Hi All,

I'm new here and trying to do my research before I jump into the chicken venture--I'd like 3 or 4 hens.  I have a small yard divided into three sections....a garden section, a small lawn (10x40), and a 15x60 section with wood chips, my daughter's slide, and a few plants in a VERY narrow garden along a "hot wall". 

I love the chicken tractor idea and I do want to avoid smell, but I'm afraid of killing my lawn...I do have 2 young daughters and I'd like them to still be able to play on the grass.  How does your grass do here with a chicken tractor?  Does the high nitrogen kill it?  Also, how to you avoid smell in a coop?  One last question--everyone says to clean the coop every __________ days/weeks/etc depending, but how exactly do you do that? 

Thanks!

Kari

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Kari - I just built a 8x5 coop with a raised roost and now have 6 chickens. I planned for 3, but friends gave me chickens as gifts!! Be careful about your enthusiasm :-) I've only had them for about a month but I went with "self-composting" flooring -- Dimaceous Earth (DE) and woodchips and after a month it's still fresh looking/smelling. Summer will be the test, of course. In the roosting box (5'x1' space), I have straw and I've had to clean that each week. But it's raised and really easy to  pull the dirty straw out and add new. I'll post a pic of my coop ... before I got my chickies. By the way -- I put a door on the outside of the roost (accessible from the outside) so I don't have to go into the coop to clean it -- I'm really lazy.

Thanks for the info!  I see you have your coop in a shady spot (It looks great!)....I have two options for mine 1) along the south side of our neighbor's house (the "hot wall") or on the north side of our house which is mostly shady.  I've heard chickens do well on a south wall, but I also wonder where these people live....I'm afraid they would roast!  Thoughts?

Also do you compost the straw from the roost?

Thanks for all the great info!

I'm not sure about the heat ... good question. I have moved the coop to a little sunnier spot ... an agriculturist told me I might consider a lamp for 18 hours of light ... which is best for chickens and egg production. So far, I'm getting 5 eggs a day with 6 chickens, so I'm not too worried about kicking up the production. Seems good to me. Re sunlight - I'm from Ohio and there is NO sun most days of the year, so I figure it's hard to really go wrong in NM. No matter where I put the roost, they'll get way more sun than chickens in the east. Lucky ducks (btw, my chickies are offended when I call them that).
The chickens will kill the grass with thier scratching. They dig for bugs and love a nice hole to dust bathe in...so dont worry about the nitrogen killing the grass, it will never get the chance!  I use the deep litter method in the coop and only have to clean it a few times a year. There is alot of info on the web on deep litter method. Have fun!

And it doesn't stink only cleaning it a few times a year?  (I have a husband with a sensitive nose :).....)

What's the size of your coop and how many chickens do you have?

Thanks so much!

Kari

not at all. smells like the pine shavings and straw I use in the coop.  My main coop is about 8x8 with a large outside run. I have 14 hens and 1 rooster in there. The only time it has had any odor is when it was so cold recently and they refused to leave the coop for a few days. The key to that method is good ventilation. deep litter, and keeping it mixed up. The mixing I let the chickens do by spreading some treats and letting them scratch for it
Cool coop!
If you wanted to do a tractor you could, but just build a chicken run and put the tractor inside the run - thats the set up we used to have. When I had seven hens against my neighbors fence we cleaned the tractor out about every other month - and no one ever complained. I would strongly suggest the south wall over the north. Chickens are really easy - just dive in - it wont take you long to get your own routine going!

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