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Building a chicken coop

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Building a chicken coop

Postby nighthawk » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:38 pm

Hey Guys, I am wanting to start keeping some chickens and am needing some good chicken coop plans. everywhere I find on the internet is wanting like $40 for the plans. does anyone know where I can find a good set of plans and any other advice you can give me?

Thanks,
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby mmpaints » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:39 pm

nighthawk, chickens are simple and stupid, they'll roost in the rafters. Build yourself a box with anything you have laying around and they'll roost in it. put up some 2x4s off the floor, give them some spots to lay eggs in and they're happy. I built a simple 8x8 shed for mine, put it on fence posts so i could move it if I needed to. Just dont put the 2x4s above where you want them to lay eggs or they'll crap all over the egg nests.
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby D_Loki » Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:37 am

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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby Jinnig1 » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:05 am

When I was a kid in Montana, I raised chickens. Looking back, it was my first experiment in self-sufficiency. (I was lucky that my Dad indulged me!) I'll share some things I learned the hard way and save you what trouble I can.

1. Dig a trench about 2 feet down around where you want the coop/yard to be. Set your posts in a cement hole, much like you would any fence post, if at all possible. There is a good reason for that. I found that dogs and coyotes will dig under your fence to get at the chickens. Easiest and least expensive way to stop that is to take sturdy fencing, such as small animal fence, WITH chicken wire tied to it, and run it in the trench, around the posts. Then fill in the trench. That will help you and the chickens sleep nights. It will later make it very difficult for predators, 2 and 4 legged to steal your chickens because when they dig under the fence...they find more fence!

2. Chickens need a place to sleep up and off the ground. Depending on where you live, build nesting boxes off the ground. They will get cold, so when building your chicken house use some kind of insulation appropriate to your climate. Keep in mind, now, that our jet streams have shifted, prepare for the worst (use this winter as your example!). Insulation doesn't HAVE to be expensive. I used to set up straw bales inside my chicken house, put a piece of plywood across on top of them, then straw bales on top of that. If I was doing it over, I'd just spring for real rolled insulation, it is easier and safer, then take something over the top. Inside I ran an extension cord with a 100 watt light bulb. (In our climate we often use 100 watt light bulbs in small animal shelters because they give off heat.) There are pros and cons to using light bulbs for heat in chicken houses. Pros...it usually gives enough heat to keep the chickens comfortable. Cons...If chickens have light, they mill around and are restless wanting to get outside. I found that they want to scavenge and lay eggs (they don't in the dark) and they will cuddle down and stay quiet in the dark. It works in a pinch though...when its -30 to -50...

3. Cover the coop/yard. Birds of prey will carry off your chickens. I've tried both wire and boards and decided boards worked best. to be continued...
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby Jinnig1 » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:14 am

In the summer heat having a solid cover gives the coop shade for the chickens to get under, makes the chickens "invisible" to overhead predators, and should a lion or other large animal jump up to try to get over the fence, it is sturdy enough they don't fall right through it and get at the birds.

4. Make a place to store feed buckets inside the coop. It works best to have a feed bin that you can set the feed bags in, better yet, plastic buckets or metal barrels that mice can't get into.

5. Water troughs need to be inside and out. I hate carrying water out to the livestock in the winter. If you're able to do it right, plan to have a water spigot out there.

6. You don't need to have a huge chicken coop. In the summer you can actually let them out in your yard and garden to eat bugs if you're around to watch for predators. I found 12 x 16 was plenty large enough for the actual pen, plus a small house.

7. Let your dogs "bond" with them under your direction and they will usually protect them. Chickens roost in their house at night so I didn't have to worry they'd wander off, just carried off...

8. The actual "plans" for the house don't matter. Build a shed that you can afford.
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby kymber » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:22 am

Nighthawk - instructables.com is one of my favourite web-sites. it is DIY projects with step-by-step instructions, pics, pdf downloads and reviews! i love it!

but here is a link to DIY backyard chicken coops - have a look:

http://www.instructables.com/tag/?q=chi ... &sort=none
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby RockinB » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:42 am

My Chicken Mistake:
I built an 8’ x 12’ portable chicken coop with axels & tires for a free range flock of 30 birds to eat bugs and provide the family with breakfast. I intended to move this coop from pasture to pasture in an eco friendly style to help remove bugs that eat the grass. Big mistake. Hawks, eagles, raccoons, skunks, weasels, coyotes, fox, bobcats and possums all eat chickens. Snakes eat eggs and chicks. The coop hasn’t moved in 4 years after we initially lost 70% of our flock. We shoot all predators on sight.

Bigger and permanent is better in our situation. Chicken coops should be far enough away from the house that chickens stay out of the yard but close enough to monitor & protect them from predators when your guard dog is doing other things. Chain link fencing around your yard is a must unless you need more daily chores of cleaning patios, lawn furniture and outside living spaces. A livestock guard dog is also a must in our situation with a free range flock. Our Pyrenees takes care of the livestock. He chases all predators from the property that he can’t catch, including buzzards, hawks and eagles. Our mature flock ranges out about 450’ from the coop and they also hang around the barn / corral which is about 700’ from the coop. Most of our losses are young birds right next to the coop that hawks carry off. They don’t bother the heavy breed mature birds foraging for food. Coyotes will come in for the mature birds if the wind is in their favor. We close the coop at dusk every night when the last bird goes in and usually its Barney, the oldest Rooster chasing in the hens.

We are now building a bigger facility on a concrete pad with electricity, water, and separate room areas. It will have a general roosting room for +150 free range birds, a darker laying room with 40 nesting boxes, a chick brooding / incubating room with its own outside netted aviary, and a storage room with a deep sink for supplies, equipment, scratch, feed, and egg processing. We had no idea hens were so valuable, consistent, and easy to keep. A flock of 60 free range laying hens in production will provide you with over $75 a week for 8 months of the year if you have the market and breed. We can’t keep up with demand here so we are expanding. We live 50 miles west of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex which has a great “free range” market. We are not trying to make a living with chicken eggs but they pay the electric bill, phone bill, and provide milk, bread, butter, and other small items for now. They also pay for their grains, feed through winter, crushed oyster shells and egg cartons. If the economy in this area goes into severe depression this market may change drastically but a market will exist. Humans will always need to eat and fresh eggs have a rich flavor that amazes people. Choosey mom’s pay a fair price for fresh, healthy, good tasting, natural eggs straight from the coop. For larger flocks a colored leg banding system is useful for management decisions in culling non producing hens, older hens ending productivity, and the general maintenance required for an “age healthy flock” of top producing hens.

Docile roosters are a must unless you like a good fight. We try to maintain 10 hens and 3 roosters of the Buff Orpington breed at all times. They are laid back, gentle, have a great disposition and keep a good watch over the hens. We had a very bad chicken we received as a free “rare breed” gift with our Buff Orpington order in 2005. This “rare breed” chicken turned out to be a Rooster of unidentifiable background that spent his entire adult life attacking us. This rooster would stop whatever it was doing when anyone went outside and run hundreds of yards to administer a vicious attack to let you know he was the boss. I let my daughter (his favorite target) shoot him. Life is way too short to co-exist with a mean rooster. I’m sure other breeds out there are docile but Orpingtons was our first choice of breed for heavy size & temperament and we are happy with these Roosters. We now have a colorful mixed flock of 59 big brown egg laying hens and 3 Buff Orpington Roosters. All of the excess & non Orpington cockerels are put in the freezer or canned at 8-10 weeks.
That’s my rambling personal experience with free ranging chickens, I hope it helps in your decision making.

Good Luck to you and your family Nighthawk!
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby ponymama44 » Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:40 pm

SciFiChick wrote:
Jinnig1 wrote:In the summer heat having a solid cover gives the coop shade for the chickens to get under, makes the chickens "invisible" to overhead predators, and should a lion or other large animal jump up to try to get over the fence, it is sturdy enough they don't fall right through it and get at the birds.

Ummmm You have a lion problem where you live? :o :lol:



She is in Montana - so probably. We have rare sitings of lion here but more normally bobcats are the cat to watch. And I am in PA!
In the 10 years I have had chickens the biggest carnage was minks. Came in through the wire and killed all the baby chicks and all but 5 of the layers. Since then I got a goose. A french laying goose to be precise. Josephine has been here for 5 years this month and ( I suspect) he has done his job so well that we haven't lost a chook to a natural predator since. He follows me around while I garden and harrasses my dogs too. Clever goose.

Jinnig1 - I have the same experience with lighting that you do - so we put ours on a timer and it goes off at 10 pm and on at 6 am. In the coldest of winter I leave it on though. We don't get 30 below but 15 below is pretty cold too.
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby CoM » Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:54 pm

nighthawk

Depending on where you live maybe you could build something like this. These originally were down on the ground without bottoms on them. We used them as chicken tractors and would move them every few days around the property.

Hubby was a steel man and EVERYTHING he builds lasts forever & is very heavy so he ended up putting some wire on the bottom & set them up on legs.
We have 5 of these. I use 3 for my chickens

Winters in Louisiana are not usually to cold so they work for us. This year it has been very cold so we have enclosed the coops with heavy platic & added heat lamps.



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We later built this caged in area thing out of pvc that is easy to move around. It was an experiment. We only used thick wall pvc on the 4 corners so when we put a tarp on top the first heavy rain broke some of the thinwall pvc pipes. We should have made the roof with a pitch...you learn as ya go..

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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby kymber » Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:36 pm

Com - yer freakin awesome and so is hubby! wow girl!
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby nighthawk » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:20 pm

Thank you guys for all of the suggestions we are considering them all:-) I am lucky is live outside the city limits and so there are no restrictions on having chickens.
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby Legacy » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:31 pm

Hard lesson learned #1: Don't EVER, EVER, EVER trust that they'll be OK for one night unattended (coop door open)... if they free range. Lost all but 2 chickens (to coyotes). Got 7 more to make a total of 9.

Hard lesson learned #2: Don't EVER, EVER, EVER trust an old heat lamp. This is the result...

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Lost all 9 hens, feed (I suggest storing it elsewhere), waterers, feeders, straw, a plastic dog kennel that I brought the new hens home in, several handles to shovels and rakes... the whole shebang. It WAS an old storage shed...about 8x10. That was the most heartbreaking thing I think I've ever been through.

On the bright side, I now have a prettier coop. This has been over a year in the making, just getting supplies as we can. We have 9 posts in the ground (I believe) and decided to do a floor as my husband got some free wood that worked out well and it'll keep any critters from digging in. We built some egg boxes in one corner. We also build a small cage for another corner as we'd gotten some babies as the cats kept eating them.

Image

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Still have a few holes to plug up and the eaves to close in... insulation to add, but finally got the tin roof on it.
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This is the floor... and yes, they have a nicer floor than we do...
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This is the cage... we have since taken the wire out as the babies got big enough to survive on their own.
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We had one hen that wouldn't use the coop. We were always finding her laying out by the wood pile or elsewhere. One day she disappeared, and we figured the coyotes finally got her. Not so, she showed up with these one day...
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Nine of them. And to this day, she and her "kids" won't use the coop. We ended up just making a small straw hut that they'll use if it's extremely cold... but only after they all got severe frostbite.

Coops can definitely be simple. We had no clue what we were doing really when we started this one. But we're pleased with it. Good luck on yours!
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby Empress » Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:13 pm

Legacy, you "view" is just like mine... Flat and brown. :) I gota get me some TREES!!!
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby Empress » Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:15 pm

BTW love the coop, I need one of those too. :)
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Re: Building a chicken coop

Postby kymber » Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:50 am

Legacy - thanks for sharing your lessons learned - that must have been so heartbreaking! but your new coop is fantastic!!!
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