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#67673 - 03/14/08 04:58 PM Rain/mud question
P. Smith1340 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 94
Loc: Oregon
Hello all-
I was curious what everyone else does for their chickens while its rainy and yucky outside. My girls are in a wire enclosed 12x10 run underneath my deck, with about 5 feet of what used to be grass also in the run. Since being in there, the run has turned to mud (its spring time in the NW, 2 more months of rain at least). There are only 3 hens in the run. I would love to let them free range, but we live in the suburbs and I don't feel like having to go corral them every night to make sure they don't get eaten. They have a coop that I lock them up in at night. What does everyone else do while it's raining? Do ya'all keep them inside? They don't seem to care that they are getting rained on, as they refuse go back in the coop until it's dark (raining or not).

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#67674 - 03/14/08 08:16 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Ckvchestnut Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 06/12/07
Posts: 346
Loc: Canada
I am not an expert on chicken keeping, but I do think that having the run or turnout area should be exposed to sunlight and a good breeze to dry up muddy conditions. As well in my experience, we are always striving for dry footing conditions for our horses' hooves so we implement sand and pea stone to help in soil drainage. So if you don't want to change where you keep your chickens, perhaps you can change the soil conditions. Having a run area on a hill so it drains is also an option. My chickens don't mind minor wet conditions from time to time, but they prefer to rest in drier places. Hope this helps :-)
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Ckvchestnut

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#67675 - 03/14/08 08:25 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Rhea Dean Carter Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/24/03
Posts: 1379
Loc: Tennessee
I keep mine confined to pens inside my barn. The only time they get to go outside is when it's nice and I can be out there to keep an eye on them.
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Rhea Dean

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#67676 - 03/14/08 09:24 PM Re: Rain/mud question
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8489
Loc: Montana
I would not think of letting my birds out in the rain, or when the ground is wet or muddy--or snowy! They are inside all winter, and with a few delightfully sunny days, they have been out in outside pens for a few hours in the afternoon and have enjoyed their bits of greening grass. My runs remain grassy and are watered and mowed during the growing months. The litter in the houses remains dry, never muddy feet to make nests and eggs dirty. The windows in their inside pens (2,3,or 4 birds per pen) gives them light, sun when it shines, and they stretch out and enjoy it when it is wet outside, and dust in their shavings. YEARS ago, when I lived in Oregon, our chickens were never outside in wet or rainy weather. Still, many birds are left to free range in any weather--just not mine! CJR

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#67677 - 03/14/08 10:43 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Good Morning Folks,

I donīt think chickens were designed/meant to be confined!!! I donīt want to quarrel, I just think itīs "not right" to keep them caged/confined, point. After all an average hen runs 1 mile a day if she getīs the chance to do so (source: http://www.awionline.org/pubs/cq02/Cq-chick.html ). Please take a minute to let this sink in: 1 mile a day!!! Please donīt tell me that all your barns and coops are this big...

I agree on that keeping the coop clean is WAY more work when itīs wet outide. I also donīt like it when itīs muddy, sure. But I would never think of confining our birds just to make my work/chores easier. Our birds are out all year round, regardless if itīs sunny or rainy or snowy or windy.


( HQ: http://www.krassesrudel.at/fotos/brahmas/2007/37weekswetguy.jpg )

Best greetings,

Joachim

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#67678 - 03/15/08 12:11 AM Re: Rain/mud question
P. Smith1340 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 94
Loc: Oregon
Sand is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that. Their coop isn't very big (living in suburbia with a small yard isn't conducive to a big coop, or a big flock) so I feel bad keeping them locked up. I remind myself that they are afterall chickens, and as such they should be able to figure out if they're cold and wet to go back inside. What I might try is some kind of portable pen where they can mow a different part of the yard while their run is drying out and the grass is growing back. They are definitely voracious grass eaters! Windows in the coop is also a good idea I hadn't thought of. They have a "skylight" on top, but more windows would be excellent. A mile a day! Wow that's more than I get in a whole week! I'll buy that, they do run/fly around quite a bit, especially at turnout time smile Perhaps I could get them some little yellow rainjackets LOL

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#67679 - 03/15/08 01:34 AM Re: Rain/mud question
RuffEnuff Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 01/27/06
Posts: 1148
Loc: Australia
poultry happily go back to their coop in the evening or when it is raining, once trained...which is easy for most birds.

i live in the tropics and red mud. it is not unusual to get 3 meters of rain a year or months when it takes all day to rain 2mls. 25mls = 1 inch.

i specialize in both indian game (cornish) and pekins (bantam cochin). i loath mud. my pekins are kept on shavings or run free. i try to restrict their freedom if it is raining, especialy if there is no sun and the rain is constant. mobile pens are moved once a day. the birds if not put on shavings are put on newspaper which can be changed twice a day.

the indians seem to thrive in the wet (warm wet) except when little chicks. i only lock them in at night. the large indians need to have their pens mown regularly. the bantams run totally free.

when i had to confine birds to open wet pens i used low grade pasture hay over the mud and just kept adding more on top. when the sun came out i put the hay on the gardens. if you use quality hay it goes mouldy and rotten very quickly which is no good.

if my pens get wet and muddy (like when it rains 5 inches in a night) the birds are on perches in the night and i just open the doors and let them go until the rivers stop. luckily my australian game have very long legs as a few days ago the door caused the water to dam up.

at the moment i am battling the wet and no one can buy dry woodshavings anywhere. but i could not let my birds get grotty in the mud otherwise i would have respiratory disease and the pekins would be no good for show as their footings would be broken. however my old large indian game does not look much better than joachims bird as he sleeps on the floor. however my younger indians have headed for the trees and are perching 8 feet off the ground in the trees and on the roof of their house......not sure which is better for them in the long run. they have low perches but have decided the water might get higher....i hope they are wrong.
k.

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#67680 - 03/16/08 05:27 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Ckvchestnut Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 06/12/07
Posts: 346
Loc: Canada
I have never trained my birds to come in or go out of their coop during warmer weather (wouldn't even know how to). They go out in the rain if they feel like it and go back in their coop or one of the horse shelters if they get caught in the rain. I kind of treat my chickens like my horses, I give them free choice of whether they want to be inside or outside. Mostly it seems that the chickens are quite sensible, they will stay in when they feel like it. Some stay in more than others. As long a there is a sheltered roof in their turnout and you can have the area drained well with good sand or a mixture of sand and pea stone so you can avoid muddy footing, the birds will decide where they want to be.
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#67681 - 03/16/08 10:39 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
My hens use a mobile coop similar to this one.
Mobile coop
When the door is closed it has that handle on it where it is easy to lift and shift on the wheels at the other end. I have a waterproof cover over three quarters of the run, for shelter from sun and rain. Most of the time my hens just free range in the back yard, but I do not have a predator problem to guard against. If it rains my hens have places where they can shelter. They prefer either under the terrace, or under the fig tree which is quite large and has dense leaves in the summer/autumn.
I have found that using a long bamboo stick in each hand, is a good way to get them into a tight bunch and "herd" them into their run. You just move quietly behind them and move them where you want them using the sticks to keep them together and guide them. They catch on fast. To begin with I used temporary plastic netting barriers to direct them into the coop, but I haven't needed those in a long time. I don't show my hens, so a bit of mud is ok with me.
Since you only have three hens, something similar, but perhaps smaller would be a good solution. You could put a daytime roost in the run part and a nest in the hutch part. They could then be returned to their main coop for security at night.
It would be a good way to "tractor" your vege garden if you have one also, otherwise you could simply give them a new piece of lawn each day to eat. If you keep them this way on the lawn though you will have to provide them with a basin of dry dirt to bathe in if you don't want them digging up your lawn in the summer to make a dust bath.

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#67682 - 03/17/08 03:06 AM Re: Rain/mud question
RuffEnuff Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 01/27/06
Posts: 1148
Loc: Australia
foehn you do not have indian game. if you try to herd them their main aim is to go in the opposite direction. if they get close to a tree well it becomes round and round the mulberry bush.

my aussie game a re very different butthey can run faster than me.

by training them it is sort of getting them to know where home is. it is taking them their every night until it clicks in their small brain that it is not a bad place to be....relativly dry with water and food. some times it take 3 days and some times it takes 3 months. with indian game if the new perch is higher than the old one then they like it...if not well it is mind over matter.

sometimes you have to control your impulses when they are being most uncooperative and you feel like scewing their heads off slowly as you are dripping wet and cold and it is nearly dark.

ahhhh those sunny days.
k

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#67683 - 03/17/08 05:48 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Hello psmith and all,

I think the mobile coop is ideal, especially for someone in a suburban backyard. At least you can move them to fresh ground frequently.

I am in full agreement with Joachim - chickens should be outdoors, with free access indoors whenever they want. Our birds, all types, come and go as they please, and mostly it pleases them to be outside. It is very important that they can retreat to some dry, draft-free area - just as important I think as giving them the option of fresh air, sunshine (or rain!) whenever they choose it.

We are also beginning mud season. This is what we did - we covered the path from our house to the coop in hay, the area inside the chicken run and their area outside the run is covered in hay as well. As more snow melts, as more birds poop on the hay, as we trample it into the ground, as it gets rained on, we just add more. It acts as a mulch and I figure over time it will actually raise the level of the ground where they live and walk and create more organic matter for better drainage - not the low lying, hard packed clayish mud we have now. One or two bales goes a long way, and in a month we'll add a couple more. It's keeping things dry, building soil slowly, and encouraging worms for next years chickens.

I think if we aim to keep our birds healthy and happy that they can, or should be able to, deal with a little seasonal stress because it's always something , right? Too cold in winter, too muddy and damp in spring, too hot in summer... All these things change and pass onto some other environmental stress and I really like that our birds just roll with the punches, comfortably.

ruffenuff,

Could you explain further why you would have to train chickens where their home is? We have never had to do this - Indian Games and all. I must say if I had to chase any chicken for three months just to get it to roost in the coop I might give up on chickens all together - I would definately give up on that particular chicken(s). It sounds like a huge pain. I'm really curious why you would stress over this, every evening, sometimes for up to three months. Please don't take offense, I just think there must be a better way, kinder and gentler to your impulses and psyche. Please elaborate, if you don't mind.

Amy

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#67684 - 03/17/08 06:23 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Rhea Dean Carter Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/24/03
Posts: 1379
Loc: Tennessee
Quote:
I am in full agreement with Joachim - chickens should be outdoors, with free access indoors whenever they want.
Unfortunately, not everyone can have the "ideal" situation for their chickens. Mine are confined because that's what works best for me, and it keeps them safe. Although there is a lease law in the county in which I live, not everyone obeys it. Many times I've look out my back door and seen dogs running loose. If my chickens were free ranged, I wouldn't have any chickens very long because the dogs would kill them.
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Rhea Dean

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#67685 - 03/17/08 06:51 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Sorry Rhea Dean, I didn't mean to offend or suggest that everyone's chickens run around willy-nilly. I don't think that's a good idea either. I just don't like the idea of near constant indoor confinement due to inclement weather.

Our birds have a large outdoor run to which they are confined for the summer, but that is to protect the gardens when seedlings are prevelant. If I were not home most of the time, I would not have our birds loose outside of the run like they usually are. But I would still be sure that they HAD a protected run so they had access to fresh air and sunshine whenever they wanted it - winter, spring, summer or fall. Safe from marauding dogs and such but able to get outdoors as well. That's all I'm saying. Not even chickens should be "cooped up" for long periods of time. I firmly believe that fresh air and natural light are two of the healthiest things we could give our birds (not to mention ourselves). Would you agree?

As soon as the snow melts, we are erecting 2 acres of electric poultry netting for our new pastured "run". This is not for everyone, but there is no denying that all sorts of variations could be easily done - small sections of fencing rotated to new ground frequently, portable coops or "tractors", and on and on. There are so many ways to keep birds safe while allowing them to be outside if they so choose. There are as many ways to do this as there are individual situations.

Respectfully,

Amy

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#67686 - 03/17/08 08:13 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Hopewell Offline
Feather

Registered: 01/29/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Georgia
I have a small coop and enclosed run. When rain is predicted, I cover the run with a tarp, and weight it down with rocks or bricks. This also helps keep the feed dry.

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#67687 - 03/17/08 08:14 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Fleta Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 10/24/06
Posts: 157
Loc: Arkansas
some people use saw dust in chicken runs. I get hay and throw in the pen and I don't have to spread it the chickens do it while scratching for seeds.
Not everyone can let the hens run free. Mine would not last a day because of neighbor hood dogs.
I have 2 dog pens attached to my hen house and I have to spread hay to stop mud from being a problem.
The chicken tractor is a good idea if you can use one but I can't lift any weight because of age and health.
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Fleta

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#67688 - 03/17/08 11:00 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Good Evening,

interesting sidenote on loose running dogs, this totally surprises me! Come on, you must be kidding. Youīre really saying you take away the possibility (Iīd prefere the term "right", Iīd say chickens have the right to forage, but unfortunatly chickens donīt have lawyers!;-) to forage/excercise/free range because of some ignorant neighbours dog??? Youīre really saying that people either donīt have chickens at all because itīs forbidden, or the few that have chickens must confine them because of neighbours dogs running loose, shouldnīt this also be forbidden, loose running dogs I mean? It sounds to me as if not rain and mud is a problem in these cases but rather some loose running dogs. There are several ways to "solve" such a "dog- problem", BTW;-)

Best greetings, hope I didnīt offend anybody! If I sounded rude or started a quarrel simply remove my posting;-)

Joachim

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#67689 - 03/17/08 01:17 PM Re: Rain/mud question
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
No quarrels here Joachim. My chickens have the choice of staying out in the rain or getting under cover. Most of the hens run for cover when it starts raining and stay dry but the roosters seem to like the rain and sometimes get soaked -- it's probably the only time the roosters get cleaned. The run dries fairly quickly, and the hens seem to especially love the wet dirt after a rain (more bugs & worms?).

I put quartz-sand in the run and fill the dust bath holes often to combat the mud or setting water. It is the cleaned "children's sandbox" sand. Also, my run is at a slight incline so water drains well (except for the new holes).

Chris

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#67690 - 03/17/08 01:41 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Fleta Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 10/24/06
Posts: 157
Loc: Arkansas
I live out side the city limits so we don't have laws about dogs running loose. I could shoot the dogs but I am so old I can't despose of the bodys . There are at least 15 dogs running here all the time.
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Fleta

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#67691 - 03/17/08 02:49 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Rogo16 Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 439
Loc: Arizona
I happen to believe it's not healthy to keep any critter in an enclosed building. If I were to obtain a property with a barn, the doors would be left open and if they choose to do so, the critters would use it as a shelter.

I don't have a coop. My poultry roam free. Perimeter of acreage has a fence. I wouldn't keep poultry if they had to be confined since their main job is to keep the insect population down around here.

I've only lost one bird to a predator and that was many years ago. It was a bantam. I quit keeping bantams!

The birds have shelters if they want to use them. It rarely rains here. The birds are out in all kinds of weather if they choose to be. They only head for shelter if it's a torrential downpour.

I only let the birds hatch eggs in the winter since summers are too hot for the hens to comfortably set. Haven't lost any babies. All healthy.

My large livestock also roam free; have shelters if they want to use them.

I have no sickness/diseases/vet bills.

My dog protects the livestock.

Just my opinion.
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Rogo

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#67692 - 03/17/08 03:35 PM Re: Rain/mud question
P. Smith1340 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 94
Loc: Oregon
Hi all, thanks for all the advice! We just bought this place, and put the run and the coop together so I think when we put in a garden and do some landscaping in the backyard, we're going to extend the run to give them a bit more room, and put in some drains and some sand. The mobile coop is exactly what I was thinking, with only 3 hens it wouldn't have to be huge and they could have fresh grass everyday. I would love to let them run loose, that's how I was raised, but then again we had 40 acres and lots of protective dogs. We lost more than a fair share to coyotes and mountain cats and other predators though, so I guess that's the price the chickens pay for having free run capabilities. Maybe the next place we get will have acres and I can have a few more smile But for now, I will be happy with my 3 little mutt hens. laugh

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#67693 - 03/18/08 05:35 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Sorry for getting off your topic a little, psmith!

I just want to stress that there must be a happy medium between letting chickens run completely free, vulnerable to every predator known to man, and being shut indoors for months or weeks to "protect" them from bad weather or predators. A run, any kind of run that fits the situation, with the chickens deciding when to be in or out is a humane solution.

There are many posts in this thread that really resonate with me. Take cgmcgary and his city chickens. Certainly they are not roaming free like bison on the prairie, but he has an amazing run and lets his birds choose if they want to be in or out. It's that simple.

I would honestly like to know why people could not build a dog proof run and let the chickens choose. Or why a chicken must live inside a coop all winter long or can't get rained on or step in the mud. We all love birds, I don't doubt that. People on this forum, in this thread, are way more experienced than I. I just can't wrap my brain around it. I want to understand the reasoning behind the management, that's all. And I think it's important to have these discussions where we strongly disagree - with respect and no offense.

By the way, on the mud issue, covering the run with a tarp during wet weather is a great idea!

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#67694 - 03/18/08 01:29 PM Re: Rain/mud question
Henry the First Offline
Bantam

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 61
Loc: Ohio
I live in NE Ohio - we have gone from 0-60 this year by the week almost!. No snow on the ground to 2+ feet in a week.

My birds have not appreciated the snow until this winter,,where they MIGHT put a foot outside the cosy coop for a few minutes (if the sun is out!).
If the snow is really deep I will shovel a large area for them to go out into - it is their choice.

My birds have a DRY, warm big coop to live in no matter what the weather.

I do not think that they should live in damp wet conditions no matter what..and show birds need to be kept high and dry wink

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#67695 - 03/18/08 01:36 PM Re: Rain/mud question
P. Smith1340 Offline
Chicken

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 94
Loc: Oregon
Hi Upback-
I agree, I grew up on a farm where chickens did one of two things (and sometimes both). They either produced eggs, or they produced meat, and that was it. They weren't pets at all, they were just chickens smile I got my 3 because as I've grown up, I miss living on the farm. I now have my own house, kind of out in the country, but in the middle of town if that makes sense. We don't have a huge backyard or any acres, so I can't have goats and turkeys or anything (much to my boyfriends dismay LOL). The girls were living inside in a big cardboard box all winter because I got them in November and we were in the middle of moving and hadn't built the coop yet. The run could have been better planned out, but its only chicken wire and metal posts so it won't be too hard to enlarge a bit and add some sand for drainage. A tarp is a good idea, except the chickens run is mostly underneath our deck. I could cover the other part thats exposed with one though. I think I baby them a little too much, but I didn't want them to get sick as they are mutt chickens that came from an auction somewhere for .25 each and they weren't the hardiest bunch from the getgo smile I hate keeping them "cooped" up though, so as soon as I solve the drainage issue I think they'll be a lot better off.

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#67696 - 03/20/08 08:12 AM Re: Rain/mud question
J. Henderson Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 674
Loc: New York
If the expression "mad as a wet hen" has any merit, some of our hens are quite mad.

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#67697 - 03/21/08 03:16 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Jocelyn Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/02
Posts: 1467
Loc: Canada
WE had freezing rain today and most of the chickens were out. Every so often, they will shake like a dog to get a little drier. They don't seem to get wet through, as they are pretty downy under all the feathers. Perhaps birds that are out all year feather up more? The barn is always open, but it only seldom they are inside.

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#67698 - 03/27/08 05:10 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Dee Dee Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 11/19/02
Posts: 174
Loc: Maryland
My chickens do not like a pouring rain but happily putter about the yard when it is not raining hard. They even adjust to the snow. I have no problems with wet bedding in the coop but it is a good sized one and is a deep litter system. I keep straw in my runs, and replenish it regularly. I too am not comfortable with keeping my hens continually confined but I do not have show birds and do keep an eye on them when they free range. Hope you find a solution, constant mud is not a good idea.

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#67699 - 03/27/08 09:47 AM Re: Rain/mud question
Eva Offline
New Egg

Registered: 09/16/07
Posts: 5
Loc: Tennessee
Our chickens are out almost all the time in all weather, pecking around even in heavy rain, going in and out as they please, and always very happy. I get worried sometimes when the run gets very muddy for several days, but I've taken to spreading an inch or two of wood chips or shavings every few weeks, and that keeps the mud down and keeps it from smelling 'barnyardy.' I guess going back to composting principles of having a reasonable carbon/nitrogen/moisture ratio has cross-applications for chicken runs smile

And they peck around in the wood for worms and bugs, which keeps them occupied on the rare days when they're just confined to the run.

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