Huge learning experience!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SerendipityMama, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. SerendipityMama

    SerendipityMama Out Of The Brooder

    May 15, 2015
    Well, I'm one year into having chickens. The oldest flock (1 yr.olds) consisted of 8 large breeds, 3 Cochin's and 4 ducks. I started out using wood mulch and shavings, then covering with straw as it became necessary. This is in an 18x25' chicken yard with two pre-built coops (of which all the ladies decided to roost in only one!). I thought I was doing a good thing - there we as no smell, no bugs,etc. Then, a windy wet winter and spring - omigosh. We just spent the past two days pitchforking out ALL the litter, down to dirt. (The chickens has the yard down to dirt originally pretty fast!) Saturday night I got to thinking a out it - what do you use mulch for? Keeping down weeds and retaining moisture! Good gosh, between the shavings, mulch, straw and leftover scratch (my pet sitter thought it would be easiest to dump half a bag out a couple of times), we had essentially a type of silage, and a whole lot of stink! After literally scraping it down with the tractor and a blade, I sprinkled the entire area with DE. Today I'm headed to get my first truckload of sand to put down. I will be using sand in my new 12x14' coop on the floor as well. Some hard lessons learned - luckily all my chickens are in good health, and I'm getting ready to introduce this year's batch of 36 ~4 month old pullets so that everyone can use the new coop. Oh, and the new yard adds an additional 18x20' or so, with a big row of thornless blackberries in between! See some pictures below [​IMG] Any comments and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated![​IMG]
  2. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    This is my first time having chickens in a wet area, the Pacific NW... I was going to make the same mistake, but happened across a post that said it would be a disaster and to go with sand and dont put shavings or anything on top of it. Like you say it retains moisture.

    I wonder, how often do your Cochin lay?

    It's hard to find good pet sitters.... I am a good 1, but that doesn't help me. [​IMG]

    Washed river sand is supposed to be best. That's what I got and it's very different, no fine dirt type stuff.

    Thanks for sharing your experience to help out the rest of us.

    Good luck with your upgrades and the rest of your new flock!
  3. RonP

    RonP Overrun With Chickens

    My opinion, the straw matted down and did you in.

    I would have added more course carbons, as in 10 or 12 inches of wood chips, free if possible [​IMG].
    1 person likes this.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I'm with Ron; straw is a pain to manage compared to shavings and wood chips. Fix any drainage issues first, and then consider whether your ducks need separate digs, because they do make a wet mess. Gravel would help with drainage, with shavings on top. The people who use sand seem to be scooping poo daily, so much higher maintenance, IMO. Wood chips (free!) are wonderful, as long as you don't get quantities of black walnut. I'm in Michigan, and roofed my small run last summer, because of the snow. No more shoveling the run! Mary
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    It's true I probably will scoop poo daily, haven't moved them in there yet,

    Regarding wood chips, couple questions.... How do you know they are dried out well enough to use? What's with black walnut (I guess just for information since walnuts don't grow well here)?

    We end up with mushrooms and all kinds of fungi growing on stuff around here. They LOVE to grow in wood chips so I had reservations.
  6. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Flock Master

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    The black walnut thing has to do with toxins released into the soil. We don't have them where I live either so I do not know a lot about it other then there is some toxin in the shell that leaches into the soil.

    I learned that researching gardening stuff. Apparently it will kill plants too.

    I think Ron and Mary were right it matted down on you and made a water barrier. You would have had to go in there daily to toss it around with a fork to keep that from being so bad. What a pain to remove too.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016

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