Looking for advice...pic heavy

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mlorne, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. mlorne

    mlorne Out Of The Brooder

    30
    0
    32
    Mar 30, 2010
    Good day all,

    I am turning to the experts here for next year. We currently house 7 laying hens inside of a large, former cattle barn, within a segregated pen and with an enclosed run:

    [​IMG]
    IMG_7114.jpg by mlorne, on Flickr

    Next year, we will be adding 25 broilers. We will also be adding a portable "tractor" for the layers to be out in the garden, scratching and fertilizing. So, where to put the broilers?

    Currently, the coop in the barn is approximately 8x12 inside with an 8x10 run outside. There is one roost, but it can only accomodate about 10 birds max. Currently, this translates into 13 sq ft./hen inside, and 11 sq ft./hen outside. However, with 25 broilers, I'm affraid it'll be a little crowded.

    I have another couple of spaces in the barn that I could segregate. Number one candidate is this:

    [​IMG]
    DSC00618 by mlorne, on Flickr

    A very large space to be sure (about 20x50) and I would probably wire off a 10x20 section. Throw in a few roosts and we're golden...I think.

    Two questions:

    1. The floor is cement with a good deal of old, very dry, very compacted cow manure. Should I take as much up as I can before moving a chicken coop into that area. Or can I get away with a super thick layer of shredded leaves and straw over top of the dry manure. Mix in the chicken manure and I'm thinking that this could be the start of a stellar compost pile. Health concerns? Problems with flies?

    2. Outdoor space. The far corner has a door that leads outside. You can see it here in the middle:

    [​IMG]
    DSC00629 by mlorne, on Flickr

    To the right you can see the covered (and very predator proof) run for the layers. However, getting a similar run set up for the new door would be challenging. There are numerous racoon families living in the barn above and the open hay shelter to the left is their primary highway. It's possible, but I don't know if it is practical.
    So my question is this: for broilers, how important is outdoor space? Could I get away with an open door for ventilation and south and north windows for light?

    Thanks for the help everyone!

    Michael
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    107
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:If you would consider putting the broilers (only) in here and moving the layers elsewhere, that would not be *too* unreasonable housing IMO although obviously it ain't life on the wild open range. It would be 4 sq ft per chicken indoors and slightly less outdoors. A lot of people do raise CornishX or colored broilers at these densities, and it is certainly a lot better than factory-farm conditions especially since they would have the use of a run. I'm not saying it is necessarily THE way to go, but it is certainly an option to consider.

    Broilers, if you mean CornishX or colored broilers, do not need a roost and if you give them one it can result in breast blisters or crooked breastbones (the latter may not matter to you for home use, but the former likely would)

    A very large space to be sure (about 20x50) and I would probably wire off a 10x20 section. Throw in a few roosts and we're golden...I think. 1. The floor is cement with a good deal of old, very dry, very compacted cow manure. Should I take as much up as I can before moving a chicken coop into that area. Or can I get away with a super thick layer of shredded leaves and straw over top of the dry manure. Mix in the chicken manure and I'm thinking that this could be the start of a stellar compost pile. Health concerns? Problems with flies?

    If it has rat droppings or lots of mouse droppings I would remove as much as possible (wearing dust mask), or at least cover HEAVILY with new bedding. Even without, I would really suggest removing as much as you can easily manage (it looks to me like a lot of that is fairly loose and removeable, again WITH MASK)

    But for what remains, if it is relatively clean old manure (oh you know what I mean [​IMG]) then it may not be a big concern. It is theoretically possible for it to increase the chance of your chickens getting E coli or some other infections, systemically or as skin infections for broilers; but personally if it were *old* and *dry* and I bedded well on top of it, I would not worry overmuch.

    I do not know if you are contemplating that space for broilers or layers but if for broilers than you may have some air quality problems develop unless you keep relatively few birds in a largeish space and keep up with either near-daily cleaning or with putting ample fresh dry bedding over top of old stuff (clean it all out after batch of broilers is slaughtered). I do not know if you have grown commercial-type meat chickens before, but they produce PRODIGIOUS amounts of REALLY STENCHY poo and are generally better off in as freely-ventilated and open-walled a space as you can provide, as long as they still have shelter from severe weather and rain and wind.

    getting a similar run set up for the new door would be challenging. There are numerous racoon families living in the barn above and the open hay shelter to the left is their primary highway. It's possible, but I don't know if it is practical.

    If it were me I would be concentrating on raccoon removal (eventually you can livetrap 'em all out and/or block their access holes and breeding/sleeping spots, and while stragglers will still wander thru you can at least keep the coon population to a bare minimum). (Having done this with my own barn when we got chickens). Otherwise you are just tempting fate.

    It is not really any much easier to raccoonproof INDOOR spaces than it is to raccoonproof OUTDOOR ones, anyhow...

    So my question is this: for broilers, how important is outdoor space? Could I get away with an open door for ventilation and south and north windows for light?

    Well certainly you can raise broilers indoors, that is where all yer supermarket and restaurant chicken-meat comes from. Even just giving them more floorspace (like 4-8 sq ft per chicken rather than 1-2) is a big step up in quality of life. As space increases, their exercise increases, and you will note a lot more and different muscles on homegrown spaciously-grown broilers than on factory-farmed birds; also they taste a bit better. However feed conversion also goes down a bit (as more food goes into exercise rather than into body mass), if fine details of that are important to you.

    Personally I think it is way better to let them be able to spend some of their short lives with sun on their backs and the wind in their feathers, and maybe even bugs and grass to scratch around at; but OTOH getting et by a raccoon is not a quality-of-life improvement [​IMG] so you have to decide what you're realistically willing to do. I would say that total space available, and bedding- and air-quality, are the BIGGEST factors, with actual outdoor space being of slightly lower importance. But everyone will have a different opinion of course.

    (e.t.a. - just an open door ain't going to be CLOSE to enough ventilation for 25 broilers though, unless you are "relaxed" in your air-quality expectations and are figuring on the fumes partly dissipating thru the whole airspace of the barn, or by "door" you mean like that whole-bay opening shown in the photo and the birds are penned *right* against it.)

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by