Problems with my new coop

msjay2u(7)August 22, 2008

Well I am just full of problems this morning.As some of you regulars know I was having problems getting my chicken coop finished. Now that it is finished I have identified some problems that I would like your help with.

1- I made a box for the chickens to go in. it sits about 4' off the ground and I made a ramp for them to climb into it. No photo of the ramp since my camera is not working. The amp is just a long board that I stapled 1x1s on for them to be able to get up the ladder without slipping. Here is a photo of the coop:

I tried putting the chickens in there and they just run down the ramp back to the ground. they sleep on the ground too. How can I remedy that? When it gets cold they have no where to go to keep warm!

2> I made this feeder for them and they love it. It holds about 10 lbs of feed. Problem: when I got back from being away for two weeks I notice there were a lot of bugs (like flour bugs) in the feed. is it okay to leave the feed and let the chickens eat it?

should I make the tube shorter to hold less feed or is it okay as is?

3- water. I been using this little water feeder I got from Walmart. It is very similar to this but no bubbles:

problem is that the chickens poop in the water and make a mess of it. The waterer is sitting on the ground, I tried putting it on a block of wood ad the same thing. What do you guys use for water and how do you keep it clean?

last problem is with snacks...

I put in a cob of corn whole because I heard chickens love that. they have not touched it. I put a tomatoe in there yesterday. I poked a hole in it and exposed some of the tomatoe meat. they poked at it bt to my disappointment today I checked and they did not eat it either. what are some good treats for the chickens? I thought they ate just about anything! Not mines!

Okay thats all the problems for now. I am sure more will crop up later.

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Ok, let's see what I can do with some of these questions. From my experience and reading . . .

1) Chickens are roosters. I mean, they roost. Before they were domesticated, they would fly into trees and spend the night on branches/roosts. This has not been bred out of them. It would be best if you provided them some sort of roosting opportunity in the coop. I have about 85 chickens right now (and 5 guineas)that live in my 16'x16' coop. I have about 24 linear feet of perch space that they all sleep on. Some will pass that up and sleep on the tops of nest boxes, others on top of the garbage cans I use to hold feed, others on the ground, but the vast majority roost.

Along those lines, how big is the coop and how many birds do you have? The picture makes it look like a small elevated box with little head room that's open to the elements, 1/3 of the floor space taken up by a nest box, and no litter. This isn't too inviting to a chicken. A dark, private place to lay is what they prefer and a follow a MINIMUM square footage coop requirement per bird as offered in any good chicken raising book. I believe the small quarters, lack of roosts, and open-air feel are not inviting to the birds. However, when it gets cold, they will congregate in an area together. It will likely be up in your coop, but I wouldn't count on it. I've gone out to batton down the hatches in terrible wind and rain storms to find a group of 5 birds on the ground in the mud just getting pummeled by the rain. The smartest birds they aren't.

2) Leave the food. No problems. I'm surprised you found bugs. Your chickens should enjoy eating them up.

3) Yup. An open waterer like this will allow chickens to walk in and of course poop in the water. At a farm supply store you'll find poultry waterers that are designed for poultry (of course). They have a narrow space of an inch or so where the water comes out of so chickens have no ability to get in the water and foul it. Plastic ones will cost you about 5$ for a gallon waterer. Metal ones will cost about $30 for a 5 gallon one that will hold water a long time without a lot of refills.

4) Snacks. Crazy chickens. They should be all over the corn and tomatoes. How long have the snacks been in there. Often I will throw a bunch in and they won't pay attention to it. Then, I'll come home from work 8 hours later and it will all be gone. They could be full from having feed given them free choice as opposed to only being fed once or twice per day like I do (but they feed themselves on the pasture). Try not giving them feed free choice, but only twice per day. This way it will be cheaper for you as they aren't eating as much, they will be HAPPY to see you, and they will probably devour your treats when you offer them.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 12:11PM
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I wrote a response to this and once again forgot to post after previewing. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Imma try again...

My coop is about 4.5'x12' If memory serves me. I did put a 1x4 board with litle cross pieces every 4" or so to help with the traction of climbing. I only have 2 chickens. I alse have a brach in there but i have yet to see them on it.

The box is about 4' wide, 3' deep and 30" high. When I took this photo it was before the chickens were in it. I do have straw in it. Also if you notice on the photo there is a door that has a hinge on the top and and I have it propped open via an eye screw in the ceiling and a bungie cord. I did lower it some today to see if they will like that more. Maybe I should cut it in half and leave half of it down?

The "nesting box" on the left takes up about a 1/4 of the space.

Last time I went to the feed store I couldnot find a waterer less than $5 which is the most I am willing to spend. Maybe I need to check other feed stores.

The chickens did eat the tomatoes after all but the corn has been out there for 2 weeks now and still not eaten.

Maybe I will take the feeder out of the cage and put it back at certain times. Maybe then they will be happy to see me coming. I never thought of that. I did find they like cooked rice. I tried that a couple of weeks ago and they did not hesitate to eat that!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 11:27PM
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My chickens wouldn't eat anything but feed when I first got them either. After grinding up several zucchini, they learned to like it and will now eat it cut into quarters. They devour the whole thing now.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 3:20PM
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I always put a little food grade diatomaceous earth in all my feed for the chickens and the goats. I noticed yesterday all those mealy worms or whatever they are in the chicken feed are dead. so to all who wondered, it works.

what are some good treats to feed the chickens. I think they will look forward to me coming if I bring treats often.

also if anyone made their own waterer cheaply and it works can they send photos so I can see how it looks? I just think that everything became too commercialized and sometimes it is better to make your own.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 3:30PM
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flowersnhens(Maine 4)

my chickens love watermelon, corn, peas, rice, pasta, bread, berries, PLAIN YOGURT, cantelope, sunflower seeds, etc.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 4:04PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Regarding the waterer, can you drill holes in the corners of a piece of wood that will fit over the water area of the one shown? If you put bolts, or the equivalent, in the holes (extending down beside the sides of the waterer "basin") so the wood won't shift, then there will be only a small area to drink out of - if you don't make the top area level, then they won't walk on it and be able to poop in the water - you might need to cut a small semicircle out of the wood to allow access to the water at the front edge.... You would be able to pick up the piece of wood to empty, clean and refill the waterer as needed. Which hopefully won't be every day!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 7:03PM
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Well I have a little progress to report. I lowered the door on the coop until it was nearly closed. I figued they can climb the ramp and go under the door. when I went out there today they had been in it. How do I know? they had knocked helf the straw out all over the floor. so that worked. Maybe I should keep the door closed, take the net off the opening and attach the ramp so they can go inside through the hole??? also with the door completly closed I will have to remember to check it every day for eggs. None have been laid yet. They just got started on the layer crumbles.

here is how it is now with the door closed:

I am thinking of how I can add some roosts in the larger pen that they would actually use. I thought they would use the ramp to roost on. NOT. oh which reminds me I said I put the treads 4' apart but I meant 4" apart. makes a big difference...

I am not sure what happened to my camera and it is really becoming a hinderance to me cause now I can't take photos so you guys can see what I am talking about. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

flowersnhens... they did not take to the corn too well. I might try sunflower seeds since I was thinking of mixing them in the feed for the goats. do I use whole seeds or shelled seeds? Remember my chickens are only about 3 months old.

dibbit...I was thinking of scratching the waterer I have totally and starting fresh.

The wateres I found in the feed store look something like this:

I don't remember how much it was but it was close to $30!!

I am thinking of getting a large plastic jar, if I can find one, glue it to a bucket lid or some kind of lid, poke holes in the bottom perimeter of the jar and see if that works. I though about using a milk jug since it is food grade but I see problems in filling it up since the opening is so small. so I need to find a large mouth jar with a handle preferably that will fit on a bucket lid or some kind of lid.

anyone with any ideas??? The jar would have to be food grade of course. I can not think of anything that comes in a large mouth jug with a handle.
also what kind of glue would I use that is safe for animals and will keep the parts together.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 7:46PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Sam's, and probably any such store (CostCo, Trader Joe's, restaurant supply places), sells Quick (the chocolate powder) in 5 lb yellow plastic jugs, large mouth with a handle. It may only be 4.5 lb. or less, I don't now remember, but it should do for you. If it has Quick in it, it must be food-grade....

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 9:24PM
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I have a waterer like the one in your last picture and they get it dirty too, I put it on a block of wood and that helped a bit but they poo on everything. It is frustrating cause I feel like I can't leave them unattended for long. Mine eat corn and most every other scrap I give them and they really do like a place to roost.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 10:51AM
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we use the lids that come with the lick tubs for the cows, they are about 2.5 to 3 ft wide and haver a lip around them, i havent figured out anything ele to do with them, and they make great feed pans, i use 4 of them, to feed everyone on, we also have a 5 gallon waterer, but i hang mine up about 6 or so inches off the ground, they tend to not make such a mess, when some of the chickens were smaller than the others, i put a 2x4 beside it so the young ones could reach the water. roosts are very important, them hens stake out territory as the sun starts going down, they all want on the highest roost. also to get the hens to start laying in the boxs, i put golf balls in the nests, and they went right behind and started laying thier eggs in the boxs too, every great once in a while, i will find one on the ground. i give them all of our vegetable scraps, except potatoe peels, and hay, they love to scratch and pick through it.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 5:00PM
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hmmmmm a cow --lick--tub. Well I am not sure of anyone else but I have no freaking idea what a cow lick tub is. LOL.

yeah I am going to play with the roosts this weekend and see if I can entice them more.

can I get some roost ideas? photos?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 3:41PM
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