Clearing out overgrown coop, advice for safety pls?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Spinnerpeace, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. Spinnerpeace

    Spinnerpeace New Egg

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    Sep 6, 2009
    Whidbey Island
    Hi, first-time poster here! I'm from the Pacific NW. I don't have my chickens yet, but I'm trying to get a coop ready for them. The lady who lived in this house before I did raised Jersey Giants. The coop was since reclaimed by the woods out back. I'm looking for advice on how to make it a good home for the layers I'll be getting soon.

    The main part of the coop is 18x18 not including the nest box section on the side. The nest boxes are enclosed except for a door (not full person-sized) leading into the main part of the coop. The coop is on dirt which is very overgrown with moss in parts. The sides and roof of the coop are fully enclosed in chicken wire mesh over a heavier wire grid in most parts for sturdiness. One section of the roof is covered in wood, the rest is open chicken wire. The entire floor is quite sloped.

    I'm concerned about the dirt floor. As I was clearing out the blackberries and small trees that had grown up inside it, I found about 3 chickens-worth of bones, 1 adult and 2 youngsters. I shoveled out that part of the coop to remove the dirt that was touching the bones, but I have no idea if there was some sort of an epidemic in the coop or if they died of neglect when the lady moved away. Should I scoop away a layer of dirt from the entire 18x18 floor of the coop in case of disease?

    Let me know any other advice you have for me about getting the coop ready, I've never had chickens before. I'm reading up on the forums and learning a TON, thanks everyone for all your helpful posts over the years!!

    Jennifer
     
  2. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    [​IMG] from WI. I would dig up a layer of the dirt if you can. It sounds like it has not been in use for a long time if you have stuff growing in there...I am not sure about diseases.....Other more experienced folks may be able to tell you if that is a concern and what you should do. I would make sure that the wire is intact all around, securely fastened and does not have holes or weak spots...Also consider putting more of a roof on. Chickens need to stay dry in their coop. It may also help to keep the floor from getting to yucky/muddy. Can you post a picture? That may help too. I recently cleaned out my (quite old) gardenshed, pulled all the shelving out. It never had vents or windows in it. I threw out some of the rotten smelly shelves and sprayed and washed the wooden inside with a diluted bleach solution. Let it dry for a couple of days, then put mostly laminate flooring (VERY inexpensive find at Habitat ReStore...paid a total of $27 for floor) over the old floor. Painted the inside, insulated a bit, added vents, nesting boxes, roost and a poop board underneath). Different situation for you but I suggest to clean whatever you can with pressure washer and/or bleach solution. Don't know if that helps any. [​IMG]
     
  3. Spinnerpeace

    Spinnerpeace New Egg

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    Sep 6, 2009
    Whidbey Island
    Yep, there are a few places in the chickenwire that need a little staplegunning. And I'm thinking of building up the dirt around the edges even though the chickenwire seems secure going down into the dirt floor. Maybe bags of filldirt laid down around the edges. And more roof seems to be a VERY good idea. I'll go try to take some pictures now if there's still enough light.
     
  4. Spinnerpeace

    Spinnerpeace New Egg

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    Sep 6, 2009
    Whidbey Island
    Okay, took pics of everything, will caption under each pic! Sorry some aren't right side up, I'm not sure how to do that.

    [​IMG]
    This is a view of the front of the coop. As much blackberries and trees as you see around it, that was almost how much was inside it!! You can see the new door my dear husband built standing to the side of the entry. I'll staple the chicken wire on it before he hangs the door and puts the latch on.

    [​IMG]
    Here, if you tip your head left, you see the old door. You can see why the dear man built me a new one.

    [​IMG]
    And tipping your head right (sorry, dizzy yet?) this is a view through the door. It really does slope uphill as steeply as it looks.

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    View of the back left corner from the door. That section is the most sheltered from rain.

    [​IMG]
    View of the back right corner from the door. There's one part where the roof is open, and the rest is sheltered. Yes, that's a big old treestump in the back. Thought I'd leave it there, they might find some tasty bugs living in it.

    [​IMG]
    View of the front left corner taken from the center back of the coop. That big dark thing in the corner is another old treestump. Nice place to sit and watch the girls scratch I think. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Other front corner, where the nestboxes are. That's a friend's dog in the doorway asking me to come play fetch now please?

    [​IMG]
    Tip your head right for the next 3 pics, lol, hard to tell which way is up in this one! This is the door from the coop into the nestboxes. This is the most enclosed place in the coop, but the door is just an opening, it doesn't shut.

    [​IMG]
    The left side of the nestbox area. I'm going to have to chop the handle short on an old hoe to scrape out the caked on crud. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The right (bigger) side of the nestbox area. That vertical wood divider that's a bit askew in the bottom nest area makes me wonder, should I put more dividers up? I'm not going to have gigantic chickens like the ones that used to live here!

    [​IMG]
    Tip your head to the left again, so sorry, i need to learn how to rotate images! Here is a closeup of how the chicken wire comes down to the floor and then some. This is buried under dirt in most of the coop, but not here. I'm thinking of getting some more dirt to bury this.

    Well, hope this wasn't too many pictures. You can see that the floor is very slanted, and all dirt with moss growing in some places. It's the Pacific Northwest... I'm not quite in the rain forest, but it feels that way in the wintertime.
     
  5. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well, it sure looks interesting. I don't know what your predator situation is there (neighbors dog could even be one), but it certainly isn't predator proof. What in your area would eat a chicken, or kill one just for fun? The shade is nice, but the vines could be the cause of rotting wood. I'd thin the vines out somewhat. You'll definitely have to do some major cleaning. BLEACH. Like you said, there may have been disease. I would look for rotting wood and replace any and paint with an exterior primer and then patio/deck paint. This will seal the wood and make clean up easier. Looks like you have some work to do, but it could work out nicely.
     
  6. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    Good idea to fill some dirt in and around!!! The tree stumps are neat, I would leave them , I'm sure the chickens will jump up on them. I would scrub/bleach te nesting boxes, maybe adjust dividers so they are about 12-maybe 16" wide. One question though.....I am not sure about the wire...some of it looks like 'regular' chickenwire, some like larger opening but sturdier wire. I have read several posts that describe racoons and other predators being able to reach thru wire and pull/injure/kill chickens. You may want to check that, supposedly hardware cloth or small diameter chickenwire are best to prevent that. [​IMG]
     
  7. Spinnerpeace

    Spinnerpeace New Egg

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    Sep 6, 2009
    Whidbey Island
    The whole thing is covered with the little-opening chicken wire, with the bigger/sturdier stuff in places additionally. Once the front door is covered in chicken wire and hung, nothing will be able to get in that is bigger than the openings in the little chicken wire. The chicken wire at the bottom of the walls is actually nice and tight but I want to add filldirt for insurance. My area does have predators, including birds of prey, raccoons, coyotes, opossums, and neighbor dogs of unknown habits regarding birds. So yes, good to make sure it's nice and tight! It's not that close to the house, so I might not know something was amiss until it was too late.

    I'm thinking I ought to scoop out as much dirt as I can, and then add a nice layer of new dirt all over. Think I can Deep Litter Method in this coop? Perhaps not until I cover the rest of the roof... [​IMG]
     
  8. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Like someone else said, a raccoon will reach through the chicken wire and grab a chicken. Chickens are not very smart and would even go right over to somethings hand (paw) out of curiosity. Is there wire under the dirt? Raccoons will also dig and climb. They are very smart and strong. They can bite through wire. !/2 hardware cloth is what you need and maybe some plywood. Hardware cloth can get expensive when you're using enough of it. And use locks on the doors.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  9. Spinnerpeace

    Spinnerpeace New Egg

    5
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    Sep 6, 2009
    Whidbey Island
    Silly chickens. That's too bad that they don't stay away from things with pointy teeth and sharp claws lurking outside their cage. I wouldn't have known that. I'm so glad I found these forums BEFORE I get chickens... wouldn't want to lose any when it could be avoided! I did see a chipmunk go through the wire yesterday, but it was tiny, I don't think it could eat a chicken. [​IMG]

    The chicken wire goes under the dirt 2-plus feet in from the walls. I'll bury that a bit more with bags of filldirt to make a birm around the edges inside the coop. Maybe I'll do that around the outside edges too. Seems like cheap insurance, anyway. So far I'm only in to this for the cost of the lumber for the new door. And the chickens are going to be free! An aquaintance with a free-range flock is letting me have some layers. He says I can have roos too, but my neighbours might beg to differ. Ah yes, and the neighbours are another reason to have locks on the doors. Not that I suspect anyone in particular, but not all predators are quadrupedal.
     
  10. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

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    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    You are lucky to have so much up all ready (take it from someone who has been coop building all weekend!) It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done. I would suggest sand for the floor to cover up the old dirt and provide good drainage . . . maybe even gravel covered with sand? There is a germ killer on reccomended on here often called oxine (sp?) they say it is better than bleach.
    With so much nice cool shade, spilled feed or water could get mildewy . . . very bad for chickens, so the only recommendation I would make is hanging the feeders and waterers so there is plenty of air flow around them.
     

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