View Full Version : Chicken Coop

01-16-2010, 12:24 PM
Guys Poco and I are thinking about getting some chickens but I am wanting to know what is the best way to build a chicken coop. We will probably have problems with coyotes once we get chickens but I am going to try and little by little get more self reliant off the land. What is the best chicken to raise as far as meat?

01-16-2010, 12:58 PM
Winnie is the expert chicken lady. she's helped me a lot with some really good info. I'll be adding them this year as well, I hope.
A relatively cheap source for lumber is the building supply. they often get pallets (flats) in and have lots leftover. would be a good bottom fencing addition to keep coyotes out. also, digging a shallow trench around the perimeter of the coop and laying some wire flat will prevent digging under the fence to get in.

01-16-2010, 01:42 PM
If meat is all you want them for,then Cornish cross is a very fast growing chicken specifically for meat,average 6-8 weeks from hatching to butcher.

Any small shelter will work,just make sure you give them a place to roost,kind of like bleachers for the chickens.

01-16-2010, 02:20 PM
When I raised my first batch of meat birds last summer, one of my girls went broody and I brought some fertile Colouryield eggs to set under her. She did all the work and sat quite happily in a plastic recycle box tipped on it's side. She hatched 8 out of 10 eggs, of the other 2 one was infertile and the other, the chick died in the egg. The chicks were in the freezer at 13-14wks and weighed between 5lb and 5lb 10oz. The big boy we had for Christmas dinner!
I'm not entirely sure about types of birds you have available over there, Nell would be able to help with that. I have 4 Hybrid layers and they've all just come back into lay. 2 stopped for a while after moulting. Jennifer, the oldest is 6 and I really thought she would retire this year, but no. She started laying last week.
Chickens aren't fussy about accommodation as long as it's dry, cosy and dark, they're happy. When I first got the girls they spent the first 6mths in a wooden tea chest!
The thing to remember is dry, cosy dark house and security from predators. I'm lucky, there's foxes etc, but they don't come into the garden during the day and the girls are securely locked in at night. Oh, one thing... decide where to put your garden, then decide whether or not you want free range chickens and a fenced in garden or an open garden and fenced in chickens!

01-16-2010, 02:22 PM
I can take a photo of my set up to give you an idea if you like

01-16-2010, 02:27 PM

01-16-2010, 03:02 PM
Yup Jennifer. The other 3 are called Tansy, Petal and Dizzybell.:) Jennifer's sibling was called Clarrissa sadly she had to be put to sleep last august.

01-16-2010, 03:07 PM
I would have thought you would name them something like Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Feast.

01-16-2010, 03:14 PM
Oh no, not the girls! The meat birds were not named and had a good if short free-range life with a proper mum(Dizzybell) You may remember the before and after pics?

01-16-2010, 03:19 PM
Winnie if you could please take a pic. I am leaning more towards having my chickens fenced in just because I am between 2 other farms. We might even fence in the garden as well because of rabbits.

01-16-2010, 06:31 PM
No probs Poco, I'll do it tomorrow, It's late over here now.

Old GI
01-16-2010, 09:00 PM
My son on the organic farm in NM built one of those roll around chicken $?1t producing thingees. It works great and keeps the predators out.

01-17-2010, 11:16 AM
As promised some pics of my coop. Bear in mind, this is for a max of 6 chickens. The house measures 3'x4'x3'6'' and the run is 4'x4'6''. The run is just for security reasons. it's locked at night, but it means they still have access to the outside until I get up and let them out. They have access to food and water at all times in the house. Oh the coop was payment for sorting out the accounts for a local business!!:)

#1 Side view.
#2 front view
#3 View of coop and the reast of the garden the girls have access to during the day.
#4 Rear view showing roof up and back out to make it easier to clean out
#5 the log store. I used this for the meat birds last year with another piece of garden fenced off for them. I have a piece of plywood board that attaches to the front of the log store to make it a bit more cosy.

I hope this gives you an idea of what you can adapt. any questions, ask away!

01-17-2010, 11:28 AM
great pics winnie. that helps me too.

01-17-2010, 11:51 AM
You're most welcome YCC. I find it often helps to see a photo of something to get the ideas flowing.
Just also to add, not sure whether you can see it in the pic the coop and run are standing on bricks to stop damp from the ground soaking the wood.

Just noticed, Jennifers rear-end has made an appearance in pic 4!

01-17-2010, 12:26 PM
I use to have a problem with rabbits getting into my garden until my dad who is 82 years old and farmed his whole life told me to go to the feed store and buy a bag of sulfer and sprinkle around the out side of the whole garden, i did this and never had any more problems with rabbits going into the garden or eating my plants, it works.
Another thing that was told to me , you may want to know, I was having problems with cutworms cutting down my tomatoe and pepper plants, if you will go out and find some shinny sticks, break them about 4 inches long, push about two inches of each little stick down into the dirt and let the other two inches stick up touching two sides of the plant on you want have any more cut worms cutting down you plants. Let me tell you, these older farmers know a lots of good tricks.

01-17-2010, 12:31 PM
Thank you Winnie!! That looks like a really great set up. Dottie said " Oh we have enough wood for that". I think she was thinking more of a shed type deal,that you can/would be able to walk in. You sure saved me a LOT of work!!! Anyway I'm getting the boot off the computer so I'm sure she will have something to add.

01-17-2010, 12:34 PM
Some of you may not know what cutworms are. You probably don't have them north of Interstate 70 or so. They are the larvae of moths. A lot of different species.

As cabin girl said, any stick placed beside a plant (match stick) will keep them from ringing the plant and cut it off. However, they will still damage the plant. They will eat until they reach the stick and stop.

A better way that I have found is to wrap the plant in strips of newspaper when planting. Wrap the root bundle and all and set it in the ground leaving some of the newspaper exposed above ground. The will prevent the cutworm from even getting to your plant. You wind up with a "fence" of newspaper to keep them out. I hope that makes sense.

We had problems with them in Southern Illinois but they don't seem to exist here in Central Indiana. At least no one around here has heard of them.

01-18-2010, 07:22 PM
Thanks guys for the input. I am getting excited about Spring this year since we are on the farm now.

01-18-2010, 08:34 PM
Friend on mine has chickens, keep them in a coop, that is built on landscaping timbers.

Looks alot like Winnie's but is doubled up. (Nice pic's!)

Doors on both sides.
One year door on one side open to fenced in yard, following year, other door open to other side, fenced in yard.

First yard is planted into garden for that season, when harvest is complete, re-open that door, chickens finish off any plant material, bugs and fertilize.

Garden moved to other yard.
After a couple of years, coop (called a chicken tractor) is pulled with tractor to the area next to existing ground. (Need enough room, of course)
Google "chicken tractor" for movable coops.

01-19-2010, 08:00 PM
So....A chicken coupe just isn't as big as a chicken sedan, right?:innocent:
(The car guys will get this. LOL)

01-19-2010, 10:32 PM
that's right 2d. the chickens in the back seat always complain about how hard it is to get out...

01-19-2010, 11:00 PM
Chickens are a great source of meat, but they will be devoured when young and picked off when they get older by dogs, coon, owls, hawks, weasels and every other thing. If you raise meat chickens you will need to protect them. Get a certain amount of food and when it runs out, then butcher them. If you let them get too big it will be harder to pluck the pin feathers. Its good to find out who plucks chickens in the area because if you are new to it, then you may decide to pay someone else to do it. Water to hot makes the skin tear and too cold makes them pluck hard. There are machines for this also. If you decide to keep some free-range chickens (not the meat kind), then make sure they don't roost over tractors or equipment or anything else that you don't want them to crap on. If you want cheap wood to build anything then look for the nearest small saw mill and the price will be much cheaper. If you have your own trees to cut, then a portable sawmill should cut them up into boards for about .17 per board foot. At least that is the price around here. You won't need to plane the wood for a chicken coop.....the band saw cuts pretty straight and smooth. Don't build it with aspen, popal or cottonwood.
The chicks can be kept inside the house for a while, but you will know when it's time for them to go out. Make sure you have a light on them or they will die if it's a little cold. If they gather tight under the light, then lower the light. If they scatter away from the center of the light, then raise the light.

01-19-2010, 11:12 PM
Oh...and build a roost in the coop too. It's a wide ladder kind of thing that they like to sleep on. Put some straw or whatever under it to catch the manure. This way much of the manure will be under the roost. Don't clean the coop and let the manure be like dust in the air (as in old coops)....it's possible to catch some bad things from chicken crap in your lungs. Be careful about using too much chicken manure too fast on your plants or you will burn them.

01-20-2010, 08:13 AM
EDR my girls are cleaned out every week, and while we're having this cold weather I top up the bedding midweek.
I also compost my chicken manure first, it's a great activator for the compost heap and gives the manure time to cool down.

Oh and just to be different, the girls refuse to roost!

01-21-2010, 06:05 AM
You are an exceptional coop keeper Winnie and it's a very good idea to keep it, at least, reasonably clean. My brother had a disease from chickens, and I tested positive for the same when we were young and at home. It's not common, but it can happen. Your none roosting chickens don't make the cleaning job any easier. What I knew about chickens is that the coop is there, the eggs are here and it's easier if the poops in a group. Maybe they are just cold, dumb or all got bad legs. Maybe the girls need an intensive roosting 101 course to help you out? I guess if it doesn't bother you and they seem to like the way things are, then why change it if it isn't broke? You seem to enjoy them.

01-21-2010, 06:20 AM
LOL, When I first got them, I tried putting them on the perch to encourage them to roost but they'd have none of it!
I was always taught to treat your animals as you would yourself, clean house, fresh food and water and medical attention if need be. A lot of illnesses and diseases can be avoided by good hygiene and the same goes for animals I guess.:) I know the girls are spoiled:blushing:, but hey, I haven't bought an egg in three years and I've bartered allsorts of things with the excess.:)

01-21-2010, 07:30 AM
winnie. would you talk some about the benefits of diatomaceous earth being added to the run and coop? It is a little expense to keep away the mites and other icky things the girls don't like.

01-21-2010, 08:13 AM
No probs YCC. DE is an excellent all round hygiene addition. I have always used it and the girls have never suffered from any parastitic infestation. Red mites in particular can be a real problem. They hide in the nooks and crannies and come out at night and suck the blood, in a bad case they can kill your birds and can cretainly stop them laying.
Here's a quick link

It really does work, I sprinkle about a tablespoon onto the fresh bedding every couple of weeks when I clean them out. During the summer I also pop a little bit in any dust baths they've made. I also put a sprinkle on their food every couple of months as it also works for internal parasites.
It also works well to keep fungal spores and the such down.
I really can't praise the stuff enough. I've used it on the cat when he had a few unwelcome guests and it worked. When I kept horses I used it on them too!
I know it's expensive, but it's very economical, totally natural and has so many uses, if you're into storing grains DE can be used to kill beasties spoiling the grain. I've also heard it being used to treat headlice in children, but I'm not sure of the procedure for that.

01-21-2010, 08:28 AM
winnie. would you talk some about the benefits of diatomaceous earth being added to the run and coop? It is a little expense to keep away the mites and other icky things the girls don't like.

Heeeey....isn't that what put Ken in the hospital?:innocent:

01-21-2010, 08:36 AM
from what I understand, It can also be put around the foundation of a house to stop termites, ants, and other unwanteds.

a neat pesticide I discovered when working at the local peanut mill ... this is gonna blow your mind... CRUSHED GLASS. If beetles or other exoskeletal critters crawl across it, it will make small cuts in their exo and they will dry up. might be worth crushing some old bottles (into a really fine dust) to treat perimeters of places that you want such critters to stay out of.
WARNING: If you are going to be working with/near crushed glass, a respirator or very good dust mask is necessary. Inhaling the glass dust causes a condition called silicosis, common among flintknappers who do not work in well ventilated areas and potters who work with white dusty clays such as ceramic and stoneware.

01-21-2010, 10:22 AM
Don't like the sound of that Silicosis!

01-21-2010, 12:27 PM
Diatomaceous Earth is composed of Diatoms. They absorb the moisture out of insects so the insects die of dehydration. It's harmless to humans and pets.


Old GI
01-21-2010, 01:27 PM
Diatomaceous Earth is composed of Diatoms. They absorb the moisture out of insects so the insects die of dehydration. It's harmless to humans and pets.


Son has had success with treating for worms in horses and other critters.

01-21-2010, 04:35 PM
Just to show you what can be achieved in your back yard, I found the link to the meat birds I raised last year. Dizzybell went broody so I got some fertile eggs. She did all the work brooding the eggs and looking after the chicks.


It was extremely satisfying knowing that from egg to table the birds had a pretty natural life and a calm end.

01-21-2010, 05:48 PM
Interesting about the Diatomaceous Earth. The glass too, although we don't get insect/house problems here.

01-21-2010, 09:36 PM
We'll be happy to ship some up your way if it helps.

01-22-2010, 07:01 AM
I would be excited to accept any insects, from any order, not native to northern areas. Freeze them and send as many as you have time for. You may wish to check with your county Ag dept. for permits. Thank you for your kind offer.