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Getting chickens soon, need feedback on my plans

 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Getting chickens soon, and I need feedback on my housing design.
My run will be 20' X4'.
The bottom will be 6-8 " off of grade and made of slate debris topped with pavers.
The edges will be contained by crappy rubble cast walls,the scrap plywood of the forms will be left in place.
The back and sides will be scrap plywood. I might add cardboard/carpet/grout later.
The roof will be lattice/cardboard/plastic/carpet/grout.
The front will be 7-8'high X24' wide and west facing.
Chain link will cover the top 4' and  1/2" hardware cloth the bottom 3-4'.
Shade will be provided via climbing plants, sunchokes in planters,tarps and awnings.
Nests will be accessed via a hatch on the north end,bedding will also be swept out that way.
The roost will be 3' high, 12' long and 4" wide. I am considering placing it directly over buckets or a trough of duckweed.

The back wall is 4' high,East facing,and runs along a 16' high rose of Sharon hedge that will provide shade.

Winter time it will be heated via clear vinyl glazing along the front, air to ground heat storage during the day,a 4" batch box,or a cinder block/ heat lamp set up.
They will have a water nipple fed from a rain barrel, house hold food waste,bunny bedding ,tree hay,yardwaste,sunflower seeds, dumpster treats,dead mice,duckweed(?), and conventional feed.
There will be a pan filled with some dust for baths. DE,Ag lime, sand,grit,crushed eggshells, what ever is best.
There will be two chickens to start, rescues from the bottom of the pecking order.We will max  out at 6 on this property. I want the last 4 to be Buckeyes.
There is a weedy yard filled with bugs, mice, lizards snakes, berry bushes, grape vines, mulberry trees, compost piles, and such.
They will free range during the day and be in the run/coop at night.
There is also our dog. She won't chase our bunnies, rather she treats them like babies. We will see with the chickens.

We want eggs, we will probably give away the chickens that are well past laying, rather than eat them ourselves.

So, any thoughts. Be brutal if necessary, I don't want to fail at this!
 
John Elliott
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Any plants inside the coop (sunchokes, vines, potted alfalfa, etc.) will be ripped to shreds in a matter of hours.  But they will enjoy it while it lasts.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I can't understand from the description where the "run" starts and the "coop" ends... So just some general comments.

I'd expect the birds and/or weather and/or maintenance to dig up and/or move the pavers. Might look good until the day before the chickens arrive, then entropy starts.

Wood in contact with soil will attract termites which will spread to the rest of the building.

Mixing hardware cloth and chain link in the same fence will lead to uneven wear. The hardware cloth will need replacing much sooner than the chain link. Hardware cloth at ground level is very prone to getting shovels poked through it, or wheelbarrows poking holes in it.

Even if you provide nests, there may not be much reason to expect that the chickens will use them. They lay where they want to. My community typically provides  roosts  1.5 inches wide. That's just the community practice. I don't know what it's based on.

 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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No plants inside the coop/run, rather they will be lined up along the front ,outside of the wire.

The whole run will have a roof,so there seemed no reason to build a separate coop.

The pavers will be two feet square and laid edge to edge.

The wood will be treated mostly,but perhaps removing the forms and placing them on top of the newly created walls would solve both the soil contact and hardware cloth fragility issues.

Uneven wear seems like a none issue...

A 1.5" wide perch should be easier to do than 4".





 
John Polk
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A 1.5" wide perch should be easier to do than 4". 

Yeah.  Just look at their feet/claws.
That is about the limit of what they can comfortably grip for hours on end.
It's best if it is rounded on the top half.  You don't want hard angles.

IMO, branches (with bark) work best.  Just what Mother Nature designed for them.

EDITED to add:  I like your choice of Buckeyes - the hardiest chicken out there.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Digging in the drain pipes now,it's as hot and humid as can be.
I hope they are deep enough to do some good.
The subterranean heating and cooling system has a way to calculate everything, but I am frankly too dim,lazy and impatient to do it anyway but by the seat of my pants...



Used interior doors for the roof, covered with tarp.

Stiff, light, and free, they really fit the bill.
Just got to keep 'em dry...
Wish I had thought of using them before I started,would have eliminated a weak point in my design, the PVC "rafters".
Oh well, the perfect is the enemy of the good.
Taking pictures and video, maybe there will be something worth sharing.
 
wayne fajkus
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That's pretty big. How many chickens? I spent the $ for an automatic door to let them in and out. Because of this they probably spend 20 minutes a day in the run. Prior to that, they were stuck in there a couple hours every morning to let them out.

Mine is a move able tractor. Holds 6 chickens easily. The coop is 4x2 plus 1ft for egglaying box and the run is 4x6.
 
wayne fajkus
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Hardware cloth is good. I had a raccoon reach in and grab a small chicken and behead it, trying to pull it through poultry wire. I added hardware cloth over poultry wire.

Chain link fence. I could see birds and squirrels getting in. Either hardware cloth the whole thing or use poultry wire above it.

The 7ft height seems overkill but does not effect anything except cost. Only time I have to enter run is to retrieve an egg which happened twice in a couple of years. And remove the beheaded chicken. Mine is 4ft tall.
 
wayne fajkus
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Once you get the chickens, leave them inside for a couple of days. After that they should return every evening.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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The structure is fully covered, and will be both her house and running for six chickens.
Will they get to run the rest yard? Yes, they will,but I am not sure how often,especially during the winter months.
So I am building them a full time home.
I plan on feeding them on the floor of the coop,be it scratch,scraps,or bunny bedding.
It should drain well, and thus be relatively dry.

I was wondering what to do with their spent bedding/uneaten food.
I have a 250gallon tote that could become a manure tea cauldron,or a biogas generator. Don't have much use for biogas really...


Could grow roaches,BSF,or mealie wormes,or I could compost it further ...
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Got chickens!
Pitiful looking girls that needed a home,Coyote(the beat down RIR),and her roost mate Knuckles,wouldn't eat a thing-till I shared my BBQ pork!

They are bedding down in the leaves,ignoring the roosts.
Perhaps they are too high?
I will lower them tomorrow.
They are scratching a bit, and they ate the meat,comfrey and sunchokes greens.
I have a pan for now, but I intent to use these:
http://www.cornerstone-farm.com/equipment/poultry-production-equipment/300-cup-drinker/

Feed will go in something like this:

http://theownerbuildernetwork.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/DIY-PVC-Chicken-Feeder-11.jpg

Thanks for all the help so far.
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Miranda Converse
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Sometimes it takes them a bit to adjust to their new environment. They will open up soon, I'm sure!

As far as them not going on to the roosts, they might not be used to roosting. I have noticed, young chickens that are not taught to roost, generally won't do so on their own. Usually mama hen teaches them but if there isn't a mama around, it's easy to teach them yourself. All I do is pick them up and place them on the roost right around dusk. If they hop right down, place them up there again and repeat until they stay. If they hop down more than once or twice, it might be too early for them to go to sleep.  If you do this for several days in a row, they will start going up on their own.

A note about picking up chickens if you are going to try to train them to the roost; If you can get them to stand on your hand (basically slide your hand under wherever they are standing, if they don't run away from you), they are usually much more cooperative. Not always easy if they don't know/trust you. If you can't get them to stand on your hand, swiftly and gently grabbing them right where their wings are, slightly closer to the shoulders than the wingtips, is the easiest way to catch them. Just don't grab up to high, or you might squish their crop and make them yak...
 
Miranda Converse
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Oh, and I'm sorry but I believe your RIR is actually a rooster :/  I just noticed you said they were both girls...
 
Todd Parr
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Could you take some pictures from back farther in order to see more about how the coop/run is up?  I'm having trouble picturing it.

And Miranda is right, your RIR "girl" is a rooster
 
William Bronson
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!Rooster? Damn, "she" is dominating the other one,according to my wife...

How often does a rooster end up on the bottom of the pecking order? In her flock of origin "she" was picked on. When they introduced a new group of younger birds it got worse.
Whatever the case,now I worry that a rooster will wear out a single hen.


 
Miranda Converse
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It all depends on the dynamic of the flock. Seems like sometimes, once one is at the bottom they stay there even when new birds are introduced. The young ones may have learned quickly from the older ones that this guy should be at the bottom. A lot of times, what happens is; a new bird is introduced or something major changes in the flock and the one at the bottom will jump at the chance to get a step up on the 'ladder'. That's probably why your Roo is dominating the hen, that and since "she" is actually a he, and no other Roos are there to hold him back, he finally gets to do his thing...If you're ok with keeping him, I would just try to find him at least one or two other mates.  He may be a bit aggressive to the girls at first but once he establishes himself as top dog, he should chill out a bit.   
 
William Bronson
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First egg!
My daughter says it was delicious!
The roo seems to be quite gentle.
Reading over at backyard chickens has convinced me that this situation can work out fine. Lots if folks who have gone years with just a pair,with no problems.
When I peeked at them sleeping,he had his wing over her!
Animist that I am,this seems reassuring.
The wife thinks we are overfeeding,that the food is getting lost in the leaf litter and drawing biting bugs.
I annoy sure I agree but...
I wanted to encourage them to scratch for food,but I will try feeding them in a pan.
I am also putting up some kind of nesting box/shelf thing,lest we lose eggs in the litter.
We could get more, from the same flock,but I really don't want anymore suprises,or low performing birds,so we will wait till we are comfortable,and then buy the indexer really want.
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First Egg!
 
Tyler Ludens
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If the rooster is the same size or smaller than the hen, it can work out, but a larger, heavier rooster can injure and even kill the hen.   Just keep an eye on them and make sure the hen is not getting jumped on constantly.  Also inspect her back and sides periodically, because hens can get badly scratched by roosters. 
 
Shad Qudsi
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Great video on likely the best chicken coop design for a stationary house with optional access to range. It's all about building a compost pile under your chickens and maintaining it to yield compost in real time while maintaining happy healthy hens. 
 
Casie Becker
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Shad, you've just caused a reorganizing of a full half of the plans for our backyard garden. Now we're going to spend this fall moving cinder blocks from the raised bed where we were building soil for blueberries. Some of them (along with the soil we've built) are going to go to raise my mother's traditional in ground garden bed. The blueberries have now been consigned to being permanent container plants, decoratively positioned on the back porch.

When we move the soil we will lay hardware cloth in that location and then purchase more cinder blocks to make a four layer deep enclosure. Using electrical conduit inserted into the blocks, we shall build the top portion of the coop. By next Easter we will have a functioning chicken coop set up outside our backdoor. This way the compost will be convenient to deliver, and the birds will get frequent socialization as we go about our days.

Prior to seeing your video, the plan was for an eventual large enclosure at the back of the yard some undetermined time in the future. This also moves the mulberry tree that was going to shade the coop up closer to the house so that it will also provide shade to our recreational areas.

I can think of other plans that will end up being rearranged because of this, all to a better flow and comfort level for our family. Thank you for sharing your video. It was both entertaining and informative. I also loved how plump and happy your birds looked.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Nice share,that is great video,one I have seen before.
My chooks are not eating enough!
Bread is getting buried,uneaten,fresh fruit languishes uneaten...
Too much food for two birds,is what I figure.
I have resolved to feed them the meat,bones,stuff that doesn't compost well,and vermicompost the rest,at least until we get more hens.
Here are some more photos:
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Wide veiw
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Interior
IMAG0450.jpg
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Chooks and perch
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1131
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I have put in a nesting box. The rooster loves it so much he doesn't want to share ...
They loved getting out into the yard,scratching for bugs and rolling in the dirt.
The coop-run was filled with compost made up of autumn leaves and green clippings and they didn't seem to like it very much.
So I covered the compost with a layer of soil,left over from the excavation of the coop foundation.
They love it!
It also allows me to bury kitchen scraps after a day or so. This should keep the flies down,and yet allow soil life to turn food scraps into chicken food.
IMAG0461.jpg
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Enjoying the new flooring
 
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