a couple of inches should be fine - if they are happy to use whatever you provide, then job done. Don't over think stuff is my approach. This thread may be interesting to you re: hot temps - https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/788391/keeping-chickens-cool-in-summer-heat

    Not sure about an outdoor roost to be used on a nighttime, but again - you should do what you feel works for you. We all manage our chickens differently and there are very few hard and fast rules.

    Good luck
    Ct
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
  10. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks so much for y'alls help. Another question, does anyone know were I can acquire some scrolled roofing fascia? I'll need two boards 8' long.
    [​IMG]
    This is just an example, it doesn't have to look exactly like this.[​IMG]
     

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