• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

building a chicken run over shale chips (deep bedding method)

 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are trying to work out how to do chickens - we havent ever had them before. I have read the 2.0 article and it makes sense to me. Unfortunately the paddock shift method just isn't an option for us, for a number of reasons but the biggest being foxes and other predators. I'm not happy about the tractor/ark method as they seem too tiny and also a lot of work with the constant moving. It seems like a permanent run is going to be the best option for us but I want to do it as well as possible for the chickens.
We have a few options on areas. Initially we intended to keep chickens together with our ducks but the duck run is very wet and I think that ultimately, it's not great for chickens.
Another area I'm thinking about now is a flat area that has been used for parking. It is covered in a few inches of slate chips over very compacted ground and has hardly anything growing there. We could fit a coop and a run of about 3x5 meters there. My idea was to use the deep bedding method, starting out with a foot or so of woodchip across the entire run, and adding various carbon materials as they are available (branches, more woodchip, dried reeds, dried grass, basically whatever we can get our hands on - our resources are a bit limited and for example we don't have any leaf litter to speak of). We could also provide greens in planters - one idea was to put hardy things in planters inside the run, enclosed in chicken wire, so that they can eat what they can reach but not entirely kill the plants.

Does this sound feasible? I know it's not the 'ideal' but as I said, the ideal isn't an option for us. With a lot of deep bedding, would it be ok that the run is not over soil, but over stone chips? The benefits of this patch of ground is that it's reasonably dry (unlike much of the rest of our land) and reasonably sheltered from prevailing winds.
 
Jay Green
Posts: 587
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adding deep litter into your system is always a good idea, so I think it's a good option when you simply must pen chickens. Three by five meters isn't a whole lot of space, so I'd go easy on stocking...that would only give good room for 3 full size breed chickens, so you might consider going bigger with the run. I always advise newbies to go much bigger in space than they ever think they will need, as it's much better to have too much space than too little.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you very much for your answer. How do you work out stocking rates? I must admit I was hoping to keep more than 3 chickens there - do you have a link, or can you explain how you work it out? Thanks
 
Jay Green
Posts: 587
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Most experienced poultry keepers consider 4 sq. ft per bird is adequate~though the books will say 2 sq. ft~ when they are confined to a coop and run. I prefer to see at least 4 sq in the coop and at least 5-6 sq. ft. in the run if these birds will be living forever in that environment. Giving adequate room for living will decrease incident of pecking, cannibalism, fighting and over saturation of manure in the space provided.

The problem with most of the books on chickens on the market nowadays is that they are repeating information they have learned from USDA sites on poultry, the problem being those space recommendations were meant for commercial broiler houses. Who wants to mimic that failed system in their backyards?

For optimal health and for a good social interaction, the more space you have, the more success you will achieve.

Now I'm reading your specs again, I see you said meters instead of ft. , so that changes the deal somewhat and I apologize for that. Doing a quick estimate on that space, you should be able to have at least 32-33 standard birds in that space if you follow the 4 sq ft. rule. Sixty plus if you intend to overuse the space and go with 2 sq. ft.

Sorry....used to folks putting things into feet when it comes to spaces for chicken coops and runs.

 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks again! Sorry for the confusion - I grew up in American but live in Europe so my measurements are kind of all over the place. Everything you say makes total sense, I was just surprised at your first post and thinking, my goodness, how big a run will I need for 10 birds! We are hoping to start with around 10 so this should give them plenty of space - working on the build as big a run as you can rule of thumb!
I do plan to provide a coop with at least that, as well, again wanting to make sure they have enough room to be happy in this compromise system.

So on the initial point, it should be ok doing deep bedding over stone chips as long as it drains properly, yes?

Has anyone had any luck with planting INSIDE runs? (Protected by chicken wire, perhaps?)
 
Jay Green
Posts: 587
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You should be alright even over the shale...should even help with drainage. I've seen plantings inside a run but they really had to have some good space between the chicken wire and the plant or they will pick it completely bare because they have no other access to greens. Best to plant outside the run and let them pick from their side of the fence~much easier and will take up less of their floor space.

I've seen folks do raised beds in the run with the wire on the top so they can graze but not scratch it all up, but even then they would need some spacing to prevent total denudation of the plants.

You might also explore sprouting grains for additional greens....some folks on this site do it and have systems they can describe to you. I'd also explore fermented feeds for optimal nutrition from the grains/feeds that you feed. Easy to do, free, and will give you more bang for your buck, while providing natural probiotics to your birds.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, I will look into fermented grains. I'm also trying to figure out how to provide them with some ongoing sources of woodlice - should be relatively easy with a few piles of woodchip and cardboard outside the run that I can harvest periodically. Any planting, whether inside the run or around the edges, will need to be in containers or raised beds as the area was previously a hardstanding for sheds and car parking so there isn't any soil to speak of, but we will see what we can do to improve things.

I don't suppose chickens like juncus effusus (soft rush)?
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Pie
Posts: 8807
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
610
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From what I remember about living in Wales, you might find this video highly useful!

 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks! We have ducks for slug patrol though the chickens might get some too - there are sure enough to go around. Not as many snails as our last place though, the chicken coop we helped on in the city used to give them snails since the ducks couldnt eat them - so funny!
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic