Guidelines for wood used in coop construction

Shamgar

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 16, 2008
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7
We are preparing for our first chicks (six or so Brahmas) and I've been tasked with building the coop for them. After doing some research, I think we're going to start with an Ark. Specifically, I am planning on building something along the lines of the Boughton 903 just a bit bigger. (We want to make sure they have plenty of room within the run.)

I found this thread where dealhoud was doing something similar, which was already quite helpful (thanks dealhound).

I am curious about the wood we can use for something like this however. It was noted in the thread I linked above that treated lumber was used. This was dismissed due to his believing that poisonous materials were not used, but last I knew they do still use arsenic in that treatment. We definitely never use them for things like our raised garden beds where they can potentially harm the food we eat. I'm not willing to risk them on our chicken coop either.

I was going to use Cedar, but some of the material we've been studying warns against using cedar shavings for the litter because it's harmful to the chickens - but it doesn't really go into why. Is this specifically in litter, or a side-effect of the shaving process? Or should I avoid cedar materials entirely?

If so, what kind of wood do you generally use for your coops that you have found to be the most durable for that purpose?
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
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You can use cedar for coop construction. Cedar shavings have a lot of surface area and thus a greater amount of phenols are released which damage the respiratory lining in the birds, making them more prone to respiratory infections and illness. I just used regular pine and stained it all.
 

twigg

Cooped up
11 Years
Mar 2, 2008
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Tulsa
I would use pressure treated lumber for the very bottom which will be in ground contact, and pine or spruce for the rest of it.

I would use an oil based stain all over.

Cedar would be a decent choice, and wouldn't actually need any finish at all. Finishes on cedar are purely for appearance, not performance.

Try to avoid cedar shavings around poultry, but the raw lumber should be fine. Cedar costs quite a bit more than pine
 

eggchel

Crowing
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Dec 26, 2006
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I choose not to use pressure treated wood for my birds coops or shelters, even for the areas with ground contact, because of the possibility of the poisons leaching into the ground around the coop. I know that the new stuff isnt supposed to be so toxic, but Im taking a wait and see attitude.
My birds drink from puddles, eat dirt, rocks and plants around the coop, and even peck at the wood. Then, we eat their eggs... and sometimes the birds, too. While the risk may be small, it is unknown, and makes me uncomfortable. Each person needs to decide what their comfort level is with toxic materials.

When we build small hutches or coops out of cheap or found materials then I dont worry about ground contact as I dont expect a long life from the structure. However, when I am putting some money into a real coop or shed, I build it up on pier posts and do my best to protect the structure from pests and water so that it will last longer. In that case I use redwood or cedar for the support structure on top of the pier posts.

Chel
 

twigg

Cooped up
11 Years
Mar 2, 2008
1,389
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Not an unreasonable concern, I would think.

Let me make one thing clear .... sawdust and shavings that I produce when cuttin p/t lumber NEVER go anywhere near any of our animals for the same concerns.

On the other hand, there appears to be a decent body of opinion that suggests there ids little to fear from this material being used in the manner suggested.

I would hate for anyone to deny themselves this lumber based on unconfirmed fears, but would entirely respect the decision of anyone to not use any product they feel uncomfortable with
 

Shamgar

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 16, 2008
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7
Thanks everyone for your input. The information on how the shavings are detrimental was particularly helpful in trying to make this decision. Assuming the coop isn't a complete flop I'll try to put up the details once it's done.
 

eggchel

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
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Dec 26, 2006
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I agree with you Twigg ....... the new materials are meant to be much safer and for most people they will work very well. I didnt mean to imply that the materials shouldnt be used, just that I dont use them if avoidable, because of my own personal discomfort. Since Im uber paranoid of anything chemical, we keep things as non-toxic or organic as we can even though it may be less practical and more expensive.





Shamgar, Be sure to make your coop much bigger than you think you will need...
. Everyone always seems to end up with more chickens then they planned on. LOL


Chel
 

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