cleaning up after chickens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bethany01, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. bethany01

    bethany01 New Egg

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    Hi all I am a newbie here. Of course I have lots of questions.
    I received a gift of 13 mixed breed chickens (11 laying hens, 1 older rooster and 1 year-old rooster). I don't know ages except the younger rooster. Since I got them about 6 weeks ago, 2 hens have died, but now all the living ones appear healthy.
    Anyway, I am wondering about cleaning up their outdoor area since they are not free range and don't have a huge amount of space. Their indoor area is about 12'x12' and lined with thick wheat straw. Their outdoor space is kind of odd shaped, but about 200sq. ft. I let them out into our fenced yard for a few hours most, but not all days. What I'm wondering is, am I putting them at health risk by not giving them more outdoor space? They peck at the ground and I toss their treats in on their outdoor floor. Should I be feeding treats in a container so they aren't eating off the ground they've been pooping on? Should I be putting straw down in their outdoor area so that I can scoop it out with the waste periodically? Or putting straw down to absorb waste and leaving it in place? Or is that enough space so that it will decompose fast enough not to cause problems?
     
  2. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First off you have one too many roosters. Sounds you are OK otherwise. What are you feeding them and is it avaiable all day?
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Their indoor area is about 12'x12' and lined with thick wheat straw.

    144 square feet for 11 chickens should be plenty as they have asccess to more room outside. By conventional wisdom, you may have room for 36 chickens in there, depending on your climate.

    Their outdoor space is kind of odd shaped, but about 200sq. ft.

    Again, 200 square feet for 11 chickens should be sufficient to keep them from doing the overcrowded things. Conventional wisdom says you have room for 20 chickens.

    What I'm wondering is, am I putting them at health risk by not giving them more outdoor space?

    What you can expect in the run is that they will eat everything green and you will have a bare run. It will get muddy when wet, so do what you can to keep water out. That's a whole nuther topic, so I won't go further with that. They will also poop enough in the run that the soil will be so strong that nothing will grow anyway, even if they did not eat it or scratch it up. But to answer your question,no you are not putting them at a health risk provided they have a balanced diet and a reasonably dry area.

    They peck at the ground and I toss their treats in on their outdoor floor. Should I be feeding treats in a container so they aren't eating off the ground they've been pooping on?

    Tossing treats on the ground so they scratch is a good thing. Scratching helps break up the poop and keep it from stinking. And though this sounds strange, they need to eat some of their poop. I'm not saying to keep a filthy place and they need to eat a lot. Quite the contrary, cleaner is better. But their poop contains certain bacteria and they need to injest some of the bacteria in small amounts to develop and maintain immunity. I don't remember if it was the Texas A&M or the NC State website, but I read where chicks that spend their first week on wire do not develop immunity to Cocci, a certain bacteria. Eating off the ground will not hurt them. They do it in nature.

    Should I be putting straw down in their outdoor area so that I can scoop it out with the waste periodically? Or putting straw down to absorb waste and leaving it in place? Or is that enough space so that it will decompose fast enough not to cause problems?

    I'll leave the straw question to others. I don't use it and don't have any experience with it in an outside run.

    I notice that you are new here. Welcome. Get ready to meet a lot of friendly helpful folks. And if I may make a suggestion, if you set up your profile to show where you are, that makes answering some questions a lot easier. It took me a while to catch on to that.
     
  4. SoJoChickens

    SoJoChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome Bethany01! Great questions. Ridgerunner's answers are perfect. I wouldn't bother with Straw for the outside run. It sounds like the chickens will do fine.
     
  5. bethany01

    bethany01 New Egg

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    Mar 22, 2009
    Thanks for the replies all. We were thinking of getting rid of one rooster, but they aren't fighting much yet. They don't get along but they don't hurt each other. The thing is the older one is dominant but we have a hen setting chicks right now and the younger rooster is so sweet, he comes over to the setting hen like he's checking on her. He's always trying to mate with the other hens, but he doesn't bother the setting hen, just sits next to her a lot and comes in like he's checking on her. She was also the hen who hatched him last year, but we don't think she's the bio mom.
     

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