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Let's talk design and keeping meaties clean (Is it possible?)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by christineandallie, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. christineandallie

    christineandallie Hatching

    Feb 18, 2009
    So, I'm getting good information from everyone. I'm going to raise about 20 meaties and harvest them over time so that they aren't all "full" size at the same time to save on space needed.

    Folks are saying meaties are STINKY!!! Regular poooop machines!

    **So, what does everyone think is the best coop floor for them?

    I REALLY will be bothered by them being in a dirty environment. I know me and animals and I know I'll feel bad for them.

    **Also, what about the run?

    I'm willing to build whatever they need to have the best life while they are here. Some people talk about sand but I haven't seen too much in depth explanation about using sand. I keep visualizing a giant "cat box" like floor and run, with sand that the poop can be racked out of. Is that a dream or possible? I'd be willing to build up both the run and coop floor edges to hold sand.

    I also do NOT want a MUD bath in the run so something has to be put down. Pea gravel or something because I've got dirt right now and that won't be pretty this time of year with chickens sratching around in the mud.

    Too bad a stainless steel floor couldn't be put in to be hosed off daily BUT it figures, chickens don't like slick surfaces which makes it tougher to figure out how to keep them clean while they're around?!?!?

    Thanks Christine

  2. jaku

    jaku Songster

    Build a open floored tractor, and move it every day. Works perfectly, no clean up, no litter to change. A tractor is the only way to go for meaties. (Plus, they don't stink if you keep it moved at least once per day.)
  3. estpr13

    estpr13 Songster

    May 18, 2008
    Lexington, Ky
    I advocate the Deep litter method in the coop along with transfering them to a tractor each day and moving the tractor to a new location on at least a daily basis. (lot more work, slower growth rate, poorer feed conversion, but less smell) But if you wish to spred out the harvesting of the chickens this might be the way to go.

    Up to 85% of chicken droppings can be water. Chicken poop smells because nitrogen in the ammonia is evaporating/(off-gassing). To reduce evaporation and trap the ammonia, a good thick litter of dried pine shavings or other material that will quickly wick the water away from the poop is needed. Sand and gravel tend to hold moisture and by themselves would not make a good bedding.

    Good ventilation helps the litter to dry out. So the faster the poop dries, the less poop gets stuck to the chickens.

    How you feed your Meaties will make a difference. If you only feed them twice a day all they can eat and then let them range during the day, your poop problem will be spred across your yard and you will have less of a coop poop problem than if you keep them penned and feed them ad lib (all they want all the time). However, your growth rate and feed conversion rate will suffer.

    Chickens that eat grass and other carbon/fiberous materials tend to have more solid, less smelly poop. Someone recommeded letting your nose be your guide. If you smell ammonia, then add more wicking material to your litter, or stir it up to expose the drier lower portions. Or you could throw some scratch out on it and let the chickens stir it up for you.

    My deep litter covers a 7' x 13' area, is about 6 inchs thick over a concrete floor and holds 9 chickens. Over the course of a year, it now contains 2 large bags of pine chip pet litter, one bale of straw, 25 lb bag of play sand, about 25 lbs of dried dirt. 50 lbs of peagravel. about 25 lbs of oystershell, half a bale of alfalpha, and lots of vegtable detrius. ( the dirt and sand was an attempt at a dust bath which ended up being spred all over the floor and ceiling etc.)

    I started out with the pine chips then added a little straw for depth. As the straw got torn apart I added more. Now you cannot hardly tell that there is that much straw in there.

    My chickens are regular large birds. Seven laying hens and two roos. Things happen much faster with Meaties. You will have to be on your toes to keep up with them. Have extra bags of dry litter standing by. Even if you don't use them this time they will keep as long as you keep them dry.

    Good luck. Hope this helps.
  4. agirly4chicks

    agirly4chicks Songster

    Feb 16, 2009
    Hamilton, Georgia USA
    I am also interested in the floor material. Keep the good post coming please.
  5. sugarbush

    sugarbush Songster

    Jul 24, 2008
    Lexington KY
    I raise mine in a tractor. I did 30 at once last year in a 5x12 tractor, that was too many. I am cutting back to doing several batches of 12 now. The tractor is a lot cleaner than keeping them in a coop and I don't have to mow my lawn at all, just weedwack and throw down some grass seed when I leave them too long.

    I used to raise 400 at a time in coops and I will never go back to coop raised broilers.
  6. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    I am currently raising meaties in the garage. I started with 26 birds and lost three. I don't like smell and dirty birds either. I went to TSC and bought several bags of pelleted pine bedding for horses. That stuff is amazing. It really dries up things fast. When soneting wet hits it, the bedding absorbs the moisture fast and disintegrates into sawdust. It does not mat up like pine shavings and does a much better job at controlling smell and keeping them clean. I raise the garage door about a foot during the day and they get plenty of ventilation.

    Raising them the way I am is keeping them very clean. I rake the bedding a couple of times a day. When everything is just sawdust and begins to smell bad I scoop it all up and put in a layer of fresh bedding. I do by continue to add to it. The old bedding goes out on the compost heap. I realize I am not raising them under the best circumstances (would be better on pasture) but they have enough space and tgeycare clean. They really don't go very far away from the feed containers so making a run seems over kill. There is a layer of dust on everything. The reason they are growing out in the gaage is that my HOA would have fits.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    A tractor is probably the best solution, from what I hear, for when they get old enough for it (which depends on your weather at the time).

    I was pretty happy, though, with using shavings that I would add another layer daily (twice daily when they got really big). I occasionally skimmed out the caked parts, but mostly just let it accumulate deep-litter-style. Putting fresh shavings on the top prevents lots of ammonia from coming out. Many people do not give CornishX access to a run, but I did, and bedded it (because it's concrete) with the remains of having a big poplar stump ground. About once every week and a half or two weeks I took out the nastiest part of the bedding, and every few days I sprinkled some more over the parts that were gettting pooiest. The odor was not particularly bad (it's just that it's a particularly *pungent* flavor of odor, not like normal chicken poo, not just an ammonia issue) and I did not have any problem with crud on their breast skin etc.

    You won't be able to keep CornishX on any sort of bare flooring, btw (not concrete or stainless steel or linoleum or anything like that) -- too slippery, way too hard for critters that get so obese, and it would be a sanitation nightmare for you and for the birds. Really, you need bedding!

    Have fun,


  8. christineandallie

    christineandallie Hatching

    Feb 18, 2009
    Thanks everyone. I technically am not supposed to have chickens as I am "county but zoned residential". The "city" people went before the city counsel last night (I was sick and had to miss it). However, even if the city people win their fight it won't do me any good until the county changes. And even then, they probably would say we could only have 3-4 laying hens and not meaties.

    So, I will be in a renegade situation and don't think I can be moving a tractor around my yard unless I totally enclosed it (then it would be dark which is no good) so people could not look into my back yard and see them.

    I'm planning on using the back corner of my yard which keeps everything away from all the houses as my neighbors back yards converge at that corner of our properties. Then I will do a 6' high Cedar fence all the way around the whole operation. My neighbors would probably be able to see in if they really tried from their back yards but I'm more concerned with someone seeing them from the front of the back yard. However, I have a field gate that prevents people from coming into the back yard and the most someone could do it look in which case all they will see is a corner of the yard with a 6' cedar fence square.

    I'm starting to get the picture as far as why you want to stir the litter etc. Your basically composting the poo (Nitrogen) with the wood chips (Carbon). I don't know why I didn't put that concept together before, duh. I've composted for years so I get the concept. One of the most common problems wit compost is that people don't have enough Cardon to mix with the nitogen and when that happens, stink comes. So, I need to research where to get good bedding, cheap in my area so I'll be sure to have enough to keep everyone clean and stink free.

    I'm playing with the idea of either a dirt or concrete slab for a floor. The concrete would probably make me happier but dirt might not be bad either when you think about the compost aspect. Certainly would be cheaper.

    What about a screen floor suspended above a piece of linoleum that could be pulled out and sprayed off daily? Maybe just on part of the coop where the feeders are kept since they seem to hang out there so much. But then super deep litter everywhere else so they aren't forced to stand on the screen all the time, they can get off it. Thanks everyone. Christine
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    No, you don't want to try to keep meaties on a wire floor. Really.

    Be aware that neighbors WILL notice the stink (I suppose you could pretend to have a very large, albeit invisible, dog with a terrible, terrible digestive problem) and also flies. There is a limit to how much you can do about the flies, although adding more shavings twice a day will help somewhat. I would be skeptical that your neighbors will not figure out that something is going on and probably take a peek (or listen) and detect chickens. If your neighbors will be ok with this, then fine, but otherwise it is something to plan for.

    Good luck,have fun,

  10. christineandallie

    christineandallie Hatching

    Feb 18, 2009
    Yeah Pat,
    I think that any meaties I decide to raise need to be kept to a very low number like 10 and under because of everything; smell, clucking etc. Maybe I even need to downscale and just have layers. I really would like organic meat though and have heard that home raised tastes a LOT better than what you get in the store. I've only found organic chicken online in our area for $4.50 a pound and that's a little steep but maybe I'll have to consider it. Thanks for all the input. Christine

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