Newbie questions about coop and run cleaning and chicken health

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by thenewsouth1921, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. thenewsouth1921

    thenewsouth1921 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 25, 2013
    I've been a regular reader of this site as a new chicken owner.. Built a coop and run a few months ago with leftover materials, it's completely enclosed.. I will post pictures later I'd like community feedback! Inside the coop there is bedding, I started out putting the water and feed in the run but it attracts ants and the run isn't easily accessible, I have to crouch down and crawl inside. I have 2 concerns about my new birds.. I got 2 barred rock hens from a local chicken farmer about 8 weeks old. They seem very happy with their new environment (they were living with many other birds in a small cage!). The run is about 4 ft. x 12 ft. and is completely enclosed with chicken wire, mostly because of my curious cats and of course predators.

    1. Health - How often do I need to clean out the run and coop or should I do it at the same time? Or do I need to clean out the run at all? It's on the dirt and I put some leaves and pine needles for them to scratch. I'm feeding them grower feed and some table scraps.

    2. I'd like to let them out when I'm home but I'm concerned they will run and I'll have trouble catching them. Also my 2 cats are curious and looking inside the run whenever they are chirping. I let the door to the coop open, there are chicken stairs, they just looked at me but didn't try to get out. When I go inside they are a bit scared and sqawk when I pick them up. I brought one for the cats to sniff and she was not happy, she was growling and meowing I think they are afraid of the chickens a bit! But question is do I really need to let them out, they are safe in the run and coop. Lately they are very active so I thought of letting them out.

    I've read answers to these questions but thought of getting some feedback as everyone situation is different, I want them to grow old and get big and fat and lay many eggs!

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    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  2. chynasparks

    chynasparks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 21, 2013
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    Hi, I just started with chickens in June. You can click on my album below to see my setup. I wanted to be able to go inside the coop and stand. I'm no spring chicken (pardon the pun) and not so thin in the middle. I can sit on a stool and lean in to scoop the sand. I lean in under the nest/roost house. I'm using washed sand from Home Depot. Mixed with sweet PDZ and DE. No odor. It's all enclosed and houses 4 chickens. I can't free range them for several reasons, #1 being safety. So (long over due) we are making a cattle panel whoop run. Should be done next weekend. I can get them out when I'm off from work. My poor babies had to live in a dog crate till we completed their home. I got very worried for them towards the end as crowding was becoming an issue. Impossible to keep them clean. I recommend scooping or raking if your not doing deep litter method. I find sand is ideal (for me). I apologize but I don't know enough about poultry to advise on poultry. I do know that even though they are friendly it is normal for them to put up a fuss when picked up. They shouldn't act freaked out in fear but sqwaking and resisting us normal. Just give them a bit to settle down then pick one up controlling their wings, tuck them in your arm like a football. Talk softly. After she's calmed down and your done visiting or examining her put her down gently on the ground. Make it a routine they'll get better. But they are always gonna put up some kind of fuss.
     
  3. Joeys chicken

    Joeys chicken New Egg

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    Aug 25, 2013
    We did the same thing. Made what we call our 6bunk Hilton out of scrap lumber. Can't wait for some fresh eggs.
     
  4. Krazzy

    Krazzy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2013
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    as far as cleaning the coop and run go. i would deep clean the coop and run a minimum of 2 times a year. (the more often the better) i clean my coop and run about every 6 weeks. even with a dirt run i would rake it up good. i try to just wait till there is enough to cleanup to be worth my time.

    as far as letting the chickens free range. as long as they know where home is they should go back to the coop on there own before it gets dark. i let mine fee range when im home and i feel like its safe. in my opinion its very healthy to let them out when you can. just understand that if you freerange them you will lose a chicken once in a while. some people dont let them out unless they are outside with them.

    hope that helps!
     
  5. vickichicki

    vickichicki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2012
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    I use deep litter method in two of my coops, I also use a poop board to help control some of the night time mess. If you use the deep litter method it really does not need cleaned out as often, maybe twice a year. The poop board requires daily scooping, but it is done in a few minutes. Only down fall to deep litter is ever having issues with mites. Treating the ground for mites means a full clean out and that can be a pain if you have to do it repeatedly.

    A small dog pen can work as a temp run you can move around your yard. Be sure to cover it so they are not in the direct heat of the sun and offer food and water while they are in there.
    Most chickens will wander off and most times they come back. Mine have broken out of their run before and remained within a few feet of the coop.
    Free ranging chickens has wonderful perks, but there is always a risk involved, whether it be the neighbours dog, your own cat or a rather brazen hawk. You have to personally weigh the pros and cons of free ranging.
    They know where home is, where the food and water is and where it is safe to sleep at night, while they may venture off, if they are happy chickens they will come back.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Chickens R Us

    Chickens R Us Chillin' With My Peeps

    I use the deep litter method and have poop boards under the roosts. The poop boards are the #1 best thing I have built for my coops, I put PDZ on the poop boards and clean every 2 days with a kitty litter scoop. I clean everyday in the winter because they don't go outside as much.
     
  7. chynasparks

    chynasparks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In my case I have 2hawks that were raised in a pine tree. They grew up looking down at us while we built the coop. Now the frequently return and stare at the chickens in the coop. That messed up my plans for supervised free ranging. Movable chicken run seems my only option as these 2 hawks don't seem afraid of me. They let me get surprisingly close before they fly off.
     
  8. vickichicki

    vickichicki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2012
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    I can not free range my chickens as I live in the city and there seems to be a mass abundance of stray dogs roaming the area.
    It can be harsh to have your flock picked off by predators, so if you know of local wildlife that like to visit I would suggest a more secure run (or maybe a chicken tractor) for daytime activities.
    All of my coops have a large run with several climbling levels outside with netting covering the run to thwart above attacks.
     
  9. Tambo26

    Tambo26 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Orrington, MAINE
    I have pine shavings in coop and clean poo every morning. Once a month I do a complete coop cleaning dusting and washing with vinegar and placing new shavings. My enclosed run (hardware cloth) is All sand and I am constantly scooping the poo with a kitty litter scoop. I also 1x per month sift all of the run sand (8x12). I mix sweet pdz in with the sand to help control odor. (There is none!). My girls don't free range as we live in the woods among lots of predators! I have a small fenced area outside the coop and run that I supervise them in and occasionally we venture out into the yard with me very close at all times! I held all my girls a lot when they were chicks and now they all want to be held. They LOVE to snuggle!
     
  10. thenewsouth1921

    thenewsouth1921 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 25, 2013
    If you can see in the pics I have a 12x12 raised bed which is a big 12x12x12 cube, well today I let them in there it's not enclosed but has enough poultry mesh (not proper chicken wire) 4 feet high which is enough to keep them in but not enough to keep my cats out! I'm thinking of just enclosing the whole cube with chicken wire then they can have a big run, but I couldn't let them during spring or summer when they would eat my garden.. but in any event the chicken wire would be good for plants growing this year I have great pole beans (big climber). Thanks for all the support! This chicken business is fun but I worry one day I'll wake up to a big problem. Like tonight they are squaking for no apparent reason maybe they just like the cool weather! (it's 65 degrees in SC 3 days ago it was 95!!)
     

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