coop floor - what do you absolutely *need*? different in winter?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by schmamy, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. schmamy

    schmamy Out Of The Brooder

    13
    0
    22
    Jun 3, 2011
    We have some backyard chickens at a friend's house--we share all the costs, we did the upfront work and the research, they do the day-to-day maintenance. We're prepping for winter, and my friend told me:

    We are not using pine shavings on the bottom of the coop. It was just more mess to clean up, plus additional cost. Do we have to use these during the winter? If so, how deep should they be? I think we'll go through them pretty quickly - a bale every three weeks, I'm guessing. If you are ok with it, let's split the cost of the shavings - assuming we definitely need them.

    I told her at the beginning about the DLM, but for whatever reason she decided against it. I let her make that call since she was the one doing all the work. The coop floor is just concrete, I believe--or maybe dirt?--I can't remember. I don't know how they are cleaning the coop at this point...we talked about poop boards at one point but never made or installed any...

    Do you *have* to have bedding of some kind? How much--how deep to start off? And how often does it have to be replaced (or added to if you do the DLM)? I'm assuming yes, but I need a concrete and clear answer for my friend as to *why*. Sorry if that's a stupid question...we're noobs and I just need to be able to tell her, authoritatively, "yes, here's what we need and why" rather than "um, I think I read something about how you should do this."​
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  2. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,170
    41
    153
    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    Quote:Isn't that the case for any pet/hobby/passtime/activity?
     
  3. schmamy

    schmamy Out Of The Brooder

    13
    0
    22
    Jun 3, 2011
    Quote:Isn't that the case for any pet/hobby/passtime/activity?

    That's what I'm asking. Is raising chickens only worthwhile as a hobby/pets/a fun pastime? If the daily maintenance work was on me, I would not be doing it for these reasons. The appeal to me is getting high-quality eggs--that's pretty much it. So I'm just curious whether we're delusional in thinking that we're going to get anywhere near breaking even. Can raising chickens ever be a cost-effective way of getting your own eggs (and maybe meat)--or is that not a reasonable goal?

    That's a tangent, though - the other stuff about coop flooring is my main question [​IMG]
     
  4. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,170
    41
    153
    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    I'm sure others will be better able to answer your litter question than me, which is why I purposefully skirted it. I haven't been in the 'hobby' long enough to be able to argue a case of litter.
    If it twere me. I'd start off shallow and just keep adding a bit on top as it gets dirty. Hard to say how much would be used how quickly as it depends on your birds at the size of the coop.

    On the other hand, I got the chickens because I wanted fresh eggs for my OH. It didn't take long before my priorities switched. Now, I have chickens, because they're my daily companions, and the eggs are just a bonus and keep my OH happy.
    I think you may be able to break even, if you just write the initial setup cost off (run, coop, etc). If you just count the feed, bedding, medication, and other daily expenses, I reckon it should be about even.
    You need to rethink... are you doing it because you'd like to know what goes into your food, because you want to save money, or because you enjoy chicken-keeping? If it's the second option, unless you have a huge setup and a customer database, then I'd scratch that off your list of reasons. [​IMG]
     
  5. Mommy 2 Wee Ones

    Mommy 2 Wee Ones Chillin' With My Peeps

    735
    28
    138
    May 19, 2011
    North Texas
    I am new to the chicken thing too, got my chicks mid May till June 3rd, 15 total, 2 flocks who reside together. I have always used the pine shavings even in summer (OSB board floor, converted greenhouse). Easy to sweep out when needed, floor stays clean.
    I just put in my winter pine shavings last night, had frost warnings overnight. They were happy & warm, and did not want to come out of the coop when I opened the door to the run this morning. [​IMG]
    I will add one more block of pine shavings towards the end of the month, and change out the shavings in the nest box every other week. They keep their nest boxes pretty clean, just gets all flattened with their chunky bodies. [​IMG] During the summer, I changed the floor bedding once a month, their roost is a 2 ft wide board, so I scrape the poop off daily into a bucket & toss it in the yard (we have 1 acre). So the floor did not get that dirty.

    As for breaking even, I guess if you had enough hens to sell their eggs & were raising meat chickens for your own consumption, I guess you could break even. But most of us have our chickens because we are tired of bland store bought eggs that are housed in inhumane conditions. We enjoy sitting out & watching them roam the yard, or running towards us begging for treats. My youngest just loves to hold them & love on them, and collecting the eggs. We enjoy taking bets on how many eggs we will get that day.

    Mine all have names & different personalities, some love to hop on our lap & get petted. Yesterday we had the sliding door open & two of the girls walked right in. They have not been in the house since they were chicks (late June). It was a hoot seeing them check out the kitchen.

    Because winter is coming you have to factor in added electricity if you are going to have extended light, so they will continue to lay. Since there is not much free range stuff to eat in the winter, they will need more food & veggies. I will not be doing the added light, since mine are under a year old, I will let nature take it's course, if they continue to lay during the winter, it will be a bonus, it not, I can wait till spring.
    I just like having Happy Fat Hens.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,530
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I think you'd have to know how they're cleaning the coop now to have better info. I personally wouldn't shell out money to have shavings put down frequently, just to have them raked back out and replaced with new. You really do need bedding of some type, something to absorb/pick up the poo. I guess if you have a concrete floor and hose it down every day you wouldn't need bedding, but that's not feasible for most of us. A dirt floor will get plain nasty without bedding, there's no good way to get the poo off the dirt without removing a good protion of your floor. And it'll smell a lot more. You need to talk to your friend and come up with a method she can live with physically and you financially.

    And no, no one on a small scale beaks even if you have to start from scratch for a coop/run, etc. Those costs are just a loss. Some do manage to sell enough eggs to (kinda) cover feed costs, but even that needs a fair number of hens, plus an eye more to have them for business reasons vs pets.
     
  7. schmamy

    schmamy Out Of The Brooder

    13
    0
    22
    Jun 3, 2011
    OK, I deleted my question about breaking even because it was an irrelevant comment that was getting more attention than my main question!

    I saw the chicken coop yesterday.Concrete floor and poop everywhere. It stinks, and it's pretty gross. I don't know what their method is for cleaning (didn't actually get to talk to my friend yesterday) but I get the impression it is not very thorough. There are several roosting boards in the coop and I saw poop on several of them, as well as on some of the wall boards.

    It sounds like the DLM really is the way to go, and would ultimately be less work for my friend (who needs "less work" with three small children) but I need help getting her started. I feel overwhelmed searching the archives and trying to get the basics, and I'm afraid she's going to feel overwhelmed switching and getting started with this. My friend stopped using pine shavings at all because she didn't see the point and didn't want the expense. I need clear, simple information as to why we need shavings, and how much we are going to have to buy/how often she will have to add them.

    At the moment, my main questions are:

    --It looks like lots of people clean their coop out completely to *start* the DLM...is she going to have to do this--like hose down the floor and everything? Or can we just throw a few inches of pine shavings in there to get it started?

    --Can we use dry leaves (which would obviously be free) instead of pine shavings?

    --What do you do about a feeder and waterer with the DLM - can you still have them just sitting on the floor? Because ours are right now - I have no idea what we'll do with them if that's not OK with the DLM.

    --Someone in an old thread mentioned having to scrape the poop off all the boards if the chickens poop on anything but the floor. Is that something that still has to be done regularly with DLM?

    --I thought food-grade DE was essential, but saw mixed opinions on that. Is it really necessary or can we leave it out as one less thing to think about and spend money on?

    Forgive me if these are stupid questions. I have no involvement with these chickens...my share of the work to get eggs for free is doing all the research and giving my friend the info she needs. And, I'm sure many of you will want to throw tomatoes for this, but just to be honest: my friend is not an animal lover, she is not doing this because she wants pets or loves "the girls." I mean, she will do what she needs to do to keep them healthy and safe, but just the basic, bare necessities. Just as an FYI for where she's coming from and how I need to present info.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  8. satay

    satay oz-e-chick

    7,257
    730
    361
    Sep 2, 2008
    Esk Qld Australia
    I guess you could try the dried leaves in the coop and see how it works. Is your friend paying for all the feed for the hens? If that is the case and you really do nothing to get your free eggs perhaps you can offer to pay for the shavings to make the cost a bit fairer for the both of you. As for cleaning poop etc yes you need to d that regualrly it's part of owing chickens.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  9. satay

    satay oz-e-chick

    7,257
    730
    361
    Sep 2, 2008
    Esk Qld Australia
    Ok after re reading the opening post it seems you share the cost of the feed. If that is the case maybe you can just go halves in the cost of the shavings if thats the way you decide to go.
     
  10. The Old Whittler

    The Old Whittler Out Of The Brooder

    46
    18
    34
    Oct 31, 2011
    Sometimes I get tickled about some of the things I read on here. I think people go to extremes sometimes trying to take care of their chickens. I had chickens back in the 70's and 80's and got plenty of eggs. Other than providing a place for them and unfrozen water in the winter (they had a pond in the summer) I did nothing for them. Mine free ranged all year and found their own food with the exception of a few table scraps that I gave them. The first place I had chickens I partitioned off a room for their roost and nesting boxes in a barn with a dirt floor. I never cleaned the floor in their area, the poop just dried up and disappeared. The second place I had chickens they roosted in a barn with no specific place for them.

    This time with chickens mine can't free range so I have to feed and water them plus clean the poop out of their coop each day which is no problem, the coop is up off the ground and has a floor in it (takes about 5 minutes).
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by