Your feedback on our pre-fab coop & my concerns?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Heartpine, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Heartpine

    Heartpine Hatching

    Nov 29, 2012
    Two weeks ago, we received a pre-built coop and three chicks. We saw the coop at a farmers market and talked with the supplier, and it seemed like an easy way to get started with chickens. As he dropped off the coop and chicks, the supplier provided some basic information but, within an hour, I already had questions about chick care and quickly found my way to this site. (Thank you everyone!)

    Now that I'm much better informed, I'm not sure about the design qualities of this coop. I have some improvements in mind, but first would like to get feedback with your ideas.

    First, some data.

    We live in the Tampa area, and our winter low temps are usually in the 40s, sometimes 30s, rarely 20s. So I'm not worried about cold but right now the chicks are only 25 days old. We've had them inside in a bathroom, and are planning to transition them outside soon. Should I be concerned about keeping young chickens warm if the temps get into the 30s through the rest of our winter (until mid-February)? They would be about 3 months old then.

    The coop and a nesting box:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    From the pics, you can see the coop includes a run (8' long x 4' wide) and coop housing. The structure is movable. The inside dimensions of the triangular coop housing are 2' long and 4' wide. Not all of the 4' width is useable due to the slanted roof. The floor of the coop housing is wire mesh, with 1" x 1/2" rectangles.

    I have two primary concerns -- the wire mesh floor, and lack of perches.

    It's my understanding from the supplier that there's no need for straw or shavings on the floor, but what about drafts and chickens trying to keep their feet warm? Should I put shavings on that wire mesh floor?

    As far as perches, it seems that every coop design includes perches to accommodate chickens' innate desire to roost on perches. I can install a perch though it might be only 2" above the floor. Should I bother to install a perch?

    However, I have limited options where to install a perch and want to be mindful of adult chicken "headroom" due to the slanted roof. These are Production Red chickens. How tall will they grow? Also, how much room is needed between a perch and a wall behind the perch?

    I also have a concern about the one nesting box that was provided. Is its 9"x 9" interior size big enough, and is one box enough for three chickens?

    Finally, with your experienced eyes, is there anything about this design I should think about improving? And if you say, "You'd better think about building one instead...", that's okay!

    Thank you so much for whatever feedback you can provide. I want to make sure improvements are in place before transitioning the chicks outside.

  2. chfite

    chfite Songster

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    1. Chickens are not generally weather-proof until they are fully feathered. Generally this is 12 weeks or so.

    2. I cannot tell what size the squares in the wire floor. I think that 1/2" squares are the largest you might use. Some recommend no wire floor. I used 1/2" hardware cloth, and had no problems with the chickens. I will say that wire flooring is not much of a benefit. Pine shavings are good for litter on the floor.

    3. They are going to want a perch. I used a 2x4 on the flat. Placed higher than the nesting box helps keep them from sleeping and pooping in the nesting box. Mine have 8 or 9 inches between the inside of the roost to the wall. Mine like to face the window when they roost. I have one roost that is too close to the ceiling; and the chickens won't use it.

    I would allow at least 12 inches to the ceiling from the roost.

    4. I recall the recommendation of one nesting box per three hens. I have 9 hens with three boxes. Most days they lay all the eggs in the same box, just not always the same box.

    5. Possible improvement: hang the nest box on the outside with its own roof to free floor space in this small coop. Makes it easier to collect the eggs and clean the nest, when needed.

    Does this coop have a door over the hole where the ramp attaches?

    Hope this helps.

  3. Heartpine

    Heartpine Hatching

    Nov 29, 2012

    Yes, thanks, it helps quite a bit. Your tips definitely improve the ideas I had in mind, and very useful knowing the clearance needed for the perches.

    I like the idea of putting the nesting box outside the existing housing in a new shelter. That and the clearance needed for perches fit an idea of an "housing extension" that I had considered. I'd bring the back wall out to double the usable floor space.

    There is no door to close the hole where the ramp sits. The supplier provided a piece of wire mesh to be held in place on the inside by bricks when I need to keep the chickens in the coop, and he suggested a piece of cardboard too on cold, drafty days. That seems awkward and inconvenient, so I was also intending to put a hinged door that would close down over the opening on the outside.

    "If I knew then what I know now...", I would have built my own coop and run. But no regrets because if I had decided to build a coop, other projects would have taken priority and we wouldn't have had chickens for a while. By having this pre-built coop, the chicks are already bringing pleasure to our family.

  4. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    My suggestions would be to build a new coop section, or expand this one. The interior dimensions of the coop is only 8sq. feet. That means that each bird has less than 3 sq feet. If you keep the nesting box inside, its even less. If it were me, I would built a simple 4x4 coop with a wood floor and a pop door and ramp from the bottom that can be lifted up with a pully to make a door at night. You probably have enough roofing material now to make a sloped roof. Keep the run and just place it where the coop is now. You're providing more interior space and more shade underneath. Make a door on the coop so you can get in and clean it. The nesting box may need to be a bit bigger, around 12x12. Make sure to add a window of some sort to add ventilation.

    The one problem with the run is the wire is too big (I think, can't really tell by the photos) if you're keeping the food outside. Mice and small birds will be able to walk right through it to eat the feed. Mice can be solved by picking the feed up at night, but not birds during the day. If you get concerned about it, you could pick up for nylon bird netting or chicken wire and just make the holes smaller.

    Also, you may want to consider making the back of the run (under the coop area) a double door. I see where they provided doors for food and water, but what happened if a bird gets sick or( sadly) dies in the run? How are you going to crawl in there to get it if it is under the coop? This would also let you put the water under there on really hot days, hopefully to keep it a little cooler.

  5. Heartpine

    Heartpine Hatching

    Nov 29, 2012
    Katie -- thanks for your comments. For some reason they sparked me to look at what I have in a different perspective. I now see that the triangle part of the structure is an easily separated single fabrication and can be raised as a unit relatively easily. I'll elevate it and make taller which right away will provide more usable floor space and more decent space (headroom) for a perch. At the same time, I can get a bit more roofing and other materials to make it longer out the back.

    Astute comment about access inside the run. There is an access door on one end that I could squeeze through. And my 12 yo daughter said she'd be willing to go into the run--poop or not--if needed. But when I make my modifications, I'll take your advice.

    And good comments about the mice and suggested solutions. The feeder is suspended by a wire but don't know if that would make a difference. Our neighborhood actually has a lot of fruit rats--lots of citrus trees, especially loaded with fruit right now. There's a grapefruit tree in behind the coop in the pics. Didn't occur to me to just now to think about whether rats bother chickens and their eggs.

    And interesting comment about keeping the chickens cool. I've read lots of information about keeping them warm in the winter but am (ignorant at the moment) about summer needs. More learning to do! Temps rarely exceed 95 in our area.

    Thanks again.
  6. The Lazy L

    The Lazy L Songster

    Dec 16, 2011
    Tampa area....hmmmm

    The 3 walls directly under the triangle, cover or make them solid and put in a perch.

    Triangle section use for nesting box(s) only.

    Thought is the chicks will sleep under the triangle on their new perch and go up stairs to the triangle section to lay.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  7. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    Rats are what you have to worry about. They are the ones that will knaw off chicken toes and legs in the middle of the night. Mice will normally just go after the food. I'm not familiar with fruit rats though.

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