Can you use deep litter method in an open chicken run?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by beckyrasdf, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. beckyrasdf

    beckyrasdf Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi there!

    Pretty new to this website, but very excited about what I'm learning! We are getting 5 chickens end of March (Autralorp, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Easter Egger, Wyandotte)...this is our very first foray into the chicken world and we are pumped (and nervous!!).

    We will most likely be buying the Round Top backyard chicken from the Urban Coop Company (found here: http://urbancoopcompany.com/product/round-top-chicken-coop), We will also be purchasing a run attachment, which will be doubling the size of the run. The chickens will also be free ranging during the day.

    The coop itself is wire flooring, so the poop can be dropped directly into the run below. My question for this forum is about cleaning the run. The run has welded wire walls AND ceiling. Will the deep litter method work if the run is open to the rain? Or will I need to find a way to cover the ceiling? Would I also need to cover the walls as well? Or is it ok for a little moisture from side-blown rain to get in?

    Also, we are putting the coop in our backyard. Could we place it directly on the grass? Or is it better to elevate the coop/run a bit so that it's a bit higher than ground level?

    Thanks so much in advance for any insight you can give us! We are very grateful to hear from the 'experts'!!! :)
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Hate to harsh your excitement, but.....I wouldn't put more than 2 full grown large fowl chickens in that coop.
    Prefabbed coops are almost always way too small....and often not built very well.
    But it would work great for raising chicks in for a few months....which is what most folks do after buying one of these and finding it too small.


    For that kind of money you could build a much more appropriate coop and run.

    The Cedar Coop that you posted about here is a better go if you're still convinced to buy a prefab.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
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  3. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    For the cost of that, you could build a house much bigger, that you can even walk into without bumping your head, and provide enough space. Limited space presents a myriad of problems.
     
  4. beckyrasdf

    beckyrasdf Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank y'all for your replies and honesty. It's so frustrating to be told time and time again by folks that make coops that they can hold double the number of chickens we're planning on. In our minds, we then feel like we're erring on the side of caution! You'd think folks selling coops would not be telling such blatant lies all across the board :(
    This is a bit disheartening...my husband is traveling/working 70+ hours a week plus commuting an hour multiple times a week for his MBA. To say there's no time whatsoever to construct our own would be an understatement...I guess it's back to square one in planning :(
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Biggest problem with negative chicken behavior can be caused by lack of space. Even if you let them out of that most days, there will be days you will want them locked up. And as AArt said, in the winter, with short days and bad weather, they will go there for even more time.

    I think for the money, you could hire someone else to put up a simple shed and run for much less.

    Where are your chicks now?

    Mrs K
     
  6. beckyrasdf

    beckyrasdf Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi there!
    We don't have them yet. They're being delivered end of March. I'm trying to get everything figured out now while we have a little time. The last thing I want is to be scrambling once they do arrive!
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Ok, good, then go with that set up and get only two or three. Three is considered better, as in if one dies, you are not with just a single bird. They are a flock animal, and need company.

    Two or three hens will give you and your husband more than enough eggs. If you get 2-3 eggs a day that is a dozen + a week. You will be swimming in eggs with 5 layers. That set up is just not big enough for 5 hens...... really 3 hens will be stretching it.

    Depending what part of the country you live in will determine you winters of course, if you do have real winter, as in below zero, I do not think that set up has enough air space. People talk about square feet, but really inside a coop is a volume, a 3 dimensional space. In my experience, (and it did take me a while to get there,) I have found that when birds roost they really need 15-18 inches above their heads from the ceiling. A full grown bird on a perch is about 12 inches so the roost should be about 25 + inches below the ceiling. That is where the ventilation needs to be, letting out the moisture, but keeping the birds out of a draft. They also need to be about 15 inches away from the wall. Too close to the wall or ceiling, and in below zero weather outside, condensation forms. Dry chickens keep themselves warm, wet chickens are unhealthy and miserable.

    Aart is correct in that it does not have near enough ventilation. People worry about keeping chickens warm in the winter, where as they close of the coop to trap the heat, and what happens is they keep them damp, a very unhealthy solluton.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    It is frustrating, but it's the old 'buyer beware' thing....most marketing claims, for any product, hold a degree of falsity.

    If you can afford to buy a prefab coop/run to house your new chicks in March, then build an adequately sized coop this spring, that little coop/run will be great for isolating a problem or injured bird and for raising/integrating new(more) chicks in the next years.

    Otherwise it may be best to wait until you have a decent coop all ready to go before getting any chicks.
     
  9. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Unfortunately dishonesty has become a standard in business and I've heard many a business people try to justify it. They take advantage of the unsuspecting and call it "business". I can't work that way and am insulted when someone tries to B.S. me. I understand your plight of work and the hours required. I'm sure you will find the ideal situation and though it may not be the most convenient, it will be the most rewarding especially if you created it without being screwed out of your money.
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Becky, You'd be much better off going to Lowes or Home depot and buying a garden shed. They'll come and set it up for you. Then, a roll of fencing, and some netting over the top, and you'll be well on your way. I recommend that you do some reading on how to design a predator proof coop and run. I agree with other posters. While those pre-fab coops are cute, they are way too small, the perches are too small in diameter, the ventilation is poor and even if it is adequate, the lack of height in those coops will result in the chickens roosting in a draft. Wire flooring for poop to drop right through? IMO, a recipe for disaster. Chicken poop is either runny, and will stick like glue, or it is big and fairly well formed, and will not "drop right through" as the coop salesman tells you it will. My chickens can lay poop bombs that are 2" in diameter. Then, the chickens will get down off the roost, and walk through it, turning it into a poop pancake glued to that wire. Chicken's feet are also prone to getting sores when left on wire. Also the lack of height in the coop and run eliminates the possibility of using deep litter, which means that you will be ALWAYS changing the litter in your coop and run to keep it from becoming a stink hole. You will need to use some sort of litter in a small run. And if you need litter in that run, you're going to want it tall enough for you to be able to stand up in when you maintain it.

    Now that we've all rained on your parade, a few words of encouragement: We just saved you a lot of money! Chickens are a lot of fun. They are a blast! You're gonna love them! Spend some time reading, look at some coop designs, choose a design that at the very minimum gives you 4 s.f./bird in the roost area, 1 linear foot of roost/bird (preferably a 2 x 4 laid on the flat), and 10 s.f./bird in the run. It would also be wise to plan the space for twice as many birds as you plan to get. Several years from now, your current flock will cut way back on their production. I can almost guarantee that you're going to want to get some chicks to replace them. When you do, you'll be glad you have some extra space to work with. Further encouragement: One does not require a lot of tools, or a lot of expertise to build a chicken coop. I bet there's someone in your circle of relatives or friends who could talk you through it. If this old gal who is pushing 60 can build a coop and a green house, and a couple of chicken tractors, you can too!
     
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