Metal barn building - No go?

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
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Western Ohio
So, as a temporary solution to housing our chicks we thought we might put them in our building which is non-insulated metal (approx 1800sgft), with a loft area. Floor is concrete. There are two dog doors that we could modify to allow chickens to go out to the run behind the building. Temporary means: would be till fall when we have more time to build a coop, or through the winter till next spring.

New chicken owners - have 17 chicks that are 6 days old.

A friend said it was a bad idea since the ammonia from chicks really destroys metal in a relatively short time frame. Any advice on this from experience?

Our other options:
  • Put aside other tasks to focus on a custom coop (spouse is handy, but busy) NOW.
  • Buy a shed and modify it - might save some time over a custom coop, but still needs to be build and modified
  • purchase a coop - a country store sells some nice ones that might be Amish built, and are made for chickens and appear to be very sturdy and roomy (not like the tiny coops sold at TSC for example), but these are costly.
 

Ruralhideaway

Crowing
Sep 21, 2017
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Upstate NY
I don't see why you couldn't make this work. Likely you'd want to build them a corner area rather than the whole thing? Hard to predator proof doors on most such buildings I'd think. You might have a little rain from the roof, maybe not in such a large building. No reason at all to have ammonia, you'll want a nice deep bed of shavings over the concrete.

You need to address ventilation although I'm not certain how best to handle that in such a big building. Definitely a good problem to have!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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A friend said it was a bad idea since the ammonia from chicks really destroys metal in a relatively short time frame. Any advice on this from experience
Ehhh...that's a bit drastic.
Tho animal urine can corrode metal, thinking more rabbits peeing on sides of metal housing, I don't think chicken manure is going to melt your large barn...unless you pile fresh pure manure right against the walls and leave it there for months and months.

Metal can have other issues like condensation, and harder to modify for birds safety and health(ventilation and predator proofing).

Seeing your barn(pics) and knowing your location(add to profile-see below) would garner more info to help you decide if and how.
upload_2018-3-6_11-31-53.png
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
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Western Ohio
I don't see why you couldn't make this work. Likely you'd want to build them a corner area rather than the whole thing? Hard to predator proof doors on most such buildings I'd think. You might have a little rain from the roof, maybe not in such a large building. No reason at all to have ammonia, you'll want a nice deep bed of shavings over the concrete.

You need to address ventilation although I'm not certain how best to handle that in such a big building. Definitely a good problem to have!

Yes, we would pen them up in the area near the dog doors, which also has an East facing window about 5 feet off the ground, so they would get natural daylight and darkness. I'm pretty sure mice could get into the building, but it is pretty secure to any larger animal - as long as we secure the dog doors and make sure the human doors are closed. I suppose having a window open would help with ventilation, and since we are not likely to have below zero weather again this season, the window could remain open, but guess would need to make sure the chickens are out of direct draft.
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
7,164
24,709
877
Western Ohio
Ehhh...that's a bit drastic.
Tho animal urine can corrode metal, thinking more rabbits peeing on sides of metal housing, I don't think chicken manure is going to melt your large barn...unless you pile fresh pure manure right against the walls and leave it there for months and months.

Metal can have other issues like condensation, and harder to modify for birds safety and health(ventilation and predator proofing).

Seeing your barn(pics) and knowing your location(add to profile-see below) would garner more info to help you decide if and how.
View attachment 1285730


We are in OH - Western, central (so approx 1.5 hours west of Columbus). Cold and damp. I'll try to take pics of the inside of the building as my spouse has been burning some of the piled up stuff that was taking over the building (LOL - previous owners moved to a 30% smaller condo...with no extra garage space and rules that include NO gardening, etc!) Here is a pic of the backside of the building, where the chicken run will be (Previously posted this a couple of months ago relating to where/how to place coop). Yes, we will fortify the run - we won't rely on the chain link fence alone. Also, will likely allow the chickens to free range some of the time in nice weather - to the east where there are some raised beds just outside of this picture. The yard is only another 20-30 feet beyond this picture, and most people have these extra garages or buildings in their yards.
Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 9.04.42 AM.png
 

Foster's Freehold

Songster
8 Years
Jun 7, 2013
350
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South Central KY
With only 17 chicks in that large of a space, ammonia will not be your problem. There is plenty of air space in that building to handle it. You will want to cover the pen area in lots of shavings, maybe wood chips for the run.

It would mean lots of cleaning out, lots of bedding. If the run area is going to be permanent for them, you could start deep litter there, saves on cleaning and bedding. You could even do it inside, but if it's a concrete floor inside, put lots and lots of bedding to get it started.

You would need to figure a water system that gives minimum splash and spill. With a concrete floor, the excess moisture isn't gonna sink in or wick away from the concrete.

Make sure water can't get in the window, or close the window during rain or snow. You might have to add a fan if they are there during the summer, metal buildings get HOT. Check to see if the building has ventilation higher up. Does the other side have windows too? Could get a cross breeze going.

It could be a sweet setup as long as the heat doesn't become an issue.
 

andreanar

Crowing
5 Years
May 16, 2014
2,832
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Finger Lakes, NY
Shoot! My sister and I have made things work with a cardboard box and a shoestring! Not really, but you get my meaning. I wish I had a barn as large as yours. I would partition part of it off for the chickens, so that their bedding would not spread over the whole place.
 

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