• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

chicken coops/runs/tractors/paddocks/pens/etc.  RSS feed

 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1832
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
91
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like you know what you're doing!

Thekla




 
Clifford Reinke
Posts: 124
Location: Puget Sound
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a coop my sister and BIL designed and built for their Urban setting. It has some nice features.

Urban Coop
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1832
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
91
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lots of great innovations in that coop! I'm sure the chicken set up at my place will be influenced in the next year.

Thanks for posting

Thekla
 
John Alabarr
Posts: 80
1
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I built a move-able chicken cage. It is 8 foot by 8 foot at the base and a little over 6 foot tall. Its like a chicken tractor, but doesn't have wheels yet. To move it, I go inside and lift the 2x2's above my head (its pretty light). In the picture, you see that it doesn't have a roof. I have since nailed a tarp over the top of it and added nesting boxes. I move it every couple of weeks.
chickencoop2.jpg
[Thumbnail for chickencoop2.jpg]
newchickens2.jpg
[Thumbnail for newchickens2.jpg]
 
Megan Hutchison
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great thread! I immediately knew rotating paddocks is what I wanted to try to do with the space I have. Ironically we live on 65 acres, but it is not ours, and we are situated as such that we have quite limited space we can use to raise a flock as most of the area around our home has to have complete access for the owner to tend fences/etc. We are not home much during the day, and have a high predator presence of hawks/coyotes/bobcats/raccoons, so any kind of temporary fencing or free ranging is not really an option.

What we do have: An odd shaped area we have fenced in using free lumber and wire (with wire roof due to the plentiful hawks as well as raccoons) is roughly 550sqft. We "inherited" a 8'x4' raised coop from a neighbor we will be using that will be inside this fenced area. My thoughts is to create a roof over an area roughly 8x12 feet (odd shape, so not sure exactly) that would include the coop, feeders, water, & dust bath as a central area they always have access to. Leaving about 450sqft give or take to divide into paddocks (I plan to use some sort of plastic mesh poultry/deer fencing to accomplish this). First off - how many chickens do you think this would decently support given the right care and cultivation, and how much do you think I should divide it up? It would be easier with the shape to divide it into 3, but I know at least 4 separate paddocks is recommended, which would make 4 areas of about 100sqft each. Currently the entire fenced area is surrounded by primarily oak trees, scotch broom, and a couple not very thriving blackberry bushes. Inside the fence is a lot of leaves, which I will plan to rake back occassionally into nice leaf piles to hopefully attract plenty of bugs, and thick/wild ground cover, mostly grasses (though right now due to the drought here in California, and it not having been given attention until now, this is primarily still brown/dead, and just started the first signs of greening for the winter, but of course we plan on starting to water this area, and hopefully we get some rain!). Things I already have on hand and plan to add into the cultivation are squashes and kale, and would like to get some oats or some sort of wheat going, kamut?. Among what I hope to plant come spring that I already have on hand are ground cherries, peas, continue with kale, celeriac, clover, to start with.

Our ideal plan we would like to work up to would be to host about 10 layers of a dual purpose breed (likely mostly orpingtons for their broodiness since our off grid power wont allow for incubators and brooders), a roo, and then grow out crops of whatever chicks we can get to fill out/replace our layer flock, as well as for any supplemental meat that comes along with that.

Is this at all realistic?

Appreciate any good input or advice.

~Megan
Filename: coop.bmp
Description: odd shaped chicken area
File size: 92 Kbytes
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2114
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
190
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Did you see geoff lawton's recent (free) video about Vermont Compost, which raises chickens on just compost? No grain fed to the hens at all. I think they have massive piles of wood waste, manure and restaurant scraps. This may actually be a better plan than trying to grow forage for chickens, who like greens but need more than just greens in their diet. Do you have neighbors with horses? You could take their used bedding, and get food scraps from restaurants or even maybe a local school (kids waste so much food!!).

I should note that chickens can catch influenza from people (and vice versa) so there is a small risk in taking food waste from the general public. However, in this case the risk would be to the birds, not to you--you're not likely to catch the flu from your birds unless you really are close to them. Anyway, this is why feeding restaurant waste to pigs is not happening as much as I'd think it should be--pigs are quite sensitive to human viruses, even more than birds, I think. Catching a human virus can make a boar sterile without a lot of clues (until the piglets don't show up as expected). This is my understanding from Walter Jeffries, who knows far more than me, but it finally got me to stop ranting about how all restaurants should be raising pigs...
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3734
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
87
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Julia Winter wrote:Anyway, this is why feeding restaurant waste to pigs is not happening as much as I'd think it should be--pigs are quite sensitive to human viruses, even more than birds, I think.


I think this is why people used to cook food scraps before serving to pigs.

BTW, here's the link to Geoff's site:
http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/59960-feed-chickens-without-grain
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2114
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
190
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the link, and I didn't know that people used to cook leftovers before giving them to pigs. Cool! I suppose that's how you end up with "slop." You take all the food waste, add a fair amount of water and bring it to a boil. That should be OK for your basic cold and flu viruses. Prions are scary, but thankfully quite rare.

So, what we need to scheme about is a rocket stove pig slop boiler. . . shouldn't be too far from a rocket stove sap evaporator, right?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I lived in Las Vegas there was this guy who....

Oh, just let Mike Rowe tell the story:



He used to be way, way out in North Las Vegas......until the developers made their way out that far.....and sold houses to people never disclosing that they would be downwind of a pig farm.
 
Rob Stout
Posts: 2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here are some pics of our chicken tractor. It has a 4" insulated lid and snow skis for sliding it around.
Sckt3921.jpg
[Thumbnail for Sckt3921.jpg]
Sckt3923.jpg
[Thumbnail for Sckt3923.jpg]
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 228
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
14
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some comments

First I see lots of permanent nest boxes. Here was my mothers answer. mother earth new nest boxes.

I am going to say it worked better and more reliably than the solid nest boxes we ever had.

Second I see no mention of modifying the behavior of you main chickens by the breeds you put with them For example Aracanas are fairly flighty but add a couple of buff cochins to the flock and things will be much calmer. Buff cochins were also the most reliable setting hens we had. They nearly always went to completion unlike most of the other breeds we had. I would never do a flock of fairly flighty chickens like Aracanas or Leghorns without a couple of buff cochins in the mix. If you need flighty for predator protection add guineas.

Third to keep free range chicken eggs where you can find them limit the part of the day that they can free range. Lock them in the coop for the night, let them out in the pen for the morning and release them to free range for the afternoon.

As for traveling to avoid shoveling manure I am fine with it most of the year. But if you want to keep your hens laying reliably through the cold part of the winter you need insulation and heat which most mobile set ups can't provide. Maintaining egg laying at 40 below takes effort. If you have good drainage under the manure and add enough dry bedding to the top and are careful not to spill water mostly the manure dries in place with little to no odor. So while not perfect it is fairly decent. Slabs off an alfalfa hay bale served as both dried green feed cheap and dry bedding to absorb the moisture from the manure.

No one has mentioned the steps to keep hens laying in cold weather. Warmer buildings with steadily available water and greatly increase fat in the diet are the 2 big ones. For fat my parents used to buy 10 lb container of lard. Cut the cardboard bucket off the frozen lard and just put it on a board in the pen. Usually by spring the chickens had eaten about half to 2/3 of it. The feed ration for winter always went for higher fat feeds like corn during the winter months.

As for fences chicken wire is fine but line it with 3 ft heavy hog panels to prevent predators from tearing their way in. Also prevents livestock damage to the chicken wire. Fences should be 8 ft high and keep pens small so chickens that are good fliers don't get to going over it anyway. Short "runways" keep them from being able to climb fast enough to get out. An alternate answer to hog panels is oven grates if you can find a source just wire them together to the chicken wire.

Predator control. Sorry but coons are a problem if you don't work at it. Trap steadily for them year round. If you can get the scent trail to your place killed off then they may leave you alone for months. If you bury enough problems you can mostly keep losses under control.(sorry I know this isn't the permie answer but it was the only semi-reliable one we ever found.)

Now for one that was never tried that is on my to do list. I always want to fence the garden with 2 layers of chicken wire about 8 feet apart to create a run clear around the garden. That way when the grass hopper population exploded the hoppers would have to cross the chicken pen to get to the garden. Move the waterer to the far end so the chickens had reason to go the whole way around. A plus is that fencing scheme should keep deer out of the garden and really reduce problems like racoons and skunks.

On other comment. We would start sweeping with the butterfly net for bugs from a very early age with the chicks. By the time the chickens are adults 5 or 10 minutes sweeping will have a pint to a quart worth of grasshoppers in the net. The chickens seeing the net coming will run to meet it. Usually we went clear into the coop to dump the grasshoppers so they were the most contained. Then the fun begins. There is about 15 minutes of really solid entertainment in dumping a pint or more of live grasshoppers in a pen with 25 chickens.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3734
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
87
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
C. Letellier wrote:
No one has mentioned the steps to keep hens laying in cold weather. Warm buildings with steadily available water and greatly increase fat in the diet are the 2 big ones. For fat my parents used to buy 10 lb container of lard. Cut the cardboard bucket off the frozen lard and just put it on a board in the pen. Usually by spring the chickens had eaten about half to 2/3 of it. The feed ration for winter always went for higher fat feeds like corn during the winter months.


Thanks. Hadn't read that before.
 
Domani Ward
Posts: 2
Location: Washington State Zone 5a
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with your chicken article. I have used most of these methods (not cage method) and agree with your conclusions. I have raised them in town, and rurally. We have a huge coyote problem here you hear them crying every night and found them with a den of pups in an old shed but Dad is afraid of dogs and will not permit one here. My children and I have not finished building our homes and live in an assortment of camps; The outhouse is our bathroom, unless we want to walk down to Dad's house. I had all of my boys use the fenceline to urinate. Us girls hide out at the other side of the property by the trees. I had a bumb-blind lamb that cried all the time and a flock of chickens and the coyotes did not pass the urine line to bother the animals. The feral cats ventured off into coyote land and the coyote's have kept the feral cat population down, but have not bothered the chickens, goats or sheep.

One coyote would wait in the bushes down from our property and stock my little grandchildren attempting to attack them when they would go down the driveway past the urine fence line to the school bus. That coyote was-- shall we say 'relocated'.

In one place I lived in town with chickens, I had a black kitten that grew up with the chickens and she nested with the hens setting on eggs and took a turn when they got down to eat. In the dim light of the coop, I was startled the first time I reached for eggs and felt fur instead of feathers. She did not bother the chicks and defended the chickens from rats and met her doom defending the chickens from an opossum. She won the battle, but died from her wounds.

After hurricane Rita destroyed my fence, the surviving three got loose and became permanently free range and the neighbors loved them and named them and fed them and found surprise eggs in their gardens until they met their demise by someone's dog.
 
Richard Hauser
Posts: 28
Location: NJ
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with the chicken article, but I have a question: what is the special sauce associated with the Allen Savory herd effect?
i.e. Although I agree with your thought process, it seems to be the same process that originally lead Allen Savory to think there were too many elephants.
Is it possible that there is some beneficial effect to the plants from being partially overgrazed and the animals being over compressed?
Or is it that the same effect does not apply because chickens are not elephants?
Is it even possible to postulate how chickens would act in the wild since they have been domesticated so long?
 
Stevie Sun
Posts: 55
Location: Devon, UK
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would love to proper free range my chickens, but I have a small garden and I like to have some plants in my garden as well as chickens. So far (my first 18 months of living with chickens in the garden) they have mainly had access to my whole garden but I have lost the lawn, have ugly fences around my veg beds, and struggle to keep them from destroying my raspberries. I don't mind sharing with them - but I'm fed up with poop on the back step, my plants being killed by them and the ponds that have appeared where the lawn used to be because there's no plants to help move the water. If I didn't care about the plants or getting to enjoy my garden for myself then I would just have their house on my patio and let them continue.

The space I have available for a fully enclosed run is about 3m x 1.5m. I plan on using deep litter, a roof to help keep stuff a little dry (there's a joke that it always rains in my town, it's not far off), and make use of vertical space. I haven't finalised my design yet but I'm getting there. I would love to give them more space but that's just not going to be possible. Yes I know I'm left having to buy feed, but when my garden is growing well I have enough to share that their feed requirements go down a lot. And yes there is cleaning that still needs to be done, but it's not a massive task atm for me. It's not as permaculture as I would like but having my chickens massively helps my veg beds and I consider it part of my learning curve ready for when I will have more space.

My main concerns are making use that their run stays dry enough and they're kept occupied enough to be happy enough. So I'm going to have a roof on my coop to try and keep some of the rain out, and funnel the water into a water butt so it's not just running onto the land. This has the bonus that then I have a water butt by the chickens and the veg bed which needs watering). I'm going to also try and disrupt the water that flows to that corner of the garden. Two sides of the coop will be enclosed by boundary fence. I'm still thinking through how to keep the ground as dry as possible although it might involve paving slabs spaced out under the litter so it's not in contact with the ground.
 
April Swift
Posts: 19
Location: Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have read alot about the moveable paddocks with electric fencing or galvanized wire in a circle which sounds great in theory but my question is if you have lots of trees, how do you keep predators from coming down the trees and decimating the flock? Also electric fencing shorts out easily so I can't figure out how to fence forest areas with it. Right now I am using a totally enclosed coop and sprouting grains and cutting fresh hay for them.. .which quite frankly is TOO much work.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3734
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
87
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
April Swift wrote:...my question is if you have lots of trees, how do you keep predators from coming down the trees and decimating the flock?


Livestock Guard Dogs (LGDs)
There are multiple threads in the predators forum, here's one,

If you mean attacks from the air, my LGDs prevented that - no killings - but they haven't prevent egg theft by ravens.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1155
Location: northern northern california
71
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
this is how my mom solves this issue - she built a chicken house that is exactly the same size as her raised garden beds, with two long boards coming off each side.

the raised beds are side by side, neat rows of same sized raised beds -unlike my gardens which are all everywhere =) and odd sized...her set up is nice and neat, not permaculture but organic - but she is producing some good stuff in these small beds.

the bottom of the chicken house is hardware cloth, metal mesh- no floor. it sits on top of the raised beds.

the chickens eat all her leftovers/compost and occasionally get feed, and garden scraps, then they shit it out onto the unused raised bed.
once a year she moves it over to the next bed.
this is quite easy, one person on each side grabs the "handles"- the boards coming off the side- and moves it over quickly.
never cleans or moves the poop!

havent read this whole thread, so probably someone has suggested something along these lines....
but i think its a nice simple set up.
they sometimes free range, but they seem to like the little house and they stay close by without having to try to keep them enclosed too much.
though every once in a while they get her in trouble with the neighbors, they go over and check stuff out and have to be brought back.
 
Emily Aaston
Posts: 138
Location: montana
29
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am trying to come up with a plan for raising broilers this coming summer. Following Salatin's broiler pen style seems like a good place to start. However, I would be attempting this on some gentle hilly and undulating terrain. It seems that his model would only work on perfectly flat ground. Has anyone come up with a broiler pen model that works on uneven terrain, or have ideas for alternative systems? Thanks much!
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Emily Aaston wrote:I am trying to come up with a plan for raising broilers this coming summer. Following Salatin's broiler pen style seems like a good place to start. However, I would be attempting this on some gentle hilly and undulating terrain. It seems that his model would only work on perfectly flat ground. Has anyone come up with a broiler pen model that works on uneven terrain, or have ideas for alternative systems? Thanks much!


Have you watched the videos of Joel's pastured broiler pens? Clearly not "perfectly flat ground". An inch or two gap between the bottom of the frame and the ground is not going to be a chicken escape hatch
 
Bianca Morton
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have to admit I did not read the whole thread. I will eventually but before that I'd like to ask about sizing for the paddock chicken coop. I have 2 chickens and 8 more growing that should be ready to join the "flock" in a couple of weeks. That gives me a total of 10 chickens. How big should I make the coop for the paddock system? ive been reading 4sqft per chicken but wouldnt that make a bit too big to move around the areas? I do get a bit of frost at night and some days in the winter do stay below freezing for the whole day. Ive been told we should get a couple feet of snow but havent experienced it this winter. Also how big each area?

TLDR:
How big should a coop be for 10 chickens using the paddock system?
How big each area should be for 10 chickens using the paddock system?

Thanks
 
Tom DeCoste
Posts: 69
Location: Seboeis Plantation, ME
4
forest garden
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've got the plans for 4 and material list for 3 of these coops. http://seaberry-hippophaerhamnoides.blogspot.com/2015/03/sustainable-living-chickens.html
Photos -
Moveable Coop

Nice one with shade underneath

Barn looking one with good ventilation

Condo
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is our eggmobile, built from ideas from all over, from here and Joel Salatins eggmobiles, just much smaller. The roof gathers rainwater and collects it in a 30 gallon barrel on the front that goes to an automatic refilling dog bowl on the side for LGD and chickens. IT has 4 nest boxes on each side and holds 50 lbs of chicken food and 50 lbs of dog food with dispensers on board. When we rotate the cows, we close 'em up at night and roll 'em to the next pasture to open them the next morning. Works really well, but the roll away nest boxes dont work so well since our pasture is not level.
IMG_0818.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_0818.JPG]
 
Jane Mackey
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
matt - I love your eggmobile!! I don't understand why the nest boxes don't work though?? And do you possibly have design plans? My chickens are stuck in a fixed coop surrounded by dirt and I'd love to build them something to go out and enjoy nature. Also, do you put up electrical fencing when you move them? Or do you just have to make sure you're there every evening to lock them in? Then I'm wondering what happens in bad weather...
 
D Cooper
Posts: 22
1
duck
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My portable coop / chicken tractor has held up great through its second year now. It wasn't designed for large scale production but i have added a few new roost bars to accommodate additional chickens that will be added soon. I created an overview video which is posted at
Let me know if you have any questions. I actually just did an update to my automatic door yesterday.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 505
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't understand how free range ever works, or even very large pens. I think if I had even 50 birds they'd all be dead in a month. Does free range work for anyone and how are they doing it? We have lots of hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, loose dogs, and even some bobcats here.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3734
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
87
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You can do it at the homestead level.

I do free range but I have 3 livestock guard dogs. I still have some losses, and just had to bring 2 of those dogs to the vet because they got quilled. The chickens often hide eggs which is a drag but it provides replacements for the losses.

I did just harvest 5 roosters which I didn't have to buy, brood, or feed.

I haven't found a good solution to mobile tractors as my land is very steep and rocky.
 
John Master
Posts: 519
Location: Wisconsin
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is our chicken coop from this year, it worked well but eventually it was just for night time cooping up as we started to let them roam the yard. To do it over again I would have made the nest boxes smaller, we literally had 6 chickens in the upper 2 boxes once, they like small places as opposed to big roomy boxes.
IMG_8266.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_8266.jpg]
00V0V_HhOU184AsY_600x450.jpg
[Thumbnail for 00V0V_HhOU184AsY_600x450.jpg]
00l0l_avLkleVIRuZ_600x450.jpg
[Thumbnail for 00l0l_avLkleVIRuZ_600x450.jpg]
 
Eugene Howard
Posts: 38
Location: Missouri
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Looking to get started on chickens and have been searching for chicken coop plans. Find it fascinating on what people come up with. Commercial options that tend towards "cute", perhaps at the expense of important functional features. Then there is plain Jane as evidenced by the post directly above this one. Confusing to know what is and isn't important. A lot of ideas and all of them seem to work......or not.

My background is from a farm, in fact my parents still live on the farm where I grew up. While the old chicken house is still there, as are several like it everywhere one travels in the rural areas of Missouri, it and most like it have not been used as such in years. But these were all built back in a time when form followed function and "cute" was not even a consideration. So in my mind, there is a lot to learn from these old designs. At that point, the designs had been honed for decades........they knew what worked.....and they had the same problems of providing shelter from the elements and from predators. The reason most gave it up and started buying eggs was it was raising chickens was expensive and it was hard work.

Anyway, for my purposes, I have narrowed coop options down to two. They are these:



First plan that dates back to 1943. The "Victory Poultry House". That was during WWII and Victory was a term that applied to almost anything and everything as the singular focus of the entire country was winning those conflicts in Europe and the Pacific. This was probably intended to be something for even urban use as everyone was encouraged to do their part to free up any resources (commercial layers.......they existed back then) to help the war effort. Plans don't suggest how many birds this house was intended for, but I'd guess a dozen layers. Most of the time birds would have been let out into the "chicken yard". An enclosed area of the farmstead or barnyard......or allowed to free range. On one grandparents farm, they put a fence up around an orchard of about 20 trees and birds ran in that. On another, they mostly kept them inside a single large chicken house and cleaned it out now and then. It was split in the middle.....with one half being for the layers and the other half for the meat birds. I also remember it being nasty.

Anyway, this design has most of the features I'm familiar with, with the possible exception that in a lot of these houses, the roost area was elevated about 2 feet off the floor, then a horizontal wire section covered with 1" x 2" heavy mesh wire was under the roost bars. Droppings hit the ground below and now and then (maybe once a year) somebody had to go inside to clean them out. This design has a flat panel to catch them......but they do not hit the floor to be walked upon. That was the key. Birds did not walk on the droppings.

This design also has a double wall that can be insulated. (it did come from North Dakota). But from what I've been told, a too tight building that lacks adequate ventilation is far worse on birds than an open one (again.......see above.......that is Wisconsin). One side is entirely open? I hear some say that is OK and preferred.....as long as they are protected from drafts and direct wind. No clear consensus as near as I can tell.

Second design under consideration is much smaller than the first:



This is described as the Purina chicken coop and references to this design are found all over the Internet (with links back to Purina site now being dead), up to and including this thread. There are replicas and variations of the Purina house found in this thread. It seems to be the basic, no frills option for a functional back yard coop, yet I note there is virtually no ventilation designed into this house. Also, plans suggest this coop is OK for up to 8 birds. That is 4' x 4' or 16 SF / 8 birds = 2 SF per bird. Numbers I'm hearing is to plan for at least 3 to 4 SF per bird. If so, something is out of whack with respect to size.

Yet a third option under consideration is something like this:

http://www.portablelivestockshelters.com/The_Metropolitan.html

It has features of both and if you include the enclosed and open areas, claims capacity of 8 to 10 birds, which equates to about 3.2 to 4 SF per bird. If you view their photos, in one interior shot they do depict the raised box under the roost similar to how the old school houses used to do.

So........given the vast experience of this forum, in trying to pick the best features of these houses, what matters and what doesn't? I'm free to build any of them and may combine the best features to come up with one. Most likely it will be a combination of the ND Victory and Purina coops, with enclosed and covered run like the Metropolitan, but perhaps scaled up to 6' x 6' x 12', with intent to put a dozen birds in it.

BTW, my "chicken yard" is an area of about 60' x 150' of lawn enclosed by standard chain link fence. It will keep out predators during the day (when I am around to keep an eye on things), but the coop/house needs to be big enough to keep the birds inside at night, and the attached exterior run for extended days when I'm not around. I also plan to convert what is now a half acre of sterile lawn beside this area into an expanded garden and poultry pasture, so ability to move this contraption will be helpful. More like movable with some effort vs. easily movable like most tractors are intended to be.

Edit:

BTW, the chicken house we grew up with was (is?) 16' x 8'. Laying chickens lived in one half, the other half functioned either has a brooder for baby chicks or for feed storage. Roof went to 8' high at the front (the front of these always faced south) to only 4' high at the back. Dirt floor and the only ventilation was a few opening windows (with screens) on the south side. It is about 60 to 70 years old and hasn't moved since it was built.


 
Eugene Howard
Posts: 38
Location: Missouri
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To followup on my previous post, I might add that I have been documenting a number of historic farm building types, chicken houses being one of them. My reason is that these historic buildings were built at a time when small scale farming was still the norm. What a lot of folks seem to be trying to do with permaculture is to move back to that era and level of practice. Back to the future? Anyway, I figure there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Good to look at what they were doing back when to see if anything can be gleaned from it.....after all, they were able to survive in a self sufficient, renewable way. We are talking a time from of 50 to 100 years back.

So this was an example of a moderate sized chicken house. This might have been sized for maybe 150 +/- layers? And likely as not, they would have been kept indoors most of the time.



An interior view of the nest boxes......most would have had an angled cover (like those in the center) to keep birds from perching on top of the next boxes. Note, concrete perimeter foundation, dirt floor and raised roost box with 1" x 4" wire for the droppings to fall through. I note that in Missouri, most houses of all sizes used this type of simple frame construction, with vertical car siding for the exterior....no interior insulation. Pretty simple roof framing, with purlins and galvanized metal roofing. Surprising that most do not have a lot of windows for ventilation, except on the south.....and again, ALL had windows and openings facing SOUTH to let the winter light in. They called it gravity ventilation, with warm moist air rising up and out. Goal was to keep interior as dry as possible, not easy with that many birds. Having the elevated roost boxes helped.







For those who know, correct me if I'm wrong, but even in the modern era, eggs produced in a barn like this can and are labeled as from "free range chickens". I know of one moderate to large sized facility that is as such and all birds are housed indoors like this. Free Range apparently meaning not raised in cages, not free ranging outdoors as most probably think.

Edit: To answer my own question, this building would be considered "cage free", NOT "free range", unless the birds were turned out on a regular basis. Normally, they would not have been.

If this is an appropriate place for this, I can add some more as I find them. Otherwise, it might be helpful to start a new thread of historic buildings used on small scale farming operations.
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 228
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some comments on chicken coops. With a background of 30 years of chickens over 50 years of life in northern WY. We can see summer days at 120+ temperatures and winters with 40 below.

When we first started the brooder house was an old station wagon. Some stands, and plywood floor and walls were added so the chicks had a single level floor right up to the backs of the front seats. The walls meant you could open either rear door without leaking chicks. Roll the windows down to regulate temperature and open doors for access to feeders and water. Problem is temperature fluctuated to much and you really had to watch it to keep the chicks safe and happy. The mature chicks were moved to an old lean to cow shed fenced on the front.

The next brooder house/chicken house was an old tack shed with a floor. This building was about 12 x 12 feet Better temperature control as a brooder house but took regular cleaning and more drafts as the air blew under the floor and up between cracks in the boards. Had a window so a little solar gain making heating easier. Back of the shed low enough you were forever hitting your head on the ceiling. This building had one interesting feature. The walls were shingled with tin cans. The ends removed and then can cut down the side and layed out flat. They folded a bit of each end of the tin back double on itself with one flap folded each way. That way each can hooked into the next producing a continous row. It was rusty and looked terrible but it was durable.

The next brooder house was an old tack shed on skids without a floor. This building was roughly 10 x 10. Pile the sand up on the floor past the skids and the lower part of the building was basically draft free. No window so hard to see in. Once the dirt was warm and dry its temperature fluctuated very little. One problem is that with no window you have to open the door to check on chickens and that was fluctuating their temperature. We only cleaned this house yearly. The sand and adding enough dry matter kept the odor to a minimum in the undisturbed state.(was smelly to clean) 2 problems with that though were the waterer leaking or spilling making an area where it was bad and then the ground contoured so rain water and snow melt water piled up along the back wall. This house we used year round some years but mostly was seasonal. Normally it was brooder house in the spring for about 25 meat and 25 future laying hens. Usually it was getting a bit crowded as we started butchering the meat chickens but rapidly thinned down. By the time the last of the meat chickens were done the egg chicken pullets were starting to lay. The old laying hens were in another building. This shed had years of service on it already and we used it for many more. From this I know the roof on about a 8 or 9 foot span needs 2x6 instead of 2x4 as this roof slowly sagged farther every year. Now this probably took 30 years but judging by other sheds that have seen that much service 2x4 roof joists over that span are just not quite enough. Another problem with this building is the skid loops stuck out from the ends of the skids. Forever banging into them because of this. The skids were rotting the last time it was moved. When being moved the skids and the cross wall supports were the same height meaning you about had to lift the front of the house a bit to keep it from plowing dirt. Another problem with this building was the door open in eating floor space.

The next one was purpose built as a chicken house. The skids are made out of railroad ties. The drag loops were set just inside the ends of the skids so they didn't stick out as much. Tripping problem mostly fixed. The skids were one 2x4 deeper then the cross supports. This is easily accomplished by lapping your wall base plate studs instead of butting them up to each other so you can pull the cross ties up by one 2x thinkckeness.(will explain the problem with this later) This means in essence the building has a railroad tie foundation. Dirt was piled up outside the ties to about their height to seal the outside. The inside floor had about 2-3 inches of washed mortar sand put down. This seals the inside at floor level. It also provides some limited drainage was well as little rocks for the chicks to scratch for. When cleaning it provides an nice easy to see break layer while shoveling the house out. The dimensions were chosen to make this one the most portable of all the chicken houses. It is 8'6" square so it is the maximum legal width to move on a trailer down the highway. It was made square simply because that was easy. The interior wall height is a full 8 feet at the front measured from the top of the skid ties and 7 foot at the back. This means no banging your head on the ceiling. The railroad ties and the extra 2x give a total interior building height of nearly 8 feet to ground level at the back. This building is minorly to small. If we were trying to raise 25 eating and 25 potential future laying hens there is a point where the building is to small. It is basically packed at night in spite of multiple layers of vertical roost. At roughly 60 square feet interior floor space things are a little crowded for a while at night till butchering catches up.(a chicken tractor with some of the birds would easily fix that)(waterer and feeder moved outside and no nests in the building) It is just about right for 25 adult birds especially with the roosts vertically and the nests, waterer and feeder inside for the winter months. The building itself is standard 2x4 stud wall construction with a 2 x 6 rafters and a 1 foot pitch over the 8.5 ft building length. The roof is about a 6 inch overhang on the south facing high side and about a 1 foot overhang on the back side. Walls are insulated with fiberglass with kraft vapor barrier and the inside is just painted sheetrock. Sheetrock had been fine till the flickers got to punching holes in the walls outside and we didn't keep up with getting them plugged. It is showing some moisture damage now but for most of its 25 years it has looked good. There is a door and a window on the south side side and sliding vents roughly 6"x18" on each side up high. Now for a major mistake. We used a recycled door to build this coop and it was only 26 inches wide. The catch is that it is too narrow to get the wheel barrow in while cleaning the building out. So for future reference be sure the wheel barrow fits through the door. As for cleaning this coop it is done once a year. We fed lots of kochia as green feed and between those left over stems and straw bedding and the spilled feed there is enough dry to completely dry out the manure with 25 birds using the building. So it is a dusty operartion but there is almost no odor. The exceptions were the year we had a leaking waterer and didn't get it out of the building and the year I forgot a to turn off a sprinkler on a near by lawn before being gone a week in the late summer. Got things soaked up and it never did dry. Lesson here is to build a raised pad for the chicken pen and coop so it is the highest in the area by a foot or so. Then slope everything away from the building. This would also allow for putting a railroad tie or concrete block foundation down in the dirt to pull the skids up onto, to make a predator digging in less likely. We had almost no trouble with this unlike older buildings. Guessing between the well sealed bottom hiding odors and the insulation hiding sound that predators were less likely to find the chickens locked in the building at night. But it would add protection. A 2x runs from vent to vent providing a sturdy place to hang stuff.(roosts, feeders, heat lamps etc) Having found how much I like it a future ceiling would include some sort of structure for easily hanging stuff. Easiest to implement would be 1/2" pipe held by conduit clips with a spacer block between it and the ceiling and several rows of it. Then the hook could slide sideways on the pipe giving good adjustability. The other catch to this doorway is the high threshold. It is really nice for protecting young chicks against drafts, keeping the door high enough to go over many snow drifts but the catch in return is that it makes getting wheeled stuff in and out. Lesson here is build the fold up ramps to go over the door sill from the very beginning and build the outside dirt up a bit more.



 
Eugene Howard
Posts: 38
Location: Missouri
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Am still looking at options on how I want to setup my coop and pasture plan, and ran across this obscure reference:

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo1.ark:/13960/t0wq0hw6v;view=1up;seq=1;size=125

Wisdom of the ages (about 100 years ago) from back in a time when form followed function and things mattered. Note that if you keep going, you will find pasture management systems etc. Might be a little something for everyone in there.
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 169
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Trevor McCoy wrote:I have a design question regarding the rotational paddock system.  In the drawing of a city lot almost the whole space is used for the chickens.  I am designing a 5 acre farm with alley cropping and want to do permanent raised mounds to grow veggies between the rows of trees.  this presents an interesting design opportunity.  The permanent raised beds cant be compacted because we will never till them and i imagine that chickens will compact the soil.  I am drawing a blank on how to integrate these two features and i need ideas.


This is really old, but I can tell you 100% that my chickens did not compact my garden beds. I made pens that fit on top of my raised beds and the chickens essentially tilled them and pulled all the weeds for me. They would dig holes about 1ftx2ftx1ft and so afterwards I would move the soil back, but that was it. Also I would mix in their manure, but that was only an issue if I left them on a bed too long. When they were mature, it wasn't an issue because they were strong enough to thoroughly mix the dirt themselves.
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 169
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Master wrote:This is our chicken coop from this year, it worked well but eventually it was just for night time cooping up as we started to let them roam the yard. To do it over again I would have made the nest boxes smaller, we literally had 6 chickens in the upper 2 boxes once, they like small places as opposed to big roomy boxes.


I would also suggest that you have the back open from the top down instead of bottom up. This way you can stand on the door instead of having to crouch and reach under it. I made A frame cages similar to what you have and on one of them, the side opens from the bottom and it's a real pain compared to the others that open from the top.
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 169
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Amphlett wrote:I understand what you are saying about how the areas closest to the coop would be threatened. I still wonder about the bottom idea though with basically the same idea as paddock shifting, just with permanent paddocks. The gates between would be more towards the middle of the fencing, which would hopefully be better than the coop example. It could also be rectangular shapes, but in the image I just went around the trees instead of removing them. Maybe it is more worth it in the end to just move the paddocks each time. Thank you for mentioning that.


My wife, in her infinite wisdom, continually chastised me over my chicken tractors because they weren't her preconcieved idea of what a chicken coop should look like. Now I always point out to her our neighbors sewage bog around their coops. The tractors can definitely make mud/sewage patches if you leave them in one place for too long, but when it happens its due to farmer laziness, not built in by design.

In my observation, any time you have a permanent immobile structure for any kind of animal, the area around it turns into dust or mud depending on your climate. The only way around it is to make the structure easily moveable.
 
Alli Sheldon
Posts: 4
Location: Filer, United States
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had to giggle as i read some of the pros & cons......my chickens from the time they basically out grew their saw horse A framed "coop" (which once they matured didn't take long) became 100% free range. They still used their A frame (which held 6 sort of) to roost in. But as the flock grew, they chose other places to be. Which turned out to be the carport LOL We did Egg hunts daily because we also didn't have a nesting box for them (waited on hubby to build it, my dad finally did it a few yrs ago) so for about 6 yrs they have been 100% range free. The only predator problem has been my landlord dogs. One dog he had killed my first bunch of hens leaving me with only 3 just as they were starting to lay, then a few yrs after that, he finally got our only rooster taking him right in front of my kids, which was the last straw for this issue. Then they got a couple more dogs that once they got bigger started causing issues (we're surrounded with birds of prey, coyotes, foxes & even a skunk on occasion & a lot of wild & feral cats). But it was just their dogs, well they started messing with the landlord's & his sons cows too. But since they no longer had dogs...I've only lost a few to the deep freezes. And I think our (new) landlord has confiscated a few that have wondered over to his (used to be his dads) house.
My dad turned our old RV into a chicken coop, complete with their own entrance & one for us. And when we move, we'll be able to drive off with it too I put in tiles to make the floor easier to clean (its too slick for them, so i have to find a way to scuff it up a bit). Some go back in on their own, the rest go on the old nesting boxes under the carport to roost on of a night so we have to carry them back to the RV. We still have to do an egg hunt or will, they are just now starting to lay again. They have some protection from the weather in the RV, but i think they prefer to be outside completely & outside of having one heck of a mess on the carport to get cleaned up......i think they did better outside. I'd like to make tunnels for them to access my garden without eating my plants or the seeds, but haven't got that creative yet. Maybe with making raised garden beds, it'll be easier to protect the crops & then i won't have to worry about creating tunnels
 
Destiny Hagest
gardener
Posts: 1295
Location: Little Belt Mountains, MT
215
chicken dog hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is such a beautifully rich thread, I thought I better hop in here and share my own chicken stuff. We've been raising these gorgous black Langshans for two years now - they're extremely cold hardy (great for us) and very sweet. Great foragers, and a nice combination layer/meat bird, though since they're a heritage breed we don't intend to butcher if we can avoid it - we've been giving away roosters.



We got kind of dropped into raising chickens when a friend of ours just offered us some out of the blue, and through all of the bad advice we've gotten, we've slowly been finding the permaculture way of doing things. It's challenging at times in this climate, particularly where growing food for them is concerned, but we do what we can, where we can. We've been tractoring with this massive mobile coop my husband built on an old trailer frame, and the ridiculously heavy, yet undeniably secure hoop coop.



Last year we raised some Delawares for meat as well, and they were nice birds, but we were really taken aback by the butchered weight of a heritage breed compared to the bigger varieties. We're still not compelled to go Cornish X, but we've opted out of raising meat birds this year, simply because of time constraints. We hope to use our time saved to hunt game birds in the area instead.

I'm still working to get a grasp of raising chickens at least somewhat in line with permaculture principles, but I've really enjoyed watching justin rhodes' content. He's got some great permaculture chickens videos that take a hands on practical approach, I just love the way he explains it all in terms I can understand. I'll be tuning into his live webinar this Sunday as a matter of fact!



Next on my list is to get my fodder system going, as I believe I may actually be able to keep my greenhouse above freezing now to do so. I also need to get my cover crop mixtures lined out, really looking forward to creating feed as we tractor, as well as switching to a much more efficient electronet paddock shift system when our tax refund rolls in.
 
Timothy Hewitt-Coleman
Posts: 140
Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa (34 degrees south)
26
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Octagonal Chicken House and Gardens

At Shimmering farm on South Africa's south coast

I have also posted that on Pebblespring Farm on Permies.

My sister built this chicken house about 10 years ago and the gardens around it have continued to become more and more vital. I tried to capture it on the video below:

 
Forget this weirdo. You guys wanna see something really neat? I just have to take off my shoe .... (hint: it's a tiny ad)
This is an example of the new permies.com Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!