Tractor vs. Free Range - a manure perspective

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nateschisler, May 15, 2009.

  1. nateschisler

    nateschisler New Egg

    Mar 21, 2009
    Lancaster, Oh you will all see, I am quite the newbie. I have been studying this form at length for two months now in anticipation of my flock (25) of Cornish X's coming on the 18th. I went to Lowe's to buy materials to make a tractor, ended up walking out with a 10x14 all metal yard-barn. Before you all gasp and start to call me an idiot, it was laying on one of those blue cards, completely unboxed with a sign that said $50 (yes fifty, marked down from $650). Apparently the average Lowe's customer can't see past a disentigrated cardboard box to see a great deal.

    So I have this 140 sf behemoth assembled and on a 4x6 frame in my back yard. My dilema is this. I had originally thought that I would make this basically an oversized "tractor", drag it around my garden, always strapping it down to some posts in the ground so it doesn't blow away. All this in an effort to avoid cleaning up manure. Now I'm contemplating planting the thing in one spot, and then construting a run that would be 10'x60'. My goal here is to allow the chickens to free range to an extent (health and feeling good about how I raise them) but also to keep the next 8-10 weeks simple.

    Assuming they're in the chicken house at night, and I'm feeing them 12 on, 12 off, will this area handle 25 meaties or will it be devastated and manure-covered at the end of 2 months.

  2. saddina

    saddina Internally Deranged

    May 2, 2009
    Desert, CA
    That's 600 outdoor feet / 25 birds = 24sqft per bird.

    You should be fine I agree on the dislike for shoveling, but at most you may wanna rake it up and need to reseed after processing.

    It's a killer deal on the shed, and you did the right thing man.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Remember that CornishX will not free range to anything like the extent that 'real' chickens will... so the shed itself, and the area *right* around it, will get get quite mightily pooed on. You'll probably want to be adding fresh bedding on top of the poo on a frequent basis, for sanitation, so you will end up with sort of a grass-killing sheet compost at the end of the cycle.

    I'm not sure how much of that very-large area your chickens will use, btw -- youj might want to fence in a smaller area to start with, can expand it if they do seem to be going that far on a regular basis. I had 10 CornishX last fall in a 4x6 indoor pen with a 4x14' attached run, and while they most certainly used (and apparently enjoyed) the run, I am skeptical whether they'd have gone more than maybe twice that far from their 'house'.

    I think the shed is an incredibly good buy, applause applause; the extent to which it's useful for these particular chickens depends on your climate. Remember that CornishX are extremely vulnerable to overheating, and *create* a lot of heat; and metal sheds heat up Real Good and tend to be massively underventilated, even with the door open. If you are in a cool climate (and it stays cool til they are processed) you may be ok; if you are somewhere that gets hot, you may find yourself having problems and needing to quick knock together an alternative breezier shelter. Just keep a very close eye on the chickens, like a good hard look several times a day for signs of trouble.

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. ducks4you

    ducks4you Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2009
    East Central Illinois
    Sounds GREAT---You are SSSSOOOOO Lucky, and wise to take advantage of this good deal!!!!!!! [​IMG]

    Did a quick Internet search and wadda ya know---took me to a post on this Forum. Check it out:

    ? for those who use grass clippings
    (#1 04/28/2009 10:40 am)

    I had read about putting (un-herbicide/insecticide sprayed) grass clippings in your chicken's run. It was an article published this last winter--forget WHICH mag---in which this family farms 1/2 the property and lets their chickens compost the other 1/2, then they switch the next year.

    Now, you don't have to worry about killing the grass. [​IMG]
  5. montyhp

    montyhp Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 4, 2008
    South Texas
    Quote:I have 10 chickens in a run that is 15 x 45 connected to my 8x8 coop. I deep litter in the coop (dried leaves), but just leave the run as is. The chickens tend to keep the area in the run scratched up so I haven't (in 4 months) had to clean the run. It is bare dirt right now.

    Before we had the pen, we let them run around the yard. I ended up pressure washing everything (sidewalks, patio, driveway, patio furniture) every weekend.


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