Help with The Swamp

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by NewCitySong, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. NewCitySong

    NewCitySong Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 28, 2011
    This is my first winter with 21 Chickens & 3 Ducks which are kept at my BIL's house.
    Because of all the rain the entire area is basically under 3" of water with the coop and pen in the middle under some trees about 200 ft. from their house.

    I love my birds, but...every night after work I drive there to pick up my son and take care of the birds. It's completely dark and cold, I wade out in my boots and rain gear to feed and water and collect eggs. [​IMG]
    So far the coop is just very damp inside but the pen is a stinking mess and has standing water.
    All of the birds have constant access to the pen 10'x20' because the pop door is always open for the ducks who have a little area inside the coop that I fenced so they have someplace dry to sleep - the chickens jump over the little fence to go out.

    Our finances are skin tight and the birds go through a bag of feed in less than a week.

    I'm thinking I'm in WAY over my head but I'm wanting to keep my flock. I love improving their environment and I hate an animal kept in poor conditions so it's getting on my nerves to see them in this water - and thank you for letting me rant.

    So here's what I'm wondering your expert opinions about:

    One of my big concerns is that chickens will get sick from the damp cold? Your opinions & experience?

    The other is: Do you think that the ducks (and chickens) dabbling around in the putrid water in the pen outside make them sick?

    Lastly the expense of feeding could it be reduced somehow?

    A Huge THANKS! in advance for all of your answers.
  2. Tallulah Chicklet

    Tallulah Chicklet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 9, 2011
    New Haven, CT
    You didn't say where you are, and pix would be helpful... Two ideas come to mind: Can you get some pallets from businesses in your area to raise up part of the run? The other is leaves...I have been picking up my neighbors bags of leaves and putting them in my run and my hens scratch around in them and make beautiful composty stuff, sort of deep litter method, not stinky at all. Leaves would absorb some of the water, and if it froze, you wouldn't have a skating rink. Plus the worms would come up in into the leaves in better weather and provide protein. Maybe some stumps and branches for them to perch on? All free. I feel your pain... Good luck
  3. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    If 25 birds go through 50lbs of feed in a week, you need to worm them, switch to pellets, and/or come up with a waste management system. They should NOT be going through that much food!

    Internal parasites are common and nothing to fret about, but need to be addressed. Especially in rain when earthworms are easily accessible (they carry parasite eggs/larvae), you'll need to deworm and develop preventative measures. Birds with a heavy parasite load consume a LOT of feed because the parasites steal so much of the nutrients and block absorption by the bird's gut.

    According to lots of useful information on here, use Wazine 17 followed 10 days later by Valbazen, Ivermec or Safeguard. Valbazen is best but expensive and hard to find. The others will also work. Search the forum for specific instructions for whatever you use. You'll have to lay off the eggs for 24 days, but it'll be worth your birds' health (and your pockets will thank you!) in the long run.

    Edited to add: You will NEED to worm them right off, but the ladies in my area (SC) have recommended red pepper flakes, diatomaceous earth and pumpkin seeds as preventative measures for parasites once the initial infestation is under control.

    Last note: no, you won't see worms in their poop until they are very, very sick. You can probably safely assume you have worms based on your feed conversion... and go ahead and treat for them.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  4. Moogie

    Moogie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 12, 2011
    DFW, Texas
    Quote:Just a few questions, if you happen to know... (I like the idea of a worm preventive treatment!) [​IMG]

    Where do you get pumpkin seeds? How much per day? Do you put DE in the feed? How much?

    Is red pepper flakes the same as ground cayenne pepper? Sorry to be repetitive, but how much pepper flakes per day? [​IMG]
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    I would seriously look around for another place to put my coop and run, bite the bullet and go through the work needed to relocate to higher ground. Not only is this setup awful for you as the chicken keeper, but bacteria grows like crazy in a continuously wet environment.
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Quote:That's the best advice you'll get.

    When people start asking about where to put the coop I tell them to think about any places that stay wet or get swampy after rain and never build there.
    Select the highest ground or a slope. I also like to put buildings on legs. That eliminates moisture on the floor from ground contact, gives them a shady place to hide in the heat of summer and a dry unfrozen spot to dustbathe in winter.
  7. NewCitySong

    NewCitySong Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 28, 2011
    [​IMG] Thanks for your posts - I'm re-energized already with new ideas. I'm definitely getting some pallets, leaves and branches - the best part is it's no cost! Wonderful ideas, Thanks Tallulah!
    We're in southeast MI - we've had record rain this & last month. I'll see what I can do for pics.

    I'm wondering though a bit about the worming idea - my Storey's Guide to Chickens says 4 pounds per bird (large hen) per week and for Ducks it says 4-5 pounds per week per bird. So I'm thinking I'm on track for food consumption?

    So like everyone - I guess I'm hoping for a less expensive way to feed - I'm thinking of supplementing with scratch. The coop is not heated - I understand this to be good, but of course the food consumption goes up with the birds trying to stay warm I suppose.

    I guess I have two ideas going at the same time...I'll try to look in feed & water topic for those ideas.

    I do very much appreciate your helpful input! Thank You!! Thank You!![​IMG]
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  9. NewCitySong

    NewCitySong Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 28, 2011
    Quote:I hear you - the coop was already there from the previous owner, just sitting empty begging for chickens...what we didn't realize is that there were record rains coming this year and that it's located in such a low spot in the yard (with poor drainage). We may just have move it for sure...since that's precisely what I'm worried about the big threat of bacteria & possible illness. Thank God for now it's getting cold so maybe we can manage it until we're able to relocate it to higher ground, but I'm thinking you've hit the nail on the head. PS We're located S.E. Mich.
  10. NewCitySong

    NewCitySong Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 28, 2011
    Quote:Very good article and just what I needed ...I suspected that the cost would not be much less

    Maybe my best bet is selling eggs! ha, ha,
    they're still laying 15 a day with no additional light or heat.
    The one "pet" that keeps on giving!

    Thanks so much for your time and input...I do love learning so much about my birds...

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