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water-logged pens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chickbliss7, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. chickbliss7

    chickbliss7 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 2, 2008
    We have been having constant rain here in Northern California--the kind with high winds. Even though my 2 pens have a roof, they are completely sopping wet. The hay and alfalfa bales we have in there have turned moldy, and I'm afraid I have exposed my chickens to it. Even worse, I have contracted pneumonia, and my doctor suspects there is an allergy component to it. Mold?? I'm looking into a solution whereby I can put up panels of plexiglas during the winter in the runs, or at least on the sides that are exposed to high winds. Has anybody ever constructed something like this? Any other ideas??
  2. silky ma

    silky ma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2007
    Mold will make you sick and your chicks! Mask up and remove the hay bails- take them out far away froy your home and spread them out so they can compost.
    I am with you! I completely understand. I am in Rancho Cordova /Sacramento. In my old Hen area I had wire walls and each winter I put up blue tarping for wind and rain breaks- home depot-.
    The plexi-glass while seems like a good idea will be expensive per 3x6 footsheet- it will run you about $30-$40.00 and if left up for the summer will become brittle fast!. It is also possible a real cold snap can make it brittle too. I recreated a new hen house last year that looks like noahs ark and even though I put it on large wheels something told me to put it up on cinder blocks...I am glad I did.
    Soo much rain at one time that everything is muddy.

    Try the tarping you can hang it with the twist ties, east to remove and store and they will last you a couple of seasons. At $12-$15.oo a pop much cheaper.
  3. lildinkem

    lildinkem Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 4, 2009
    Here in INDY the entire year except for Sept, it has been raining. I just got bails of straw and plopped them in each pen for the birds to sit above the water line. Just get as much straw as it takes to keep them above the water. And keep a few bails still tied up for them to stand on. Just a thought.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  4. chickbliss7

    chickbliss7 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 2, 2008
    Last year we put up tarping, but after a few rainstorms, the wind ripped them right off! We live on a steep hill, and the wind comes roaring up from the valley blowing everything in its path. I thought of plexiglas panels, not to cover all the pens (too expensive), but at least a few areas that the girls could get out of the wet. And we could put their bales in the dry part. Their coop is dry and warm and very roomy, but they always seem to want to be outside, no matter what. If I could think of a way to attach panels to the coop so that I could just easily remove them on sunny days or in the summer, that would be ideal! Thanks for your suggestions!
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    It is very much possible, and often highly worthwhile, to partially enclose the sides of a roofed run.

    The main thing you have to be careful of is wind load. The more you convert the mesh run walls into solid, the more the wind catches them, and wind gusts can be surprisingly powerful as compared to the strength of run posts or the tightness with which the ground is holding onto those posts [​IMG]

    If you are in a sheltered area, it is fine to use a solid material like plexiglass (although just stapling translucent 6mil plastic, the kidn they sell at the hardware store for use as a vapor barrier, is a lot cheaper, at least til you add up many many years' worth of it). Other alternatives include plywood and tarps. If you use something potentially-flappy like plastic or tarps, make sure it is attached TAUT and/or crisscross some taut cords or temporarily-screwed-on 2x4s across it here and there to limit flapping and increase its lifespan. Plastic will not rip off its staples nearly as much if you put down a line of duct tape on it, and staple through *that* into your run fence wood.

    Easily-removeable panels can be made by using plywood, or plexiglass framed in sturdy lumber at least 4" wide, that you drill bolt holes through at appropriate intervals, matching up with bolt-holes drilled in your run posts. Coupla bolts and wingnuts and presto, the panel is on; spin spin spin, and it's off [​IMG] But note cautions re: wind load as you start attaching solid stuff like this.

    If you are unsure about the structure's ability to tolerate storm winds if it's solidly enclosed, I would highly suggest either leaving large gaps, or using something wind-permeable like shadecloth or landscaping burlap. I have been really pleased with both -- landscape fabric at a sharp angle to rain (closer to parallel than perpendicular, you know?) will block most though not all of wind-blown rain; I have not yet had my burlap up in rain season but I can tell you it does an excellent job attenuating snow and wind without risking the structure of my upwind runs and their roof.

    Neither will be as 100% rainproof as something solid, obviously, but it is better to err on the side of not having your run land in your downwind neighbor's yard one fine blustery day [​IMG] I think they'd really be worth trying for you, you'd be surprised how much good they do without risking the structure.

    If you do enclose the run sides, do not enclose it all the way. I would suggest leaving at least half a long side open, preferably on the most-often-downwind side and/or S side. If you enclose the run too comprehensively, it will get massively humid in there and you will be in even bigger trouble.
  6. chickbliss7

    chickbliss7 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 2, 2008
    Yes, I hadn't thought of the humidity factor. For reasons of expense, I probably wouldn't enclose all the runs, but perhaps enough to keep a couple of bales completely dry and room for the 6 girls to stand around. We currently have shade cloths on a portion, but the wind has been fierce (up to 50 mph at times), and it has knocked down the cloths several times. Another thing we'll try is making french drains around the runs' perimeters so that the water can't come in under the runs and soak the ground and the feeder. We'll get some advice from the guy who built the coop and run for us. They are quite sturdy, and may still be standing long after our house falls down! Good advice out there!
  7. The Sheriff

    The Sheriff Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 17, 2009
    Northern CA

    I am in the Sacramento area too. I feel your pain sister! I had good luck using the rolls of reed fencing that they sell at Lowes. I attached it to my run with zip ties and it held up for a full year. It would have made it longer but I pulled it down to move the coop. It blocks wind and rain, lets air flow through, and provides shade in summer, and is easy to install. I noticed last week that it is back in stock at Lowes. I took mine a step further by adding beach decor and little adirondack chairs (plant stands, also from Lowes).

    Good luck. We have maybe two days to get something done before it hits us again.

  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Oh, another thought -- you could consider building a windbreak a little ways upwind of your runs. Normally I would say "big roundbales of straw!" or something like that but it sounds as though the mold issue would nix that... but what about a wooden fence braced very strongly? You could attach burlap or etc to it if you wanted. Then ALSO use shadecloth or burlap on your run fences -- the upwind windbreak would reduce the load on your run fences, so its burlap would last longer (or possibly even letting you put solid panels on there without damaging wind load).

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat, also in a windy site (b/c very open) but not often up to 50 mph thank goodness!
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I know our climates are different but it rains sideways here too, we're at elevation and get high winds. For snow and for rain we have put up boards and the roof is corrugated vinyl which sheds precipitation fast. It also makes using stall products easier in the run because you will be dry there. Be sure to rake and slope your drainage and to allow room under the boards for small amounts of air to enter and for moisture to drain.

    You can see how we did this in the link below, the one for the run. [​IMG]

    You will never be sorry and if you use screws you can take some panels down when the weather changes, to improve ventilation, though we left areas of hardware cloth open to prevent this issue. [​IMG]
  10. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    We use sheets of tin. easy to nail up, easy to take down. Also we have about 6-8 inches of pure sand in the coops and runs and that keeps the coop dry and not stinky.

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