Coops and runs in forested areas: What to keep and what should go

Discussion in 'Where am I? Where are you!' started by Two Chicksahs, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. A. Remove the straw and forest debris?

    0 vote(s)
  2. B. Add Diamtematious Earth for dirt baths.

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
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    As you can see we have woods on two sides of the pen and the vegetation is mostly from the garden area I'm working on, which I'm hand tilling since my Doctor told me I need to get more exercise, or else... . I've taken fallen limbs and put them in a kind of triangle that are being supported by cement blocks. Our prefab coop will go under the tarp if it arrives. I'm keen on making our own. I took a pic-nick table bench and placed it outside for now, since I easily get tired from working on the garden.
    I figure the bugs, grubs and worms will make their way into the run. I put potatoes on one of the sides but eventually I plan on an addition for meat chickens. I'm going to put red leg bands on them to make the distinction so I'll know down the road but Claire said it isn't fair to treat them any differently but I just didn't want her to get too attached to them.
    I put the debris in piles cause I don't think the old straw is any good to keep since it's at least of couple of years old from the previous owners Doberman. Also a lot of pine needles fall into the pen and leaves. I'm thinking of taking the leaves from the bags I put them in and add them to the run and there are still some on the ground in back of the compost pile which is nearby the pen. There is still a lot of dirt which was once timberland so I figure it should be pretty healthy dirt. Would I need to add Diatomatious Earth or D.E.? The pen doesn't seem to get very muddy by itself in spite of the forested hill behind it, but there aren't any chickens adding to it.
    There are also some tree roots from the huge Blue Spruce (Claire named her Ms. Hightower as she's 120 ft. tall or so) and others going through the pen and decomposed particle board. Are any of these bad for our future hens?
    Claire is researching siding for the coop in case we need to add on or start a coop from scratch. Has anyone heard of Home Depot's composite siding called Smart Siding which comes in 4x8s?
    We know that we need to add protection from attacks from above as well as predators from the ground or trees so we still need to add aerial protection and more posts for support. We don't cut our trees down but should they fall naturally... I think we might need a post or two in the middle but perhaps we can use pvc to support the avian netting since they have couplings? Any suggestions?
    Unfortunately a plumbing problem and Roto Rooters rates ate up all of our "truck" funds and some a good portion of construction funds that we had budgeted for our projects, so we are looking for low budget, shoe string fixes.
  2. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Songster

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! Your area is similar to mine. I'm in the woods, too, but I think I've got more hardwoods from the pics I'm seeing.

    I love having the coop at the edge of the woods. It keeps it cooler in the summer and the girls seem to suffer far more with the heat than the cold. A good cross ventilation will keep the coop tolerable in the heat of summer.

    The tree leaves and pine needles are perfect for your run. I use them in my coop, too, and bag leaves in the fall to add to the coop in winter.

    I'd get rid of the straw since it's a few years old as it may be harboring mold, which can quickly sicken birds. Maybe use it as plant mulch or hot compost it.

    I don't use DE as it defeats the purpose of what I'm trying to achieve. I do deep litter in my coop and run and I want the bugs, microbes, worms that come up from the ground in the run to help break down and compost the chicken litter. DE will kill all those good things that creates that great timberland soil and you'll be left with a stagnant mess. When you add chickens to the run, I'm betting you'll soon be down to bare earth with their scratching. I keep adding carbon based material - straw, pine shavings, mulch, shredded newspaper, leaves, pine needles, etc. - anytime it gets wet, muddy, or should I detect an odor. I eventually have a layer of beautiful black earth that goes straight into the garden.

    I can't speak to the spruce roots but can only say that none of my girls have pecked through large established roots to consume them. I don't have any input on your siding question, either.

    As far as protection from hawks, we've used deer netting from home depot and it works great. You can use those green metal movable fence stakes as support, they're very inexpensive. Secure with zip ties. [Oh, my, I LOVE zip ties!] We did that for two years before we got our run built and I actually watched a hawk attempt a dive and then pull up quick when he saw the netting.

    Hope this helps a bit and Good Luck!
  3. Hi there Mtn. Laurel, You are one busy gal/couple! I want to thank you so much for your encouragement and input. Your hubby is quite the carpenter! We found your coop to be very impressive! Right now we are a couple of gals 56 and 70 and we have our Little Jack Russell Terrier named Freda Kahlo. We just moved to our home last July and have had to do a lot of remodeling which took us quite awhile since we are both handicapped. We're now turning our attention to the garage and the upper deck of our property. Rain also makes construction and painting difficult outdoors.
    I suspected that the D.E. wasn't quite right but I wasn't sure! I think we are going to build a coop about 6x6 give or take. We had windows replaced, (what a nightmare but awesome now that they are finally installed), and we are going to try to incorporate some of those windows into the henhouse if I can get any of them to open, which was in part why we had them replaced. You mentioned other advice but I have memory problems at times...
    We are planning on putting in pull-out drawer flooring that come out the front and back and have some of the roosting bars over the back drawer. I am guessing that people put the shelves or running boards in so the hens can peck and walk about on them rather than the floor? Is there another reason for them? I'm glad to hear your hens haven't destroyed the roots. We also have some birch nearby but not really on our part of the property but on the timber companies land there is a lot of it. I'm told we actually have two Redwoods on our property so that's awesome. I love trees and grew up near very large Oak trees and Claire grew up in Northern MI. I wish we had the funds to buy out some of our neighbors but... dream on!
    Thanks again for the helpful advice!

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