Chiken run size

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by edanzanders, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. edanzanders

    edanzanders In the Brooder

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    First question here. Just started looking into the possibility of keeping hens in our new back yard. I read a lot of threads on here, but most seem to be concerned with minimum size of coops or runs.

    My questions is mostly related to having sufficient space in the run to avoid excessive manure buildup that would become a problem. I'm hoping not to have to do daily manure scooping. I figure that if the run is sufficiently large, and dry, I may be able to clean once a week.

    For the coop itself, I'm hoping to do a deep litter method, using industrial hemp. I wish to dial it in just right, so I can clean out mostly compost every 2-6 months. But if had to rake and scoop out the run daily, that would defeat the purpose, I would think.
    • My goal is to keep mostly 2 hens (R.I. Reds, or Bielefelders), with an absolute maximum of 4.
    • I'm looking at building my own run with a built-in raised coop, where hens can go under it.
    • Currently looking at a 16'x6' footprint, which will be slightly less than 96 sq. feet
    • The run would probably be directly on the ground (dirt). I'm still trying to determine the best litter for the run. I'm thinking dried leaves, mulch, etc. Not straw or anything like that. I hope to be able to get some of the manure to break down in place, and do weekly maintenance.
    • I don't think we'll do much free ranging in our yard (5,000 sq feet). I want the kids to be able to play outside without coming back with shoes full of manure.
    • I expect to do some daily maintenance, or course, but I'd like to be able to go on vacation for up to a week (automatic feeder/water/door), without the run becoming a smelly mess by the time we get back.
    Does any of this sound reasonable? Would the surface area be enough to prevent manure/smell overload? Is is too small? Space is not really a limiting factor, although I woudn't want to take up half the yard for 2 chickens.

    The build would look something like this:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    Your local environment will factor in. I have 10 square feet of run per chicken. I do not put litter in the run; it's on my native soil. I do not clean the run. It does not smell. Waste does not build up. The chickens scratch everything to compost.
     
    sylviethecochin likes this.
  3. Ruralhideaway

    Ruralhideaway Crowing

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    x2 above, adding your location to your profile will help understand how the system will work for you. There are folks here who really know composting with chickens who can help. I think you'll be ok with this plan but believe you'll need plenty of dry materials for the run. I don't think you could count on materials being ready for the garden quite that fast but others will know better.

    I will say I think that's a great design overall. Your space seems nicely thought out for the comfort and health of the chickens.

    Also, :welcome
     
    PirateGirl likes this.
  4. edanzanders

    edanzanders In the Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2018
    North Rhine-Westphalia
    I forgot about that!

    I'm in North-Rhein-Westphalia, Germany. The weather can definitely be wet in winter, although we don't get much snow. I have also noticed that on most days the grass is wet in the morning, even in summer time. Must be dew. By noon-time, things are usually dry. I haven't been here too long, I'm not entirely sure, but it could be that in winter time the dew doesn't fully dry up, and the grass remains moist throughout the season.
     
    Ruralhideaway likes this.
  5. Ruralhideaway

    Ruralhideaway Crowing

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    Your temps and snow will be much milder than mine or PirateGirls.

    One thought I have is that you'll want them to have some sunshine. Covered is great for year round use, and if you find they are wanting to hide inside you can always do temporary windbreaks, plastic etc. But maybe consider orientation to make sure they get the sun also.
     
  6. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    It is very dry here. The chicken poop just gets scratched to dust! For my garden though I add other things to compost. There are some really great threads on composting. If you are simply trying to have a sanitary run and not have to scoop poop daily, I think you probably have adequate space. Also it tends to smell more when it's wet and hot, so the covered design you have will help with that. If it's getting too wet in the run you can always throw in some bedding, straw, wood chips, lawn clippings, etc. Its a bit of a trial and error because everyone's situation is different, but I think you have a good plan to start!
     
    Ruralhideaway likes this.
  7. edanzanders

    edanzanders In the Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2018
    North Rhine-Westphalia
    That's really good to know. Thankfully the yard faces south. I should be able to position it so the sun shines in parts of it throughout the day.

    Yes. My first concern is keeping odors in check. Our neighbors are pretty far from the end of our yard, the closest being 35-40 feet away. I'm sure that helps, but it's also important for me to not have offensive smells in the yard, keeping the hens clean, plus I'd hate to attract lots of flies etc. I really want to think this project through and ensure it's going to work in the long term.
     
  8. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Crowing

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    Below is a good video on deep litter. I use deep litter in my run and haven't done anything but add to it once in a while, to freshen it up. If deep litter is done right it will not smell.

    It looks like you will have a nice set up, with that coop. Make sure you put an apron all around your coop and run, to protect against digging predators.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/muddy-run-help-please.1037998/#post-16017992
     
    aart likes this.
  9. edanzanders

    edanzanders In the Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2018
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    That's really helpful. Looks perfect, exactly what I'm hoping to see in the run.
     
    blackdog043 and aart like this.

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