I am a retired Los Angeles County Fire Captain. We moved to Sedona two years ago. Illness has slowed our plan to get chickens. Previous owners of our property built a 10x20 foot chain-link dog run we plan to use to enclose a coop. I buried 1/4 inch galvanized wire fabric 6 inches into the ground inside the enclosure and around the perimeter to keep out local predators (coyotes, bob-cats, fox, puma, and hawks). Juniper trees shade part of the area where the coop will go. We will be attending a "chicken class" in Cottonwood later this month to school us in the best ways to raise chickens in this area.
How should we prepare the ground within the chain-link area. Right now it is raw Sedona (red rock) dirt.
Are electrified fencing systems effective to keep out predators?
What do folks do when they go on vacation. Who waters and feeds the girls? Do they use local kids or neighbors?
Are automatic feeders or watering systems effective?
What is the best coop to house 4 to 5 hens and are there plans available?