Author Topic: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)  (Read 12014 times)

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)
« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2018, 10:21:19 PM »
Chicken question.

DW and I have plans to purchase some acreage within the next 5 years. She is a reluctant participant but I have her this far along so far. Ok, so she has two friends who live on farms. One said she will never have chickens for two reasons. 1. They smell awful even from far away. 2. They all eventually get killed by predators. 

I have pretty much told my DW not to believe it and I was doing pretty well.  However, she just talked to her other friend whose husband just built a coop and bought chickens.  She told my DW that the chickens smell awful and that they fight over it every day.

So I am currently losing this battle.

What do you all do to eliminate the smell from chickens? Urine smell I suppose.

Jerseyboy

Offline CharlesH

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Re: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)
« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2018, 04:21:27 AM »
Egg layers or meat birds?  Meat birds are no trouble for us at all.  7-8 weeks out the door and we move them daily in a chicken tractor.  They do make a huge mess, but that mess fertilizes the yard and we have never had an issue with smell.  A layer coop can get a bit aromatic if you have a lot of birds.  But again it hasn’t been an issue for us.  We only keep a few and don’t have a problem.  We periodically add fresh straw or wood chips and clean it out once a year.
 
Predators can be an issue...  we have lost eggs to o’possums and chickens to raccoons and dogs.  I am quick with a .22 for the non-pet predators and on the two occasions in 12 years a neighborhood dog killed some, I was friendly but straightforward with the neighbor and received very adequate compensation which motivated them to take better care of their dog.
 
If your spouse is not on board yet with the move, I’d probably wait on the chickens until she is comfortable.  But the birds themselves should work out ok.

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)
« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2018, 06:40:39 AM »
Yes, egg layers.

Thanks for the reply. 

Also, can anyone compare the smell and predation when you compare coop/run to coop/free range?

I would think that free range would cut down on smell and increase death rate from predators. Or does even overnight in the coop generate a lot of excrement?

Thanks,
Jerseyboy

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2018, 06:49:00 AM »
My hens do not stink.  They are probably 100 yards away from the house, and downwind 98% of the time (every so often the wind blows from the south east instead of the north west).  Even going down there close by, I do not smell the stink.
When I clean it out, it stinks.  but I do what is called the deep bedding method - https://www.rootsimple.com/2011/04/deep-bedding-for-chickens/ he advocates not doing it in the hen house, but I do.
I clean it out once a year, usually about now.  And it smells more like compost-y dirt than nasty chicken smell.

My hens also free range for most of the time (we have a new dog who cannot resist chasing the running-squeaky-chew toys, so until we can get her to quit that, the hens are locked up), and while we do loose some to predators, it is not often with the adult hens.

Offline bigbear

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Re: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)
« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2018, 01:11:04 PM »
Nothing evokes memories and emotions quite like smells.  We baked cookies to sell "a cozy home."  I remember the popcorn smell of my first movie theatre experience.  I remember the hospital smell of the operating room during my wife's first C-section.  The first two are vastly overrated (we did sell the house and the movie was "Baby" - mid-80's dinosaur movie).  But they are special memories.  Unfortunately, the chicken coop is the opposite end of that emotional/memory spectrum and evokes the same type of passionate response... 

The TL:DR version:  the odor concern is an overrated emotional response.

Odor was my wife's primary concern too.  We ended up getting a free coop, 6 chickens, and material for a run.  So it's a 'too good to pass up' deal.  But she now agrees that the odor is minimal for the most part.  But there are times when it does smell (and of course she says "I told you so" then!).  As far as I'm aware it's not so much the type of bird, but how you house them that causes any smell.

I'd say three main points:
1. Place your coop down wind.  Ours is fairly close (20' or so) to the basement door, but it's down wind.  But even without the wind we don't smell it (even on the bad days) unless we're within 5-10' feet. 

2. Moisture is the primary catalyst of the smell.  Especially on those damp days of spring.  Not so much in the coop itself (I guess depending on the coop - ours is elevated), but for the run that's more exposed to the weather.  The floor of the run gets wet and the poop starts breaking down.  Then starts evaporating and those little particles get airborne...  But minimizing moisture in the coop itself is a priority.  Make sure it's watertight but has good ventilation.  Not only does it keep the odor level down, but it actually helps the chickens stay warmer in colder weather too.  I just use a 3-4" layer straw/hay in the coop.  It gets changed out every 2-3 months.
* Coop design is important.  The most poop filled spot is under some type of roost.  So make the spot under the coops roost easy to clean.  You'll see some good options with a simple Google search.  I have linoleum flooring in my coop and can open one side of the coop to squeegee out the dirty straw into a trash can for the compost. 

MS - do you have a run that's deep litter too?  Or is it just the coop/hen house?

3. Masking the smell is an option.  There are a ton of aromatic herbs that serves multiple purposes (masking, personal use, beneficial for the chickens, beneficial for the garden...).  I have a good bit of lemon balm and lavender around the coop.  Not a ton of help in the winter/early spring.  But it helps some in the summer/fall. 

Predators - The first winter after I extended our run, we lost the whole flock to a raccoon.  Every other morning was finding a new spot where the raccoon got in.  I finally put a metal roof on the run and haven't had a problem since.  I originally used stapled garden clothe.  Whoops...  Now I leave two traps set near the coop.  My takeaway, don't use garden clothe ("chicken wire").  Use a heavier gage wire.  I scored some free chain link fence for the sides and wrapped a plastic garden fence around that (to make the holes smaller).  Plus make sure the roof is secure too.

Tractors - I used to free range mine quite a bit.  But they started wandering to the neighbors and getting into my garden more than I wanted.  So I made a 6'x12' tractor kind of like this to move around the yard.  What I do a good bit is put the majority of girls in the tractor and let a few free range.  The free rangers typically stay close to the rest of the flock.
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/whats-chicken-tractor/

I'm kind of minimalist when it comes to chicken care (at least compared to some blogs I've seen).  I feed/water/collect eggs daily (<5 minutes).  A couple of times a week they get to hang out in the tractor (the trick is having some table scraps/treats to get them from coop to tractor and vice versa).  Clean/put new straw 5-6 times a year (10-15 minutes).  Dig out some of the build up in the run once/twice a year (30-60 minutes).  Plus I dust the coop 1-2 times a year with DE.

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)
« Reply #35 on: May 05, 2018, 08:00:08 PM »
Great information. Thanks everyone!!

Jerseyboy

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)
« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2018, 08:05:32 AM »
Thanks for the link to the chicken chick site... lots of good info. there... I'll definitely use it when we try our next foray into the world of chicken farming...