ADVICE ON FLOOR OF RUN FOR NEWBIE

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chellyroo, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. chellyroo

    chellyroo Out Of The Brooder

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    My hubby & I are in the beginning stages of becoming owners of a few chickens (4 is the number we have in mind). After looking at a gazillion photos of tractors and coops, I believe we are going to find that a small coop with an attached run is what will work best for us--reasons being we have no fenced area to let chickens out during the day, we live in a subdivison & doubt our neighbors would appreciate finding chickens in their yard, the area we plan to designate as the chicken area in at the back of our yard in a slightly wooded area where the ground is not entirely level, and lastly, we want the chickens to be able to enjoy being out of the coop in the daytime when we aren't able to watch over them every minute.
    I understand we need to make the run predator proof ( we have hawks, fox and cats, probably possums, too) so we've already decided on the deer netting or something similar for the top of the run, but what about the bottom? I've read about putting hardware cloth on the floor, but wouldn't this prevent the chickens from being able to scratch? I've also read about running the fencing (not the right word, I'm sure) that is used on the sides of the run about 2 ft out along the bottom edges of the run and burying it, but I'm afraid the ground may be too hard and full of roots from trees.
    Lastly, do chickens have to be locked up in the coop at night or allowed to go in and out when they please? If they have to be locked in, whe do they need to be let out?
    Sorry for the long post. TIA for the help I know will pour in![​IMG]
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Bear in mind that raccoons, which sometimes (albeit seldom) come out in daytime, and dogs which are always a daytime threat, will rip right through deer netting after climbing your fence. All that deer netting deters is hawks. If you are really *serious* about predatorproofing, or most especially if you will not be locking the chickens in at night, then you want something stronger up there.

    but what about the bottom? I've read about putting hardware cloth on the floor, but wouldn't this prevent the chickens from being able to scratch? I've also read about running the fencing (not the right word, I'm sure) that is used on the sides of the run about 2 ft out along the bottom edges of the run and burying it, but I'm afraid the ground may be too hard and full of roots from trees.

    I wouldn't put wire on the run floor. Mean to chickens [​IMG] Also hugely expensive and will make run maintenance difficult.

    A 2-4' horizontal apron of strong welded wire mesh (no larger than 2x4") is OTOH *perfect* for hard undiggable ground, because it needn't necessarily be buried. If you can pin it down real well especially the edge, or just weight the whole thing down with large pavers or rocks or chunks of concrete rubble or whatever like that, then it can be installed atop the ground (it will gradually merge with the top of the soil).

    Lastly, do chickens have to be locked up in the coop at night or allowed to go in and out when they please?

    If you only have deer netting on top of the run, then not locking them in is going to be discount night at the predator buffet... maybe not right away, it is a luck-of-the-draw-thing, but ASSUREDLY eventually. And once predators know there is yummy chicken in there, it gets MUCH harder to keep them out than if they remain blissfully ignorant of what they're missing.

    Actually I've got pretty secure runs, with 1x1 welded wire mesh or actual 'roof' tops, and I *still* won't leave the popdoors open overnight. Don't want to tempt the local wildlife, and really not in the mood for a surprise massacre. Nothing is ever 100% predatorproof but coops come a lot closer to that than runs.

    Of course if you are happy being sort of 'oh well time for more chickens' about it, then you may choose to take that risk, and it is possible that nothing awful may happen for some while. YOu never know.

    If they have to be locked in, whe do they need to be let out?

    Totally depends how much space/food/water they've got indoors.

    My chickens have 15 sq ft per hen *indoors*, plus run, so I do not worry in the slightest if they actually *never* get out on a particular day [​IMG] (only happens if weather is nasty or I'm out of town).

    OTOH if your chickens have only 2-4 sq ft per hen -- my tractor is like that -- then the longer you keep them cooped up the more you are running the risk of them starting to disassemble each other, which can be real hard to stop once the habit has begun.

    And of course if they don't have water in the coop you can't keep them locked in there for very long at *all* after they wake up. (Food they can go without for a little longer but it won't improve your egg production).

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. rhondapiper

    rhondapiper Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm interested in this too- we had planned on putting hardware cloth on the whole floor of our run and covering it with sand/mulch/etc, but if it will make my chickens uncomfortable or miserable, I'd certainly be willing to try the skirting. I just thought this would be safer.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:If you cover it *deeply* with sand or etc, it won't impact the chickens much -- but a typical dusting hole would be like 8-10" deep and you wouldn't want them hitting hardwarecloth.

    It is also very expensive, have you priced this out?, and will need replacing 'eventually' (yes, even galvanized will rust, how fast it rusts depending on the quality of the galvanizing, how sandy/gravelly/pebbly your soil is, and how damp) but not only will it be a real bugger to replace, you won't even *know* when it needs replacing, cuz you won't be able to see it.

    It seems to me that it's a good strategy for places with a known serious rat problem (and a significant budget to spend, or just a tiny run) but really not the best way to go for most situations.

    JMO though,

    Pat
     
  5. cowman910

    cowman910 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    it depends where you live but sometimes you can dig about 2-3 feet down and put about an inch of cement then just fill in the hole with sand or something
     
  6. chellyroo

    chellyroo Out Of The Brooder

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    Pat- thank you so much for the input! Sounds like the "apron" would work best in our situation. I also appreciate the info re: predators. We want to keep our chickens in one piece! So I will start looking at options for a more predator resistant top.

    Since it seems it's best to put the chickens up at night, when is this usually done? Can they be put up for the night when *we're* ready or do you have to wait till they go in on their own then lock it down?

    Also, we were going to use our over-abundance of dried leaves for the -- what is it? bedding? the floor of the run is what I mean. Can you tell me of any problems that would cause?

    As I mentioned we are looking at getting 4 chicks-- a couple of Rhode Island Reds and a couple of Barred Rocks fi I can find them around here. Got any opinion about the best age to get them? I was wanting chicks since it is important to me that they be really tame by maturity, but can that be achieved even if they are pullets?

    Mucho gracias! [​IMG]
     
  7. bluie

    bluie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feel my coop/run is very secure. I never close the pop door. They come and go as they please, but are out as soon as its daylight, and go in at sundown. They rarely go inside the coop during the day unless they have an egg to lay. I don't see why you couldn't put hardware cloth under the run as long as you have a few inches of sand on top and you provide an above ground dust bath. I do however agree with patandchickens that an apron of sufficient size on the outside of the run will prob do the trick instead. I covered my partial aprons with heavy slates and pavers. I also agree that deer netting won't allow you to sleep at night. I put hardware cloth over the top of my run. Sometimes I put leaves in the run, and rake them out in a week or two and add 'em to the compost.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2009
  8. Chauntecleer's Keeper

    Chauntecleer's Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My vote is for no wire on the floor of the run. If you really want to predator proof your coop, put a hot wire on the perimeter. This works great.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:If you have them trained to expect that you will chum them up with a handful of scratch when you go out in the late afternoon or evening it is easy to put them in when you want to. Remembering that the less room they have in the coop, the more likely for them to get up to mischief if shut in before it's getting dim enough to zonk out for the night.

    Also, we were going to use our over-abundance of dried leaves for the -- what is it? bedding? the floor of the run is what I mean. Can you tell me of any problems that would cause?

    Cleaned and replaced periodically it may work fine for you if it is a dry location in a dry climate. The possible pitfall is that organic bedding/footing in the run holds moisture, and moisture holds smell and breeds flies. I'd say try it and see how it works for you; if you decide you like it, fine, and if you don't, replace with sand or gravel or whatever you choose to do.

    As I mentioned we are looking at getting 4 chicks-- a couple of Rhode Island Reds and a couple of Barred Rocks fi I can find them around here. Got any opinion about the best age to get them? I was wanting chicks since it is important to me that they be really tame by maturity, but can that be achieved even if they are pullets?

    I'd recommend day-olds because they are fun [​IMG] and because you are unlikely to be buying diseases, parasites, and so forth. Part- or full-grown birds have a significant chance of carrying stuff like that -- it can become a problem for them with the stress of moving, and even if it doesn't, you then *have* it in your flock, possibly forever.

    If you really really don't want day-old chicks for some reason then it is worth searching around for just the right source for older birds. Make sure to ask if they've been debeaked, RIR and BR *probably* wouldn't be (b/c you'd probably be buying them from a hobby breeder) but better to know what's being sold... not that you can't buy debeaked pullets, I started out with 3 point-of-lay pullets that had been debeaked and they did FINE, it is just that you'd want to be aware and people don't always mention in ads etc.

    The 3 p-o-l sexlinks (raised impersonally in a huge pen, I'm sure) turned out just as friendly as the ones I later raised from day-old chicks, btw. Hanging out with them and becoming known as a food dispenser is a persuasive argument to *any* age chicken [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  10. chellyroo

    chellyroo Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 20, 2009
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    Quote:Your post cleared something up for me--I had thought the advice on the apron of mesh for the run meant to have it extend from the edges *inside*. and I was wondering how that would work since we plan a relatively small run. Makes perfect sense for it to run outwards.

    I guess my question about locking the hens in/letting them out should have been more specific; I was wondering if they have to be put up any certain time in the evening and let out at a certain time (like, crack of dawn!). It will be no problem for us to put them up in the early evening and let them out when we get up in the morning, usually around 7 a.m..

    so the leaves are ok for the floor of the run? And we just need to add new (dried) leaves weekly and sort of rake the old under?

    If we're going to have 4 hens and need to make sure there is a waterer and feeder inside, what is the recommended size for the coop itself? We want happy hens![​IMG]
     

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