You would have done what different with your coup?

crazyhen75

In the Brooder
Feb 3, 2020
16
41
30
I would have discovered pee pads way before now. My dad made me a custom 4x4 raised coop house and did tons of research, making it pretty awesome with exactly what my 4 EEs needed. Then I rescued 3 bantams, but they still fit fine in the 16 sq ft house and 100 sq ft total coop since everyone can go under/in/on top of the coop. Mostly they sleep outside, but I did put shavings inside the house and nest box for them. Then a hawk found the coop and freaked them out a little (it never got inside, just was traumatic for them being that close) and stayed in the house for a week solid. I got tired of cleaning shavings and it's not really made for deep litter, so I put in some doggy pee pads that I had to absorb moisture and make it easy to clean. And then I discovered that they make 2'x4' pee pads, and that I could put 2 in there and clean it once a week now, and life is so much easier. On our garbage pick-up day, I just take a garbage bag out to the coop, throw the 2 dirty pads in the bag, add 2 fresh pads, and I'm done. Easy peasy.
I had some pads for my chicks but the chicks began to peck and scratch them so out they went and I now use the wood chips on top of linoleum. Everyone has to use what will work for them. I have the full sized hens in the coop when I Have hens. I will get my chicks in Feb. or March from a local store. I am too old to go here and there like i did before. The English orps. were so pretty but do not lay as well as the other hens. Speckled hen I still remember that sweet hen that came to me at your home who was molting. She was unforgetable.
 

crazyhen75

In the Brooder
Feb 3, 2020
16
41
30
Without a question, I would have run electricity to it. I need it for cooling fans in the summer, running the electric fence during the dark of winter, and heating a brooding plate when I'm raising chicks in the coop in the Spring. Now I have an ugly extension cord running from my house and up my driveway. Its on the list of things to fix in the future.

The other things I would have done differently, we've already fixed -- putting a solid awning over the coop door to give them a dry spot when it rains, and having a larger coop.
This is my biggest regret. the building is wired but not from my house to it. Ugh Can you believe my Hb did it this way temp. That was yrs. ago.
 

crazyhen75

In the Brooder
Feb 3, 2020
16
41
30
Btw how many chickens are you starting with and how many do you think you’d like to add over time?
Your title asks what we’d do differently. Here’s what I DID differently.
First of all I started with the Tractor Supply coop I described earlier. Big mistake. Huge mistake. It doesn’t hold 8 birds. It holds 1.5 birds. Yup, one and a half. I am thankful for this site guiding me. Here’s what they taught me.
Prefabs are not built with good dynamics for healthy chickens. The measurements they quote are deceitful lies. That coop for 8 only works if the entire perimeter is indoor coop. Starting from the bottom up, I learned a coop needs 4sqft walking around space per bird. This excludes nest area. A good solution for the nests is either have them hanging externally (works well for raised coops) or hang them about 18 inches off the floor indoors (excellent choice for a walk in type coop). One nest per 4-5 chickens. Roosts, one foot long per bird and 1 foot away from the wall and anything else, should always be higher than the nests because chickens will roost at the highest point. If the nests are higher than roosts they will sleep, and consequently poop, in the nests making very nasty eggs. If you make a walk in coop make the roosts a bit higher than your waist height. Hardware cloth covered vents, 1 sqft per bird, should be under the soffits well above the heads of the birds as they stand on the roost.
That tiny coop was a mess. I decided to do better. I built a coop with the specs I mention here. I opted for a walk in because I’ll be using it for years and I ain’t gonna get younger along the way. Much easier to access the birds for inspection or treatments. No bending for me as I age or for anyone I may ask to chicken-sit if I am out of town or ill. Instead of a drawer outside (brrrrrrrr, winter snow storms are no fun!), inside I have poop boards 8 inches below the roost. The board is 2 feet wide with PDZ spread on it. THIS is the best improvement I made hands down. It is so easy to clean poop, I’m not standing outside in rain/snow/ice/wind, and my coop doesn’t stink. Besides, that drawer acts like a squeegee as you pull it out scraping the poop off and dropping it all over the floor below. Ask me how I know. Speaking of snow my roof Is slanted to let snow slide off. Flat roofs hold snow and ice and can collapse. Mine overhang so water doesn’t drip down the walls and my entrance is covered over. Oh, and I put hardware cloth covered windows in two walls to maximize their natural light for egg production. One thing I recently changed was I added black curtains for nighttime because my grandson uses spotlights at night when walking his dog. This is only a winter problem because it gets dark early. Summertime they go to bed late and the dog will be in bed already too. I don’t use artificial light in winter so they get a break.
I finished my coop 5 months ago. I’ll be doing some exterior decoration painting this spring. I want to incorporate a dust bath in winter indoors. I’m sure I’ll find something I want/need to change, but seriously, I’m one very happy camper. Look closely at any coop you are thinking about. If it doesn’t meet the requirements Run away fast, do not fall for it. If you can’t build consider buying a wood shed from Home Depot and fitting it with roosts, nest, ventilation, and a pop door.
Don’t neglect your run even if you free range. There are times you will want to keep them secure. You may have a predator threat, you may need to leave town, you get the idea. This should be 10 sqft per bird and covered in hardware cloth including either two feet of hardware cloth either buried vertically around the perimeter or as an apron on the ground horizontally. Don’t forget protection from hawks and such from above. Put fun stuff in the run. Roosts, swings, ladders, bricks and cement blocks ( helpful when they clean their beaks.) I want to put a xylophone in the run! I plan to make a better cover over a section of my 300 sqft run. Tarps aren’t working well. Water and feed stays in the run under the cover. Never indoors.
There are lots n lots of excellent examples on this site. Explore and pick and choose bits from your favorites to make your personalized coop.
And post pictures as you go!
Great info.
 

crazyhen75

In the Brooder
Feb 3, 2020
16
41
30
I had some pads for my chicks but the chicks began to peck and scratch them so out they went and I now use the wood chips on top of linoleum. Everyone has to use what will work for them. I have the full sized hens in the coop when I Have hens. I will get my chicks in Feb. or March from a local store. I am too old to go here and there like i did before. The English orps. were so pretty but do not lay as well as the other hens. Speckled hen I still remember that sweet hen that came to me at your home who was molting. She was unforgetable.
PS I still use the pads for tiny chicks in the brooder.
 
Jun 12, 2017
276
425
131
IL
I have an 8x12' walk in coop with an attached 600sqft run. I would have made the coop bigger. I have 28 large hens and 2 roosters in there now, but have had 40 without any issues-but I free range from 4:30am-8pm. I'm so glad I set it on a concrete pad, it makes cleaning a whole lot easier! As does the poop board. My wife is 6' tall so I made things a comfortable height for her, even though I do most of the cleaning. I have running water outside of the coop, and electric on the side of the building. I may still run electric inside just for convenience.
 

crazyhen75

In the Brooder
Feb 3, 2020
16
41
30
I have an 8x12' walk in coop with an attached 600sqft run. I would have made the coop bigger. I have 28 large hens and 2 roosters in there now, but have had 40 without any issues-but I free range from 4:30am-8pm. I'm so glad I set it on a concrete pad, it makes cleaning a whole lot easier! As does the poop board. My wife is 6' tall so I made things a comfortable height for her, even though I do most of the cleaning. I have running water outside of the coop, and electric on the side of the building. I may still run electric inside just for convenience.
Sounds really good. Put a switch for the lights inside the building and your home if possible. Going out during the winter when there is not enough light is tough. I worried I might fall carrying a flash light and sometimes water.
 

crazyhen75

In the Brooder
Feb 3, 2020
16
41
30
Great info.
I am only going for 4 because I have to move them back and forth from mtns. to coast twice a yr. Done it before but with too many chickens to round up early in the morning of the trip is harder. Say a prayer chicken math does not happen...............................................
I have an 8x12' walk in coop with an attached 600sqft run. I would have made the coop bigger. I have 28 large hens and 2 roosters in there now, but have had 40 without any issues-but I free range from 4:30am-8pm. I'm so glad I set it on a concrete pad, it makes cleaning a whole lot easier! As does the poop board. My wife is 6' tall so I made things a comfortable height for her, even though I do most of the cleaning. I have running water outside of the coop, and electric on the side of the building. I may still run electric inside just for convenience.
If I staid in one place all the time I know chicken math would abound. My coop is large and well vented so it would work for at least 20..................
 

Cryss

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
3,920
9,520
707
Northwest New Jersey
Very Good info. By the way , I do have a building and it is a walk in. Love that. The biggest problem I have is my hb. put the nest under part of the drop board much to low for me to clean out easily. I can reach them on the porch area from outside but they still are awfully low down to clean easily. I will be moving a board that is in my way this spring. Then I can rake them out more easily. I have the hardware cloth wire and love it. The other wires quickly rusted and had to be removed. What a job that was. The larger heavy wires let the squirrels in. Not a good thing with baby chicks about. I can tell your info. is for real. Good to meet you. Also we made a secure fenced in area behind the building with a tin roof. A ll was well until a groundhog decided to tunnel from 10 feet away under part of it. Now there is hardware cloth under that area too. Wow building fort knox.
Great to meet you! I admit I thought you were a newbie from your “ in the brooder” title. After going through 2 years of worry and temporary fixes to tiny my prefab I go into a trance when someone even mentions a prefab. My thumbs start twitching across my cell and when I come to I realized I wrote yet another book for a newbie on how not to raise chickens in a too small coop. I’m so thankful to the people here helping me through some nasty winters and teaching me what I should have done I find compelled to pass it on.
I also beg everyone unashamedly for pictures of their coops inside and out, and of their chickens.
Sooo...😉
 

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