just getting started

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by oxfordpeep, May 30, 2010.

  1. oxfordpeep

    oxfordpeep Hatching

    May 30, 2010
    we have a hand-me-down coop and our chickens are ready to come home. what kind of substrate do we need to line the coop and how much is required. the coop is about 4 1/2 x 5 feet ... we are thinking that means about 3 - 5 chickens. are we on the right track here?

  2. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    The usual rule of thumb you read is 4 square feet of indoor space (coop space) per bird, plus 10 square feet of outdoor space (run) per bird. So your coop at 20 square feet should fit the number of birds you're thinking about...but you will need to build them a run outdoors because that's where chickens like to spend most of their time. And look at your roost space, too. Figure about 12 inches of width on the roost for each bird. They won't use all of that when they get settled in (they like to jam together), but they will use it as they jockey for position.

    People use lots of different substrates. I myself like to use sand both in the coop and the run because it's easy to pick out the sand coated droppings with a kitty litter scoop or similar device. I use a boot tray under the roost so the nighttime droppings will be easy to remove. I just dump the contents of the tray out into my composter, hose off the tray, and replace it in the coop. I use about 1 1/2 to 3 inches of sand, rake it periodically and top it up very occasionally.

    Other people here use pine shavings and the "deep litter method." That's sort of like running a composter right on the floor of the coop. With this method, you keep adding fresh bedding on top of the soiled bedding (which begins to compost down below), and you clean out your coop only periodically (say, once or twice a year). I don't like the idea of this approach, personally, mostly because I don't like the idea of having a big, muck out job several times a year. My daily clean up takes only a few minutes and is not nasty at all.

    Other folks use other substrates and I expect they'll chime in here with the pros and cons of their methods.

    Welcome to the forum!
    Last edited: May 30, 2010

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