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Beginner questions about coops, runs, and free-ranging

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

We are currently looking at 3-5 acre properties in our area.  Some are heavily wooded, and some are farmland that was subdivided for housing, so they are basically acres and acres of grass.  We would lean more toward wooded properties because I'm not looking to take up mowing as a part time job.  I was digging around on Google images and came up with this thread:

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/hcarlsonlewiss-chicken-coop

 

This is definitely along the lines of what I would envision based on the kind of property we're looking for.  However, I wonder how this type of environment is for free ranging?  Everything I've read says to give your chickens the opportunity to eat as many bugs, worms, etc...as possible, so I want to make sure they have a large run, but can they forage as effectively in leaf litter as they would in lush grass?  We aren't really looking to keep many chickens.  Just enough to supply us with about a dozen eggs a week/give away any we don't use.  

post #2 of 2

They will find bugs and worms just about anywhere you put them. They prefer a combination of sun and shade so full meadows are not really the ideal unless your coop is raised so they can get shade. Personally I like a few trees in the run for them, they really gravitate to hanging out under low branched spruce and lilac bushes.

 

Now that I've had a portable electric fence for two seasons I can adamantly suggest getting one. It's as close as you can get to free ranging without losing birds to ground predators or having them wander onto neighbors yard. Truly an excellent product. There are pos/neg netting that wont ground out as easily and can be kept up through snow. That's one thing I wish I'd known but am happy with what I got.

 

So if you keep in mind a portable coop to build either with wheels to push or runners to tow with lawn mower the forage area can be changed on bi-weekly basis. Going around trees it takes me alone about hour and half to move everything, only 45 minutes if in open field. That's with 164' X 4' netting with hotgate. Premiere fencing is a good place to check this option out and they have great customer care to answer any questions. My setup which is far larger than you'd want/need for so few birds is 164' fence kit (comes with extra thicker corner posts), hotgate, .5 joule dual source charger kit (plug or battery dual source and kit comes with all connection, ground rod and volt meter) put me back around $380.

 

For a dozen eggs a week you'd only need two layers. If going hatchery pullets you'd pick up from local feed store in spring then you can expect laying of 7-10 days straight then a day off from each bird. Laying slows down in darker months and you can always loose a bird and birds do like to flock so might as well get four.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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