Chickens in horse barn stall - will it be too dusty?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bluebirdlane, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. bluebirdlane

    bluebirdlane Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello, I am new to chickens and need some advice. I want to get 4-5 laying hens to raise our own eggs. I am thinking of getting ISA Browns or Red Sex Link hens.

    I live in Southern Ontario Canada. We have cold winters going down to -20C (-2F) with moderate to quite warm summers with highs around 32C (90F)

    I have a nice insulated horse barn with 7 stalls, and I was thinking of converting one horse stall for chickens. The stall I would use is 8'6" x 12' with 4' high hemlock partition walls which I would fill in above the planks all the way to the 14' ceiling with 1/2" hardware cloth. The barn has lighting which is already on timers for 16 hours of light in winter to keep my show horses coats from growing too heavy.

    On the other side of the back wall of the stall I would convert, we have a 24'X32' south-facing open run-in shed for the horses. I could partition a 5' x 24' strip of that as a chicken run and install a pop-door for access. Since this is under a roof it stays 90% clear of snow, or just 4"-6" of snow might come in near the south side but a good part of it is clear all winter.

    The barn interior stays around 4C (39F) in winter unless we get a long run of super cold weather in which case it could fall to -2C (30F) to -4C (25F) for a week or so.

    My question is, am I going to be unhappy having chickens in my horse barn? I've read that chickens are dusty. How dusty? Would 4 hens be too dusty in my barn?

    I am quite particular about horsekeeping and I don't want to cause problems for the horses or drive myself crazy trying to keep things nice. It must be said that horses do raise some dust, mainly by rolling in their shavings (I was going to use pine shavings as litter for the chickens also).

    I am accustomed to cleaning horse stalls daily and would expect to do similar with chickens so I don't think they will smell up the barn (correct me if I am wrong?) but will this number of hens create a dust situation that I will regret? If so I need to find another way to get chickens into our setup.

    Another choice would be to build some form of separate cabin-like coop within the 5' X 24' run I was going to build in my run-in shed (and I could then extend the size of this run out into the paddock), but then I lose the advantage of the chickens being in the insulated horse-warmed space and would need to deal with heating water for them, lighting it to keep them laying in winter, and worrying about them when it gets frigid. I also think I would enjoy them more if they were in the barn as I spend many hours per day there, although perhaps the chickens will choose to be outside most days, even in the winter?

    Thanks in advance for your insight!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    As a kid we kept a good number of horses as you describe. Chickens where also present. Neither was dust free although dust could be suppressed if appropriate bedding is used. Horses produced sufficient moisture to also keep a lot of dust down. Hay may be able hold enough moisture and create dead air space that promotes settling of the dust. We generally had chickens free-range among horse stalls as they gleaned spilt grain (oats) and seed from hays helping to keep mice numbers in check. Chickens defecating on hay not looked upon favorably although no health issues where attributed to it. Chickens will dog down to dirt mostly for purpose of dust bathing. Watch out for lice if birds confined. Frequent replacement of bedding will help but some parasites may be able to close life cycle on the abundant wood making up structure of stalls. Conditions otherwise should prove mild for chickens.
     
  3. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

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    Sounds like a really nice idea. 4-5 hens won't make much of a mess inside since they will spend a lot if time in your covered run when the weather is ok.

    Lots of space is great!
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Hi. I keep my chickens in a spare stable but they have the run of the yard and the horses stables as well. I have 40+. The horses and chickens share the same space during the day and the chickens are locked in their stable at night. Their stable is dusty but not desperately bad. I very much doubt you would notice the dust from just 4 chickens though. If it was me, I wouldn't bother making a pen for them but just let them in the covered area to range with the horses through the day. They love picking through the manure heap and it helps to break it down. Of course they do make a bit of a mess and I have to tidy it up and sweep up regularly but they are very happy chickens and the horses don't seem to mind sharing their space. Not had a horse stand on one yet and they often forage around and under the horses.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome! Four or five hens won't be a big problem and if they have a coop area of their own, with roosts and nest boxes, you have a better chance of finding those eggs daily! I started with bantams free ranging in my open barn, roosting in the rafters, and had many night predator losses. Good ventilation is essential for both horses and chickens (and humans!) so lots of hardware cloth covered openings are best. If you raise them in a coop area, they can forage during the day and will return at night. Mary
     
  6. bluebirdlane

    bluebirdlane Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks to everyone who replied. I am reassured that I won't be unhappy with chickens in my horse barn. I have a real nice coop planned for the 100 sq ft stall. We'll replace most of the planks in the door with hardware cloth so we can see and appreciate their personalities (leaving the bottom 8" to keep litter from being kicked out) and they can see us. Then they'll have the 120 sq ft run outside under cover, and I'm already visualizing a chicken "gazebo" addition to that just outside the run-in to fancy up the look a bit and make it so we can see them from the house and garden.

    I don't plan on letting the hens loose among the horses, as cute as that sounds, or free-ranging them. We live surrounded by conservation forest land, with lots of hawks and wildlife here. As well, they say a secret to happiness is to "know yourself" and I know that I am a person who likes a place for everything and everything in its place. A chicken digging in my garden beds or my flower pots will not please me :) I do plan on bringing the chickens greens from the garden, crab apples and other goodies we have growing here and putting up various things in the run for them to climb on and amuse themselves, which I look forward to observing.

    I hope our setup will be sufficient for them to express their inner chicken-ness and they will have safe and happy lives here.

    I've already determined I am going to have to raise chicks from day-olds in order to get them with natural beaks, so this project is expanding in many ways!
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Your plan sounds good to me, and I'll bet that you will end up with more birds! Mary
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Depends on how 'nice' you like to keep things.
    Chickens are going to generate a good bit of 'dust' ...but there are many variables in how you bed and manage manure.

    I would go for it and be ready to cover most the mesh coop walls in barn if dust become a concern.
     
  9. bluebirdlane

    bluebirdlane Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks aart, and that's a good point, it is hard for someone else to judge what will or won't bother me.

    Well, I don't want to call myself Felix Unger, but maybe I am! The word "immaculate" could safely be used to describe my horse barn.

    Where does chicken dust come from: them scratching at the bedding, dander from their bodies, both, or something else?

    I could maybe build a 4'x8' plywood 2-storey cabin for the chickens to sleep and eat in, at the back of one horse stall. Then for major pecking the ground and moving about they would need to go outside through the pop door. I could put some mesh covered windows in the cabin for air exchange and maybe most of the dust would stay contained in the cabin? Would that be fair to the birds in our climate?
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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