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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:12 pm 
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Dapper Duck
Dapper Duck

Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Gowrie, Canberra ACT
Hello poultry peoples,
Any feedback on my housing plans before I commence site preparation (and make too many mistakes!) would be much appreciated.

Here's what I'm currently thinking:
> I'm looking to get around 5 laying hens (mixed flock including a few bantams). My reason for getting hens is as a part of a garden system so they can recycle weeds/scraps, provide fertilizer and turn compost. Eggs and chooky personalities will be added bonuses
> I plan to build a 3250x1800 permanent walk-in run (hoop coop). This is the maximum run size my suburban site will allow (contending with trees/slope/neighbours/existing infrastructure)
> 30-40cm deep treated pine sleeper base to run, like a raised garden bed (to contain deep litter)
> Reo Mesh under base to protect from digging predators (am presuming depth of litter at around 30cm will protect hens feet from damage on this mesh? I can't go the apron or trench options due to tree roots)
> corrugated iron 2-3 sheets wide as roof along entire length of run, with 25 mm cage mesh on open sides and door end
> corrugated iron 1 sheet deep around most or all of circumference at back of pen for shelter (see example image below)
> timber framed door
> painted plywood back facing west with 2 wooden nesting boxes attached (external access).
> grape vine to cover run during hot weather
> considering platform below roost/s in sheltered section?
> external access homemade pvc feeder and waterer (with poultry nipples)

I'm presuming Canberra's climate and hardiness of hens means I need to build to protect against hot weather more than cold (we find Canberra cold, but it's nothing compared to Europe/US!).

I work school hours so girls will be in coop/run for most of the day. I'm hoping scraps/weeds/mulch I plan to add to deep litter each morning will keep them amused during the day until I can let them out. We also go away for 2 weeks a year so need them to be ok if left penned up that long with a friend checking them just once a day.

Have I forgotten anything?

NB. Since I last posted 9 months ago asking about tips for starting out with a metal shed as a coop I've had to postpone my new chicken adventure. When we bought our suburban property we didn't do a search of planning applications by our new neighbours. I heard in December that our neighbours had permission to create a dual occupancy and would be building in their backyard. Now the new house has been finished and is on the market. Unfortunately it is right on the fence line we'd been planning to house the chooks so I've been forced to rethink my options.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:52 am 
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Golden Kingfisher
Golden Kingfisher
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:54 am
Posts: 13253
Location: Canberra
I think your plans sound good. The coop would be big enough and also secure from fox attack though I would make sure the holes in the floor mesh are no bigger than 75mm x 50mm. Otherwise a fox could get through. Might be best to use welded mesh panels on the floor. If you can afford it welded mesh panels on the walls and roof are also better than the mesh that comes in rolls. It's more rigid, much stronger, and it doesn't curl up and whack you in the face when you try to work with it.....

I'd also consider using plywood for all wall and roof panels, maybe with corrugated iron over the top on the roof. Metal alone will get really hot and radiate heat into the coop, unless your cop is totally covered in shade. Edit: just realised you are doing a hoop design and that's why you want to use metal, so it will bend to shape. So, just make sure it's fully shaded :)

Another thought it that at night chooks prefer to be a bit more hidden away than they can be in a 3 sided shelter. Consider a half width wall along the nesting area on the inside.

The deep litter would definitely be enough to protect the chooks' feet from the mesh. I have the same arrangement you describe and about 20cm of litter and the chooks are absolutely fine. I have only gone with 1 sleeper height on the base (20cm). By all means go with a 30-40cm high sleeper sides/base though as this will definitely keep the litter in. With 20cm it does get kicked out a little bit. Not much but enough to mean it needs tidying up now and then.

You are right that the heat is way more of an issue than the cold, even in Canberra. Chooks cope with Canberra cold just fine, as long as they can get out of the wind and rain. I use a misting system in my coop that I turn on when it gets over 35 degrees and this helps hugely. Up to 35 degrees the chooks seem ok, especially if you wet down the deep litter a bit. The grape wine over the coop will help too.

How to you plan to attach the mesh to the frame? I've found the U-shaped fencing clips to be the best. I will get a few photos of the attachment methods I've used. Foxes will work away at the mesh to try to loosen it so it's really important to over-engineer your attachment mechanism!

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Cheerio, Rach
Blue Swedish Ducks


Last edited by 70%cocoa on Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:08 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
Golden Kingfisher
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:54 am
Posts: 13253
Location: Canberra
Below I've posted some pics of examples of attaching mesh to a timber frame.

The one below shows fencing staples that you hammer in, about 1.5-2cm long. These are a pain to hammer in (half the time you hammer yourself..or I do...unless you hold the staple with pliers). Also, these can be loosed over time by a patient fox working away at the mesh. Not recommended.

Image


In the one below I've used button head screws, about 3cm long and also hex head screws. These are easy to put in but if the frame shifts a bit over time (as the ground expands and contracts with rainfall) the mesh can pop off the head of the screw. You need to check these every so often.

Image

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Below I've used U-clips. This is by far the best approach. They stay put. Highly recommended.

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A similar option involves using washers instead of the U-clips. This works fine too, and is cheaper than the U-clips. Also suitable for smaller mesh that you can't fit a U-clip through.

Image


And this is my chook pen:

Image

Image

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Cheerio, Rach
Blue Swedish Ducks


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