What should I be looking for.?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SusanD, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. SusanD

    SusanD Chirping


    I am looking to replace my current prefab coop with one that will meet our three chickens' needs better. I browsed Craigslist today because I thought that my Dad might be open to letting me buy a gently used coop if I could find one that I like. He's not open to letting me hire the local feed store to build one for us due to cost. I think he's also confused on what I am looking for, as he has told me "Susan, they're all the same."

    Well, after looking on Craigslist, I can understand why he would be confused. Most of the ones I saw seemed to be variations on prefabbed coops or have other quality issues that would make them undesirable.

    My must have features are -
    acceptable ventilation that will work in a rainy climate and keep our chickens healthy
    wood/roofing that will stand up to rain and snow (if we get some this winter) without rotting
    easy to clean (the one think I like about the one I have now is that it's easy to replace the pine shavings and the straw).

    My want to have feature is -
    A place to put their food and water outside that will be out of any rain.
    Enough space that they could hang out during a blustry day without going stir crazy.

    If we do decide to go the Craig's list route, what should I be looking for to make sure that the new one is actually an improvement?

  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    You write very well. By your grammar I assume your old enough to use a saw. If your father doesn't have one then ask for him to purchase a circular saw for you. With stick lumber, plywood and 14 gauge fencing wire there is no limit to the possibilities. If h circular saw seems a bit much then use a jig saw. Those will cut 2x lumber and plywood just slower but much easier and safer feeling when using.
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Maybe consider trying to get a used prefab shed - they are so much easier to clean, design, store food, etc etc. I use my shed as a coop - i simply used tree branches for roosts and plastic basins for nest boxes - job done. Look at my profile and you will see some photos that might help give you an idea.

    Good luck

  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    What’s wrong with the one you have now? Can it be repaired instead of replaced? Do you have a photo of the set-up?

    I agree practically all the prefab coops are not acceptable as is. They generally don’t have enough ventilation, the roost is usually the same height as the nests, very little room, and often of poor quality materials and/or construction. I think most of them are generic “pet” shelters with nests and a roost added, not designed for chickens at all. But a lot of people use them.

    If it is rotting where it is contacting the ground, elevate it. Any wood that touches the ground either needs to be treated wood or one of the expensive woods that resists rot. You can perhaps build a frame from an acceptable wood, cinder block, brick, or some other rot-resistant material and set the coop on that. Remember to anchor the frame and coop together so the coop doesn’t get blown off.

    It sounds like the roof is going bad. The roof has to slope so rainwater runs off, not stand on it. If water stands on the roof, it will leak and probably rot. If your roof is flat, junk that coop or make a new roof that slopes. If the current roof is bad either top it with a new roof, a sheet of plywood can work, or rip that one off and replace it. If you have a peaked roof you’ll need flashing for that top joint to keep water out. Make overhangs so you can open up the top of the walls for ventilation while keeping rain out.

    If you elevate the coop high enough the area under it can be a good start on making a dry place for food. Rain can blow in from the side so you might want to cover at least a corner of the sides so rain can’t blow in. That also creates a corner that is wind-protected. My chickens don’t mind the type of cold you will see where you are but they don’t like a cold wind. By creating a pocket like that you give them a place to hang out. Just remember you need access to that feed area.

    I’m always a proponent of more room, but chickens don’t care if room is in the coop only or in the coop plus run as long as they have access to it. You say you don’t get much snow there so any outside room should be available practically any day as long as they have some wind protection on those cold windy days. Predators are potentially an issue with this if your coop is fairly small. If you lock them up at night you might need to get out there fairly early to let them out after they wake up or you need to make your run predator proof. My coop is big enough that I don’t need to get down there real early to let them out. With only three chickens you might be in the same situation.

    Making a run truly predator proof can get expensive. You have to have a barrier on top against climbing predators. Chicken wire will provide some protection but a big raccoon, dog, or some other things can rip it apart. A reasonably heavy gauge hardware cloth is the gold standard for many, but I find 2” x 4” welded wire fencing stops anything big except a bear. Only electricity or an extremely expensive fence will stop a determined bear. Adding a cheap wire mesh of some type around the bottom 18” or so will stop practically anything else. I use chicken wire for that but watch how big the openings are. 1” openings are probably OK but some of that wire comes with 1-1/2” openings. In my opinion, that’s getting a little big. 2x4 welded wire on top will stop a climbing or flying predator but a solid roof might help keep the run drier. Remember a solid roof needs to be sloped so rain runs off and rain will blow in from the sides.

    If you are not prepared to remodel your current chicken palace, keep some of this in mind when you are on Craigslist.

    Good luck!
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I think that after all the threads you've started and all the help and advice you've gotten to improve your prefab coop and run area,
    you should be pretty well versed in what will work and what will not when looking at a 'new' coop.

    If you find some that you think might work, post the links to them here and we can further advise and help you assess their suitability.

    I still think that building a solid roof on posts over your existing coop/run area might be the cheapest and easiest short term solution...
    .....and could be a start to constructing a more solid, larger coop.

    If you are a minor and your dad is unwillingly to build/pay, then you might be stuck with what you have.
  6. SusanD

    SusanD Chirping

    Thanks. To answer your questions, no I'm not a minor (I'm in my 30's). Also, I think I could get my Dad to help with the chainsaw work if we decide to go that way. I will do some research and will also discuss it with my Dad [​IMG]
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    My apologies......just sounded like.....
    1 person likes this.
  8. SusanD

    SusanD Chirping

    No worries [​IMG] I understand why you would think so, as I am living with my parents and I do share ownership of the chickens with them (we each picked out one from the feedstore - My dad's idea that my mom and I agreed to).

    I think the best approach for me is to do my homework on what makes for a good coop before I approach my Dad with an idea for improving ours (especially if we go the do-it-ourselves route). I like the shed idea, so am leaning towards that one. If my memory serves me right, my Dad built a shed for some chickens that we had in the 1980s, and they seemed to do really well.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

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