Why raise a hen house?Help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by HallChicks, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. HallChicks

    HallChicks Out Of The Brooder

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    I am trying to figure out the best design for a hen house (4-6 chickens) for a cold climate. I was wondering if I should build a coop that is above the ground- all the pictures I have seen have the coop 6" to 3' off the ground. My concern is the insulation in the winter-closer to the ground means warmer up north!

    Why are the coops off the ground- is it predaors? Can I build it close to the ground for insulation purposes? Help!
     
  2. MTchick

    MTchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is a few things all at once, I think.

    - Small henhouses off the ground are easier to clean- less stooping.
    - Henhouses directly on the ground get more rodents invading under the floorspace, potentially.
    - Henhouses only 6" to a foot up are sometimes skunk or raccoon duplexes because that is a perfect hidey-hole height. You either want on the ground, or well up off the ground.

    I built mine on the ground on a very slight gravelled rise for drainage. My reasoning was that I needed it to be on the ground for warmth and wind resistance (we get as low as -20F in winter here on occasion, and my home is in a valley famous for severe winds). I can handle mice and stooping more than I can handle the idea of frostbitten toes and (gasp!) hensicles.

    -MTchick
     
  3. HallChicks

    HallChicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much for your advice. Your climate seems similar to ours. How many Chickens do you have and how big is your coop?

    I really appreciate your help [​IMG]
     
  4. MTchick

    MTchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I built my coop for the wrong number of hens... sigh... they are moving into it tomorrow anyway. I have 8 chicks, which will probably pan out to 6 once they are mature (I have two suspicious roostery "pullets"). My coop is 4' x 4' with a 4'6" to 3'6" sloped roof. Technically I should only have four hens with that size coop but I built it small for more warmth and because I read that hens with a lot of outdoor run space can do with less indoor henhouse space. Hopefully my 6 hens will be happy. They also have a 4' x 4' covered patio that adjoins to the coop, and a 10' x 20' fully fenced and netted run. The covered patio is so that they have access to the outdoors in snowy weather without having to wade around in the snow itself. It also serves as a sunshade in summer- I built it attached to the west wall to prevent the coop from becoming a hotbox in the afternoon sun.

    I did not insulate. Instead I built the coop almost airtight with 3/4 plywood and 3/4 siding. I put in roof vents that are to prevent moisture buildup. The vents have flaps that I intend to only close when it is viciously cold, like -10 to -20 and really windy at night, which happens just about every year here for a few weeks. A little bit of silicon caulk made the whole thing very snug. I'm running a 100 watt bulb into the coop for warmth and to keep the light levels higher in the winter which promotes laying. I intentionally built the nest boxes inside the main coop so that the boxes would be warmer in winter- the exterior nest box design that most people use looks really drafty to me. I weather stripped all the doors with recycled bike tubes so that the pophole and nest box access would not have warmth sucking cracks.

    Of course, I won't know if all these ideas work for almost a year. Although, in 1996, my town got two feet of snow on June 1st. So maybe I'll find out soon enough if my coop is warm in wintry weather.

    -MTchick
     
  5. bubbles

    bubbles New Egg

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    Apr 16, 2007
    Do mice and rats have a tendancy to move into coops if on the ground? Also would it be ok to clip wings to keep inside a fence for range eggs?
     
  6. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    I think mice and rats get wherever they want o. If not on the ground, they will chew through the house to your eggs. My best thing is to keep the house clean and do not let eggs sit that are not being hatched. We always clip wings the first time we put them in the pasture and then they are used to their surroundings by the time they need it again. We don't keep them clipped because of the predators.
     
  7. kstaven

    kstaven Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    You may be very happy that you built that small MT when winter comes. Colder climates and smaller coops go well together. People often stress too much over coop space and not enough about area to range.
     
  8. Kelly FG

    Kelly FG Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm on Long Island in NY, it is very windy here in the winter & we get temps in the teens & lower.
    We built our coop about 2' off the ground. It is fully insulated.
    Its easy to clean, I have a drop down poop pit under the roost
    The girls always have a shady, dry place to go.
    My DH figured out the interior space & making it a couple of feet lower would have added much much space inside the girls would have needed to warm. We don't use a heater or light & the coop never went below 7 degrees at night.

    This is my coop when we first built it, the run is different now.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. ChixWstix

    ChixWstix Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 18, 2007
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    Thanks Hallchicks for posting this topic! [​IMG]

    Kelly FG, that is a very nice looking coop. You said that it is fully insulated. What did you use to insulate your floor?

    Thanks!
     

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