What kind of wood for pen or run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dappertophatter, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. dappertophatter

    dappertophatter Songster

    Mar 1, 2008
    The Jersey Shore
    Hi all,

    I am new to this list and new to chickens. We are expecting our mail
    order chicks to arrive on the 24th. That said, I am in the process of
    designing a hen house and a pen or run attached to it.

    What kind of wood do you use for the base of the run? I really didn't
    want to use pressure treated (not good for me or the hens) but I don't
    know what to use against the ground. Do you guys use another type of
    wood? Do you "paint" the wood with some kind of preservative? (How
    long does that last and how often does it need to be reapplied?) What
    exactly do you use for outdoor pens that are permanent?

    I am concerned with wood rot and termites. I was going to put the pen
    on top of some patio blocks and have deep liter. Then the pen will be
    covered with a roof. We live in a town and I wanted to keep the whole
    hen house & coop looking nice. We also have sand for soil around here.

    I took a look at all the great photos of the coops here. You guys
    really did a fantastic job!

    I hope that I get some answers to this question!
  2. nccountrygirl

    nccountrygirl Songster

    Jul 31, 2007
    Sanford N.C.
    I use pressure treated wood for any part of the run that will lie on the ground.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Pressure treated will last a LOT better for parts that lie on, or are set into, the ground. And there is no particular reason to think it's going to hurt your chickens.

    If you are implacably opposed to p/t, though, then I would suggest $pringing for cedar (or locust, if you can find it locally, which you almost certainly won't be able to). Painted-on preservatives do almost nothing for wood that is in ground contact or buried, becaquse they need to be reapplied every year or two which obviously you won't be able to do, and because while they're better than nothing they're still not awfully effective. (Well, creosote works real good, but that's far worse than p/t in terms of toxicity to people, animals and groundwater, and I'm not sure if you can still even get it in the States anymore).

    Another option would be to sink *concrete* footings (use sonotubes), 2-4' deep depending on circumstances, with those metal post-mounting dealiebobs set into tops before the concrete sets. (DO NOT use the pointy metal fence post holders that just drive into the soil -- you want the ones meant to be embedded in concrete). That way no wood is buried. You would then design your pen so that the lowest horizontal member of the pen walls is somewhat above the ground, and put cinderblocks (etc) against the mesh pen wall below the wood for strength and predator-resistance. That will be expensive, though. And especially in a high-chicken-poo environment I would not absolutely rely on those metal post-mounting fixtures to last more than 12-15 years.

    Frankly, p/t would be FAR cheaper and simpler, and as or more effective. Especially since they no longer sell CCA type pressure-treated lumber, using it is really NOT going to kill ya [​IMG]

    Good luck whichever way you go,

  4. dappertophatter

    dappertophatter Songster

    Mar 1, 2008
    The Jersey Shore

    Thanks for your replies. Pressure treated wood was the way that I was leaning towards. I just wanted some verification on it.

    I did use cedar 4 x 4's for my small greenhouse to sit on but as it was mentioned.....it was very $$$$$$! So, I didn't want to do that again if there was another way.

    Interesting how chicks only cost $2 -$3 each and everything else costs a bunch more!!

  5. twigg

    twigg Cooped up

    Mar 2, 2008
    Yep ... what they said!

    I used plain spruce and fir for my coop (oil finish treated), but for the subframe including the skids I wouldn't use anything other than P/T wood.
  6. azelgin

    azelgin Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    S.E. AZ
    Pressure treated lumber as not nearly as toxic as it used to be. they removed the arsnic from it a few years back and increased the copper content by 400%. There has always been a "food safe" PT wood that the forest servic and state parks used for picnic table construction. Not sure where the buy it, or if they still need to use it.

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