Maximizing our Coop/Run Design

SusanD

Chirping
Feb 20, 2015
348
5
71
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Hi,

I had a couple of questions about maximizing our coop and run design. My first question had to do with aspen vs pine. I changed my chickens over to pine shavings tonight (which they were a little unsure about). After doing some reading, I was wondering if aspen might work better given our small, not very well ventilated coop (I am unable to change that without my parents permission - I'm hoping they'll change their minds later). I am trying to decide if I should go out and buy some aspen tomorrow, or wait and see how the chickens react to the pine.

The other question would be if there are any adaptations we would need to make before keeping our coop/small run in one place (As long as I keep the run clean). My dad had the idea that he would move the house/run every two weeks or so, so that the chickens could have new grass to graze. This sounded great in theory. However, moving the coop today was not a great experience. I felt bad for my 77 year old Dad watching him moving a heavy coop. Also, while my Langshan chicken is ok (no broken bones that i could detect), she gave me a little scare by getting her legs pinned underneath the run :(

Thanks,

Susan
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
610
448
South Georgia
Both pine and aspen give off gases which are not good for them. I'm not sure I would keep my chickens in a coop that is not well ventilated. The ammonia that builds up from their poop reaches a harmful level before people can smell it. Did you have problems with frostbite last winter?

There is an excellent article on ventilation linked in my sig line, if you haven't already read it.
 
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SusanD

Chirping
Feb 20, 2015
348
5
71
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Thank you for your reply. I will see what I can do about oonvincing my parents to let me either improve the situation or to find a good home for our chickens. If both aspen and pine are out (due to the less than ideal coop situtation), do you have any recommendation on what might make for good bedding? Or this the ammonia the bigger issue (I have been cleaning the tray out every morning to try to keep it from becoming one)? If we are going to try to add ventilation to the old coop (rather than scrapping it for a professionally made new one), would adding a vent to both gables, or putting wiring (instead of the glass that is there now) over the window pane be the bast choice.

We haven't had them over winter yet (we go them in February), so that will be another issue for me to think about. Fortunately, our weather (Willamette Valley) is usually pretty mild. But, once in a blue moon we do have a dry, below freezing day or even a snow day. If you were me, what would be your strategy for coping with those kinds of days? I don''t think my parents thought about it, because when they had chickens before, we were living near to the Oregon Coast which is usually milder than the valley is.

I will attach a couple of pictures of our coop and run, in case this helps with giving suggestions. Please disregard the heat lamp (I turned it off last week).

Thanks,

Susan

PS - Also wondering if you might have any ideas on helping the chickens get used to changes. They were just getting used to having the light turned off, and the pine shavings seemed to set them back (the older two started a chick pile in one of the nest boxes, the little one ran around frantically instead of going up the ladder, and the older ones let me touch them which is a unusual for them.

PS 2 - Also, I was wondering if I should be concerned that they've never seen them before and might think they were food. I did notice on of them nibbling shavings out of curiousity, and would hate to see them develop the habit of eating them. Thanks again for your patience with my newbie questions.


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SusanD

Chirping
Feb 20, 2015
348
5
71
Willamette Valley, Oregon
I was also wondering about changing to something besides pine shavings, because I noticed when I checked on the chickens tonight that the pine didn't seem to be controlling the odor (the coop smelled a little sour0 as well as the coconut litter did.
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
610
448
South Georgia
A handful of pelletized lime will help dry the poop and control the odor to a point. People also use things like
Stall Dri that is sold for horses. Pine shavings are actually the best commercially made litter for odor control, that I know of. You might hink that cedar would work better -- but cedar is felt to be extra toxic for chickens -- and actually it doesn't work any better, anyway. In the end, scooping or changing the litter is probably the best odor control. You might consider including a poop board in your design. This fits under the roost so that it can be dumped each morning; they put out over half the day's poop during the night. The only other thing that works well is a whole lot of space.
 

SusanD

Chirping
Feb 20, 2015
348
5
71
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Thanks for your reply. I do have some dry den that I will try adding to the coop. And the great news is that my Dad is thinking of designing something permanent (It turned out my Mom wasn't any more fond of having to move them around than I was). So, and if he gets some input before he makes any changes, I think that will be an improvement ventilation wise (and also save my parents some grief)
thumbsup.gif
I will try posting the blue prints on this site for feedback, if possible.
 
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