Double Coop Question from a Newbie!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by thekatbus, Sep 16, 2014.

  1. thekatbus

    thekatbus Out Of The Brooder

    PLEASE HELP!

    I have this terrible little hutch set-up for my hens. I have 3 hens. Picture of hutch is attached.

    Every morning, I go out to the hutch and let out my babies (they free-range all day, every day). I quickly pick out any poop from the pine shavings i use in their house and replace the lost shavings with fresh ones. I replace their water, top up their food and then walk away. I do this every day and it takes 5-10 minutes total.

    Because their hutch is so small and they are in it all night, every night, it gets kind of "icky" pretty quickly. Once a week, I actually move the hutch, rake and scoop out the sand and D.E. that I have laid out underneath the hutch, and top up with new D.E. Then I empty the whole hutch out, wash thoroughly with soapy vinegar water, put down baking soda and D.E. and then, once it is dry, I replace all shavings with fresh shavings. I take the attitude that if I can smell their house, it needs to be cleaned. I want to keep it dry, warm, clean, cozy and safe.

    So, now that you have seen the actual coop/hutch photo (taken today while it was empty and drying during a weekly deep-clean), I have some questions for the experienced chicken owners out there...

    1. Am I being TOO meticulous about how I clean? Or too frequent?

    2. In order to keep this little hutch clean, I have to keep the routine I have. Because it is so small. This is working for me right now but how on earth do I do this sort of thing come winter?

    3. In winter, they will be in there all day and night, right?...if I have to clean this frequently NOW, how often will I have to do it in the winter??

    4. Is this little set up even safe for my chickens in the winter? It seems like it won't be warm enough and certainly not big enough, either.

    5. How on earth can I expect this birds to spend all day and night in there all winter when they are so used to being free?

    If anyone can please help me, that would be wonderful! ;)

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  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    First, please be careful with the DE. It is highly irritating to the respiratory tract. For a quick fix for odor, pelletized lime is much cheaper and it onl takes a little.

    Basically, I think you have discovered the trick of chicken keeping, especially in snow areas: lots of space is the secret.

    Ammonia reaches harmful levels in a coop before you can smell it, and it is very difficult to ventilate a small coop like that well enough to preent frostbite. Honestly, a walk in shed IMO is almost a necessity, even for just a few birds, when they are going to be inside a lot.

    Also... they can be outdoors in snowy weather if you can keep the bulk of the snow out of the area, perhaps with a run with plastic on some sides and a roof. They will be healthier and happier if they can go out. There is actually no reason to lock them up in winter except maybe during the height of a blizard. They tolerate cold very well and love sunshine and forageing space. They just don't care for walking on snow. Some people even la boards around so they are elevated above ground level.

    I'll give you a couple of good links about space and winter chicken keeping. If you haven't run across them, they are well worth the read.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/winter-coop-temperatures

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop

    Also -- this is a large and expensive coop, but works very well, and is open in front; I wanted to give you an idea of what they will tolerate, very well:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/445004/woods-style-house-in-the-winter/0_20
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Judy covered it all pretty well.

    Could be part of the reason your coop smells is that I doubt it is water tight on the roof area.....dry keeps smells down, wet raises them up high.

    You might be able to use that coop thru the winter if you could build a large solid roofed run to put it in...then next summer you could build a larger coop and the run would still work well to protect against predators when needed and for covered outside time next winter.
     
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