The first of many questions from someone new to raising chicken!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by AmazingGracie, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. AmazingGracie

    AmazingGracie New Egg

    Mar 9, 2013

    I have 14 chicks (currently 3 weeks old) that we are working on a coop and yard for. We are hoping we will be successful in allowing them to be free range at some point and want to start with an uncovered enclosed yard (we will cover it ASAP if we have predator issues). The coop has been ordered and will arrive this week and we can begin to prep that (paint walls and tile floor). I don't have the dimensions readily available right now but it's fairly big with a man-door on one side and the chicken door on the other end. There are 4 nesting boxes on the right and roosting perches that run the length on the other side. I believe there is also space for storage buckets to one side.

    The area we want to use for their yard/run is where our daughter's swing set/fort used to be. It's about 12-15 feet across and it's an octagon shape. The ground is covered with pea gravel and has PLENTY of weeds and grass peeking out. Is pea gravel suitable or should I change it to sand?

    Second question; I am sure that they will make short business of the grass and weeds. Can they be fed fresh grass clippings when we mow? I plan on giving them lots of fruits and veggies (as per the books I have read) too.

    We have raised Pekin for our pond for three seasons and when I started this I thought chicken were going to be very similar....yeah, not so much....there's a TON more to consider! [​IMG]

    Thanks so much for any feedback and as I said, this is just the first of MANY questions!
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  2. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR

    The pea gravel should be fine. Keep in mind, however, that they will dig it and move it to get to the dirt and bugs underneath. Yes, you can feed grass clippings from your lawn.

    Have fun.
  3. rdehorney

    rdehorney Out Of The Brooder

    May 15, 2012
    San Diego (Kensington)
    we have 9 hens and used to have weeds in our backyard but they took care of those so you have that going for you too!
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    They really like to take dust baths. If you don't provide them with area to do it they'll make them on your lawn. If the pea gravel is deep I'd cover it with few inches of cheap sand.
  5. AmazingGracie

    AmazingGracie New Egg

    Mar 9, 2013
    Thanks guys! Glad to see I am on the right page with my girls!

    Egghead, I was reading about the dust bath today. My first thought is to provide a small wading pool for that function with a mixture of dirt and sand. Does that sound good?

    If they get the luxury to be truly free range then I won't fret about the wading pool and might just put it away.

    My suspicion is that they will need to be "corralled" though to keep them in our yard and out of the neighbor's garden. Not sure they or their dogs would appreciate the posse.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  6. Sheerahimae

    Sheerahimae Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 20, 2013
    I heard that feeding grass clippings is bad because it clogs up in their crops, but I can't be sure...
  7. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    Pea gravel will not be as easy as sand to rake and clean. As mentioned, I would add a layer of sand. Grass is fine since alot of chickens free range in grassy pastures; [​IMG] Yet, many people have reported that long clippings are not so good due to the long eaten strands cause digestion problems. I generally try to chop up our table scraps and veg garden clippings before I throw out on the ground for them.
    A wading pool is fine if you don't mind replacing the water often (it will get murky real fast). A pool of dirt or sand would be good for dirt bathing.[​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Adding a layer of sand to pea gravel...first you'll have to fill all the voids in the pea gravel with sand.
    Might be better to get rid of the pea gravel and let them have the dirt underneath it....
    .....unless it is an area that floods or gets and stay really wet when it rains, then the sand and gravel would be a plus.

    Not sure where your located but here are 3 really good info pages:

    Ventilation Page

    Cold Coop (winter design) page:

    Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

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