Deep litter or droppings board? + other last-minute questions!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ondreeuh, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. ondreeuh

    ondreeuh In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    Our shed-style coop is finally up! We are now designing the inside of the coop and I'd like to get opinions from the experts before we finalize things. First off, here is the coop - and yes, we will be painting it [​IMG]. It's 6' x 6' and will house 8 large-breed chickens. It has windows on four sides, as well as lots of ventilation. It sits under an oak tree so in the hottest weather the shade will help. We live in Portland, OR and we have about a month of high-90s weather in the summer and a week or so of freezing in winter, so pretty mild overall. We are building a 15' x 10' attached run with a roof, so they will be able to use the run year-round.

    Since we have 8 big chickens, we made two 6' roosts inside. You'll have to imagine the 2nd roost about 12" below the higher one and 12' in front of it (it hasn't been cut to length yet so it's leaning in the nest box). We've put in a droppings board that is wide enough to accommodate both roosts and serve as a step up since I'm not sure how high these gals will be able to leap. There is about 19" of height below the droppings board, and it is about 2' deep.


    If you're standing in the doorway and look to your left, this is what it looks like. The food and water will be against the wall behind the door (so ignore the feeder-looking thing under the droppings board).


    If you look to your right, you get this view. There are 3 nest boxes towards the door (not all visible) and the larger space towards the back is for storage. We'll put some kind of curtain or door over it to keep the hens out.


    OK so now that you've got an idea of the layout, here are my questions:

    1) Will the chickens use the space underneath the droppings board? It just looks so cramped in there now and I don't want the hens to be crowded.

    2) Would you stick with the giant droppings board (not quite as easy to scrap off as a narrow one) or pull it and just do deep litter? We will put vinyl on the floor and sprinkle with DE, and the girls will probably spend a lot of time outside, so I think DLM is feasible.

    3) We used tongue-and-groove cedar siding. Given our weather, would you bother to insulate?

    4) The (recycled) door has a petsafe door attached. Has anyone heard of a chicken using such a door? Our run will be completely enclosed and roofed so it would be kinda nice for the chickens to have free access & no drafts. Otherwise we'll get an automatic door but If I can avoid spending the $$, I will.

    5) The nest boxes are facing the south-side window and I wonder if they will get too much light. Can I just put curtains over the entrances? I'm going to paint the inside dark gray.

    6) Do I need to do anything over the nest box dividers to keep them from sitting on top? (not sure why our plans told us to make square dividers, grr).

    Thank you in advance!
  2. egzactly

    egzactly In the Brooder

    Apr 26, 2010
    I use both deep litter and dropping boards in the coop and sand in the run portion. I'm still pretty new to raising chickens, but so far the dropping boards have allowed the litter to stay relatively clean. The dropping boards catch a lot of poo which would otherwide end up in your litter. In our setup the dropping boards slide out so I can scape them into the compost bucket. The space under the dropping boards and the nesting boxes seems to get utilized. The nest box has a very steep top to prevent roosting. Sorry I can't help with your other questions, but here's a couple of pics.
  3. rhaj

    rhaj Songster

    May 30, 2010
    NE'ern Connecticut
    Hi! [​IMG]

    Stupid questions, but in #2 what are DE and DLM?

    I've gotta take some pics of ours, it's not quite done yet but had better be soon!!

    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  4. ondreeuh

    ondreeuh In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    Hi Dawn! I would love to see pics of your coop. Our weather has been horrible (hence the pallets on the mud to keep us from sinking!) but this weekend is going to be sunny so we are going to finish things up then.

    DE is diatomaceous earth - it keeps things drier and prevents bugs. I got it at a local supplier but couldn't find the food grade stuff at a feed store. It's Perma-Guard Codex Food Grade.

    DLM is Deep Litter Method.
  5. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    First, i LOVE the random look of the outside of your coop. If you could keep that look, i think it's great! But that's me. [​IMG]

    3) I wouldn't bother to insulate. It looks like your windows are made of glass (mine are made of hardware cloth), but if they're not, i would have something to cover the windows with if you get a cold snap.

    4) I think i've read about others using pet doors with their chickens; i'm sure they'll need to be taught. You didn't mention how you're enclosing your run, so i'll just say to please please be very very very sure that your run is as predator proof as possible before you allow 24 hour access inside and out. There's nothing quite so predator proof as a shut door to a solid building.

    5) I think that curtains over the nest boxes will be entirely adorable in your coop. But you might try it without them at first. I don't really think it will be necessary - just really cute.

    6) I think i would want more of an overhead enclosure on the nest boxes, but it might not be necessary.

    Your chickens are very blessed to have such a first rate coop to live in - glass windows and curtains and everything.

    Congratulations on your new coop!
  6. toletiquesbysam

    toletiquesbysam Songster

    Sep 19, 2008
    Love Love Love your Coop, it is Soo Cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I wanted a droppings board, still haven't added it yet, but it's on my to-do-list.........soo Yes go for the droppings board!!!
  7. Montana-Hens

    Montana-Hens Songster

    Feb 20, 2008
    Buxton, Montana
    Love your coop!

    I like the droppings board as it helps to make the litter last forever. The deep litter method doesn't work great here b/c we have almost no humidity and so it is hard to get it to compost. On the other hand it make work well in your area where I assume the humidity is high.

    Trial and error. Personal preference is what wins out!
  8. chickenriot

    chickenriot Songster

    May 12, 2010
    Brownsboro, Tx.
    Great job on the coop ! [​IMG] And what a handsome little boy !

    Your pictures actually helped me on my nest box design ! Thanks !
  9. ekemily

    ekemily Songster

    Mar 8, 2010
    Fairhope, AL
    I wouldn't paint this coop either! I think it looks so cute as it is. I think any of your ideas are just fine. You've just got to find what works for you. I second the predator-proofing motion. Make sure nothing can dig under, climb over, fly in or chew through! We used galvanized fencing for our main fence, then laid it on top to keep out hawks and then ran a horizontal fence with stakes to keep out digging animals. Your coop is beautiful!
  10. ondreeuh

    ondreeuh In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    Quote:We actually don't have much humidity here either (at least, not in summer). That an the vinyl floor will probably keep the litter from composting much. I guess we'll keep the droppings board. DH will be happy as he spent a lot of time getting that in [​IMG]

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