Okay first y'all have to know, I got off to a bumpy start with this coop. My insurance company didn't even want to insure it, then added $64,ooo in coverage, then took that off if I would knock it down. HUH?? Okay, that mess started here: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/546421/
This is the view from the driveway. The door fell off and the wet ground made the paint fall off. The door itself is sturdy but missing one of the plexi windows. For looks and possibly paint issues, it will need replaced I'm sure. The little square on the right side is another plexy window.
I will point out those two holes at the bottom and assume those invitations for raccoons and worse?
That square hole is covered with chicken wire from inside so I assume it is safe? See the square dangling next to the window? I think that might be a cover for the window. Would that be for closing it up when it's cold?
The bikes and pool ladder came with the coop. LOL You can see that is a good sized hole on the bottom. All of the wood inside looks and feels structurally sound. I'm wondering how much $$ and how much of a pain it would be to recover the whole thing?
If you guys think this thing is worthy of new life (and please do give suggestions and/or pointers), I am thinking of fencing in this area. It's about 10 feet wide and probably 50 feet long. Is that enough room for a couple dozen birds? If not, I can fence more on the front side. I'm hesitant to go to the left any further as that dark green stripe is a small drainage area that lets the water out of part of the front yard.
I jokingly call it chicken island right now. It is just sort of over there and back there by itself. It is right at the end of the drive and definately noticeable. I would like to recover it or pretty it up some. We joked about naming it "Chicken on the Run" after a little tavern in the town where I grew up.
Am I asking for trouble with it being so close to the wooded area? It's only about 100 feet from the house and there is another house on the other side of the trees that is probably even closer. The 'woods' next to it are not much more than a tree line but further back it is deeper woods.
I have actually only seen hawks, rabbits and deer on my property but I know other things are out there. LOL I've seen skunks 1-6 miles from here more than once. And there is a plethra of squisked coons and possums down the road. Honestly, personally, I only fear the skunks. LOL
First of all...I wouldn't worry too much about making it 'purty' yet. They will just poop all over whatever you build them anyway. Is it dry in the coop in the pics? They will definately need a dry place to roost,and shelter from the wind. In the winter you will need to seal it up better. I made do with a chicken coop like yours for almost 10 years before I built a new one.
When I built my new one here are some things I used for design criteria:
Head clearance- can you walk through there without banging your head on the rafters or light fixture?
Accessability- can you get a pickup truck up to the door? This will be an issue when moving feed. At my old coop I could get a truck to it only during dry weather. When it was wet or snowing I had to carry the feed (50 lb bags) from the driveway to the coop.
Eventually it will have to be shovelled out...does it have a wood floor or a dirt floor? If the floor is rough (potholes) you might smoothe it up some...just to make it easier to shovel out.
Can you carry a bag of feed through the door easily, is it wide enough for a bag of feed to go through without scraping your knuckles?
Electric lights are nice...but you can make do with a flashlight or just make sure you go feed them during daylight hours
Do you have close access to water? I have a faucet near my coop but it freezes sometimes...then I have to carry water from the house. The feed stores here have a font type water can for poultry. I have two, one for the coop and the other is in the house being thawed out during the winter. Murray McMurray has an electric heater for the metal type font waterers.
You will need some nest boxes.
As far as a pen for them: We keep ours in a pen during the day (the wife and I both work and are away from the house most of the day). We have a gate in the pen and let the chickens out on pretty days, they seem to enjoy foraging and scratching through the stubble from the hay field. We keep them penned up to keep the dogs out of them while we are gone. Once raccoons find your chickens (if they can get to them) they will keep coming back every night till they kill all of them. Those little four footed bandits have no sympathy for your chickens.
I have an electric fence around the outside of my chicken lot just to keep the raccoons at bay. There is a picture of my fence here on a post by Minischnuz I believe, or I can send you a pic of how I set it up.
As far as a lot: I would just build the lot to make use of the total length of wire that you buy. For example, a 200 foot roll would build a 50' x 50' lot (4sides x 50'= 200 foot perimeter) Or you could build a lot 20' x 80'
What are your goals for the adventure? Mine are to just let them lay eggs and be pets. We sell some of the eggs to cover some of the cost of the feed. I like brown eggs and people here in the country seem to prefer brown eggs. Murray McMurray has a special on brown egg layers, though they may not be all the same breed. I like the Rhode Island Reds, one of the old breeds. Might I suggest starting out with a minimum order (25) of pullets and possibly one or two roosters? Get a spare rooster in case one dies before maturity. They may fight some, but I like hearing them crow in the morning. My grandma said it was bad luck for a rooster to crow at sundown, if one did she put him in the stew pot. I guess it was bad luck...for the rooster!
You will see a difference in the eggs you raise and store bought eggs. Store bought eggs are waterery.
Who is the little girl in the pic..a daughter or grand daughter?...I bet it would be great fun to let her see the chicks grow up and to go get the eggs with her in tow. My little boy likes to do just that.
The coop you have there should do just fine, with a little 'tweaking'. If you get into this and want to stay with it then maybe later you can build another coop. If I can be of any help,let me know.
I think that would do fine for a chicken house. It just needs a little repair here and there to make it secure and weather worthy. As time goes by, you can fix it up cosmetically. (start with the front that's visable.)
I acquired my chickens with about 2 hours notice, (given to me) so I threw together a
henhouse and pen out of some shipping pallets and some old decking that had been taken down and replaced. You can only imagine what that must have looked like, one of those hours was after dark. lol... That was last fall. It worked fine so far all this winter and we are just now puting some decent looking sides on it. It looked bad, and husband hated it, but chickens didn't mind at all. lol I stuffed straw in the walls (made of shipping pallets) so it was insulated from cold. . Today I went out and worked on it some more. It's looking better and better all the time. It's almost respectible looking. By warm weather we can work on it and make it nice.
Good luck with yours. It's a good start.
you need 1 nest box for every 3 or 4 hens.
each bird needs 3-4 square feet of space.
when you order pullets, they are guaranteed 90%. so with an order of 25, you will likely get 1-3 roosters
pick a breed that is suitable to your space. some are good foragers. some won't go broody. some are louder and rowdier [which we think could be fun!] some are so docile, they need special treatment and don't do well in the rain or cold weather.
try those links in the other thread, esp the www.albc-usa.org one
when i am less congested and not peering out of one eye, only half awake, i might actually think of something else.
oh, yeah. woods are a bad sign. possums, coons, weasels, skunks, and HAWKS! weasels can get through REALLY small places. and don't forget snakes, they'll eat your eggs! maybe get some fiesty breed that goes after snakes and rodents...
so be sure you train the chickens to go in at night EARLY, and lock them up! i have seen some good designs for roosts. but some prefer rafters [got any?], and i have even seen neat ones made from tree branches. i decided against that since i would likely poke my eye out LOL
have you thought about guineas or other fowl to go with your chickens?
I knew you all would have tons of good information for me!
The floor is dirt (and old poo), is relatively flat and one corner is damp. I noticed that when taking pics. I am not sure if it is from a leak in the building or from the ground saturation right now.
I have two solid kitchen cabinets sitting in my burn pile. I took them out of the house about ta month ago. They are home made plywood boxes with finished/trimmed fronts. I asked on another thread and was told they would make good boxes. Going by measurements I have seen (12x12?), those would make at least 8 boxes when seperated, slightly larger than the size given.
I don't think I could get my Suburban all the way back to it without sinking for a few seasons of the year. There is a little drainage ditch that runs around the chicken coop and I could move it but not get rid of it. I don't know if it would be worth the effort to move it a foot or two? I'd still have to drive over. I have no problem lugging a 50 pound bag of food from the drive/garage/barn. ;)
Oh, the way it is sited, the door is on the north side, the window with the shutter thing is the south side and the little four lite window is due north. The morning sun hits the rear then stays on the window side all day long. The side where the roof slopes down only gets morning sun and I bet once the trees leaf out, that side will stay pretty dark.
I may have to figure out something for water. I have two spigots on the house and that is it. My hose is long enough to get to my greenhouse but I think I'd need another 50-75 feet to get to the coop.
I know the kids won't let us eat them at least for now so we are going for the eggs and the poo. Does chicken poo have to be composted like other poo? What about weed seeds?
Virginian, I laughed so hard about your grandmother's comment! Do different types of roosters make different sounds? We have one behind us that makes the most odd sound! We always joke he is afflicted.
Thank you for the pics of the electric wire. I have been looking at those and the electric boxes for them. I'm enertaining 9 deer on daily basis as well. LOL
Oh, the little one in the pic is my youngest daughter. She will be 2 in April. She has five sisters that range from 4-12. My husband always jokes that we breed well in captivity. ;)
If you were to ask my children-they want a horse, some cows, a llama, an emu, chickens rabbits and pigs. I might have left something out...
After I read hubby something about peacocks watching for snakes, he'd like several peacocks! LOL Let's just say he doesn't like snakes or rats. Guess who has to get rid of the snakes??? Guineas are the ones with the little heads aren't they? A neighbor down the road said those are good for running of snakes. She has all kind of birds, even turkeys and a duck!
I guess whatever I do, I'll probably build a wire/fence roof too. Most days, there are at least three hawks around. Do you also need to sink part of the fencing or metal around the coop? I thought I read something about weasels or something digging under. Can they fit through holes in chicken wire too?
We like the sounds of the Red Star and the RI Reds. I don't know where it will go from there.
WOW...you have your own womens basketball team there! Thats cool!
About weasels...I have never had a problem with them, but they may not live in this area. Raccoons will crawl through the eaves, open windows, or any opening they can enlarge to get to your birds. I keep my feed in metal trash cans (with lids) to keep the rats away from it.
Hawks are a problem, I lost a hen just this week to a hawk. A wire roof over your pen should take care of this.
I guess different breeds of chickens sound different when they crow. I always thought "game roosters" had a pretty crow, but they are fighters too. If you want a hen that will "sit" a clutch of eggs I have heard that game hens are best for that too, at least thats what the oldtimers here say. Seems the 'broodiness' has been bred out of the ones you buy from the hatcheries these days. A long time ago I put a bunch of Rhode Island Red eggs under a game hen and she hatched them and raised them just as if she had laid them.
About chicken poo for fertlizer...I don't think it has to be composted like horse and cow manure does, to kill the seeds in it. Chicken manure is 'richer' though, I have heard that it can actually 'burn' plants if too much is used. When shovelling out my chicken coop I have noticed an amonia smell, I guess that is from all the nitrogen in it.
Another thing about the electric fence: Turn it off when you let your chickens out of their lot. Some fence chargers are strong enough to kill a chicken.
I used to read a lot about the Amish. When an Amish farmer was asked why he didn't use a tractor instead of a team of horses he replied "But a tractor doesn't make manure". I guess they really believe in the cycle of returning nutrients to the soil.
That is what I say every morning when I wake up. Wow! LOL I don't have to think much about what I'll do each day.
I'll have to do more research on what kind of critters are around here. There is a large farm down the road and I stopped and met the owners once and they showed us their birds and rabbits and such. Apparently the had a problem with a weasle or mink once. I think she said it got into the rabbit hutch. She also had a wolf or coyote or something that prowled her fence but never bothered the animals. A neighbor shot it thinking it was a fox then the raccoons started making off with her other animals and she would find her eggs rolled across the yard.
I don't know if the hawks are a problem yet but they are definately here!
That rooster behind us does not make the typical cockadoodledoo sound. He sounds more like an engine trying to turn over. LOL He kind of goes eroo eroo eroo with a squawk at the end. Maybe they have a large parrot...
My own rooster has a scratchy crow. The standard breeds are of course not as shrill as the banties. I use no electric light and the nesting boxes are in the darkest lowest part of the coop. I have very good laying from these hens, so far.
Did you order from McMurray? Fun! I order heavy breeds (b/c they fly less... supposedly) that lay well and can take some cold... I've got tons of shade for the summer heat. I also like a pretty mix of color like you used to see in barnyards. Lately I've been hearing great things about the Speckled Sussex breed as far as its camoflage ability (regarding predators).
Nest boxes: even when providing three for my hens, they all use the same one. I've heard many people say this. Ah, well.
Careful w/ chicken poo! Super hot, super high in N, very burny. It must be composted or turned under a good while before use (how long depends on factors of temp, precip, soil depth, etc.)
Pigs (spec foraging breeds) are good w/ snake control. And if I had a tick problem (i.e. a deer problem) here, I'd get guineas immediately.
Horseshoe uses a dirt floor and finds it works really well: you don't go stirring up layers of dust, poo and shavings, and the smell is minimal.
There is a thread in the coops forum at www.thecoop.org (go to the classroom) that talks about what people would do differently for their dream coop. It's a useful read.
when you go to the albc-usa link, they give descriptions so you know if the hens can raise their own chicks, etc. most of the heritage breeds will, since they are dying out because they weren't good enough for the industry. Like Virginian said, Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns and such were bred to NOT go broody. if you will request the heritage breeds from the hatcheries, they will be more liekly to start carrying them!
peacocks are expensive. but i want some anyway! some chickens will kill mice and snakes, the ones i'm getting will...
i am likely doing overkilll on my coop, but here goes:
the posts and cattle panels will be buried as deep as the holes are dug, hopefully 18", and into the trenches between the posts i am putitng scrap metal, concrete chunks, extra pieces of chicken wire and hardware cloth. that should prevent ANYTHING from idgging under.
then over the cattle panels will go the galvanized chicken wire. and over that, on the lower part, 1/2" hardware cloth. if i had any windows, i would put 1/4" hardware cloth on both sides. the solid core door has a storm door on the outside. i still need to install a small doggie door. over the top, i am uisng remnants from baseball netting. then a door on each side, that will let out into smaller coops with lower walls and no roof, so they can fly in and out.
what would be neat for your pen, is somehting i saw in old farming books. there would be TWO chicken pens, of equal size. the chickens use one the first year. the second year, that is your garden, and the chickens use the other! then switch every year...
yes, dear, DEER=TICKS, GET GUINEAS!!! they are available later in the year, around late May to early June. just enough time to get your chicks going first. they get along just fine too! and if you can train them to lay in the poultry house [not easy, but possible], their eggs are small but very tasty!
good luck badseed, you ain't no city chick no more LOL
Enough info. Honk, honk, honk, circuit overload. LOL Okay, not really! It's great! I figure if we take on one type of critter at a time, learn about it and, learn how to take care of it and get along with it, we'll be doing just fine. :)
I've come up with another question regarding the floor of the coop. Mine is nice and thick with chocolate colored fluffy dirt (yes, pooooo!). It's full of worms so it must be good. LOL Should I go ahead and scoop all of that out of there and start clean? I know this is a dumb question but I just want to be sure. We got all the junk out of there and used a pitchfork to clean up some smaller big stuff and it feels like there might be a cement floor or maybe sheet metal under it all. Do I want to clean it out completely? And if there have been no birds in there for at least a year, should the poo be safe to use in the garden?
If there IS a cement or metal floor, should I not dig everything on top of it out to make later cleaning/scooping easier? Someone suggested I might be able to move mine. I looked inside and it is all 2x4 construction but I can't tell if it has any kind of fixed footers or anything. I didn't really want to go digging around and leave a hole for someone to sneak into. That is why I wanted to check about how far down to dig. Thank you for your reply. ;)
Just stumbled across this forum - takes me back to when we had chickens. I'd love to have them again but they tie you down and we're retiring soon and want to be footloose!
We always used coarse sawdust or fine shavings as bedding on the floor of the chicken house. I would clean it out twice a year and it's great (composted for a bit) in the garden. Of course we're in lumbering country so it's easy to get free. I definitely would dig out the manure that's in the coop as it could give your chickens disease. Keep them warm and dry and you'll have few probs. If you can't get sawdust you could use straw. I liked to add a bit of sawdust to cover up the manure maybe weekly - kept it smelling nice and better for me to walk in there!