Hi! Maggiegirl here a newbie from Long Island, NY. My coop is almost ready! Coop itself is 6 x 6 with an attached covered run of 6 x 8, the coop is raised off the ground so the actual run size is 6 x 14 if we include the space under the coop. The run is 8 feet tall and will have a full door to access. I have 7 adorable baby chicks that are 4 weeks old and growing like weeds! I am trying to follow all the advice on size, ventilation, 1/2 x 1/2 hardware cloth etc. I wanted to use construction sand in the run and large pine shavings in the actual coop, or possibly straw in the coop. I would love to hear from people that actually use sand in the run and their thoughts. Also how old do the chicks have to be (I've read a few different ages) and what does the temperature have to be before I can move my chicks into their new home? Sorry if I posted this in the wrong spot. Any advice would be much appreciated!!!
Coop is almost complete thinking of using sand in run? straw or shavings in actual coop?
I, for the most part, use a wood chip base in my coop and run. It's the same basic mix (wood chips, grass clippings, dried leaves, dried pine needles), but on occasion I'll mix in some straw with it if I have extra laying around from gardening, mulching, etc. Although I mix it in (rarely), I hate it. It's dusty, doesn't mix well... A complete mess really, that I should stop adding in but I hate letting it go to waste when it's just leftover from other projects.
So.. in your shoes, if those are your 2 options, I'd use shavings over straw.
Are your chicks off of heat or still under a lamp/heat plate? I brood my chicks in an outdoor coop basically from the start. I use a Brinsea brooder and/or an adoptive broody hen (I vaccinate so hatch indoors) for warmth.
Hi! Thanks so much for your response! I think I will keep away from the straw. As for my chicks they are still under the red light but I think I can remove it soon, they are inside my house. I was told that I can remove the light as long as they are at a steady 75 degree temperature? Here on Long Island the temps are pretty erratic right now. 82 degrees a few days ago down to 62 degrees today. I will not have the lamp in the coop so I don't want to move them until the temperature is good. I know they need to be fully feathered but what is the lowest temperature they can handle? I am hoping to move them out at 7 weeks if temps are ok.
When we first got chickens, we considered sand for the run but decided against it, in cold climates wet sand will freeze and be hard, not easy to clean or comfortable for the chickens. When it's time to do a "big/deep" clean-out, where do you go with all that heavy sand?
We decided on the Deep Litter Method, we use a mixture of hay, straw, grass clippings, leaves, landscape debris & pine needles. We just add whatever we have available. It breaks down to some beautiful compost. We do a complete clean-out every spring and till it into the garden. No odor or fly problems. The poo falls through to the dirt below and breaks down, so there is no clean up until spring. The chickens love digging through it for bugs and worms. I can't think of one con with this method.
In the coop we use pine flakes which also go into the garden. The coop gets changed out twice a year, spring and fall.
Thanks so much for the picture. Looks very comfy for the chicks. I was thinking about the deep litter method also. I have 5 vegetable beds so the compost would come in handy. I was just concerned with smell in that deep cleaning is only done twice a year? So basically I'm just turning over the material each day and adding to it as needed? Seems too easy. lol I will also be letting them roam my large backyard when I am outside with them so they will have access to lots of worms etc.
In the run, couldn't be easier, the hens keep it turned and we just keep adding the "litter" through out the year. If iit does get wet and tramped down from blowing rain or snow, we'll fluff it wth a stall fork. Our run is covered with a solid roof.
For comparison, I don't use a poop board (but have a large coop - 8x8 interior coop in an 8x16 run) and basically have the same uses. I don't rake daily as the birds tend to do a decent enough job inside. I use the same mix of ground cover in the coop and run. Come clean out time, I rake whatever is left in the coop out in the run to finish composting and move the old run litter to the garden. I also continually add throughout the year - grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, weeds, whatever...
Currently 15 birds but currently building a second coop to begin working on breeding programs. Bantams to one, LF to the second. I expect to end with 30-40 birds. Coop(s) are ~30' from my house and no nuisance issues from the coop by way of odor, flies, etc. I'm 100% team DLM - less labor with a product I can use in my garden is a win/win..