Originally Posted by Chikenbutwut
Chicken coops don't have to cost anywhere near $400. You can find wood at construction sites, at Lowes, at Home Depot, your local lumber yard...ya know, in the scrap piles. You can even check out the town dump. Then there's places that throw away wooden pallets. All of that would be free. People get rid of stuff for cheap on Craigslist too.
As far as not being able to build a coop, they don't have to be anything extravagant. I'm sure if you can build those cute little sheep shacks, you can put together a coop.
A cheaply built run would keep them from pooping in your sheep pasture.
I realize there's a need to cage chickens from time to time for different reasons, but I just don't think they'd be very happy being caged full time. Happy chickens are healthier chickens and wouldn't you want what's best for them?
Just my opinion.
My mom likes to have everything aesthetically pleasing--which means that fancy plywood. My sheep shacks are barely borderline. She's only tolerating them because they are temporary. We will be building a barn this spring. And because I offered to pay for part of it, I get to choose how big it is :D (I'm going with 16x24.)
As for happiness of chickens....I'm not real familiar with poultry. I worked with them for a month at my petting farm job. However, my sheep were confined for 2.5 months last summer in a dry lot, after being on a pasture their entire lives (as little as 2 weeks to as long as 6 years). I can't tell you if they were happy or unhappy about it. I love my sheep dearly--I spend about an hour after feeding just hanging out with them and watching their behavior. I've raised sheep for seven years now and I was taught all my "sheep skills" by my neighbor who had been raising sheep for almost 80 yrs--mostly range flocks out in South Dakota. They were still acting like their usual selves, so I don't think they were unhappy as I would assume they were happy before. I do know they were always happy when they saw me coming for food! They would run around the pen and hop and jump and bleat.
I think if a bird is caged and gets their basic needs provided--protection from predators, food, water, and a nest--they will be more than happy because their needs are being met regardless of how much room they have. I know with most livestock if you provide the feed, their space requirements go way down because they don't have to go out and try to find it themselves. I think poultry wouldn't be too far off.