Everyone is discouraging me

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mortie, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am considering starting a small urban flock. Everyone that I have talked to about this that has had chickens before immediately gets the same look on their face and the first words out of their mouths are "Don't do it, chickens stink!" Do they? This is not going to work out if there a strong odor involved. My husband is not a fan of this idea and my neighbors will complain and that will be the end of that. Where I live, you are allowed 4 hens. No roosters.

    Everyone just keeps telling me how "stinky" chickens are. I've got no experience with them other than taking a quick stroll through the poultry barn at the fair and it's been a few years since I have done that.

    Give it to me straight, chicken lovers, please!
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    The poo is stinky. However, here is a recipe for success: sand about 2-3 inches deep in your coop. Scoop poo out daily with kitty litter scoop and dispose of properly (bury it or compost it, or throw it away). Then you have no poo in your coop. For the run, you can use sand as well and rake it/scoop it out. If they are free ranging they will definitely tear your yard up if it is small so you may want to keep them in a run most of the time.

    There are 2 very nice threads to search for on BYC:

    got sand you should thread
    poop board convert thread


    I hope this helps!

    Hens do make a lot of noise when they lay eggs, as well. They bock bock bock and it is very loud. So if you have close neighbors they will hear them.
     
  3. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not super worried about the noise, my dog barks louder than I imagine a chicken could cluck. Just no crowing allowed. Mostly just worried about the smell.

    We have an area of the yard where the grass doesn't grow and that's where I was thinking I would put the chickens. Small coop with enclosed run. I put some mulch out there to pretty it up a couple of years ago but there are some starburst pine trees there that drop a lot of needles there every fall and it just looks like crap no matter what I do so I just gave up. I had thought that they could just run around on that. Do you have to manage their run and pick up their poop there too? I thought in runs they just ran around on the ground and people didn't really police that area, just the coop.
     
  4. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am open to letting them run around loose in my yard but we do have some hawks and stuff around here. My main concern is that they can't leave my back yard. My city is fairly new to urban chickens and they come down pretty hard on people with loose chickens and I have one neighbor who would be sure to have a fit if he looked out his window and saw a chicken in his yard. [​IMG]


    ETA- I forgot to mention we have a 6 foot privacy fence which I don't really trust to keep them in the yard.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    If you keep them in a small space and don't clean it very often, it will stink. I would guess those people did not give their chickens much room, and/or didn't want to clean it often. You can avoid odor if they have enough space, or if you keep it clean in a smaller space. Other measures also help. Pine shavings as litter help. You can also clean the poop daily, which you may have to do if they have a small space to live in. Sand is easy to scoop poop up from, and lots of folks use a poop board under the roost, where about half their daily poop is dropped. Pine shavings absorb the moisture from the poop and help control odor.

    The easy way to avoid odor is lots of space. There is no odor that I can detect when I walk into my coop, other than a faint mustiess. I have a large walkin coop that has held nearly 50 chickens, and there are only 9 now. They also have a large yard. The coop is only cleaned once a year, when the litter goes into the compost. I use some hay but also pine shavings. Occasionallly, we add some litter or stir it around. Adding hydrated lime also helps. They will walk, and of course poop, anyplace they are not fenced out of. You can't train them to stay in a certain area. Once they know the coop as their home, however, they will return at night to sleep.

    Everone has their own plan to deal with the poop and odor, and probably some others will describe their system for you. I'll just caution you to build the coop bigger than you think it needs to be.

    One of our members wrote up an excellent article on space:

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

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm not nearly as attentive as some and have no odor issue. I use pine shavings in coop, research deep liter which is more than my current coop can hold (mine only supports 3-4 inches) and easier to maintain. My run area is naturally sandy. I clean the coop about every 3 months. Half of those times just shovel out half the pine shavings then replenish and rake together. As for the run, every spring after thaw I pitchfork up and shovel out the hard pan layer of about 1 to 2 inches. This year the plan is to add more sand when I'm building a large sand box for the kids, probably will have to bring in sand to replenish every 3 years or so. The hard pan is due to using hay to spread over ice in run during winter so they don't mind using it on those extreme cold days.

    I compost everything here and use in the garden. The only time I have smell is from the run come spring and once that's tilled into other compost the smell goes away.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  7. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another option for controlling odor is the deep litter method. You'll find numerous threads on it at BYC. I've got 8 girls in an 8 x 10 coop so they do have plenty of room but absolutely no odor and it involves no sifting or scraping off of poop. I just keep piling in the pine shavings and leaves and it slowly breaks down into wonderful stuff that I'll put in my garden in the spring.

    No odor + little work + great garden compost = Win-Win for me!
     
  8. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I spent a couple of days reading a 1k+ post thread about the DLM and that does interest me.

    I imagine there are a lot of methods that people use and the debates about which one is best can get pretty hot. The impression I have been getting is that chickens stink no matter what, they are just inherently stinky. If there is a non offensive way to do this, that's fine. I will find it. I just wanted to know if they are just stinky no matter what.

    I figure I have all summer/fall to get the hang of it.

    I don't have a coop built yet. I can't even show you a picture of the area of my yard in question because it's under a foot of snow right now. :(

    This is kind of what I am shooting for though, but with a little bit bigger run:
    [​IMG]
     
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  9. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am really taking a wild stab at this. I am usually more of a planner but here is pretty much what is going on right now.

    I have wanted to have a couple of chickens for several years. Hubs has always said no. More recently he said we could look into it when we don't have a dog anymore. We have a 5 year old German Shepherd. This is potential problem #1. I think she will be with a little training, she tends to be good with small animals and no unsupervised direct contact (for example loose chickens in the yard and loose dog in the yard). I don't know that I would ever fully trust any dog but I am paranoid about that.

    Anyway, even more recently, he said I could get one chicken. Well we all know you can't just have one chicken so I talked him into letting me get 2 adult hens because I didn't want to mess around with chicks. That was plan A.

    The problem is I don't know of a trustworthy place to get that. A lot of people have chickens for sale around here but I would worry that I was getting an old hen that isn't laying. So I went back to considering chicks. Then for some reason I decided it might be fun to try hatching some. Then someone gave me an incubator to use. Then I found somewhere nearby that has hatching eggs....now I have eggs coming next sunday.

    No brooder, no coop, no idea what I am going to do with them when it's still too cold to put them outside but they're too big to be in the house. BUT I figure I have a month to figure all that out.

    Besides, I'm assuming that due to my equipment or my inexperience, the eggs won't hatch anyway. In which case, I will probably try harder to accomplish plan A. I am starting to dig into the chicken network now and I might have an easier time getting my hands on a couple of hens.

    I can build a coop when it warms up. I am not a master carpenter or anything but I pretty handy for a girl.

    So yeah. I am dialing in my incubator, reading and reading and READING about incubating but still not expecting much to hatch... no brooder (plenty of instructions for that though), and no coop!

    I may be crazy. I'm hoping there are some crazies on here too to hold my hand...
     
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    The coop you show will not have enough depth of floor for deep litter.

    http://poultry.purinamills.com/stellent/groups/public/documents/web_content/ecmp2-0160674.pdf

    These are good coop plans. The nest box should be lower so they don't roost in it (only need two nest boxes too) and can easily be moves to side so you don't have to go into a run to collect. Run can be off front and you'd hard wire the three sides of stilts under coop to complete enclosure. The door you just keep a good 8 inches or up so you can do deep litter.

    You've plenty of time for a coop. Brooders are as simple as using a tote and a clamp metal hood with 75 watt incandescent bulb. Our first year we bought chicks with nothing more than that, got feed and pine shavings when purchasing the chicks at feed store in spring. You'll brood inside for a month or more and the first grow out pen can be very simple giving you time to build your coop and run just right.

    Here is my first grow out pen that costs about $60 in material as I had the half sheet of plywood. I still use it 4 years later, just has better wheels and four of them to move around easy. The child's play house was no longer being used so I just screwed it together to strengthen it and put two roost in it. Water dispenser and feed dispenser were made from things lying around. Really doesn't take much to get started and you've all summer to get things right for when they start laying and winter.

    [​IMG]
     

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