Winter "coop" *UPDATE w/ pics* and some new questions.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by JNorth, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. JNorth

    JNorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    7
    93
    Mar 7, 2012
    Western New York
    So we have ran into a little snag with overwintering our flock. The coop is holding up just fine (it's insulated with good ventilation) and the girls are happily STILL laying one egg each per day. The problem is I can't get to it easily anymore! We live on a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the town so we always have some wind. Now with winter here the winds have really picked up and our backyard is apparently the place where the blown snow likes to settle (this is our first real winter since we've lived here). This morning I trudged through thigh high snow drifts to get to my girls... then on the way back I fell and ended up crawling over the hard packed snow. This cannot go on.

    We have a huge woodshed that is connected to our house. It's not insulated or heated but has windows with storm windows outside, and has a gravel floor. We are thinking of turning the back portion into a "winter coop". Here is my plan.... First it will be enclosed (chicken wire and wood) so they aren't pooping all over our firewood and summer stuff, but they will have floor to ceiling space with the floor measuring roughly 10ft x 5ft. Then I am going to place a sand box in one corner filled with their sand (their coop now has a sand floor with hay). The space already has shelving, most of which is going to be wired off, but the shelves closest to the floor will be turned into nesting boxes. I was thinking of using the 5 gallon bucket method since we have them. Food and water will be the same as it is in the regular coop. They will have two large windows in the space as well, with at least one roost in front of a window.

    Does this sound like an okay plan? Will it hurt them to not have access to the outdoors for the hard winter months? Is there anything else I should add to my plan?
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  2. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    How many and what size chickens are we talking about? My first thought was for security and ventilation. As long as they have enough space, ventilation and are safe from predators, it is a great idea! I think you would rather have some type of bedding (shavings, straw, hay, etc.) instead of the bare gravel. The gravel would be more difficult to clean out when they are done with their winter retreat.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  3. JNorth

    JNorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    7
    93
    Mar 7, 2012
    Western New York
    Oops, thought I mentioned the girls! I have 8 RSL's, they will be 1yo at the end of February. We were planning on having hay over the gravel. We trade eggs (and we help bring in the hay in the summer) for hay with a friend down the road so we never have a short supply of hay. The ceiling it pitched... I'm guessing it's about 8 ft at the back and 5 ft in the front where the windows are. Hope that helps. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  4. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    Fifty square feet is enough for about 5 large fowl to live in, having eight is pushing it. Try to afford them more room, (80 sq.feet minimum) and let them free range for part of the day if the weather conditions allow. If you simply can't make it 8x10 then give them as much as you can. They may be okay, and then again, they may get stressed and start picking on each other. Just do the best you can and see what happens. Make sure they have plenty of ventilation, you will need it with that many birds in a small space all winter. Remember, chickens put off alot of moisture in their breath and poo. The air in the coop will be quite humid. Cold and dry is fine, cold and wet kills.
     
  5. JNorth

    JNorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    7
    93
    Mar 7, 2012
    Western New York
    So here it is. Other than for the river type sand, we spend absolutely nothing on this project. It was all made from recycled material (wood from pallets, nest boxes from buckets etc...) and what we had left from the original coop (also made out of recycled material). Turned out to be 6ft x 15ft.

    Here is the south end, or the "sand box" as we call it. Black part is a sun/snow screen. It's completely see-through and doesn't block airflow... just a way to keep the girls in (and not pooping on our wood). The floor is covered by a thick rubber mat and a good thick layer of sand (same sand we used in our original coop). It's completely enclosed around the bottom to keep the sand in. There is a roost in front of the window with a "poop board" underneath.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the north end, or the "gravel pit" (they LOVE this end) There is a thick layer of super fine sand underneath. When we first introduced them to this end it was a dust bathing frenzy! I added some wide fence around the water and an old plastic lid to the waterer to keep is as poop free as possible (the lid and fence are connected so I can just lift the whole thing off to fill the waterer).
    [​IMG]

    Checking out the other roosting window....
    [​IMG]

    Checking out the nest boxes (made from cat litter buckets. Two have been cut, the one you can't see hasn't been cut so they have a choice in comfy nesting).... This is "Spot" by the way. Guess how she got that name? [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Helping her sister out... "You got a little something hanging from your beak sis, let me get it for you!" Food dish was made from a rubbermaid cereal container, I cut 1/2in wide slits at the bottom and used self-tapping screws to attach it to an old metal pan and block of wood for stability.
    [​IMG]

    Hanging out by the treat dish and water fountain... "Hi Spot!"
    [​IMG]

    So how'd I do?

    We are thinking about turning this into the main coop. We have an 6ft x 14ft enclosed chain-link dog kennel out back (it was left here when we moved in). We were thinking about taking out part of the window above the roost in the first picture, then adding a plank outside where we will have lined up the door from the kennel to the window in the wood shed. Then they can come and go as they please. I wish we could free range them, but neighbors have dogs that would just love them as a treat... so not taking that risk!
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  6. chicken pickin

    chicken pickin Overrun With Chickens

    7,951
    625
    361
    Mar 3, 2012
    That looks fantastic. You guys did a great job. Its looks like a fabulous place for chickens to be housed(Im Jealous). I love the sand box idea. I really need to get my girls a sand box.[​IMG]
     
  7. JNorth

    JNorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    7
    93
    Mar 7, 2012
    Western New York
    Anyone have any ideas for things I should change or add? I love tinkering with our coop...LOL!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  8. JNorth

    JNorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    243
    7
    93
    Mar 7, 2012
    Western New York
    I was looking around this morning and I feel like there is a lot of unused space on the "gravel pit" end. Is there anything I could add higher up that would be useful in some way or just entertaining to the chickens? Other than more roosts.....

    I was thinking of making the space bigger and having a mini compost pile off to the side on the gravel part of the floor. Something I could let the girls dig into for a while then move to our larger outdoor compost bin. Thoughts?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by