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Chicken Coops


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Mrs. Lose has this strong desire to raise her own eggs. She manages a ranch where the workers that live there have a sizable chicken coop and they give her dozens of eggs every week. Well the ranch has been sold and she is going to retire and she wants to try her own hand at raising chickens and producing eggs. So I’ve been tasked with finding out all that I can about chicken coops. I’ve seen them down at Tractor Supply and various feed stores but don’t know that much about them and what it takes to make for a good chicken coop. Have any of you built chicken coops? If so tell me about the sizes and the do’s and don’t  if you would. Thank you.

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@Yul Lose,

I have no knowledge of chicken coops; however, as a man with your extreme talent with woodworking,  I believe you will make Mrs. Yul  proud. ;)

In the meantime, I offer you two category options: 

 

BEST PLAN  :wub:

 

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COP-OUT PLAN  :blush:

 

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Mine is 12x24 with a shed roof. 8’ of it is closed with nesting boxes and roosts. The rest is more or less an open run. It was an old shed I parked my tractor and mower in. 
Air circulation, water and shade are important. I also have 120/240 panel box fed at 50 amps that also serves an adjacent RV spot.

Keep rat bait stations like an EZ Clean brand. Use small enough wire to keep field mice out and strong enough to keep possums raccoons and other predators out. They will chew right through it.

extend and concrete wire 4-6 “ below grade ( we have hard clay at that depth, ymmv) helps keep varmints from digging under. This took me too long to break down and do. Once I did, a lot of problems were solved.
Possums and Norwegian wharf rats have been my biggest problems. Possums will kill chickens like crazy. Rats will get out of hand. Gray squirrels and chipmunks love chicken feed.

 

Clean and disinfect regularly.

Don't overfill the feeders. A homemade horizontal pipe feeder hanging on rope or cable works better than what you can buy if you have a half dozen or more chickens.
Pellet feed tends to get wasted less than crumble. Free range can save a ton on feed, but you’ll have chicken crap on the porch.

We use a homemade 4x8 rabbit hutch with a salvaged exterior door on top that hinges and props for a brooder. It sits inside to one side of the coops run area along its exterior wall. The run open on two sides for 16’.

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2 minutes ago, Dirty Dan Dawkins said:

Mine is 12x24 with a shed roof. 8’ of it is closed with nesting boxes and roosts. The rest is more or less an open run. It was an old shed I parked my tractor and mower in. 
Air circulation, water and shade are important. I also have 120/240 panel box fed at 50 amps that also serves an adjacent RV spot.

Keep rat bait stations like an EZ Clean brand. Use small enough wire to keep field mice out and strong enough to keep possums raccoons and other predators out. They will chew right through it.

extend and concrete wire 4-6 “ below grade ( we have hard clay at that depth, ymmv) helps keep varmints from digging under. Possums and Norwegian wharf rats have been my biggest problems. Possums will kill chickens like crazy. Rats will get out of hand.

Clean and disinfect regularly.

Don't overfill the feeders. A homemade horizontal pipe feeder hanging on rope or cable works better than what you can buy if you have a half f dozen chickens or more.
Pellet feed tend to get wasted less than crumble. Free range can save a ton on feed, but you’ll have chicken crap on the porch.

How do you determine the correct number of chickens to have?

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I have never built a chicken coop but have been in many. Obviously the number of chickens you want dictates size. But things I recall farmers saying when I was a kid is you want the coop elevated. Probably to make the chickens feel secure that they and their eggs are harder to reach by predators. 
You want some type of caging to keep chickens in and predators out. 
Chicken coops attract rats and rats attract snakes. Some snakes eat eggs too. I have no advice on the except keep an eye out for them. 
 

Here is a link with free plans:

https://www.thespruce.com/free-chicken-coop-plans-1357113
 

You can buy coops:

https://www.thehenhousecollection.com/

There’s a Tractor Supply in El Cajon. I would go there and talk to those folks. They sell coops too. 

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/catalog/coops-pens?cm_sp=SBC-_-Chicken+Coops+Pens+Nesting+Boxes-_-Coops+Pens
 

 

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2 minutes ago, Yul Lose said:

How do you determine the correct number of chickens to have?

They need a minimum of 2 sqft per better 4sqft.  

 

You can build a coop aLOT cheaper than you can buy one.

 

They need shelter air water food. After the basics you can get as fancy as you want.  

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Just now, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

I have never built a chicken coop but have been in many. Obviously the number of chickens you want dictates size. But things I recall farmers saying when I was a kid is you want the coop elevated. Probably to make the chickens feel secure that they and their eggs are harder to reach by predators. 
You want some type of caging to keep chickens in and predators out. 
Chicken coops attract rats and rats attract snakes. Some snakes eat eggs too. I have no advice on the except keep an eye out for them. 
 

Here is a link with free plans:

https://www.thespruce.com/free-chicken-coop-plans-1357113
 

You can buy coops:

https://www.thehenhousecollection.com/

There’s a Tractor Supply in El Cajon. I would go there and talk to those folks. They sell coops too. 

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/catalog/coops-pens?cm_sp=SBC-_-Chicken+Coops+Pens+Nesting+Boxes-_-Coops+Pens
 

 

We’ve got a Tractor Supply here in town but they didn’t have a lot of advice. The coops they had there didn’t seem to be that well built for the price they were asking. I’d like to find a good coop that I wouldn’t have to build from the ground up because I’ve got 5 gun carts to build over the next few months and don’t need any more projects.

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I just remembered that my daughter’s neighbor built a coop using one of those Lowe’s or Home Depot sheds as a base for the coop. I guess the shed kit was a lot cheaper than buying the lumber and supplies to build a coop. 

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1 minute ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

I just remembered that my daughter’s neighbor built a coop using one of those Lowe’s or Home Depot sheds as a base for the coop. I guess the shed kit was a lot cheaper than buying the lumber and supplies to build a coop. 

That’s a good idea, I just happen to have an old shed that’s been vacant for quite awhile.

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Do you need to have a rooster to service the hens?

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19 minutes ago, Yul Lose said:

How do you determine the correct number of chickens to have?

Depends how many eggs you eat. And size of coop. We do good with 6 or 7. There are 6 of us at home. Beyond that we have surplus eggs and it’s too much of a mess and too crowded.
Of course when baby chicks are at the feed store the kids want more and we concede.

Feed store generally won’t sell less than 4.  That’s a good start .

When days shorten, they generally stop laying around here. This can be overcome by a light and a timer to add a couple hours of artificial light. Feeding whole corn helps too, but we generally let nature run its course and let the hens have a break.

We do keep one rooster. Roosters are optional.

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You need to decide about clipping wings if you have an open top run. My left hip and lower back 86 all of that.

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This one is 4x4 off the ground 18 inches and I use it to isolate and integrate new birds into the flock. We call it the rooster box cause when I have too many they Bach it out there til I don't have too many. 

The girl in there now is blind and at the bottom of the pecking order. 

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This is our main coop. Started life as a swingset fort. Kids got older I dropped the floor 2ft off the ground enclosed the sides we kept the swings. It's wired for ac with a bulb base and duplex plug to an extension cord plug. In winter I plug it in for light and heated water. It also has solar lights so I don't keep ac to it when needed. 

 

The run is an old dog kennel I trenched 8 inches into the ground, ran rabbit wire around the bottom and chicken wire above that. Shed roof is landscape timber and plywood. Tin is from old 53 trailer doors

 

There's a cleanup flap hatch on the back so I only need to push it out into my muck bucket.

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How many chickens is Mrs Yul wanting to keep? Make a big difference on the coop/coops you'll need. Also, will they free-range at your place or will they stay in the coop? I've had 4 at a time and I've had a hundred at a time.

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1 minute ago, Tennessee williams said:

How many chickens is Mrs Yul wanting to keep? Make a big difference on the coop/coops you'll need. Also, will they free-range at your place or will they stay in the coop? I've had 4 at a time and I've had a hundred at a time.

They probably won’t last long free ranging because of the coyotes, bob cats and mountain lions that we have here. About twice a week I’ll see a bob cat or bob cats walk between the house and the shop, coyotes on a daily basis. My neighbor has a chicken coop that looks like a maximum security prison to keep the predators out.

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1 minute ago, Yul Lose said:

They probably won’t last long free ranging because of the coyotes, bob cats and mountain lions that we have here. About twice a week I’ll see a bob cat or bob cats walk between the house and the shop, coyotes on a daily basis. My neighbor has a chicken coop that looks like a maximum security prison to keep the predators out.

Around here, I have coyotes, bobcats, opposums and raccoons but the worst thing for them is the owls and hawks. Ain't no fun for a Hawk to kill a $800.00 rooster!

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I didn't get a pick but I have a solar pulse electric fence that I run an ankle and knee wire outside the coop run.

 

I have lost 3 roosters to hawks in the last 2 years in the open yard

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1 hour ago, Tex Jones, SASS 2263 said:

Sounds like a big job starting from scratch.  May be worth your time to speak with the folks who take care of the chickens at the ranch.  Good luck.

There’s a bit of a language barrier there, she’s tried.

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1 hour ago, Tennessee williams said:

Around here, I have coyotes, bobcats, opposums and raccoons but the worst thing for them is the owls and hawks. Ain't no fun for a Hawk to kill a $800.00 rooster!

Why are the roosters so expensive? Aren’t some of the chicks at the feed store destined to be roosters or are they pre sexed?

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8 minutes ago, Yul Lose said:

Why are the roosters so expensive? Aren’t some of the chicks at the feed store destined to be roosters or are they pre sexed?

Game birds

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I started with concrete blocks buried in the ground and recommend using hardware cloth to keep the critters out. The coop itself is 6×12. Nesting box built on the side. We have laying hens don't need roosters unless you want baby chick's. We average 1 egg per hen a day. We have mulberry trees all around, hard to get pictures.

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1. You don't need a rooster to make the chickens lay. In fact, he will cause a red spot on many of the egg yolks.

2. Younger chickens lay an egg per day for five days, then skip a day, and start over.

3. Chickens need "laying mash" for good egg production.

4. The older a chicken gets, the less they lay. But, they can start laying double-yolkers which are considered good luck.

5. Every critter in North America want s free chicken dinner, from neighbor's dogs to snakes, owls, and raccoons.

6. Roosters like to spur people and get become very aggressive. The spur wounds can be painful and full of germs.

7. I recommend you don't have a rooster for the reasons above and the annoyance of crowing in the middle of the night, but if you watch, folks are often giving them away after buying a run of chicks and finding that 50% are males.

8. Our chickens were free-range and they kept the bugs and ticks down. But if you are not going with free-range make a movable pen that allows them to get greens and bugs as they scratch. Move it every few days to fresh ground.

9. Listen to your chickens. If you can hear them well you will learn to recognize when they just laid an egg or when they are being attacked by a predator.

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2 hours ago, Yul Lose said:

Do you need to have a rooster to service the hens?

No, my buddy shot his roosters after getting tired of hearing them. They can add some protection for the hens. My one piece of advice is to put small doors on the out side you can open to collect eggs, I don't like going in the coop.

Just remember a chicken coop has two doors. Why? because if it had four it would be a chicken sedan.

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In your case it may not matter but I would also find one or two of the onyx "eggs" or even a golf ball to leave in the nest. Chickens feel if one hen left an egg in a spot, it is safe for them to leave one. If you remove all of the eggs without leaving a fake egg, the hens may start laying them in another location. 100 years ago stores used to offer fake porcelain eggs just for this purpose. Now they are collector's items. I used an old porcelain door knob.

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4 minutes ago, Crooked River Pete, SASS 43485 said:

Previous text removed solely to 59f1f6ccc47ae_SavethePlanet-RESIZED.jpg.d0d9d7045a470b02a0d3da126986c983.jpg

Just remember a chicken coop has two doors. Why? because if it had four it would be a chicken sedan.

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Don't sweat getting 'too many roosters' when getting chicks.

 

Let'em grow up to be at least 'fryers'- and then make the name literal.;)

 

Seriously, if you don't want to keep a rooster, then raise them up to be big enough to be worth eating and then kill them off.  If you like fresh chicken, then kill them off one at at time.

 

If you're dead set on not getting a rooster, then you can pay extra to get all hens.

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We repurposed an old shed when we built our new one. 8x8 about 6 1/2 foot tall. added some racks to sit on and floor is covered in either shredded computer paper or horse shavings. Ran dog panels between old shed and new shed. ran a row of chicken wire about 1 1/2 feet down in the ground around the perimeter. Our biggest problem was neighbors dogs and the foxes. Actually don't mind the foxes they were here first but the dogs!!! :angry:  :angry:  :angry: We have a rooster but you don't need one. If you buy straight run birds (unsexed) you will get plenty of males. We typically buy 4-5 pullets (females) each year of a variety we don't already have so over the course of 3-4 years you will have 12-16 hens of various types (and of course the rooster!) right now we have 14 hens and get 8-10 eggs per day which means our friends haven't had to buy eggs in quite a while. :) Another problem you may have is we have a large number of hawks and eagles in the area so we put chicken wire over the enclosure. Prior to doing that we would lose a bird every third day or so. Thought the dogs/foxes were getting them till we saw a redtail hawk in the pen having dinner.

Farm fresh eggs taste better, yolks are a more vibrant yellow,  and If they stuck around that long in the refrigerator they last about 7-8 weeks. Because we collect daily we don't normally wash the eggs until ready to use (it removes the protective egg bloom) and they don't seem to keep as well.

Lay crumbles in a pan work well, scratch grains on the ground, friends bringing over outdated bread and vegetables, lots of water and an occasional foray in the yard to keep down the bugs/flies (keep an eye out for predators) and you are good to go.

Regards

:FlagAm:  :FlagAm:  :FlagAm:

Gateway Kid

BTW roosters can be vicious little #@$$ and do not ever learn to leave you alone. Best we ever had was a white silky, who while not really friendly at least didn't attack all the time.

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1 hour ago, Gateway Kid SASS# 70038 Life said:

BTW roosters can be vicious little #@$$ and do not ever learn to leave you alone. Best we ever had was a white silky, who while not really friendly at least didn't attack all the time.

The one with enough sense to leave us alone was the rooster we usually kept.

 

Had one Rhode Island Red out of a batch of chicks we bought that was ultra aggressive. 

 

You couldn't trust him for a second and the kids had to gather the eggs in pairs- one getting the eggs, one standing guard with a broomstick. (You don't hit them, you flip them.  Flipping a rooster over tends to break their concentration on the attack without actually hurting them.  Tap the tip of the broom stick on the ground in front of them to get their attention focused on it, then go under them, scoop up and flip them to the left or right.  They will roll back to their feet.  Do it a couple of times and it freaks them out.  That's when they go away to strut, posture and dance at a safe distance.)

 

He ended up running into a size 13 in a manner what broke his neck and ended up in a pot of Brunswick Stew.

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I used to lose a lot to predators until I took dog kennel panels and made a 10 x 20 with a section in the middle and tin on one 10x10 section and another dog kennel panel on the top of the other 10x10 section.  A local guy sells his better quality coops at the local feed store, I put it under the tin section.  I laid a 2 feet tall hog wire fence on the ground under each fence panel to keep predators from digging under.  

 

The tractor supply coops don't last more than a few months.  

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I take a lidded 5 gallon bucket and drill 1 inch holes around the base and leave a 1 inch lip. Put it in a hog pan and fill with a mix of 16% pellets and 18% all flock crumbles.

 

Water I drill a 1/2 inch hole near the top of a lidded bu ket fill it up and put it into a hog pan upside down with the lid on.

 

Winter water heater get a cookie tin and a lamp kit. Drill a hole in the side of the cookie tin and install the lamp kit. Put a 60 watt bulb in the socket Put the tin lid on and put the waterer on top.

 

At the feed store a gravity feeder or waterer sets you back a bit, and a heated water even more

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I bet we know someone who could build an innovative one and make it outstandingly beautiful!

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