Chicken Run try two

SusanD

Chirping
Feb 20, 2015
348
5
71
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Hi,

My parents and I moved our chicken coop to the side of our house today. I think they're thinking of building a gate, having the chickens stay there, and maybe letting them out to free range in the yard when we're home. I had several questions.

The first one has to do with bark mulch - can it irritate their skin or eyes, they way it can people? I noticed that I felt a little itchy after picking up one of the chickens that had been taking a dust bath in the run.

Are they old enough that stray cats should leave them alone (we got them in February)? I think those are the main daytime predator that we have to worry about. I'd feel better if my Dad would hire someone to help us build something covered like an aviary/covered run, but I'm not sure that's going to happen for a while, if at all.

The side of the house used to be a dog run (over 10 years ago, and the bark mulch is new). Do I need to be watchful for any diseases that might be spread from dogs to chickens?

Thanks for your help. I'm really wishing I'd encouraged my parents to do their homework before we got the chickens, and I'm hoping I can help keep them healthy (after 2 1/2 months, I am somewhat attached to them).

Susan
 

LayALilEgg 4Me

Chirping
Apr 20, 2015
109
7
63
st helens, merseyside. UK
Hello, the question about mulch is very much of opinion... some people say its great others say not. Bark mulch with cedar in it is toxic to chickens, so double checkbwhat kind of mulch it is. Its best to use sand id say as its much easier to rake up droppings and keep things clean.

As far as the dog thing i wouldnt worry too much loads of people keep dogs that free range with their chickens so i wud say that area would be ok especially if it was ten years ago.

Im not sure what cats are like where you are but here in the uk cats dont particularly bother with chickens its more foxes that will kill them.

If you want coop ideas there is loads of great info on this website, type coop design in the search engine and there will probably be loads of articles on how yo build your own and ideas on practicality and design, purpose etc. (I bought my coop/runs) and for the free range area my partner brought home some wooden pallets from work and we painted them and nailed chicken wire to them and they made a pretty cool fence.

Hope this helps, good luck with your chickens x
 

21hens-incharge

Nuttier than a squirrels stash
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
23,652
98,623
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Northern Colorado
I think the biggest problem with bark mulch is the parasites it may be harboring. I think it is rare but if it is very fresh it could have parasites.
When I let my chickens out of the run the first places they head to is the mulch. I guess it looks better scratched out of the flower beds and into the grass.
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The cats should be leaving them alone BUT if they are breeds like silkies or polish then they cannot see as well and may be targeted.
Are they large breeds? If so they should be safe from cats in about another month. Size matters.

I had a neighbor that let their cat roam the hood and he found that attempting to get to my very grown large birds was an interesting challenge. (He got a free ride to the pound after about 20 calls to the owner to come get the stupid thing.)
 

SusanD

Chirping
Feb 20, 2015
348
5
71
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Thanks for your replies. I think raccoons are the biggest killer of chickens in my area, so will try to watch out for them. They are breeds that should be pretty large when they've finished growing, I think (Langshan, Welsummer, and RIR).

My parents didn't know what type of wood the bark mulch was (it was put down a long time ago), but I suspect is is probably pine or fir, so hopefully wer'e ok. If it is cedar, would it help that the fumes have had time to dissipate? What type of parasites can fresh mulch have in it?

I'd love to hear from someone who has used sand in a wet climate. It sounds ideal (especially now that I am having seconds thoughts about converting our chicken run from movable to permanent - not entirely my decision, but I did advocate for it), but I'm concerned it might clump when we get rain again in the fall (or if we get rain again this spring)?

Thanks,

Susan
 
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21hens-incharge

Nuttier than a squirrels stash
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
23,652
98,623
1,602
Northern Colorado
Actually there is a recent thread started by someone in Hawaii that has a sand run and is NOT happy with it.
Wet, smelly etc.
Now that being said when I was out in the country the entire property was sand. I hated it for the thorns that grew but the chickens did very well with it. I do live in an area tending toward very dry though. I never let those chickens out for fear of thorns in feet. Those were some nasty thorns.
 

LayALilEgg 4Me

Chirping
Apr 20, 2015
109
7
63
st helens, merseyside. UK
Hey, 21hens-incharge makes some good points, im in the uk so weather preditors etc. Are all very different here. My chickens are on grass, they have lots of coverage, designated dust bath, out door perch bars and i scatter hay/straw down on the grass for them as they just lovee to scratch around in it! Plus its easier to clean the run and free range area... i have a coop and run (with a sheltered bit) then me and my partner made a fence and made a free range area off the coop and run. I let them out in a morning and shut them in at night everyday, i am at home to watch them and my garden is safe from preditors. When the time comes to clean out the free range area which i do very regularly, i just rake the poo and hay up put down a touch of ground conditioner and then put fresh hay down for them.

I think its down to personal taste on what you put down, maybe make a covered run and put wood shavings and hay down they are absorbant and minimize odour?

Mulch and thorns in sand can cut your chickens feet and possible cause bumble foot and sometimes in bad cases the chickens feet need surgery to remove the core of the infection.

On the other hand people have used both these with success....

Hope this helps x
 
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