Clueless first timer with a lot of coop/run questions! Rain barrel, sand, etc.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by alcstreetman, May 18, 2019.

  1. alcstreetman

    alcstreetman In the Brooder

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    Apr 11, 2019
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    Hello!

    Our chicks are ready to move to the coop and my husband is currently finishing everything up. I have multiple questions and have already found good information from previous posters but I wanted to see if there were any recent opinions that could be helpful. If anyone has input on ANY of these, I would greatly appreciate it!

    1. Thoughts on sand in the run? I'm in Georgia and it'll be a covered run.

    2. Are removeable nest boxes a must?

    3. Rain barrel - I'd like to use a rain barrel but many people have varying opinions on this. The water would come from the roof of the coop which is plastic, not shingles. My questions would be if anyone adds bleach to disinfect and also if I would need to winterize my barrel. Again, I'm in GA and the winters are pretty mild but I wasn't sure if this was a must. So, if this is the case, people only use rain barrels in the summer??

    4. Oyster shells - do you just sprinkle them around or do you have a feeder in the run with just shells?

    5. Feeder - I think we are going to build a PVC feeder and stick the shoots through the hardware cloth to outside the coop so we can feed without going in - thoughts?

    6. Linoleum on the walls of coop? I will put it down on the floor for easy clean up, but what about the walls?

    7. Predator protection - I was thinking of getting solar powered motion lights as well as the red eyes that "blink", does anyone have experience with these? The hardware cloth is dug into the ground but I'm so terrified a predator will get them, I want some extra defense!

    8. I feel like my chicks are up at night.. in general, they definitely sleep MORE at night but they seem to still eat and move about plenty. My original plan was to leave food and water out in the run and just leave the coop door open but now I'm worried they will not go into the coop at night, is this a problem? I was told that at dusk they will go in the coop and at dawn, they will come out? Should I close them in? If so, would you recommend and automatic door? Which one?

    9. Any other amazing tips that have saved your life or made things WAY easier? I'd love to hear!!
     

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  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

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    My Coop
    2. Nest boxes: Mine are removable because I built them that way, but it's really just for cleaning purposes as they're free standing and internal in the coop.

    4. Oyster shells: I have a little cup in the coop for them. I don't really recommend sprinkling them around as they'll just disappear into your bedding.

    6. Linoleum: You could stick some up the sides of the walls or just go with paint on the walls.

    7. Predator protection: I personally don't think those blinking eye things work at all. Some folks do use motion sensor lights but personally I like it pitch black (both so I sleep better and so it doesn't interrupt the chickens sleeping) but once again not sure if they actually do anything to deter predators.

    8. Night: I assume your chicks up and eating at night because you have light on 24/7? My chickens get no artificial light at night so they're inactive at night.

    For predator protection it's best to lock them up in the coop at night, as that's going to be more secure than the run. Yes they should go in at dusk on their own - if they don't, you either need to train them to do so (herding them in) or figure out why they're not wanting to go in on their own (coop too dark, too stuffy, mite problem, etc). I do use an auto door mainly because I get up late in the morning.

    For pest protection I would NOT leave food out in the run overnight. It'll be ok for a while, then rats and mice find it and start trying to break in.
     
  3. alcstreetman

    alcstreetman In the Brooder

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    Athens, GA
    Thanks! I'm not sure why they stay up sometimes, we don't leave the light on, it's pitch black once the sun goes down... I guess I just have party chickens?

    What type of feeder and automatic door do you have?
     
    trumpeting_angel and IrishLad61 like this.
  4. BugStalker

    BugStalker Songster

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    Feb 2, 2016
    1. They love to dust in sand. I add wood Ash to their favorite spots.

    2. Removable boxes are easier to clean and otherwise handle. I currently don't have them, but I am trying to get some.

    3. I don't have a rain barrel, but sometimes use rain water. It doesn't last as long, unfiltered. I am trying an upside down sieve cone, and so far the water is keeping better, but most of it runs off the side.

    4. I have an oyster shell feeder, but they tend to sprinkle it around, themselves.

    5. The feeder sounds ok. I like to go in to check them over when I feed, so don't really have an opinion on feeding without going in.

    6. I don't use linoleum, so no idea. I expect it would be ok if they can't rip it off or something.

    7. I use chain link skirting to make it even harder to dig under. It can be buried to keep from tripping.

    8. Chicks can be up all hours, like babies. Once they learn the coop is safe, and everyone else will be there, they will go there at dusk. Once in a while, they will fly up on something just outside the coop, instead, but usually not.

    9. Dropping boards are handy.
     
  5. alcstreetman

    alcstreetman In the Brooder

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    So, this is probably a stupid question but if I use sand and put some wood ash in, do I still need to add an actual dust bath? Also, what are dropping boards?
     
  6. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

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    I just have one of these plain plastic feeders: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006ZJHDO6/?tag=backy-20 Very basic but easy to fill and remove at night.

    My auto door is a Chicken Guard (https://www.chickenguard.com/) I just have the cheapest one, as I wanted it on timer and not on light sensor. I went with this door since it takes up the least amount of space (doesn't swing out, just slides up and down).
     
  7. BugStalker

    BugStalker Songster

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    I wouldn't think you would need a dust bath. They would pick a good area, and that would be the dust bath. They would tend to maintain/move it themselves, for the most part.

    A dropping board collects overnight droppings. It can be useful in checking their health, especially if you know where each bird roosts, and it keeps the floor cleaner.
     
  8. Peppercorngal

    Peppercorngal Crowing

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    Howdy! Here are my answers
    I would not use sand in the run. I can't imagine trying to (a couple times a year) rake up the poop when it's in sand. I have a dirt run floor and when it rains I throw in straw to help with the mud. I get rice straw and the chickens love to go through it and find lost rice!

    I do not have removable nest boxes. I see no reason for them really. I put straw in the boxes and the hens love to "arrange" it!
    nest boxes.jpg
    I don't use a rain barrel so I have no advice on that!

    I use plant saucers for the oyster shell. I fill it up and believe it or not, the hens do eat it. You do need to put in in a bowl or saucer and not just on the ground.

    I use the hanging feeders, but I don't hang them. I got two 10 lb feeders first but just bought a 30 lb feeder. Some of the hens like to eat from the top so I'll continue to use the small ones as well. I put the food in the run, never in the coop. The run is made of chicken wire with 2 feet of hardware cloth from the bottom up to keep little racoon hands from reaching in and strangling the baby chicks. (chicks always stay close to the "walls", they feel safer there) I have two coops with large runs attached. The run is completely enclosed with chicken wire.
    10 lb feeder.jpg 30 lb feeder.jpg
    Linoleum on the walls sounds like a great idea!

    We depend on the run and coop to protect the chickens from predators at night. Only a bear can tear into the run, and even then I doubt they could get into the coop. It's built like a house with a steel door and large deadbolt. The run has an apron with huge rocks on top of it, so nothing can dig under. We have a fenced in free range area to keep coyotes from running in from the woods, grabbing a chicken, and running back out. That does not happen anymore. We do have the automatic motion lights that will alert us if something is outside around the coop and run at night.

    My chickens have a nightlight in the coop. It's for me, not for them! Even with that they do not get up, eat, or do anything but sleep at night. I don't know why yours would be active. My chickens automatically go into the coops at night and I shut the run doors and lock them in. I do not lock them in the coops, they can go through the chicken door at any time, it's left open.

    I do not have an automatic anythings. Caring for and spending time with the chickens is important to me so the feeding and watering and shutting the run doors at night are all opportunities to interact with them. Just my opinion, you may want auto waterers, etc.

    So, good luck with your chickens! And Welcome Here!:hugs
     
  9. BugStalker

    BugStalker Songster

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    You do want to choose good sand. Sandbox sand usually has a coating. They like sand with larger pebbles they can use for grit. I've heard some people wash out the sand. I just compost it. I also use pine shavings, dirt, and straw, but sand goes farther. I just scoop it out like kitty/puppy litter. If it got piled up, it could be a mess, because they would mix it in the sand. Sand they don't dig in can harden if it gets wet. Some people rototill their sand runs periodically.
     
    IrishLad61 and alcstreetman like this.
  10. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I like sand.

    Nope. Totally your preference.

    Good idea. I would put a screen over the top to keep animals from falling in... other than that, I see no problems. I see no reason to clean it if you are using it for the garden or chickens. If it sits for a while, it might go green... then dump on the garden and scrub it out. Don't give green slimy water to the chickens... but it would still be great for plants.

    I put them in a small feeder.

    I love my PVC pipe feeder. We used a big trashcan so it holds a bunch of feed. The trashcan is great because it holds a bunch of feed and is super easy to fill.

    You can get pipe caps and put the caps on at night, take them off every morning...if you have rodent or sparrow problems.

    As to sticking the ports through the wire... hu... might be tricky... think through how to make sure you aren't increasing predator access points...but it could be done.

    Never used it.

    I think motion lights are a great idea.

    I haven't used red eyes or whatever.

    Chicks are kind of stupid. The poor things need to be taught. I often end up tossing them into the coop when they are supposed to go to bed. After a week they usually catch on.
     

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