Please advise

mojojojojo

In the Brooder
Aug 27, 2021
8
9
16
Charleston South Carolina
new chicken keeper, i have 4 girls who are about to start laying. I am also in Charleston South Carolina so the weather is pretty warm most of the year with winters being in the single digits but still about 60F in the day. Most of the year it is 70-85F.

I have a run that is about 400 sqft and an attached coop as shown below. the pictures were taken before chickens moved in.

001E571E-52CA-4F6B-A67D-BB9379F35887.jpeg

i have T posts, chicken wire and aerial netting over the run, and the coop directly opens to the run, i don’t have to lock them up at night or open the doors for them, they stay within this area every day, except for rare occasions of supervised free ranging. The ground in half of the run is sloped so during heavy storms the ground COULD be flooded for a day or two at the most. I like all the ventilation this set up gives me without worrying about predators.

8286A4B8-C5A7-406E-97D4-0A15CC9FF7FF.jpeg


Everything is on the ground, natural soil, after two months the ground in the coop has completely turned to dirt, and the run is still mostly grass but not as vibrant as the grass outside of the coop. the chickens have maintained the grass in the run short. Sides of the coop are not covered so any rain will get in there.

i like low maintenance and once a week, i hose down the poop that gets on the stair case to the upstairs roosting area, and the poop that falls when they sleep. sometimes i spray at the ground in the run, trying to dissolve those poops into the ground. I have no problem poop scooping but with grass and uneven grounds it’s not exactly feasible, sometimes they have runny poops too. Visually the poop is everywhere and sometimes we throw scratch on the ground, and we have concerns about them pecking at the ground amongst their poop.

Keeping in mind the warm climate and no snow, and occasional flooding of the run, should i be putting any sort of wood chips, mulch, shavings or sand into the coop and/or run? I’ve read several threads and articles and I’m just unsure since we are all in different states.

How do i manage poop and flies or smell or parasites or bugs, i know chickens will eat bugs, i just don’t want to foster an environment that encourages a pest problem. Doesn’t seem really feasible to buy 30 sacks of sand to fill the run, especially with the existing grass.
 

aart

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i don’t have to lock them up at night or open the doors for them, .... I like all the ventilation this set up gives me without worrying about predators.
I would not count on your run mesh keeping predators out.

sometimes i spray at the ground in the run, trying to dissolve those poops into the ground
Not a good idea.... poop+water=stinky.
Coarse wood chippings are the best for breaking down poops and attached odors.

Charleston South Carolina
@3KillerBs can help with your particular climate.

But here's how to add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
1633723115820.png
 

mojojojojo

In the Brooder
Aug 27, 2021
8
9
16
Charleston South Carolina
by mesh you mean the chicken wire or the aerial netting??

Yes wood chips seem like a great idea. should i go ahead and buy 30 sacks of chips to lay on the ground?? should i couple that with shavings?

Does that also mean i should remove all that and put new chips and shavings periodically?

oops i didn’t know poop and water makes it stinky.. it usually gets absorbed into the ground immediately.
 

DobieLover

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by mesh you mean the chicken wire or the aerial netting??
Both.
Chicken wire is easily torn through by many predators and weasels can push through it.
The netting is good for day time hawk protection but night time predators can climb the walls and go right through the net.
should i go ahead and buy 30 sacks of chips to lay on the ground?? should i couple that with shavings?
Find out if your local highway department collects curbside branches, chips them and offers them for free to residents.
Does that also mean i should remove all that and put new chips and shavings periodically?
Generally no. They slowly break down. I only add wood chips to the run.
 

3KillerBs

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OK, I have a little more time now.

Your big run is beautifully spacious, but as others have said, it's not predator-proof. Unfortunately dogs and raccoons can tear through chicken wire and weasels can slip through it. :(

The coop section of your prefab is almost certainly too small for 4 chickens and doesn't have the necessary ventilation. Here are the usual guidelines:

For each adult, standard-sized hen you need:
  • 4 square feet in the coop (.37 square meters)
  • 10 square feet in the run (.93 square meters),
  • 1 linear foot of roost (3 meters),
  • 1/4 of a nest box,
  • And 1 square foot (.09) of permanent, 24/7/365 ventilation, preferably located over the birds' heads when they're sitting on the roost.
The good news is that your coop/run combo can be converted into a well-ventilated coop suited for our warm climate by taking out the wall between the coop part and the run part and putting siding on the run part.

Here's a thread showing one person's modification: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/my-renovated-prefab-coop.1440258/

And here's my brooder/coop, which is a wire box where I used tarp for the walls, to show you how to do the kind of ventilation we need -- a least double the usual recommendations unless you've got the coop in deep shade: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/run-to-outdoor-brooder-conversion.76634/

Dry chickens are healthy chickens so it's best to avoid wet-cleaning if at all possible. Since you may get standing water at times due to being in a low, coastal area, you'll need to make sure that your run includes some things for the chickens to stand on up out of the wet. In-run perches, pallets up on blocks, that sort of thing.

You'll definitely need some kind of litter in the run -- any kind of dry organic material will help but coarse wood chips, the sort you get from a tree-trimming service are often considered the gold standard.

We residents of the Steamy Southeast also have access to pine straw -- which is, IMO, one of the best of chicken beddings because though it isn't as absorbent as wood chips it resists packing, doesn't mold except in the most extreme conditions, and dries out quickly on top after even the heaviest rainfall.

Not to mention that it's free for the raking in my yard -- not sure if you've got it for free, but the needles are falling now so if you can rake it up for the birds then do take advantage of them. :)

You'll definitely
 

rosemarythyme

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Yes wood chips seem like a great idea. should i go ahead and buy 30 sacks of chips to lay on the ground?? should i couple that with shavings?

Does that also mean i should remove all that and put new chips and shavings periodically?
Wood chips can be sourced for free or sometimes a low delivery fee from tree services or some towns/counties have free chips available for pick up. My chips are left behind by the tree service when they need to do work in our yard.

See what else you can get for free - if any neighbors have deciduous trees, those fallen dry leaves are a fantastic add in. Short lawn clippings from untreated lawns, pulled weeds and garden trimmings, are all good add ins for deep litter.

Really no need to do a full clean out of the run with this system, the main reason anyone would clean out at all is to harvest broken down little as compost for use in the garden.
 

mojojojojo

In the Brooder
Aug 27, 2021
8
9
16
Charleston South Carolina
@3KillerBs
yeah i don’t have pine straw on my property, i could go look around. will also get wood chips. for the first link you posted about someone renovating their prefab, i don’t understand why they used wood and covered up the sides of the coop? isn’t the free flowing air good?
I understand about draftiness, my prefab has a sort of room upstairs, with two little windows and the door leading to the stairs as ventilation.

i also dont understand the roosting part, they have two perches inside and it is more than enough for them to perch on, they have enough space for sleeping. in the run i have some perches slotted into the wire in each corner.

i will look into wrapping hardware cloth on the run, and what do you suggest about the top of the run? i wanted to have sun light so it’s open air and i don’t know if the T posts are structurally sound enough to support a metal roof, they are just good enough for wiring. the chickens get some sunlight in the daytime and shade at other times too, we do have some large trees right next to it.

thank you @rosemarythyme and @DobieLover ill be getting wood chips. i looked into Chipdrop last night seems pretty good!
 

3KillerBs

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@3KillerBs
yeah i don’t have pine straw on my property, i could go look around. will also get wood chips. for the first link you posted about someone renovating their prefab, i don’t understand why they used wood and covered up the sides of the coop? isn’t the free flowing air good?
I understand about draftiness, my prefab has a sort of room upstairs, with two little windows and the door leading to the stairs as ventilation.

i also dont understand the roosting part, they have two perches inside and it is more than enough for them to perch on, they have enough space for sleeping. in the run i have some perches slotted into the wire in each corner.

i will look into wrapping hardware cloth on the run, and what do you suggest about the top of the run? i wanted to have sun light so it’s open air and i don’t know if the T posts are structurally sound enough to support a metal roof, they are just good enough for wiring. the chickens get some sunlight in the daytime and shade at other times too, we do have some large trees right next to it.

thank you @rosemarythyme and @DobieLover ill be getting wood chips. i looked into Chipdrop last night seems pretty good!

I'm at work and have pack for a trip later, but will try to get back to you this evening.
 

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