Why are coops built so stout?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Scruffyfeathers, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. Scruffyfeathers

    Scruffyfeathers In the Brooder

    Feb 16, 2015
    Griffin Georgia
    I am very new to all this and therefore have a myriad of questions. Having just retired in March of 2014 I am looking into starting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) mini farm and raising meat and layer chickens to supplement our produce.

    I am not in a hurry to make a mess of things so I spend a lot of time surfing and researching the web and particularly this awsome site.

    I've selected an area where I plan to build either a permanant coop or a chicken tractor so now I need to check into the designing features. I've surfed the web so much on the subject that my hair has turned blonde and my toes can hang five around any type of roost or board.

    One thing that I have noticed is the construction of most coops and tractors being strong enough to withstand anything short of an atomic blast. Why is this? I am a general contractor by trade and was under the impression I could use materials with a much stronger strength to weight ratio and at a more economical cost.

    Is there a tried and true design the requires the use of such heavy and degradable materials? I love the various designs I've viewed but do not understand the use of 2 x 4's, 4 x4's, 3/4 inch osb and such especially for the tractors.
  2. CliffB

    CliffB Songster

    Oct 5, 2014
    Mine is built with 2x4's, 4x4's, 3/4 RTD sheathing and 7/16 OSB and if i want to do so i can use a small skid steer and set it onto a trailer in 2-3 years and take it to the next house. Build it once very strong and sturdy. Now a tractor is meant to be light so that is a complete other story but a coop absolutely build is a strong as you know how and then the rest is just routine maintenance.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Most people on here are not professional builders so they use what materials they are familiar with or can easily get. 2x4’s are about as common as you can get. A lot of the 2x2’s I see at the big box stores are hopelessly crooked. 2x4’s are fairly solid and are pretty easy to join. Lighter pieces require a bit more finesse to join properly. Most of your strength is going to come from the joints.

    Another issue is that a big dog, raccoon, or a coyote can destroy a poorly built coop or one made from too light materials. Not much other than electricity can stop a bear, but you want your coop strong enough to give good overnight protection.

    In my construction I often rip 2x4’s but I have a good table saw so that is easy. Not everybody has a good table saw. They are a lot straighter than the 2x2’s I can buy too. But for strength I also use some 2x4’s in certain places.

    What you build obviously has to withstand the forces of nature too, wind and snow and ice load being the biggies.

    Some materials, like wood, are reasonable insulators. Some materials, like metal, can get really hot or really cold. Heat is normally more of a danger than cold, but you want to protect the chickens from extremes.

    Many people on here live in suburbia. How pretty the coop looks can be a factor when you are trying to not get your neighbors mad at you. You can cut wood into all kinds of shapes and paint it all kinds of colors.

    As a retired general contractor you have the skills and tools to build something other than a blocky Fort Knox and you probably have access to free materials. Your goals are to protect the chickens from the weather and predators, and maybe make it look good. With what you are considering will you need a coop that can take a padlock and keep humans out?

    One thing you will find with chickens is that there is seldom any one right way to do something where every other way is wrong. We are all unique and many different things work. Good luck and welcome to the adventure.
  4. kharz

    kharz Hatching

    May 5, 2014
    I dont use a tractor - but a normal coop

    I have found a fox literally sniffing around the coop and hawks flying overhead. Come deep winter when there is a lot of snow on the ground ... predators are ALL over my coop trying to get in.
  5. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    Also your tractor might need to be covered to provide shade for the birds. Tarps or plastic sheeting and even metal or plastic roof panels are good for this but if the tractor is too lightweight it may sail away in a strong wind.
  6. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Songster

    Aug 28, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    My Coop
    One word: predators.
  7. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Songster

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    Several reason. Most aren't professional contractors so they don't know what's available and get what they can easily find at Home Depot. Those that are dealing with serious predator issues may choose to build heavy on purpose. Anyone dealing with bears will need a coop that can withstand a bombing.

    In my case, we got a good bit of our material from Craigs List. This meant left over lumber from construction projects of assorted types and sizes. In one case, we purchased a large amount of thick oak slab wood that I'm pretty sure is bullet proof.

    As long as we don't have to move it, all the better that it be built sturdy.
  8. tcstoehr

    tcstoehr Songster

    Mar 25, 2014
    Canby, Oregon
    Yeah... predators... that about sums it up. My coop is strong but it is vulnerable if a predator decided to come back a few nights in a row to work on an entry point. Around here that isn't a problem. A bear could likely punch right through. I'm sorry, but if bears start coming around, I'm done with chickens.
  9. Scruffyfeathers

    Scruffyfeathers In the Brooder

    Feb 16, 2015
    Griffin Georgia
    thank for the varied responses. As diverse as they were, my inquiry was adequately answered. Strength and predators were always considered; I was curious as to specific material having an adverse effect regarding health and welfare of the birds: fumes, toxins, sharp edges etc... Yes, I do have the tools and a healthy knowledge of strong yet lightweight materials. I look forward to designing and building my coop and tractor.

    One question I did omit regards the "practical" size to house 15 birds. I know nothing about the various types of birds nor their size and the space requirements for each. I wish to raise layers and meat chickens but don't have a clue as to how to make an informed decision regarding which breed to choose for their specific roles. The tractor will be for the meat birds - I think. Again, I don't know enough about this venture just yet but I am willing to listen and follow up on suggested research.
  10. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Songster

    Aug 28, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    My Coop
    The "basic" rule of thumb is the more space you can offer them the happier they'll be. Normal minimums discussed on the forum are 4 sq ft per bird in the coop (with 1' of roost per bird) and 10 sq ft per bird in the run (which I would double or triple if they're not going to get free ranging time outside of the run. It looks like you're in a location where they won't get snowed into the coop for weeks or months on end, so the minimum space should work for that. There are tons of articles about considerations for coops and tractors in the Learning Center.

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