Hello to all! I am very new to owning chickens, so new that I don't even have them yet! They arrive in early April. I thought I had the coop design decided but now I am rethinking it AGAIN!. After reading many different chicken books, I thought the best option for me was to have the coop attached to the backside of my new greenhouse. This would allow me to let them loose inside the greenhouse in the winter to scratch through cover crops that I will grow for them. But if I choose this option, they will need to be in an enclosed chicken yard during most of the year so they don't destroy my garden and the dogs don't get to them.
I am torn because after reading another good book on chickens, I really do want to free range my chickens in the pasture with my horses. Moving them between the coop and the pasture would be too cumbersome because they are about 100 yards apart.
I know the chickens will benefit greatly from scratching through the pasture and eating all those great bugs in the manure. They would also work for the horses because they would be doubling as pest control.... and last but not least, they would be safer from my dogs if they were in the pasture because the dogs are not allowed in by the horses. (my dogs have never been around chickens before so I am anticipating the worst case scenario)
So my other option is to attach the coop to the horse barn. My worry with this option is predators being drawn to my coop and my horses. What do you all think would be my best option? And would they attract predators big enough to be a threat to my horses? (Hoping there is someone here who lives in northern Minnesota who can share their experiences)
And also would a hot wire fence keep the chickens in the pasture? Thanks so much!!