Hi from Seattle!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by tkjjas, Jun 29, 2010.

  1. tkjjas

    tkjjas In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2010
    I'm fairly new to chicken keeping, but brand-new on this forum. I've come for HELP!!! We have 2 16-month-old hens and 3 4-month-old pullets that we just introduced to the flock this summer.

    I've already whined about our chicken problems on another thread, but here's what it boils down to:

    We have a large backyard for Seattle, but probably small compared to most chicken keepers. It's 60' x 40' with a large deck, kids' stuff (sand box, trampoline, playhouse), 40' x 20' lawn, and groundcover and mulch around the fringes. The front yard is our vegetable and fruit garden, so we want to be able to play in the backyard. We've let the birds have free range of the backyard during the day (they get locked in their coop at night because of the urban raccoons). We've love the eggs, but have been shocked at the amount of work to keep the area cleaned up of poop so the kids and their friends aren't constantly stepping in it. Now that we have 5 birds back there, it is almost impossible to keep up on the poop! I think we'd still be okay with the clean-up efforts if the deck weren't so disgusting. For some reason, much of the poop ends up there and creates stains that are so hard to remove. We'd really like to use the deck for our evening meals, not a chicken latrine!

    Any ideas for us? Is there something we can spray on the deck that won't bother us, but will keep the birds away? There is no way to fence the deck without making it really unpleasant to be out there.

    We are considering fencing off a 6' x 40' area in the mulched part of the yard and making that their only area to range. There are no plantings back there and we'll be back to mowing the lawn (yes, those birds keep that amount of lawn trimmed so that we don't have to mow!), but that's a small price to pay to not be picking up poop in the lawn! Is a 6' x 40' area big enough for 5 chickens? How often would we have to muck it out? I'm nervous because their current run was designed based on some research I had done (I think 5 square feet per bird and we can have up to 6 birds) and it seems TINY and is why we let them out in the backyard in the first place. I also wonder about the egg quality if they don't get to eat fresh greens every day. We can give them our kitchen scraps (which they have shunned so far), but will they eat them?

    Maybe I should not have put all these questions in the New Member Introductions???

  2. Finn's Mom

    Finn's Mom Songster

    Welcome from Virginia!
    Six feet wide by 40 ft long is more than fine for 5 chickens. I am not sure about the mulch -- it degrades and basically turns into mud after a while (even without a chicken's help). Would you be willing to add sand instead? That is easy to rake clean -- certainly easier than picking up chicken poop from your lawn.
    You'll get plenty of ideas from the coop run and design section, too. Good luck!
  3. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

    May 11, 2010
    Howdy from South Carolina!
  4. MCCmomof3

    MCCmomof3 In the Brooder

    Jun 18, 2010
    Hello from the Eastside! [​IMG]

    What we did for our five chickens in the backyard was to fence off an area that is theirs solely to destroy. It is under cover of several pine trees, and large shrubs so they have ariel proctection from the hawk that constantly circles our area.

    I have the same dilemma. I want to keep the grass area clean and clear for the kiddo's to play, but want to give my chickies enough space to do their thing. For awhile I had a run that I put them in to keep them together but also allowed them forage time on the grass. [​IMG] Then I would spray the poop off that area. But the grass was just getting destroyed. So, we opted for the fenced off area. I put down playground quality wood chips in the chicken area. They are bigger than mulch and hold up to the constant scratching, rain, and pecking that the girls do. So far, they have been fantastic. They are also fantastic at keeping the smell completely at bay. I put down a layer that was 8 inches deep. At night I sprinkle scratch on the wood chips and the girls turn it over in no time. I have read from other posts on BYC that at the end of a year, the combination of the wood chips and chicken poop breaks down and the bottom layer becomes a fantastic compost ready to use no curing.

    Welcome to BYC and good luck with your yard!
  5. Many of us have learned that letting hens run loose means that the area is unusable for humans. If I were you, I'd fence off a portion of the yard for the chickens. You might consider letting the hens out for an hour or two before they go in to roost. They'd get their greens, you'd get your lawn mowed, and then they'd go in on their own. I'd love to have my hens free range but my garden would be destroyed. Best of luck and [​IMG].
  6. jen5680

    jen5680 Southside Silkie Shack

    Jun 18, 2009
    SW Ohio
    [​IMG] from SW Ohio
  7. tkjjas

    tkjjas In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2010
    Thanks so much for the welcome here and especially the advice on my questions. We've started construction and will hopefully soon be without chicken poop on the deck!!!

  8. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    [​IMG] & [​IMG] [​IMG]
  9. Dingleberry

    Dingleberry Songster

    Apr 22, 2010
    Where is Seattle are you??? I have the same poo problem.
    I realize that I have to keep them seperate from the kids/yard, if we don't want to have to say "Watch out for the poo"
    I am helping my FIL Finish our coop then enclose the run area around it. I think I will make them a sandbox to play in. [​IMG]
  10. tkjjas

    tkjjas In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2010
    Quote:We're in NE Seattle - we can get to Woodinville in a little over 30 minutes.

    If I had a nickle for everytime I said "Watch out for the chicken poop!", I'd be a rich woman. But I don't, so I'm tired of it!!! [​IMG]

    Have fun finishing your coop! Do chickens like sand? I'll make them a little sandy area if that will make them happy. Guess I'm feeling a little guilty about ending their free-ranging ways...


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