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Flock outgrew the current coop, need to build a new one. Ideas?

 
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If this subject has been addressed before, please feel free to let me know. I searched, but didn't find anything specific to this question.

My current flock of Black Orpingtons (10 hens, 1 rooster) have gotten too fat. They are cramped in their little coop at night. I know they appreciate snuggling up to each other in the winter, but I predict they will be miserably hot this summer.

I am thinking of building a new coop. Hubbie just wants a basic "four walls and a roof". Big enough to walk in, several perches for night roosting, a few nesting boxes, etc. I am on board with that!

We are not planning to tear down the current coop, as it would be a great shed where I can keep food, extra bedding, shovels, etc.

Has anyone got any wisdom regarding this? For instance, how long before the birds got used to a new coop? How long did they fuss because they couldn't use their old coop?

Also, we're interested in getting some quail started sometime in the future. Has anyone built something like a "double decker" chicken coop on the ground floor with a quail hutch on top? Thoughts? Suggestions? Warnings?
 
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My relatively brief experience with chickens suggests to me that as much as they are creatures of habit, they are also highly adaptable and able to deal with change. I would think that your transition to a new coop will be seamless.
 
Stacie Kim
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Thank you, that was encouraging. I trust that if I kept the old coop's door shut and spent a few evenings wrangling them into their new coop, they'd get the hint. But as I've never had to actually do it before, I am only guessing.
 
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Consider both what the humans need and the chickens need. Chickens need safety, minimum of pests like mites/rats/coons.

Make it easy to clean: 1. My perches bolt in so I can remove them to clean them and around them.
2. Our nest boxes are hooked onto a wall, so they can come out for a thorough cleaning.
3. If using wood, make things as smooth as possible so there are no cracks for mites/lice to hide in - linseed oil based natural paints to cover gaps for example.

Good airflow without the perches being in a draft. Have the airflow adjustable. Don't cover openings with chicken wire as too many things can chew through it - go for something like hardware cloth. Back to above - our brooder has a window with 1/2 sliding, but the hardware cloth cover was nailed to the wall over it making one side impossible to clean. I took it apart and added hinges and a hook, so I can swing it open to clean (former owners built the coop).

If the coop is stationary, look at every potential spot a mink/coon/rat could dig or chew their way in and reinforce with wire or metal. Feed attracts rats, rats are prey for both coon and mink. I don't know what you feed your birds, but ours get access to commercial feed, so we hang the feeder above the perches and make sure there's no way the rats can climb up. Chickens will attack rats, so if the rats can't "sneak up on the feed and then run and hide" it's a big help.

A bit more money and planning up front can give better long term results. It's easy to put a deep concrete knee-wall in at the beginning so things can't dig in and bird's shit can't rot the supports than to have what our brooder is like - a constant compromise that was built without considering the "chickeness of chickens" - they dig, they scratch, they take dust-baths etc.

Consider your climate - we're wet and at "biodegradable" temperatures all winter, so it is worth a little embodied energy material that doesn't rust or rot compared to the work of rebuilding every 5 years. People with a bunch of snow get much less winter rot, but need to consider snow loads.

I like the concept of a central coop with multiple "paddocks" filled with chicken-friendly plants which the chickens can be rotated through so they don't "moonscape" the area right around their door. I'd try for 5 paddocks and a deep mulch "porch" area leading to them. Yes - more fencing and work up front, but easier to manage long term. It doesn't mean that you can't free range them at times, but paddock/shift has many benefits environmentally.

If you're going to have a mobile coop (most of ours are that Hubby uses for his egg and meat chicken business) keep them light and easy to move. That's *much* harder to do than it sounds as they get heavy fast. I can move 1 or 2 of his 10'x12' shelters straight ahead if it's flat or down hill - but I'm about 110 lbs and small boned. That said, I've been doing chickens for over 20 years and have an interest in coop styles and I've seen way too many "portable" coops that rarely moved more than once a year - too big, too heavy, took at least two people, hadn't planned for something like a trailer hitch with a crank to make them easy to hook up etc, etc.

Yes, I admit, I'm a little opinionated on this subject - I've seem too many coops that were too hard for people to clean/move/keep rats out of. There's an attitude out there - "keep chickens, it's fun and easy and you re-purpose any shed to house them" and I've seen it done poorly too often.
 
Stacie Kim
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Thank you thank you thank you!! You are a wealth of information, and I appreciate you sharing it with me.

Our first flock had a chicken tractor, and I know from experience when you advise me to keep it light and easy to move. Hubby built it to last, which unfortunately made it HEAVY. I told him he needs to start building storm shelters! LOL It was a chore for me to move, which is why I specifically wanted our current coop to be stationary. It's worked well for us, other than being a tad too small. And we can't figure out a good way to enlarge it, so we're inclined to just build a bigger one.

We hadn't originally intended to keep 11 birds, but the lady we bought our current flock from was generous and threw in an extra bird for us. That means our coop is just a bit to small, I think. They all fit in there just fine, but I worry about their long-term health being so close together. And the hot, humid summers we have would really stress them, I think. We also built ours with removable perches, like you said, so the coop is easier to clean. But, it's time to upgrade. I'd like to keep the current one as a tool shed for chicken-tending equipment, and maybe also for a brooder/isolation area.

We have hardware cloth at the vents we currently have, and we like how it's working. So far, we've never had an issue with vermin or snakes. (Knock on wood!) We'll utilize hardware cloth again on our new coop. Rat snakes are a problem here...ugh... I agree, chicken wire is not ideal.

I like your idea of setting the poles in concrete, as we are also in a wet climate. Wood rot is a real issue for us, too.

Our chickens are out during the day, so the coop itself is generally only occupied for egg-laying and roosting. I'd like the new coop to have more room for food, water, and scratching if they want to head indoors during bad weather. (They currently have a covered patio hubbie built them for an outdoor shelter.)

Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge. It will probably be Spring before we  start building the new coop, as I think the birds are enjoying the closeness these winter nights. That also gives us time to pick the brains of more experienced chicken folks like yourself.

 
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Are they accustomed to following you for treats? If so, give treats in the new coop close to sunset, and shut them in before they head toward the old coop. After a few rounds of this, their habits should change so they go to the new one instead.
 
Jay Angler
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Stacie Kim

I'd like to keep the current one as a tool shed for chicken-tending equipment, and maybe also for a brooder/isolation area.

I totally agree with this wisdom! Having extra equipment and supplies close, but where they won't get dust and dander on them saves cleaning, and having an isolation area is critical for saving an injured bird, rehabilitating it, and being able to re-introduce it to the main flock gradually when it's ready. Chickens can get hurt in any number of ways and if there's "blood leaking" or "scabs" the other chickens will peck at the girl and kill her even if she was totally capable of recovering. In the wild, the girl would have hid like she was broody until the wound healed, but a coop is nothing like the jungle ecosystem of chicken forefathers. You may know all this Stacie, but permies has lots of people who read about topics like this while contemplating having chickens join their life (pets with benefits!)

Yes, thinking about the new coop and planning it slowly is also a good idea.

And also wrote:

Our first flock had a chicken tractor, and I know from experience when you advise me to keep it light and easy to move. Hubby built it to last, which unfortunately made it HEAVY.

We build ours so light that we have pins with straps and large spikes we push or hammer into the ground to hold them down. For 'regular weather' we just put two spikes in on the trailing end, but we get gusty winds in the winter and if there's a wind warning, we spike them in all four corners, particularly if they're in areas of the field with no shelter from the wind. If really bad weather is predicted, I try to block the wheels as well, or get Hubby to go out and remove the wheels.
 
Stacie Kim
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:Are they accustomed to following you for treats? If so, give treats in the new coop close to sunset, and shut them in before they head toward the old coop. After a few rounds of this, their habits should change so they go to the new one instead.



Not yet. They tend to be a cautious breed, apparently. They do follow me for their fermented feed, but I don't generally give them that much of a meal so close to bedtime. (Makes for stinky coop, in my experience.)

However, your suggestion reminded me that we want to get a mealworm harvesting system going. (Add that to my "To Do List.")

 
Stacie Kim
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Jay Angler wrote: Chickens can get hurt in any number of ways and if there's "blood leaking" or "scabs" the other chickens will peck at the girl and kill her even if she was totally capable of recovering. In the wild, the girl would have hid like she was broody until the wound healed, but a coop is nothing like the jungle ecosystem of chicken forefathers. You may know all this Stacie, but permies has lots of people who read about topics like this while contemplating having chickens join their life (pets with benefits!)



Unfortunately, I do know this. A poor chicken from our first flock got her tail bit very badly by our dog, who was protecting a milk-bone that the chicken was too curious about. We ended up having to euthanize the chicken.

So to all the permies who are wisely researching topics here before diving in with a new project, kudos to you! Let me advise you that no matter how loving and kind and patient your dog is, it's still a dog who has an innate instinct to protect its prize. Our current dog is NEVER allowed anywhere near the chickens. They have their own area the dog can't access.

Thanks, Jay.
 
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Our current coop/chicken run is maxed out, but we wanted to start a second flock. Our answer was a mobile coop so the chicken can get fresh grass. We can't free-range on our place because of all the bobcats, foxes, hawks, and owls in our area (learned from experience).

We created our own plans from ideas we scoured from many different designs we found.
Mobile_Coop.jpg
[Thumbnail for Mobile_Coop.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Jay Angler, in particular, hit many of the same critical points I would have made, so i've only a few to add.

If rot is an issue, consider forgoing wood supports entirely, and go with round galvanized posts (such is used for chain link fencing), embedded in concrete, and screw metal roofing to the the poles with fender washers. This is weatherproof, climbproof, and very easy to clean. You could even do it on both sides of the pole and insulate in between if desired...

Windows with mosquito mesh on inside, hardware cloth on outside, then glass/plexi shutters for winter? Keeping flies out, if possible, is always desirable.  Will Chickens use a "flap door" like a dog door or go through hanging strips of clear flexible vinyl?

Peak vents at either end with a door you can close in winter and/or a ridge vent that is a bit larger than usual (a few inches?) or old fashioned cupola (with panels to close in winter) reinforced with mosquito then hardware cloth to allow heat to escape when hot.

Perches of a variety of sizes and materials to lessen bumblefoot (commonly caused by inappropriate perch size/material.

Sloped concrete floor that will allow you to easily flush it out when needed, and prevent critters from digging in.

Consider incorporating a side room to be used as a sick bay, brooding chick's or the quail later. Not suer it is advisable to "stack" them atop the chickens, but could go "next door, with sick bay in between the two species?

I have just built a roof over the back porch and used landscape ties for rafters (less than half the price of a standard 4x4, and cheaper than a 2x4) - they are pressure treated (I know, yech) but unlikely to rot and create a super strong roof structure.

In a perfect world all walls would be metal roofing panels, roof metal, poles metal, floor and knee walls concrete, and ventilation/windows as described above, trimmed out with composite deck boards - nary a thing to rot, grow mold or harbor bacteria etc. - but not necessarily the most environmentally friendly...unless longevity balances the equation.

Used metal roofing is often available for cheap or for free - for walls, the odd hole is of no issue, likely.
 
Stacie Kim
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Thanks for the ideas, Lorinne! We have some extra chain link posts, I will definitely bring up that thought to hubbie. We also have bits of old aluminum roofing. Not sure it's enough to make a new coop, but definitely something to think about. We have a few construction salvage companies in town who could sell us the remainder of what we need. Ideally, I'd like the roof to slope into some sort of a rain catchment system. Nothing elaborate, just enough to give the flock fresh drinking water and hose out whatever needs a good scrubbing.

Maybe Jay Angler's idea of a concrete knee wall around the foundation and then setting the metal fence posts in the concrete? Hmm, the brainstorm is coming!!

Patrick, I LOVE your chicken tractor! And the roo inside is quite the handsome bloke. :-D

 
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I'm gonna suggest a deep bed over top a hard surface.
I think I'd lay down hardboard on compacted earth, and build a kneewall around it.
I might use dry stacked cinderblocks with rebar or 2x4 stakes driven into the voids, followed by large rough gravel and stones.
No need for cement or mortar,
To finish the enclosure, a screen house shrouded in 1/2"  hardware cloth.
Clear plastic over the whole thing in the winter, white or silver tarp during the summer.
If you feel the need for insulation, moving blankets work great.
Put a pile soil in one corner, for dustbaths and dry leaves or straw, etc, every were else.

My current coop is tiny, but it is essentially like  this, a screenhouse.
Here's the coop with the side off for cleaning:

IMG_20201223_132542.jpg
The coop with the side off for cleaning.
The coop with the side off for cleaning.
IMG_20201223_132415.jpg
Side back on . During summer, there are no blankets.
Side back on . During summer, there are no blankets.
IMG_20201223_132315.jpg
Tarp and blankets, tucked in cozy
Tarp and blankets, tucked in cozy
 
Stacie Kim
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William, thank you for explaining your set up. I like your idea of blankets and tarps. We have extra cinder blocks, so those should be easy to utilize too.

May I ask about the black plastic trays under your coop floor? I'm assuming manure collection? If so, what a clever idea!

Our current coop floor is actually an old 4 x 8 wooden pallet, with old bits of plywood laid across the top. Then we use lots of mulch, which I rake out and replace almost daily. I'm envisioning something similar for our new coop---bare earth with deep mulch layers.
 
Jay Angler
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Stacie Kim wrote: Then we use lots of mulch, which I rake out and replace almost daily. I'm envisioning something similar for our new coop---bare earth with deep mulch layers.

If the mulch is deep enough and if the coop stays dry enough, but not too dry, the mulch may compost in place. This works for me in the summer in two locations, although I'll fork it a little in areas to aerate it and sprinkle a little fresh mulch every day or two. I'm again able to make a little biochar which is great mixed in with the mulch. Unfortunately, the system doesn't work in winter - our days are short so the birds are "in" longer, it's so wet nothing dries, and cold enough that the decomposition lags the rate of additions, so I end up having to fork it out into a compost (or if you read other threads here, I admitted I gave a garbage can of the stuff to a neighbor for Christmas - he was thrilled!) The smell isn't an issue, but headroom is!
 
William Bronson
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Stacie, the bottom of the coop is mesh, for maximum aeration.
The chickens will scratch the bedding into piece that are small enough to pass through the mesh, so I have two concrete mixing trays there to catch the these fine particles.

I have the same experience as Jay,  good in place composting during the warmer weather, poor during the winter.
I remove all bedding and send it to the composting run where the hens work it over.
I started with a large walk in coop/run where all composting took place, but the it was too close to the  property line.
IMG_20201214_125132.jpg
Chicken in the composting yard with fresh load of autumn leaves.
Chicken in the composting yard with fresh load of autumn leaves.
 
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I was needing a larger coop. I decided to go with multiple smaller coops. It leaves me with more options. I can have more than one rooster, I have more space to isolate birds as  needed,  I can dedicate a run for chicks, etc.
 
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Don't know if these will give you any ideas....

Our first coop (8x10) and run (10x16) in 2013....and a small coop (we bought) and run (8x8)

150.jpg
Large coop and run
Large coop and run
013-Aug_9.jpg
Small coop and run
Small coop and run
 
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My favorite thing about my coop is the ventilation. We went with a shed roof and the top triangle is open but covered with hardware cloth. I have never had an odor or fly problem, nor do I have to clean the coop out often, just add more and more leaves. Strangely enough, sometimes it smells very good. I wasn't expecting that.
 
Jay Angler
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If you're considering building the "Cadillac" of coops, consider having a secure "anteroom" where you can enter and close the door behind you before entering the area the chickens can access. Today I was trying to service a mixed group of Khaki ducks and chickens. I find the door on that shelter awkward at the best of times, but the incredible rain we've had over the last 3 weeks has made it worse. Before I could put down the buckets I was holding, a duck was out, and they're total groupies, so before I knew it, they were *all* out. I was going to leave them in because it was raining again and I hadn't moved their portable run, but herding them in there was the easiest solution. There's no feed in their portable run, so after a couple of hours looking for slugs that were stupid enough to go there, getting them back in their shelter was do-able. An anteroom could be useful for first aid or raising chicks, and for holding tools you use for managing the coop and run.
 
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[quote=Jim Guinn]Don't know if these will give you any ideas....

Our first coop (8x10) and run (10x16) in 2013

[/quote]

You wouldn't happen to have plans for this? It looks great. I keep looking for The Best Chicken Coop plan, and can't believe it's not out there. ;-) I'm not handy enough (yet!) to wing it.
 
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You might want to consult a book, titled "RAISING POULTRY THE MODERN WAY" by Leonard Mercer. Published by Garden Way publication. My copy is old, from 1975. I know there is a newer version by Gail Demarow. In this book, there is a great layout for a coop I built in 2004. I added a grain room that runs the depth of the coop, put up an extra wall between the grain room and main living area. I increased the overhang on the front of the coop to shade the interior in the summer months. I insulated floor, walls & ceiling as well as wiring for electric. The grain room is very useful for keeping broody hens and newly hatched chicks in cold months as well as isolation area (in small dog kennels) for sick or injured chickens. The electric allows for supplemental lighting in winter months after the molt is done. Also, the electric allows using a heating pad should a bird need heat while in isolation.

I used recycled windows and recycled door between the grain room & living area for the birds.I bought an exterior door for the main entrance. All walls in the living area were finished on the interior with shiplap siding and scrap plywood was used in the grain room. I used rigid foam insulation and it needs to be kept away from the birds since they seem to LOVE eating the foam insulation.

I put hardware cloth under the floor (below the rigid foam insulation) and up the sides of the exterior walls before putting up the exterior siding (I used exterior 5/8" plywood, stained with oil) to assure that rodents couldn't chew through to the inside of the coop. No sense in having a grain room full of certified organic grain if the mice/rats can eat it!

The front of the coop faced south, allowing sun to enter the coop in the winter months but shading from the hot summer sun. In winter on a sunny day, the interior of the coop might reach 60 degrees. In summer, the shaded front kept the coop at least 15 degrees cooler than outside. I used two double-hug windows on the front of the coop, one on each side of the coop (one was in the grain room) and covered all the windows on the outside with half-inch hardware cloth, screwed down with battens. I created two, large awning windows on the back of the coop, covered again with half inch hardware cloth. The large awning openings gave excellent ventilation when cleaning out the coop and in summer months.

I sprung for the good roofing...Channel metal. It was worth it in winter months, for the snow slid right off the roof.

I hand-crafted an insulated guillotine door for the birds' entry and exit to the outside. The rope to lower/raise the door was in the grain room with a heavy-duty cleat. Worked well but sometimes got loaded up with wet shavings in winter, so I sometimes had to scrape off any material to prevent freezing just before closing the door at night. This happened only in wet or snowy weather and I didn't feel it was an issue, so I never tried to fix it.

This was a great coop, could house up to 60 birds on the roosts. I used tree branches of different diameters and installed them through the ship-lap siding with hole saws and then fastened them with 3" sheet rock screws to prevent them from turning. Different sized roosts are good exercise for the birds' feet. Do not use pine or any fur for roosts, the sap will cause damage to the birds' feet. I used oak, ash, locust. Pre-drilling the holes in the roosts make it easier to fasten them to the ship-lap siding.

Egg laying boxes must be lower than roosts or the hens will sleep in the egg boxes rather than on the roosts. A habit very hard to break and making for very dirty eggs.  Best to put the roosts up higher in the beginning.

I hope this helps...I have graduated from the SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS.
 
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Stacie Kim wrote:If this subject has been addressed before, please feel free to let me know. I searched, but didn't find anything specific to this question.
My current flock of Black Orpingtons (10 hens, 1 rooster) have gotten too fat. They are cramped in their little coop at night. I know they appreciate snuggling up to each other in the winter, but I predict they will be miserably hot this summer.
I am thinking of building a new coop. Hubbie just wants a basic "four walls and a roof". Big enough to walk in, several perches for night roosting, a few nesting boxes, etc. I am on board with that!
We are not planning to tear down the current coop, as it would be a great shed where I can keep food, extra bedding, shovels, etc.
Has anyone got any wisdom regarding this? For instance, how long before the birds got used to a new coop? How long did they fuss because they couldn't use their old coop?
Also, we're interested in getting some quail started sometime in the future. Has anyone built something like a "double decker" chicken coop on the ground floor with a quail hutch on top? Thoughts? Suggestions? Warnings?



In your zone, they will indeed be miserable and stop laying/ start pecking if they are cramped. Hubby's idea is great and will cost less, especially if you can build it out of 1/2"wire mesh tacked to 2X4". They will enjoy the breeze. I'm in zone 4 and my chickens will have fun in the snow  if it is not too deep, so overheating is the enemy. A simple slanted roof [going down toward the south] is simple enough to build and will provide more shade. Don't worry about them pining for their old coop: That was the place where they were cramped, remember? a more spacious area  will be especially inviting. If there is a connection between old and new, I think they will start roosting and laying there as soon as it is built. If not, close the old early in the morning, after you've picked the eggs. Have water and feed only in the new. First night, they will look a little confused, but if they've had a chance to explore the area during the day, they will go there on the first night and never look back.
I've been daydreaming of starting coturnix quails myself as they grow quite fast and are very good to eat! They produce many eggs too. I have not figured out all the kinks yet but I hear they are often kept in hutches until butchering. That is the one thing that is holding me back. But if you don't keep them in hutches, they will just run away and get killed. If space is a problem, then the double decker solution is probably best. If you go with the double decker, think carefully about the transition: getting feed and water in and out, Pulling them out of their cages to look them over...? They take so little room, so if space is not an issue, you might want to keep them totally separated. I don't know if they might make your chicken sick or vice versa.
 
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We had similar situation - old coop was in bad shape, drafty and we lost chickens due to build up of moisture in the winter so were looking for a new coop

Found the 1920s Woods Fresh Air Poultry book online and decided that was our ticket. (book online at Woods Fresh Air Poultry House -- discussions here: Fresh Air Coop Discussion)

Used pallets to build the frame on store-bought skids and purchased lumber for roof - used cast off (free) windows for the clerestory. 8 x 12 (Woods design is based on golden ratio 1.6 - so basically a square main area - in our case 8x8, with fresh air "porch", in our case 4' - so not exactly golden but darn close). Baffle board will be installed on rear rafters today to further seal against drafts as the temps will decrease the next few weeks and snow continues to accumulate toward our average of 200"+ :)

Our 9 chickens and 1 rooster LOVE it, and even though it has been below zero several nights, no signs of frostbite. Chickens are roosting normally (not clumped together) signalling they are warm enough without needing extra body heat from other chickens.

Solar power project begun but not finished for the season extension bulb and the water warmer so using extension cord power at the moment. Needing a larger panel and larger battery for the warmer. Did have a small aquarium pump in the 5 gallon water bucket and that kept water in the bucket from freezing but the nipples were freezing up so had to go to a small (250watt) submersible heater.
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Stacie Kim
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What a beautiful setup, Conrad! I like how you reused lumber and windows, but it looks so professional and cozy.
We also built our current coop using mostly free pallet wood, although our roof decking is two store-bought 4x8 plywood, shingled in asphalt shingles.
 
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Conrad Farmer wrote:We had similar situation - old coop was in bad shape, drafty and we lost chickens due to build up of moisture in the winter so were looking for a new coop

Found the 1920s Woods Fresh Air Poultry book online and decided that was our ticket. (book online at Woods Fresh Air Poultry House -- discussions here: Fresh Air Coop Discussion)
Used pallets to build the frame on store-bought skids and purchased lumber for roof - used cast off (free) windows for the clerestory. 8 x 12 (Woods design is based on golden ratio 1.6 - so basically a square main area - in our case 8x8, with fresh air "porch", in our case 4' - so not exactly golden but darn close). Baffle board will be installed on rear rafters today to further seal against drafts as the temps will decrease the next few weeks and snow continues to accumulate toward our average of 200"+ :)
Our 9 chickens and 1 rooster LOVE it, and even though it has been below zero several nights, no signs of frostbite. Chickens are roosting normally (not clumped together) signalling they are warm enough without needing extra body heat from other chickens.
Solar power project begun but not finished for the season extension bulb and the water warmer so using extension cord power at the moment. Needing a larger panel and larger battery for the warmer. Did have a small aquarium pump in the 5 gallon water bucket and that kept water in the bucket from freezing but the nipples were freezing up so had to go to a small (250watt) submersible heater.



Certainly well thought out. Those windows also add a great deal of light to the back of the building.
 
Jim Guinn
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[quote=Erica Colmenares][quote=Jim Guinn]Don't know if these will give you any ideas....

Our first coop (8x10) and run (10x16) in 2013

[/quote]

You wouldn't happen to have plans for this? It looks great. I keep looking for The Best Chicken Coop plan, and can't believe it's not out there. ;-) I'm not handy enough (yet!) to wing it. [/quote]

You can find the plans for the coop I built here:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/new-coop-being-built-at-moonshadows-farm.768077/#post-10940225

 
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Conrad Farmer wrote:We had similar situation - old coop was in bad shape, drafty and we lost chickens due to build up of moisture in the winter so were looking for a new coop

Found the 1920s Woods Fresh Air Poultry book online

Used pallets to build the frame on store-bought skids and purchased lumber for roof - used cast off (free) windows for the clerestory. 8 x 12 (Woods design is based on golden ratio 1.6 - so basically a square main area - in our case 8x8, with fresh air "porch", in our case 4' - so not exactly golden but darn close). Baffle board will be installed on rear rafters today to further seal against drafts as the temps will decrease the next few weeks and snow continues to accumulate toward our average of 200"+ :)



That's the same type of coop I am building for my new place.  I'm building mine 8x16, but it will look much like yours.

I live in a very cold area and when I first got chickens, I was terribly concerned about the cold, so I insulated the coop and kept it locked up tight on cold nights (and days if it was very cold).  I lost a number of chickens to respiratory illness due to lack of ventilation.  The coop was never dry enough, and I could sometimes smell ammonia.  I greatly increased the ventilation in later years.  I'm convinced now that having a very dry, well ventilated coop is by far the biggest concern with keeping chickens healthy, no matter the temperature.  We hit -40F two winters ago for two nights in a row and my chickens were fine.  I get les frostbite now than I did when the chickens were in a tight, insulated coop that was much warmed, but damper, than my current setup.  The new coop will be deep enough at 16' that no cold winds will be able to enter, but the open front will ensure great ventilation year round.  It should keep the coop very dry, and without drafts.
 
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