Chicken poop pathogens: a chicken run beside my neighbor's garden

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PamandEric2015, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. PamandEric2015

    PamandEric2015 New Egg

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    I'm constructing a first chicken domicile, and I've started a small neighborhood controversy about the proximity of my chicken run to my neighbor's leafy vegetables and beans. There's a space between our garages, about 8 feet, split by a fence -- 3' on my side, 5 on his. On one side he has lettuce and beans growing up to the fence line. He grows his vegetables as a primary food source.

    Starting with the premise that no one can guarantee 100% safety, how realistic are the fears that rain will run off and carry chicken poop pathogens to my neighbor's garden? I can control surface water and subsurface water with grading and impermeable barriers.

    If I can control surface and subsurface water communication, are there other problems I can create?

    I'm trying to be a good neighbor, and I'd also like to use this otherwise useless space on my yard for the chickens to play. The space on my side is 16' x 3' x 5' tall. This space is around the corner from my coop and feeding area, which is also about 16' x 3'. The space will be home to 5 chickens.

    The floor of the entire domicile area is chicken wire, buried in 4-8" of rich black dirt and surrounded on the surface with a perimeter of cedar 2x4's and 2-4" of mulch on top of the dirt.

    I'm looking for a quick answer to the dispute from the Chicken Experts. Something in the realm of:
    - "That's really not going to be enough poop to ever be a problem if you keep it clean."
    - "There's no way you can keep water with chicken poo out."
    - "The odds are much much more in favor of his having a bumper crop than an illness. "
    - "Dude, don't leave the floor of your run on the ground."

    Help!
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    What do your local zoning ordinances say about poultry and proximity to neighbors? First, you'll have to obey those rules. What is the fence made of? Is it solid wood or some sort of wire mesh? The big concern that I see, since you are in such close proximity to each other is this: You each have very different needs and your needs stop where his needs begin. You need to protect that boundary for his sake from: poo run off, (not a problem if handled correctly. Do you have any water from your roof running off into this area? If so, that will have to be stopped.) and air born contamination. Even outdoors, in a small space, chickens kick up a lot of dander, and some of the dust they kick up is contaminated with fecal dust. I would not want my salad growing adjacent to my chicken run. UNLESS, I had a separation between the run and garden that would not allow air to pass through. Even then, I would choose to place my garden or my chickens elsewhere. But... to make the best of a bad situation, at the very least, I recommend that you put a non permeable barrier up that will go 6" below ground and to the top of the fence. Then, cover that entire run area with a minimum of 6" of mulch. This can be made up of: coop bedding, leaves, grass clippings (from lawn that has not been treated with insecticides/herbicides) wood chips (like from a tree service) garden debris (encourage him to toss his weedy trash and veggie duds over the fence). In effect, you will be creating a super rich compost that will attract beneficial insects (they'll not affect the neighbor's garden) and worms that will keep your flock busy for hours, and help break that mulch down into black gold. You can then share this compost with your neighbor. Win/win situation. BUT, if you have option to create a run elsewhere on your property, I'd go with that option first.

    If you just put up a fence and turn the chickens loose without the benefit of a deep mulch, I'd say... NO WAY!!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Runoff would be the biggest concern, especially with just an 8 foot area between the garages.
    It's a pretty tight space and could be catastrophic in the runoff department, depending on the garage roofs configurations and maybe the slope of the land there.
    Can you post a pic of the area?
    Sorry, but I can understand the concern, especially with leafy greens.
     
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  4. PamandEric2015

    PamandEric2015 New Egg

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    Thanks, lazygardener -- that was insightful and helpful. And very closely aligned with what my neighbor had requested, maybe a few steps further.

    I believe that I can easily prevent fluid and particle communication between our spaces if I scale back the space dedicated to the run.

    eric
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    YW
     

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