Help - need coop critique and winter prep

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by K10mitten, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. K10mitten

    K10mitten Just Hatched

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    Oct 7, 2016
    Michigan
    Hello,

    First time post, long time reader haha. I have a 4x6 coop with attached 12'run with 6 chickens and 2 Ducks. I'm going into my first winter and have been trying to figure out my approach. My coop was loosely designed off of what I found on this website and what was available to us. It has worked well this summer but being in Michigan... Well... Winter is coming!

    I like the idea of the deep litter method, and have been adding wood shavings and tossing the coop every day or so with a shovel to mix in droppings. The chickens don't lay in our nesting box, which is an issue in itself, even though the roosting bars are well above. I think the fact that I have two ducks who night sleep in the boxes at night have something to do with that. They kick out the wood shavings even when I had a little wood ledge there every day so I've given up.

    Anyway, I can open up my back coop doors and smell some ammonia smell. From what I read, I need more ventilation. We have a big 1'x3' window on the high side of the coop, the pop door, and tons of holes drilled with hardware cloth. I'm thinking we need to drill more holes on the outside wall where the doors open wide for cleaning, but am worried as it is exposed to the outside with no overhang or protection from rain getting in. Also, is deep litter with wood shavings not a good idea for winter? Should I go to sand and a poop hammock for winter instead? I figured the thick layer of wood shavings on the bottom floor of the coop would give a nice thick insulation cushion for them.

    Please look at my coop pictures and give me input on the design, ventilation options, and how to prep for winter.

    I am thinking for the run putting plastic sheeting up so they have a nice sheltered out of the wind exercise yard with a heated dog bowl. The ducks make short work of water in the bowl though playing with it. Love the littler buggers though! I'm not sure what I should put in the run for winte,as I have been using pine needles which have worked great but I'm running out. Also I won't be able to rake them up when the snow is down anyway. Straw? Same wood shavings as the inside of the coop? Just concerned about wetness from the ducks mixing with the chickens causing bad health.

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    Thanks.
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    Melrose Park Illinois
    Here are my thoughts.
    You have what looks like a Carolina style coop setup.
    If you smell ammonia, here are the possible reasons. Too many animals in small containment. (too much poop) or Deep litter method not suited for coop. I would get rid of the deep litter in the coop, but would keep it in the run. Replace bedding inside coop as often as needed, and throw soiled bedding into run to build up the litter base. I use hay in my coop, but straw is also OK. Hay is eatable whereas straw has no nutritional value. Your ventilating looks to be about as good as can be made for such small coop. Make sure that the roosts are not such that chickens would be subjected to drafts. You may increase some additional venting at the eaves. Not sure if there is some vent opening at the base to let in fresh air. If the pop door gets locked up tight, then provide some additional draft free opening down low (not very large) Don't just get in a frenzy and make vent opening that would cause wind and draft to blow on your chickens.
    Putting plastic on the run to keep snow and wetness out is a good Idea. Opt for plastic that lets in light. (clear better than black). Plenty of extra straw in the run will make for warmer and dryer surface for them.
    Hope this give you some good Ideas.
    WISHING YOU BEST. [​IMG]
     
  3. K10mitten

    K10mitten Just Hatched

    9
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    Oct 7, 2016
    Michigan
    Thanks! I replaced the wood shavings and installed a poop hammock. I included a picture, this is after one night! I think I will be really helping the wood shavings longevity and coop smell. [​IMG]
     
  4. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    That is EXCELLENT. Just scoop it out and throw into a compost pile. If you don't have a compost pile, then throw into a secluded part of garden or yard. If you don't have such an area, then just dispose of it.
    A note on chicken droppings.: They are quite potent as a fertilizer , so many peeps add them to their compost. This way it gets broken down and is not too strong, causing it to burn certain flowers, and vegetables. I just place my coop cleanout under trees and bushes. The rain slowly leaches the nutrients into soil. My trees are growing very well.
    Oh BTW, Forgot to [​IMG] Last time
     
  5. jim5x5

    jim5x5 New Egg

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    I had to add a couple roof vents. The holes didn't vent enough for me.
     
  6. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    Melrose Park Illinois
    Roof vents are Excellent.. No drafts and all venting up high. [​IMG]
     
  7. Chonke

    Chonke Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 15, 2016
    that hammock looks like a great idea.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC fellow Michiganian!

    I'd put a large vent up high in the side of coop on the run side, size of the triangle under the roof edge.......
    ......roof and partially covered run walls(leave open at top of walls for ventilation) should protect it from strong drafts or snow blowing in.

    I'd use dry(brown) plant matter for ground in run.
    Here's a great description of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1037998/muddy-run-help-please#post_16017992.

    How's that poop hammock working out?
    Will you be able to access it in winter? Keep a path shoveled.
    Maintained poop board/hammock can really help with ammonia odor,
    and opening the door wide to empty hammock every day will make for a big air change.

    That's a sweet little setup.
    How many birds do you have?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016

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