New to the chicken world and already worried!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Carrchickens7, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. Carrchickens7

    Carrchickens7 Hatching

    Mar 22, 2015
    Southern California
    Hi there fellow chicken folk. :)

    We are new to the world of chicken ownership. We have 7 four week old hens in a variety of breeds. We are almost done with building our coop and just in time, our ladies are getting bigger but the min. We have two children ages 6 and 10 months. We all love our chicks, but we also have some concerns about the placement of our new coop.

    There is only one spot to put it, so we took down our old shed, because it was metal and it gets to about 118 degrees plus in the summer.(we live in southern California)

    But, the problem lies with our backyard neighbors they have their fence lined with oleander bushes that are higher than our fence. We trim them back but we are concerned about the fluffy seeds that fall over the fence into where the chickens will have their run. We know the leaves and flowers are poisonous, so we're guessing the seeds are too. Does anyone know for sure?

    Also should we put shavings down in the coop and nesting boxes or hay? And is sand okay for the run area or should we put clean fill dirt in? And is DEFG okay to put on the bottom of the shavings and mixed with the dirt?

    We know this is a lot but are hoping someone can help us. Thanks in advance.
  2. JerseyHen

    JerseyHen Songster

    Feb 10, 2011
    Sussex County, NJ
    The seeds of the oleander are poisonous. I would try to design the coop and run in such a way that they do not end up on your chickens menu. Perhaps you can hang shade cloth to catch the seeds and have it angled so that they drop back into your neighbors yard? I am envisioning a few tall posts on one side of your coop/run that are taller than the fence with cloth that runs from the posts down to the top of the fence (like an awning). Or you could put corrugated plastic roofing over the whole thing. It would serve to create more shade as well (I lived out there for about 20 years so I understand the heat dilemma).

    I would make an open coop design, no or limited solid walls with huge windows covered in hardware wire. I live in NJ and we get months of frozen weather and I find that the heat is as hard on them as the cold and it certainly never gets cold enough out there for them to need an enclosed coop. My birds love it when it is about 40 degrees out. The open ventilation would really be better for them with the temps you get out there and probably cost you less to build and maintain.

    My chickens love sand. The also love dirt. I would not use hay (it molds, has seeds that will plant themselves in your yard). I would use straw or shavings. The straw will compost faster than pine shavings will. I know some people that use sand in the coop as litter and scoop it like kitty litter to keep it clean. 7 hens will not make an unmanageable mess for scooping as long as they are not "cooped up" for protracted amounts of time.

    One thing I would recommend is that you put a poop board under your roost. It will allow you to collect the droppings without all the floor litter in it and it composts fast and will be more compact. It also saves you from having to change out the litter as frequently.

    Check out the coop design pages for ideas.
  3. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master

    Jan 10, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you have joined us.

    I know how frustrated you must be with the Oleander issue.

    I agree with JerseyHen that the plant and seeds are toxic. If you search scientific articles there is definite proof, here's one:

    There are several antidotal reports of feeding chickens with oleander without issue, but how much can they tolerate is only a guess.

    I think you have a strong argument to the neighbor growing toxic plants that hang over or contaminate your property. They are quite toxic to humans, dogs, cats and especially to children. Maybe you could meet with them, armed with toxic data and request they keep them pruned below the fence line? Maybe they have pets &/or children of their own who could be at risk.

    And do go ahead and make plans to keep them out of your yard and away from your chickens. Better to play it safe.
  4. Carrchickens7

    Carrchickens7 Hatching

    Mar 22, 2015
    Southern California
    Thank you both for your posts in reply. We are trying to design a coop/run that will keep the seeds out with shade cloth for the top and a faux bamboo shade for the back side where the run will be. Our neighbors have chickens too! And dogs. But thier yard is bigger than ours and can put the coop away from the oleanders. She is a teacher and we would think that she would know that they are poisonous. We will have to see how our coop comes out once it's finished.

    I like the open plan but they are still little, they have their feathers but on the top of their heads and tummies, and are getting too big for their brooder box. So we have to move them into the coop soon. We were thinking about having it open but being able to slide in a panel to keep it warmer for now. (The heat isn't quite here yet!)

    And with the DEFG? Any thoughts on that?

    Thanks again everyone!
  5. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master

    Jan 10, 2013
    Sorry, don't know what DEFG is.

    Regarding sand. I live in middle GA - hot, humid summers. We have sand in run, coop and in nest boxes - they ate anything else I tried in the nests.. I really like the sand, easy to keep things smelling nice.
  6. Carrchickens7

    Carrchickens7 Hatching

    Mar 22, 2015
    Southern California
    DEFG, diatomaceous earth food grade.
  7. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO.

    Jun 15, 2012
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined! :)
  8. Chicken Girl1

    Chicken Girl1 Queen of the Coop

    Mar 3, 2015
    Hello [​IMG]and Welcome to BYC![​IMG]
    Glad to have you join! Feel free to make yourself at home!
  9. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Welcome! [​IMG]I'm glad you joined our community.
  10. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons

    Apr 23, 2014
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

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