NEW CHICKEN OWNER! POOP IN COOP! Do you teach nesting area?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by briter30, May 18, 2011.

  1. briter30

    briter30 Chillin' With My Peeps

    137
    0
    99
    May 15, 2011
    This is going to probably seem like a ridiculous question to pro chicken owners, but this is my first week of owning chickens and I have a question about their coop space. I have five 2-3 month old chickens living in a chicken tractor. At night, they all go into their chicken nesting area to sleep. Right now I have nothing for them to sleep on...no hay, no shavings, etc. because the first few nights they all slept on these three perches that are lined up next to each other. Now they are all going into this small nesting area at night. They are pooping everywhere in their nesting area in the wooden boxes. Should I be putting down some shaving even they are not laying eggs yet? Will they poop on top of the shavings or dig down and continue to poop on the wood? How often should I be cleaning this? Once they begin laying eggs in a few months, will they avoid going in their nesting area since it looks like they are using it as a potty room?
    Thanks
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Is the roost higher than the nest box? If not, adjust it. You will probably have to block the nest boxes off (with cardboard or wire) for a few weeks until they get use to the roosts. If they're chilly (not sure if that's the case 'cause I don't know where you are), that may be why they're reverting back to huddling/piling... Does the housing have shavings in it??? (not the nest box part)...
     
  3. briter30

    briter30 Chillin' With My Peeps

    137
    0
    99
    May 15, 2011
    I am beginning to think I have done this all wrong. I bought a used chicken tractor last week ...very small A-frame tractor measuring 3' high' 3' wide, 8 ' long. The back part of the run there is a ladder that takes you to the roost area then about 15 inches back there is a nesting box at the end of the A frame...At first, they were sleeping on the roost then they have switched to the nesting area...I am afraid they can't all fit on the roosting area. But now they are all in this one box at the end of the A- frame. It is a chicken tractor so it has ground as the bottom...I do not have any shavings in their now. I will try to post a pic.
     
  4. briter30

    briter30 Chillin' With My Peeps

    137
    0
    99
    May 15, 2011
    This is my first time downloading pics. Hope it works! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,852
    37
    249
    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    Welcome to the forum.

    There are a couple of fairly serious issues with the tractor you bought. The first problem, the more serious one, is that it isn't secure from predators. Chicken wire won't keep out anything with teeth (like a raccoon). Welded wire (sometimes called hardware cloth) is much stronger and more secure. The other issue with the tractor is that a digging predator can easily dig under the edge and come up inside the coop; a hardware cloth apron attached to the baseboards and extending outward flat on the ground (2-3 feet) will solve that problem.

    The final issue is that at 24 square feet, this tractor is only large enough to hold 2-3 chickens. It's usually recommended to give 4 square feet per bird indoors, plus 10 square feet per bird outdoors as a minimum. You're already seeing how the birds are overcrowded and cramped as they try to roost. It's recommended to allow 1 linear foot of roost width per bird, so in your case with six chickens, six feet.

    Chickens naturally like to roost at night in the highest place they can reach, and they do poop all night. Many people put a board or tray of some kind under the roost to make removal of these night time droppings easy.
     
  6. carolinasculpture

    carolinasculpture Chillin' With My Peeps

    565
    10
    146
    Mar 21, 2010
    Hi! You could pretty easily make it more "predator proof" by putting an electric fence around it. We had a tractor much like that one until we got out coop built. The electric fence effectively "changed the minds" of several neighborhood dogs and at least 2 raccoons. But really you would need at least 1 more tractor. To make an easy one that is pretty similar, get 2 hog panels and zip tie them together along one long side. Then open the sides out to make a triangle. Roll some chicken wire over it and zip tie securely. Then for the ends, make a pressure treated frame and zip tie it to one end and leave the other end bungie tied or easily removable. For roosts, I rounded a couple of 2x4 and just stuck them through one side to the other and wired them in. With the electric fence, this kept them secure and "free-ranging" for several months until we had our big coop ready. Good luck!
     
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Ohhhh...I see. So that little cubby hole thing in the back is the nest box??? Yeah, the chickens are not going to want to roost out in the open like that, exposed to the elements and predators. So of course they're going to go hide in that cubby hole. At the very least, I'd recommend covering another 18-24 inches of the exposed area with plywood so that they feel more secure at the roost.
    And I'll definitely 2nd what Elmo said - sturdier wire is needed, and your space is tiny for 5 birds. Since you have no way of shutting your birds inside the safey of a housing at night, you'll want to make sure nighttime predators can't rip through the wire. I don't even see how 5 birds could roost across that space. As adults, they would need 50-60 inches of roost space. So maybe they're fitting as chicks, but they won't as adults. 3 birds is the MAX I would keep in that set-up unless they are free ranging every day, and even then you're going to have to deal with roost space.
     
  8. Newbie in Screamer Al

    Newbie in Screamer Al Chillin' With My Peeps

    237
    2
    91
    Jan 11, 2011
    Ditto here too. You could also "T" off of the end of the tactor for more space. They are tight, and will probably squable soon. You can also roof the existing tractor with sheet metal or ply wood for shade, and run your roosts bars down under the roof. leave enough clearence from the peak of the roof or they will not use it. With that many birds, I would make the "T" at least 6X8 feet. You can pretty easily make all that work, and have happy birds....... Good luck...... R
    Quote:
     
  9. briter30

    briter30 Chillin' With My Peeps

    137
    0
    99
    May 15, 2011
    They free range for about 2-3 hours during the day....My husband and I completed step one of this project which is to build more roosting areas. We put a wood roof on the other end about three feet long as well as three additional perching space. The initial plan was to get 5-6 chickens and keep only the hens...well, I think they may all be hens! I will have to look into that hardwood wire you guys are talking about...thanks so much!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by