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What's your take on this layout? Concrete floor issues? Run size?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by NoelC, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. NoelC

    NoelC Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello!

    We are still working out the bugs in our overall layout. We live in a semi-urban area but on a one acre lot. About a 1/3 of it is landscaped. I'd love it if you could respond w/ your wisdom on this as we are . . . pre-newbies! Here goes . . .

    Key components:

    1. Small coop, enough for 3 med-large hens they tell me, with two nesting boxes. It was an assemble it yourself kit. If chickens turn out to be a good thing for us we may get 1 or 2 more.
    2. We plan to pour an 8'x8' concrete slab. On top of it we plan to put a welded wire 8'x8'x6' dog kennel as a pen, with the top panels in so that it is larger-predator protective. I understand chickens can put their heads out the holes in the thing and get nailed, but since most of the time they will be in their coop I hope at night, they will be quite a ways from any one of the four walls in the dog kennel.
    3. We will have a door out of the pen to an area of the undeveloped yard which is in pretty good shade and has a fair amount of native vegetation. We will put up a lightweight chicken wire fence to cordon off maybe an area about 30 feet x 50 feet or so for them to wander around in when we're not home during the day. This is primarily to protect our landscaping and decking, etc.

    So, the hens will have 4 living areas: coop, dog kennel/pen where the coop lives, a cordoned off section of native plant area in our yard, and the entire yard area.

    Questions on this:

    1. Any downside to the concrete in the pen? We thought it would be a snap to keep clean---can just hose right thru the welded wire pen. We hope to not have them in there much of the day as we hope to range them in the larger yard when we're around to supervise a little at least for a while. And when we have to leave for a few days we would keep them in the kennel/pen for sure. I'm thinking from responses in the Predators topic that I may have to use 1/2" welded wire to keep squirrels and rats out of the feed, and chicken heads in! Any other tricks on keep little varmints out of the kennel/pen? It will have 2x4" welded wire construction, so squirrels/rats can get in. Don't see snakes.

    2. How hard is it to lure hens back into their pen or coop when you need them too? Is it a case of training w/ food? In order to manage things like when we have to leave for work we'd like to be able to get them in their lightweight chicken wire pen I described above.

    3. If we had 3 med-large hens, how long would it take to decimate the vegetation in the 30'x50' chicken wire pen?

    I know I'm asking a lot of specifics here, but any help is much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    Noel
     
  2. arcatamarcia

    arcatamarcia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally, I would dispense with the concrete floor and use pea gravel topped with sand. It's a snap to keep clean and dry and the chickens love to peck around in the sand. If you have concrete, the poop will be everywhere and won't dry as readily. And they won't really be able to peck. It just seems like a step you don't really need to do that doesn't make anything better. The half inch hardware cloth works great. Keeps everything out and chickens in.

    As far as training chickens to return to their coop...it's a breeze. I have a container of sunflower seeds that I keep by the back door. When I walk out and pick up that container, my girls go running for the coop. I open the coop door and throw a handful of seeds on the floor and they go running in for them.

    Your pen sounds really huge. I would imagine it would take them a long time to eat/scratch their way through it. You might think about dividing it into sections so part of it can recover from chicken use. If you rotate the chickens through two or three separate areas, your vegetation is much more likely to survive long term and, with the chicken fertilizer, even thrive.
     
  3. NoelC

    NoelC Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 8, 2011
    Thank you for your thoughts. Are you from Arcata, CA?

    Don't mean to be cross, but I wonder how concrete would be less easy to clean than pea gravel and sand, which seems like it would be a constant trap for poop and other organics and would be by contrast almost impossible to clean--though the birds might enjoy it more I can understand since they can peck in it. Also, I would wonder about pecking in an area they constantly poop in. I envisioned taking a hose and spraying poop off of the concrete quickly and easily every few days. How would you clean an 8x8 area of pea gravel, maybe just hose it down and trust it sinks into the ground? That seems like an area that would become too concentrated w/ poop residue since it has a constant supply of it coming in. Concrete would allow removal of most all poop, though the area around the sides of kennel would get a hefty dose. The other thing the concrete buys is a totally secure connection to the kennel as it will be bolted down in effect. As for pecking, we don't see the chickens staying in the kennel much--just when we have to leave for a day or two which isn't often. Otherwise they will be in their coop at night (they would prefer to be inside a cozy coop versus on a concrete or pea gravel pad maybe, wouldn't they?). We hope to have the chickens either in their 30x50 pen, or as I say wondering around the larger yard when we're there during the daytime.

    Nice to know they can be led around a little! That helps that piece!
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  4. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Some people use concrete and are happy with it. Personally I have never even considered it. It just seems bad for them to be hopping down from their roosts and landing on cement. It would be tough on their joints, skin etc. My climate conditions are probably much different than yours, but I like a hard packed earth floor covered with sand. I do have a hardware cloth bottom burried under there just incase something decides to try and dig in. The sand drains well and I can rake out the poo. The sand is a new experiment after reading several threads. Until this summer I have always used the deep litter pine shavings. Wet pine shavings are nasty and I like to run misters for them during the hot months.

    Your large run sounds ideal. The chickens will love running around. The division idea is great also. Chickens love to forage. After a couple of months it will look like a moonscape. I have considered doing this myself, just need to figure out what would be good to seed with in the desert.

    Seems like you have it very well thought out. [​IMG] Maybe a concrete fan will chime in and share the benefits.

    a couple second thought... didn't notice you were only doing a few chickens. I honestly have no idea how long it would take them to make a moonscape?? Beware of hawks and run either some netting or wire across the top of your run. If I missed your plans for this...sorry it's late here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  5. kstaven

    kstaven Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Concrete will become an oven surface and hold heat in a hot climate. Gravel surfaces or dirt stay much cooler and will make life much easier on your chickens.
     
  6. allpeepedout

    allpeepedout Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agree with others that while convenient for people, exposed concrete is not friendly and would prohibit many behaviors. Without something absorbent on the surface, the birds are apt to step in poop before it dries (and sometimes it's really gooey!). A surface like sand or dirt with good drainage can be raked to clean, and rain will cleanse. Maybe you could build a small sandbox with drainage on top of the concrete, so they would have someplace nice to hang out, scratch, dig, dust, etc.

    That said, I understand that your birds will usually be ranging in a natural area, so I think there is merit to your idea that minimal concrete lockdown might be OK (but agree with poster that it must be shaded). Perhaps put down shavings or any natural material on the concrete if they are confined for any length of time, like when you go on vacation. They will be especially unhappy on concrete if they are spoiled by enjoying the daily decimation of a natural area!
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I imagine a lot of people would, in time, build an 8x8 coop on the slab, although tying the coop to the slab is of course lots easier when done as one operation. Concrete has more advantages as a coop floor than as a run, I'd say. My coop is dirt floor; I'd actually rather have it than concrete.
     
  8. Black Cochin Bantams

    Black Cochin Bantams Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Even if I had concrete I would put down wood chips at least 1 inch deep in my coop. The biggest upside of a cement floor is predator and pest prevention. Concrete can be finished quite smooth and would clean much better than say a broom finish typically used on a sidewalk. Go for it and enjoy your birds!
     

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