chicken coop /rabbits

bigeasyjock(z8Ms)December 26, 2005

O.K. this is my first chicken coop. Heres what is planned. 12 x 12 floor / under roof with 12 x 8 used for chickens and 12 x 4 for rabbits. Chickens would have a main entrance for people with a small storage closet and another door on the right hand wall. This second door leads to the rabbits but more on that in a moment. On the wall oppisite the main entrance would be roosting poles and on the left hand wall buckets laid on sides on a shelf for nesting. Small 'doggie doors' would be in at floor level on the walls holding the roosts and nesting boxes. These doggie doors would lead to external fenced in runs.

Now the rabbits. Still under roof but with no exterior walls I would have two sets of rabbit hutches. Thats when you walk through the side door leading to the rabbits you would walk between two rows of raised hutches. I'd guess an area 4 foot long would hold 2 2 foot hutches so therefore I'd have 4 total hutches.

Flooring for the whole thing would be 3/4 exterior plywood wood on 2x6 treated lumber. Walls 2x4 with 2x4 rafters. White painted metal roofing to match the main house. I have a couple old Alumium metal handcrank type windows that I'll use for the chicken coop. Figure to put screening with hardwire on the inside to provide venting when open and light at all times.

External runs will be chicken wire enclosed. With two or three total runs.

I'llput straw down inside on the coops floor and within the nesting buckets.

I think 3-5 hens would provide plenty enough eggs for the wife and myself.

I know I'll need to build a brooder for the chicks I get from the feed and seed this spring.

Hmmm something to hold water and grit and food for the interior would be good. Water for outside in the runs too I'd guess.

Maybe a heating bulb for the grown hens?

Oh and Ithink I should make a hatch way by using a screened door with enclosing walls in front of the doors leading to the coop. This way when I open the doors to the coop there will still be a closed door behind me. No loose chickens.

Anything I've missed ;o) Tips??

Thanks Mike in Ms.

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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Hi Mike. You have obviously given your coop design lots of thought instead of rushing in blindly, but seeing as I am a bit further down the path for chickens and rabbits, I will make a few suggestions.

1. Four to five hens do not need 96 square feet of house room. I suggest you consider dividing the house into two areas of 12' x 6'. You could easily keep up to ten or twelve hens in that space (4 to 5 sq. ft each), especially if you are not keeping a rooster.

2. It sounds to me as though you need more room for your rabbits. The recommended size for a cage is about 8 sq. ft.-- either 36 x 30 inches or 24 x 48 inches. Make sure you can easily reach all the way to the back of the cage. If you cages are raised, drop down fronts provide easy access. When your does have their litters you will quickly see why the cages need to be big. A buck can get along with a slightly smaller cage, but he needs room to exercise and room to "entertain the ladies" when you bring the does to him for servicing.

In Zone 8, an open sided rabbitry is a good idea, but you might want to enclose it with either lattice panels or hardware cloth. And while we are on the subject of wire, chicken wire is NOT adequate protection for either rabbits or chickens. A raccoon will tear his way right through it and so will a big dog. Half inch hardware cloth or even chain-link gives better protection.

3. If you are building your own rabbit cages, be sure to use very strong welded wire for the floors -- the kind with 1 inch x 1/2 inch mesh. Otherwise the wire will sag and your bunnies will get sore feet and hocks.

4. Why not make your "people door" entering through the rabbit side? Bunnies in cages can't escape and you will not need the separate storage area/entrance room. Feed for both can be kept in the rabbitry.

5. Give some thought to how you will deal with the rabbit manure. Bins of sawdust below the cages help a lot and you can just cover the mess with fresh sawdust until it is time to clean out. Make it easy to clean out - fresh bunny manure is heavy. (Incidentally, I have found that most of the bunnies will adapt well to a "litter box" - a dollar-store rectangular dishpan one-third full of sawdust or wood shavings. In my summer rabbitry, I let the droppings fall to the ground, but as the cages are in the porch for the winter, the boxes help a lot.)

6. You will not need a heat lamp for your chickens in Zone 8. Both rabbits and chickens will be fine as long as their house is not drafty.

May have more ideas later on, but this is what comes immediately to mind, based on my own experiences. Hope some if it is helpful to you.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 1:28PM
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