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Thread: Some Newbie Questions

  1. #1
    cuffbertt is offline Seedling
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    Default Some Newbie Questions

    Morning all

    After thinking about it for the last few months, weve decided that wed like to rehome some ex-battery hens. Weve never kept any chickens before and we live in a semi-detached house in the middle of a town, so were thinking well get three hens and build a coop and run for them in the garden.

    I have quite a bit of timber left from a shed I built back in the spring, so I want to use this to build the run. Ive got a few questions to start with (I have so many questions, but Ill just start with the ones for the run lol).

    Is it ok to build the run on concrete and then fill it with a couple of inches of wood chip (not bark!), or is a grass/dirt base better? We have a patch of concrete on the back of an out building which is about 1.5x3m in size and is in a good location for us. I could put it on the grass nearby but then theres all the issues with the wood rotting out against the wet ground, and having to bury the mesh to stop foxes etc. Alternatively I could build it half on concrete and half on grass so that there is dirt for them to scratch about in, but concrete for them to stand on when its wet and boggy, plus I guess cleaning up discarded food is easier on the concrete bit.

    Does the run need to be covered from rain? I was thinking of using some Onduline sheets to cover the run to stop it getting really messy when it rains, but I dont know if its better just to cover a bit of the run and leave the rest open to the elements?

    Sorry to waffle on, like I said Ive not kept hens before and I want to make sure I get it right so the hens can have happy and healthy retirement. There will be more questions to come once I've built the run

    Cheers,

    Carl
    veggiechicken and Gillykat like this.

  2. #2
    Norfolkgrey's Avatar
    Norfolkgrey is offline Mature Fruiter
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    Default

    I think having them on grass is nicer but concrete is fine. Just make sure they get plenty of grit in their diet and perhaps a sand/soil box so they can scrab and bath and make a mess.

    To be blunt 'chickens are stupid' make sure you have a water/ weatherproof section. Just a tarp thrown over is fine. I really am not understating how stupid they are. I had some lovely Jack Frosted chickens this week as they did not have the sense to go in where it is warm.

    Go with what you think will work for you. Sounds like it will be fab when it is done

    Last tip - creocote the wood to stop mite
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  3. #3
    Scarlet's Avatar
    Scarlet is offline O'Hara
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    I agree that chickens on grass is nicer but it doesn't stay as grass for long on a small dedicated area. So a concrete run would be fine and then when you are home and pottering in the garden you can let them out occasionally.
    Sand/dirt box is ideal. I used to put mite powder in mine and they will do the job for you.
    Covered run is ideal.
    You will need to change the wood chip often, though you will get plenty of compostable stuff.
    If you are building a coop -think of easy ways to clean out...bending down, scraping out corners etc can be a pain. Not sure how big a coop you are thinking - they don't really need a huge amount of coop space and it can just be a simple box, the less joins the better...best to have more outdoor area. But a pull out floor so that cleaning out is easy is a good option.
    Make sure the nest box is dark - and preferably sticking out with a lid for easy egg access - rather than having a box inside which encourages sleeping on top of it or in it. They should perch - this helps with redmite. Sat in boxes or lying on the floor is a magnet for them.

  4. #4
    veggiechicken's Avatar
    veggiechicken is online now Warning!! Contains Nuts
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    Hi Carl.
    I have 3 rescue hens. They moved to a new area in the garden last year and their run was built from scratch . Photos at https://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/gr...ml#post1577004

    They live in a dog kennel https://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/dogs/..._kennel/408907 (large size) which is very easy to clean out and pressure wash when needed.
    The wooden shed/coop they were in before was a nightmare to clean out (too big, overlapping timbers for red mite) and I wouldn't go back to it now.
    The plastic one needed a few modifications - like a removable door so I could shut them in at night. They have an external nest box made from 2 tiers of a wormery.

    Their feed is in a treadle feeder https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-GALVA...-/283283644048 on a coffee table to keep it off ground.

    You need a water container as well and that's about it.

    Happy Chickening
    Make 2019 the Year of Random Seed sowing
    All we are saying is..........Give seeds a chance.
    @realveggiechicken

  5. #5
    cuffbertt is offline Seedling
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolkgrey View Post
    I think having them on grass is nicer but concrete is fine. Just make sure they get plenty of grit in their diet and perhaps a sand/soil box so they can scrab and bath and make a mess.

    To be blunt 'chickens are stupid' make sure you have a water/ weatherproof section. Just a tarp thrown over is fine. I really am not understating how stupid they are. I had some lovely Jack Frosted chickens this week as they did not have the sense to go in where it is warm.

    Go with what you think will work for you. Sounds like it will be fab when it is done

    Last tip - creocote the wood to stop mite
    Thanks I am now thinking I'm going to build it half on the concrete and half on the grass, so that they can go on the dirt if they want. Thanks for the tip on the creocote, I have half a tin of that left from the shed too, so I'll use that

  6. #6
    cuffbertt is offline Seedling
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlet View Post
    I agree that chickens on grass is nicer but it doesn't stay as grass for long on a small dedicated area. So a concrete run would be fine and then when you are home and pottering in the garden you can let them out occasionally.
    Sand/dirt box is ideal. I used to put mite powder in mine and they will do the job for you.
    Covered run is ideal.
    You will need to change the wood chip often, though you will get plenty of compostable stuff.
    If you are building a coop -think of easy ways to clean out...bending down, scraping out corners etc can be a pain. Not sure how big a coop you are thinking - they don't really need a huge amount of coop space and it can just be a simple box, the less joins the better...best to have more outdoor area. But a pull out floor so that cleaning out is easy is a good option.
    Make sure the nest box is dark - and preferably sticking out with a lid for easy egg access - rather than having a box inside which encourages sleeping on top of it or in it. They should perch - this helps with redmite. Sat in boxes or lying on the floor is a magnet for them.
    I think I'm going to build the run and then half a small section of grass next to it fenced off so that I can let them out for a bit more space when I'm in the garden, but without them demolishing my veg patches or killing off the other half's flowers, as that would not make me popular!

    I think the coop is going to be 3x3ft, as mesh I'll use comes in 3ft wide rolls. This means the distance between the vertical supports on the run will also be 3ft, and I'll use these as the corners of the coop. Do you think 3x3 is too big? Does it make it harder for them to keep warm? I've read that 1 square foot per chicken is right, but that seems tiny! Better too big than too small I guess, and that way I'm future proofed if I want more hens
    Norfolkgrey and Gillykat like this.

  7. #7
    cuffbertt is offline Seedling
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    Quote Originally Posted by veggiechicken View Post
    Hi Carl.
    I have 3 rescue hens. They moved to a new area in the garden last year and their run was built from scratch . Photos at https://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/gr...ml#post1577004

    They live in a dog kennel https://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/dogs/..._kennel/408907 (large size) which is very easy to clean out and pressure wash when needed.
    The wooden shed/coop they were in before was a nightmare to clean out (too big, overlapping timbers for red mite) and I wouldn't go back to it now.
    The plastic one needed a few modifications - like a removable door so I could shut them in at night. They have an external nest box made from 2 tiers of a wormery.

    Their feed is in a treadle feeder https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-GALVA...-/283283644048 on a coffee table to keep it off ground.

    You need a water container as well and that's about it.

    Happy Chickening
    I saw your photos before I started planning my run, it was really helpful so thanks for posting them up!

    I did read that a plastic coop can be pressure washed out which makes it easier, but I couldn't justify spending 300 beer tokens on one so I thought I'd use wood. Good to hear that you can use a plastic dog kennel though, so I'll definitely have a look at those.

    Is your nest box not attached to your coop then? I wasn't aware that this was an option so that's good to know!
    veggiechicken likes this.

  8. #8
    Logunner is offline Sprouter
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    Default

    Had mine on concrete, and used to throw a roll of turf in every couple of months to give em something to scratch..

    Used hemp in the roosting boxes, had them raised upon straw bales. Straw lasted years and the hemp made great compost.

    Grit, grit and more grit dropped in piles so they have something to scratch in.
    Scarlet likes this.

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