Coop & Run Bedding

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Tylexie, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. Tylexie

    Tylexie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We're building a coop and run for about 5-6 chickens. The coop and run will be on extremely sloped ground, so we're planning on putting the coop/run on a raised plywood platform and drilling holes in the floor for drainage.

    We're looking for a type of bedding to use for our run that would drain well, not smell, and not fall through our drainage holes (the size of which may vary, depending on the bedding we choose). We would also prefer a bedding that the chickens might enjoy scratching around in (as they will be cooped up in the run for most of the day, until we can let them out in the afternoon). Are pine shavings a suitable bedding for our needs? If not, what makes it unsuitable? We're also looking for advice on the size of the drainage holes.
     
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome! I can't imagine holes in the floor; 1/2 inch diameter or smaller, and they will get plugged up with 'stuff'. Better to arrange the structure to prevent serious water issues, as with roof overhangs. I prefer deep litter with shavings to any other bedding for both the coop and run. A covered run is best too. Mary
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Those steep slopes create a challenge. If you do much of anything you’ll have erosional issues. I can see why you are considering building a coop and run with a raised floor. The coop itself isn’t the problem, people build coops with floors all the time. Just keep the water out. But a run with open sides will have rainwater and snow blowing in, even if it is covered.

    I don’t know how big a coop or run you plan to have or how it will be built. For six hens it does not have to be huge but you do need some room. But there is nothing that says you have to have an open run. Chickens need space but chickens don’t classify space as in the coop versus in the run. They just need room and you need it to be convenient to you. If I were you I’d consider building a fairly large walk-in coop with great ventilation and not worry about a run. I don’t especially like the idea of them not seeing the sun so maybe build them a sunroom on the side or end, using glass to create a sunny spot. You can probably pick up windows for a reasonable price at a habitat or reuse store or maybe on Craigslist. Just a thought.

    I think it will be hard to get the floor level and yet get the water to your drilled holes. Instead of building the floor to the run flat, maybe slope it a bit. You are right that you do not want standing water that won’t drain. That will rot the floor. Depending on how wide you build it, either slope it the same direction or put a crown in the middle so water drains out the sides. You’ll need some type of barrier on the downslope side to keep the bedding from washing out. You need some type of barrier anyway or the chickens will scratch out the bedding.

    If you drill holes, they need to be in between your floor supports where the floor will sag. They need to be small enough that they don’t become a tripping hazard, with or without bedding. They need to be big enough that they don’t easily get clogged yet not let the bedding through. I’d consider something like 1” to 1-1/2” holes but cover them with hardware cloth, say ¼”, to contain the bedding.

    I don’t have a wooden floor to my coop but many that do strongly recommend painting the wood with blackjack or something similar. Any bedding you use (straw, shavings, hay, sand) will hold moisture so there is a risk of the floor rotting. A trick to helping it dry out is to scatter scratch so the chickens scratch up the bedding to help it dry out.

    Those slopes do provide challenges. Good luck!
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    15” drop in six feet? I envisioned a lot more. I assume you are making it 6 feet wide? Build a retaining wall on the bottom and fill it so it is level. On the upslope side build a berm to divert water so it does not go into the run. The problem with this is you will probably see erosion with the diverted water when it starts back downhill. There are different techniques to stop that erosion, usually involving rocks to break the force of the running water.
     
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  6. bugkiller

    bugkiller Chillin' With My Peeps

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    when I first got my chickens I used wood shavings but now use straw. I find it easier to clean and if you compost the litter ( if you don't you better start, they poop ALOT mor than you think and need to put it somewhere) the wood shavings don't compost as well or as fast as straw. and the chickens seem to like to scratch through it more than wood shavings and as for cost it is cheaper. bail of straw goes 3 times farther than bail of wood chips and only 8 $ a bail in my area. that's what works for me any way.
     
  7. ripper8382

    ripper8382 Out Of The Brooder

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    I used wood shavings at first then got the idea of adding corn husks from a couple I met at Rural King. I add some of the husks ever few weeks and left what shavings I had in there and turn it over every few days or so and it works great. I throw some scratch grains down and the girls move it around too.
    I use straw in my nesting boxes so I don't use it on the ground because I don't want them nesting in it on the ground.
     
  8. Tylexie

    Tylexie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It hadn't occurred to me that they wouldn't need a run that's actually open to the weather, but now that I think about it, it makes sense. I'm wondering if they would like to see sunlight? Is there something I could put on the sides of run to keep water out as well? I just don't know if they may like being able to feel the air or something. :)

    I also like the idea of having a sloped floor of the structure to let the water run to the holes. Thanks!
     
  9. koolfunchicks

    koolfunchicks Out Of The Brooder

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    You might want to consider wooden slats as a floor. Check out photos from teila that were posted under ueaterday's thread "raised coop with run underneath or walk-in? Which is best?"
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I think your best bet is to build a retaining wall along the bottom and fill the area so it is level. That way you can go with a conventional coop/run.

    I’m surprised you haven’t had feedback on them needing sun. Yes, they like the sun. They don’t necessarily have to have it and they need shade as well, but that’s why I suggested a sunroom, put windows on a corner to let sunlight in. They also need good ventilation but don’t have to have a breeze hitting them. In warm weather a breeze can be nice though. Your chickens are going to be a lot better off than practically any commercial chickens, even if they don’t get outside. It will be a good life for them. We’d all like our chickens to be able to free range, chase all kinds of creepy crawlies, enjoy the sun and breezes in summer, scratch and bathe in dust, and all that, but reality does not allow many of us to do all that. Just do the best you can and don’t overstress about it.

    I also like the idea of an open floor. There are different materials you could use. You don’t necessarily even need bedding, the poop can fall straight on through and be collected underneath. The slats are a good idea, just remember that things rust or rot. I’m not sure what materials I’d use but it would have to be something strong enough to support your weight.

    In New York you are going to have some cold winters. Your chickens can handle the cold but they won’t like a cold breeze hitting them if they cannot get out of it. A fairly simple solution would be to make something like a droppings board under the roost, more to block wind than collect the poop, and put high ventilation on the far side of the top of the coop, not over the roosts. That way any breezes generated bypass the roosts.

    If you incorporate wire in your floor (many chickens are raised and kept on wire and do fine) some wire has sharp nubs due to the manufacturing process. These nubs can shred their feet. But the manufacturing process that causes them normally means the nubs are on one side. Check the wire before you install it to assure the side that is up is smooth. Or get wire coated in plastic.
     

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