I just want to say that this website has been absolutely vital to my family starting our own backyard flock. Great to see so many people coming together to help each other.
My question has probably been asked 1,000 times, but I want to put it out there. We just finished building our first coop today for our two Black Australorps. It's completely covered 4' x 8'. The run and coop have great protection from the elements - rain and moisture should not be an issue. My question is what do people recommend for a run floor? I have read about using construction sand (I have also read about droppings being mistake for food when covered with sand...really?), wood chips, pine shavings, and leaving it bare earth.
Currently we live in the suburbs with very accepting neighbors that have done nothing but encourage our project. I grew up with chickens that were free range on my family's land so space confinement and the inevitable smell was never in question. Squeezing chickens into a backyard is a new concept and I would like to keep my neighbors happy as well make this a very successful and a fun family endeavor. Our two birds will remain in the run during the weekdays while we are at work and then released to range for the remaining 2-3 hours of the day.
So, what type of flooring would you recommend for ease of cleaning, flock health, and minimal smell?