Thanks for taking me into the "flock" =) What a great forum!
This weekend I ordered 25 chicks from McMurray's (on the advice of a friend.) I'm so excited... I've always wanted chickens for eggs and pets. NOW I'm crazy worried about predators! I know, I know... should have worried about that before clicking that Paypal button. Well, I'm in it now and want to make the best home for them that I can, balancing safety, health and happiness for them. I have a barn that has a 20x10' exterior stall that I can enclose for a coop. The stall is open to the pasture and is also inside of a fence that is 4.5' high... it's a 3 rail with 4x4 wire on the inside. The fenced area is 1/4 - 1/2 acre. The stall and pasture housed a couple of male goats up until about a year ago. (Is there anything I need to worry about putting chickens in after goats?) I wanted to let the chickens, once old enough, free range in this fenced in area. After reading this forums predator section I'm crazy worried the chickens will get eaten! If I build a permanent run will the chickens be happy in there for their whole life? Do you have to rotate chickens on the land that they live? Could I let them free range during the day if I provide them little structures to run under? I won't be getting a rooster. My friends with chickens free range and accept some loss as a fact of nature... not sure I can do that.
Thanks again for such a great forum!