A Little Confused, but Very Excited.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by weimlikeschicks, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. weimlikeschicks

    weimlikeschicks Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2012
    I think I am missing the point slightly on some of the terms... I'll try to explain it from my perspective as a first timer with a set up already in place. When we moved in there was already a 15'x15' enclosure made out of chain link fence and covered with chicken wire and plywood. Inside of that there is a box, 24" off the ground, dimensions approx 1.5'x3'x2' (LxWxH). It needs a ramp (that much is obvious to me) but its purpose is baffling, at least to this newbie. Box has two entrance holes, 12"x12", and hinged doors in back, the purpose of which I'm assuming is for easy cleaning.

    There are no other raised boxes in the enclosure, but there is an 18"x24" box on the ground that looks like it used to be a nesting box. I'll probably pull it out because it's rotten and gross.

    My question is this (and it may sound silly) : do I call the larger raised box my 'coop' and the over all enclosure my 'run'? Or do I have a large, partially uncovered, coop with various different boxes inside? I plan on adding poles to the inside of the raised box, for a roosting area. Also I am building a new nesting box to replace the one I'm throwing out. They will free range the yard as my schedule permits (should be at least a few hours a day). I am asking because sometimes it is a bit confusing trying to follow peoples ideas and tips for the various different aspects of their environment when I'm not exactly sure what they are referring to.

    Addendum questions (heh):

    1. Can I use the deep litter method inside the whole enclosure as well as in the roosting and nesting boxes?
    2. Can this deep litter consist of the pine straw and oak leaves (dry) that settle so prolifically in my yard?
    3. Thank you!
  2. jeepguy982001

    jeepguy982001 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 4, 2011
    athens, wv
    yes the box is your "coup" and the enclosure is the run. As far as your other questions idk my run just has dirt and i use pine shavings in my coup.
  3. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2011
    Southern Minnesota
    IDK, that sounds too small to be a chicken coop... I wonder if they would have had another kind of animal in there? I guess it depends on your climate- you can eek by with less coop space if you have lots of outside space and it doesn't snow (or doesn't snow often) or get horribly cold. That might be enough room for 2 chickens. As you have detected so much depends on your circumstances!

    But here are the answers to your questions:

    RE: Deep Litter- You couldn't really use deep litter in the little coop, because deep litter needs to be at LEAST 12 inches deep (usually deeper) and that would fill your coop halfway to the top! Plus ideally deep litter has a dirt floor, but I use deep litter on a wood floor- it just doesn't compost in place as it does in true deep litter. For the enclosure... IDK. I wouldn't use any litter, persay, because it would be a soaked nasty mess if it rains. Again, depending on a lot of things you could 1) use nothing in the enclosure, 2) use pine nuggets/mulch/etc, or 3) use sand or rocks. If you have good drainage and will only have like 10 or fewer chickens, you're probably good with nothing at least for now. If you want it to look nice mulch would be good. If you want more chickens and/or don't have good drainage lots of people swear by sand. How much of the chain link is covered by plywood- just the roof, the roof and some of the sides, or everything? A picture would be helpful! If all the sides are covered, well, I would be worried about light and ventilation even with a few hours of free ranging. If part of the sides and top is covered AND you live in a mild climate (like it doesn't get below the 20's very often), you could consider it an open air combo coop/run. And depending on the setup you could use deep bedding in the enclosure in the part that is mostly sheltered from the rain.

    And yes, you can use the oak leaves as bedding- the best kind is the free kind, right! I don't know particularly about pine straw, but I can't imagine why it would be a problem, esp. when mixed with the leaves. I know my chickens do a huge amount of scratching in the fallen needles under the pine and spruce trees, so I'm sure they won't hurt them. If you can I would suggest chopping them as much as possible (run over a few times with the mower or use a shredder or whatever) so they don't mat down in the coop and run.

    Sorry I rambled about this... I'm procrastinating my own work:) Basically make sure you have a few very basic things: -Enough overall space per chicken (I say at least 15 sq feet per chicken, some say less, more is always better), -Good Ventilation, -Shelter from wind and rain, -Somewhere to nest, -Somewhere to roost. If you can cover those 5 things, you are in good shape, and from there you will learn what best suits your situation:)

    Good luck!
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I don't know where you live or what your climate is. Many people in the warmer climates don't have enclosed buildings. Normally you put some type of cover to keep the rain off the chickens and you normally put something up to block the worst of the wind off them, but unless it gets below freezing, chickens don't need that much shelter. I've seen chickens sleeping in trees when it was well below freezing and they were fine. Those trees were in a protected valley, the trees were more like a thicket than an open tree, and they could move around to get the best roosting spots out of the wind. It wasn't quite as open as you might imagine but they chose to sleep there instead of in the coop.

    That 1.5'x3'x2' box sure sounds like a community nesting box. You don't have to build another nesting box unless you just want to. If it is only 2 feet off the ground, you do not need a ramp. They can easily jump up there. Just put some bedding in there and it is good to go. That hinged opening is for you to collect the eggs.

    I have no idea what that other box on the ground was for. It may not have had anything to do with the chickens, but it could have.

    Like I said, I don't know your climate, but I would not use the deep litter method in there if it could get wet. Organic matter can get moldy when it gets wet and mold is dangerous to chickens. Depending on your climate and the drainage, it might be fine as it is or maybe you can add sand if it doesn't drain well.

    Good luck!!!
  5. weimlikeschicks

    weimlikeschicks Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2012
    Really great responses, thank you. I apologize for the lack of pictures, I'll try and borrow an iphone tomorrow morning and snap a few. I'm going back and rereading what y'all are sayin but if I don't address everything, wasn't purposeful.

    I forgot to mention it, but I do live in a mild climate; snow is very rare and while it does get hot, it is not extreme. The enclosure is in a semi shaded area of the yard that does drain decently well. As of right now there is no longer any plywood. I just finished pulling off the old roof, which was 1/2 plywood and there was never any on the sides. I am starting now with the basic frame and four chain link fence walls, there is absolutely nothing over the top. Inside this is the larger raised box. Everything else has been removed except for the layer of pine straw that was already there.

    13 chicks, 3 pullets, 10 straight run. Figure I'll end up with 6-10 hens and one rooster. Plus or minus...
    The floor is dirt.
    Function over looks for sure. The whole area isn't exactly pretty; it was overgrown and in disrepair.
    Nothing but the four walls right now, chain link fencing, some of which could be covered in plywood.
    No roof but all or part could be covered with plywood.
    Parts of the yard don't drain well, but that area should.
    Some sun, but not the full sun of other areas.
    Mild climate, hardly ever snows. Summers will hit 100 degrees a few times a year. Fair humidity.

    Quote: RidgeRunner, sounds like you pretty much nailed it, thanks. Also from what you said I should do well to cover them from rain and block wind but they probably wont die from exposure where I live.

    Quote: Right on, that is exactly what I am talking about, Brandislee. The floor is dirt so maybe I'll just pile leaves and pine straw under the roosting area, inside the new shelter I'm gonna build ;)

    I'm really motivated now to get this going, y'all definitely cleared many things up. Today I cleared it out, tomorrow I'll rebuild it.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  6. weimlikeschicks

    weimlikeschicks Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2012
    Oh yea, the nesting box is larger than I thought. 2'x4'x3', sloped roof so at the highest point it's closer to 3 1/2 feet, at the lowest closer to 2 1/2 feet. Is that large enough for 6-10 laying hens? There are four partitions that I didn't see until I cleaned it out, just 2x8s cut to length and screwed into the sides.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That is probably good fopr 20 or more laying hens.
  8. OkChickens

    OkChickens Orpingtons Are Us

    Dec 1, 2010
    Owasso, Oklahoma
    A picture would be great to see exactly what you are talking about.


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