Coop Help with chickens for the first winter. Lots of questions!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by brwneggs, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. brwneggs

    brwneggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 21, 2010
    Northern Indiana
    My dad built a shed/coop (lean two). Half shed, but not developed yet and a fenced in coop on the other side. 1.We have one window in the coop side that I have cracked open for air.
    2. We use wood shavings on a cemant floor, and it gets so dusty in there. I am allergic to dust, so I battle everytime I enter.
    3.The door into the bldg is on the shed side We have a screened opening abov the door to help with the dampness.
    4.I have cleaned the shavings out once this yr.
    5. We have a heat lamp, two other lightbulbs (like the kind of lamps used for a barn) and a floor heater. It stays in between 40-50 degrees in there, enough so the water does not freeze.
    6. We put the girls (6 Isa Browns) in there, with a pretty big run from a tractor which we used all summer (it was falling apart and my dad had installed metal pipes-if you dont think that was heavey).
    7.They have devoured the run and no grass remains. Is it ok to put some straw in the run for the winter?? They do not want to go outside.
    8. I wish I could put pictures up, but it just not working for me.
    9.We have 6 girls. We do not have laying boxes so they lay their eggs on the wood shavings in a corner.
    10. We do not have any fan or vent in there, just the window and a screened in portion above the door.
    11. We are trying out best, and love our girls very very much.
    12. At what tempeture should I not leave them go out? I am afraid of frost bit combs.
    13. And we would like to find a tractor that is easy to build, and econmonical to build. And "I DO" need floors plans with measurments-that how my dad works.
    [​IMG]I appreciate all the help you have gave me thus far- and I hope to gain more knowledge and wisdom with our girls. Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  2. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Wow, that is a pretty thoughtful list! I just started with chickens this year, so you might want to look at my BYC page which points to several of my useful (or amusing (to me)) blog posts.

    1. and 3. might not be enough ventilation, but if it is staying dry in there and not drafty, you should be OK.
    2. Wear a kerchief or a dust mask
    5. I avoid lights, heat lamps, and heaters due to fire hazard -- dry chickens are fine in Alaska winter if they are protected from drafts
    7. Put a few flakes of hay from a square bale in there for them to tear apart and walk on, sprinkle BOSS or scratch in there too
    9. Try giving them a litter box with a hood, or a 5 gal bucket with half the lid cut away
    10. May want another window in summer -- be sure to screen over with hardware cloth
    11. [​IMG] Welcome to our world
    13. Browse through the BYC coop designs, mostly photos, but you can cobble up plans with a pencil and ruler with features you like

    Hope this helps. Good luck with your flock -- you are in for a fun adventure.
     
  3. brwneggs

    brwneggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 21, 2010
    Northern Indiana
    Chicken.Lytle :

    Quote:Wow, that is a pretty thoughtful list! I just started with chickens this year, so you might want to look at my BYC page which points to several of my useful (or amusing (to me)) blog posts.

    1. and 3. might not be enough ventilation, but if it is staying dry in there and not drafty, you should be OK.
    2. Wear a kerchief or a dust mask
    5. I avoid lights, heat lamps, and heaters due to fire hazard -- dry chickens are fine in Alaska winter if they are protected from drafts
    7. Put a few flakes of hay from a square bale in there for them to tear apart and walk on,
    sprinkle BOSS or scratch in there too

    9. Try giving them a litter box with a hood, or a 5 gal bucket with half the lid cut away
    10. May want another window in summer -- be sure to screen over with hardware cloth
    11. [​IMG] Welcome to our world
    13. Browse through the BYC coop designs, mostly photos, but you can cobble up plans with a pencil and ruler with features you like

    Hope this helps. Good luck with your flock -- you are in for a fun adventure.

    What is BOSS? or what kind of scratch?
    Dont the chickens breathe in that dust too? Could they get sick?​
     
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Depending on the size of your coop, with only six girls you are probably okay with ventilation. Is the window placed so that, when cracked open, icy winds can't blow on your roosting birds??? Adding some ventilation up high may be something you'll want to consider when it warms up a bit. If your dad could do, maybe an exhaust fan built in...that might help with your allergies.
    I know some use straw for bedding. I prefer wood shavings myself, but I don't know whether other options would be less dusty or not; Chickens just create dust. With a dust allergy, I would post a question about that as a separate topic, so that you can find the least dusty option.
    I still have (dead) grass in my run, but I do toss down straw out there sometimes when I'm trying to lure them out when there's a little snow on the ground. I toss a little scratch among the scattered hay, but they just enjoy scratching around, even if there are no treats there.
    Also, have you considered a dropping board under your roosts. I'm thinking dried poop would have to create more dust. With six birds, it would take less than a minute to scrape them each day, and would reduce the amount of coop poop building up.
    I might consider a heated waterer to keep your water unfrozen, even one of the heated dog dishes maybe, and just one lamp above the roost for your birds. That's an awful lot of heating devices in one area. All of us who use them are taking risks, but less would be less risky.
    I do like using nest boxes, (even a milk crate or something along those lines would work), because eggs in the bedding can get smushed or poopy.
    No tractor plans here, sorry.
    I can tell you love your girls [​IMG]
     
  5. Cargo

    Cargo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    12. At what temperature should I not leave them go out? I am afraid of frost bit combs.

    As long as the humidity level in the coop does not get too high they will be fine down below 0deg. As far as going outside, let them decide if they want to stay inside or not.

    Here are some great pages from, Pat to help you decide about Ventilation and Winter Weather.​
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  6. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:BOSS is Black Oil Sunflow Seed and my chickens are crazy for it. For scratch, I just use cheap wild bird seed from WalMart. It is poor nutrition, so it is an infrequent treat that keeps them busy when offered.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  7. sunflowerenvy

    sunflowerenvy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 4, 2010
    south/west tn
    Quote:laura
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  8. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 13, 2010
    Alabama
    Maybe when the weather is right, you could clean and seal the concrete floor. That may help with the dust.

    Definitely get several packs of disposable dustmasks (or one good respirator), and use them every time you work in the coop.

    If the dust is bothering the chickens, you'll hear them sneeze occasionally. In that case, cleaning the coop more often, installing a fan, etc may help. (If they sneeze a lot, or have other symptoms, post on the Diseases forum!)
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    I don't see how sealing the concrete is going to make one bit of difference for dust. All's it'd do is make the floor a bit easier to clean if poo got splorted directly on it, and reduce any rising-damp-from-the-soil issues one might have.

    Heating the whole coop to 40-50 F just to keep water liquid is SO overkill, and such an unnecessary expense and fire risk, I really really think you should reconsider. Although since they are used to that you might not want to go 'cold turkey' all at once, just dial the temp down gradually. Use a heated waterer or heated waterer base to keep the water liquid, it is cheaper and MUCH safer, also healthier.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

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