Well it’s been over 2 weeks since the great chicken massacre of 2010 and so far we are doing great! Thus far we have only lost 5 chickens and things have been much calmer in the hoop house.
Here are a few lessons we have learned:
- Never put straw in a greenhouse chicken coop! The straw creates a vapor barrier that does not allow the poop to mix with the soil and wood chips. When the hoop house heats up during the day the straw/feces begins to compost and to release ammonia into the environment. Besides smelling really bad, the ammonia is harmful to the chickens and can stress them. Every time I now go into the coop, I am shocked at how “nice” it smells in there. When the carbon to feces mix is off, you can tell as soon as you walk in the door. Simply adding a layer of wood shavings and it soon smells like a pine forest (full of chickens). Also, if you notice any “capping” (a solid layer of poop) you can simply rake the area to spread the poop around.
- Make changes in a very slow and deliberate manner. Chickens do not like change! If you build anything inside the coop, know that it will take time to dismantle it. We made the mistake of building an area out of straw bales that they could sleep in and when we removed it all at once they freaked out! This lead to panic and a “dog pile” in the corner. If you do build a shelter in the coop dismantle it slowly so as not to panic the chicks.
- Don’t make changes close to nightfall. Chickens get very nervous if disrupted or disturbed near dusk. It is very easy to panic them by making changes late in the afternoon and evening. I now try to do all my work in the coop in the morning so they can get use to the changes and calm down before nightfall. I also make every effort to stay out of the hoop house after dark. Any light after dark gets them moving and that leads to dead chickens in the morning.
I’m sure to the seasoned chicken farmer these are, “no-duh” revelations but for a newbie, this is all new stuff.
Thanks for all you support and we will keep you posted on our progress.
Our happy chickens