Topic of the Week - Kitting out the Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sumi, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. cheek

    cheek Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 2, 2013
    Granbury,Texas
    I totally disagree with anything on the floor or ground. I 've been raising hens for over 8 years. We are organic, free range, & pastured. I have 63 hens that loves us as well we love them! My coop gives them 9 square ' per bird. I clean it out twice a week & put D.E. Down. We use milk cartons for nest, 21 total & these girls have always had their favorite. That being said, some have never been used. I have found that NO nesting bed is needed! They really don't need it & now that I stopped using hay or pine they lay more eggs & fewer eggs are cracked

    The number ONE thing is to keep plenty of fresh WATER & GOOD FOOD for them & your hens will be HEATHLY & HAPPY!

    Lots of love, talking, & touching them helps as well!

    Tony, Cheeks Happy Chicks
    Northeast, TX.
     
  2. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1- What bedding/material works best for the coop floor and the nest boxes?

    I use Koop clean. This is basically chopped hay (NOT straw, that tends to get stuck in their 'nostrils') with powdered zeolite (SweetPDZ) mixed in to keep it dry and help neutralize the ammonia from their poop. The chickens also love scratching through it for hayseeds. I sprinkle a thin layer of DE on the floor first for pest control, then lay down the Koop Clean. 1 bale will cover the 8' x 6' floor with a layer 4" deep. Granted some of this does get kicked out due to their scratching through it.

    2- How can you keep the coop dry, especially now, over the winter months?

    I keep their water outside, the vent areas have large eaves over them to keep rain out, all floor and wall joints are sealed with silicone (asphalt in the case of the roof) to prevent leaks.

    3- Roosts and nest boxes - How many do you provide, how much space on the roosts, what do you use as nest boxes and how do you make them attractive for the hens, etc?

    Roosts are made from wide stair railings, giving the hens a gently rounded top to curl their feet naturally around* yet still 'flat' enough so they can cover those same feet completely on cold nights. Poop trays under the roosts keep the bedding clean, granulated Zeolite in the trays dry out and clump the poop making it easy to scoop out (I scoop up 2 cups worth every day!) It also absorbs and neutralizes ammonia keeping the smell down and their air healthier.

    I have two cubby-holes, 1 each between either end of the storage cabinet and the walls for nesting at the moment. I have not yet made the actual boxes. But when I do they too will be filled with Koop Clean. I currently have 5 hens of laying age (three currently laying) and they all share the same nesting area right now. This may change when the other two hens and the five pullets start up this Spring though. As far as making them attractive is concerned, they adopted these cubby-holes the very first day without any coaching by me, no faux eggs required! [​IMG]

    4- What "boredom busters" can you provide to amuse and distract bored, cooped up birds when the weather is really bad?

    My birds spend most of their time outside, even on cold days (it rarely gets really cold in SC). The only time they spend in the coop for any duration is when they are laying or sleeping. However I do like to hang a cob of corn from the roof of their run every now and then. I hang it so the top is just within reach of the tallest chicken and let them go to town!




    *Birds that have evolved to live on land have feet designed to roost in trees. Have you ever seen a tree with 2"x4"s for limbs?
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  3. crealbilly

    crealbilly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 1, 2015
    Southern Illinois, USA

    I disagree it seems better to put something like hay down in the yards so they are not walking in mud... i know i dont like mud, I'm sure they dont either.

    I was up to 50+ chickens and 5 turkeys over the summer. But i've processrd to 21 chickens, and 3 turkey. Soon to be 19 chickens because i'm going to porcess young roosters as soon as the fatten up a little more.
     
  4. cheek

    cheek Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 2, 2013
    Granbury,Texas
    All's good with you. I don't really like culling my girls but it has to been done. I only have one roster & I believe that's all the Roos you should have. Now for the rain, my coop has 3' overhang on the 3 sides off my shied so mud isn't a issue.

    Tony
     
  5. crealbilly

    crealbilly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 1, 2015
    Southern Illinois, USA

    I have big fenced in yards for them. I have to keep them fenced in because my property backs up to the shawnee national forest. If i let them roam free they would become dinner for any number of wild animals around here.

    I just cant see buying chicken at the grocery store or anywhere else that have been fed only God knows what. When I got free range, organic, never medicated, nor fed hormones healthy chickens right here on the farm. Thats why i started raising them for meat and eggs in the first place...

    i forgot to include my son and I raised and processed an additional 30+ jumbo Cornish cross over the summer. I just stuffed and baked one last night for dinner - finger licking good :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  6. henny1129

    henny1129 Crazy Livestock Gal

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    Mar 21, 2016
    Ohio!
    I hate buying chicken from the store. :sick Not only are they fed horrible things, they're treated like crap most of the time. We're going to start raising our own broilers soon, thank gosh!
     
  7. crealbilly

    crealbilly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 1, 2015
    Southern Illinois, USA

    You wont be dosapointed thats for sure... CCX roos taste better than hens in my opinion. I like the roos as broilers and the hens as fryers. I can flour the hens with whatever seasioning i like and fry them up. Roos grow bigger and faster than hen do to.

    Just remember raising meaties are completely differnt than layers. We called our meaties fatties because they would eat as much as you put in front of them (truely pigs with wings). I raised ours on 21% meatbird from day one until a day before processing. I praticed the 12 on 12 off feed schedule after they we 3 weeks old. With constant fresh water that included 1 TBS of braggs organic apple cider vinegar per gallon of water. They grew very fast and were more than ready after 8 weeks old.

    Mine always had fresh air and sunshine, never medicated, or fed hormones, just about as organic as you can get and they are delicious.

    Next spring my son and I are ordering 50 Jumbo CCX Roos. We are going to build a PVC chicken tractor for them over the winter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  8. henny1129

    henny1129 Crazy Livestock Gal

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    Mar 21, 2016
    Ohio!
    Thank you so much for the information! I'm quite excited to taste them when they're all processed! And of course, it's always fun to raise chickens! :)
     
  9. woods79

    woods79 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 8, 2015
    Maine
    We are first year chicken owners and this roost set up is the best thing I built, the tarp swagging under it catches 90% of dropping, twice a week I sweep/rake off in to my shovel and put in the compost bin. Easy clean


    [​IMG]
     
  10. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    - What bedding/material works best for the coop floor and the nest boxes?

    Pine shavings are ideal. A medium size flake is quite good. I sometimes add a bit of rice straw to the nesting boxes to give the hens something to shape.

    - How can you keep the coop dry, especially now, over the winter months? Place it somewhere it cannot flood, of course. A nice raised lip on the door of the coop prevents too much mud being tracked in. An overhang or tarp prevents rain getting in. Keep the bedding very clean and don't overcrowd a coop as both increase moisture drastically.

    - Roosts and nest boxes - How many do you provide, how much space on the roosts, what do you use as nest boxes and how do you make them attractive for the hens, etc?[b/]

    I like a ladder style roosting bar, but side by side (equally tall roosts) works as well. My small coops have two and my large on has a whole maze of about eight. Each bird gets about 12 inches of roost space but I go based on size too - a smaller bird can require as little as 8 inches or a larger (or more aggressive) bird as many as eighteen. For nesting boxes I have milk crates, and a few metal and plastic commercial style wall-hung boxes. The do seem to prefer the three wall-hung commercial styles.

    [bW- What "boredom busters" can you provide to amuse and distract bored, cooped up birds when the weather is really bad?


    Plenty of treats and scratch, especially things that take a long time to tear apart (or that can be scattered into bedding requiring the birds to scratch and search for their food). Heaps of bedding to dustbathe in.

    What else do you provide/do to make sure the flock is happy and comfortable in there?

    A light is always nice if your coop is rather dark and gloomy inside, like mine is.
     

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