Chickens are not legal in the suburban neighborhood where I live. However, I'm not letting that stop me! I've been keeping Coturnix quail in my basement for 6 months and I have loved having the birds and eggs. We recently hatched 2 Bantam Cochin chickens and 5 more Coturnix quail. They are all in my basement right now. We have a nice sized garage that I have turned into "The Barn" and I hope to transition all of them out there now that the weather is getting warmer. I have a few large dog crates and a rabbit hutch that I was planning on keeping them in at night, and they can "free range" in the enclosed garage, but I feel like wherever I keep them - the basement or the garage - they are locked away in the dark like little vampires! I want them to feel the sun and eat the grass and chase bugs!!!
So, I'm planning on making a chicken tractor that's somewhat disguised as a kid's playhouse for them to graze in. I have read that chickens each need 4 sq ft inside and 10 sq ft outside. This means that for just the chickens, the playhouse (tractor) needs to be at least 4'x5' (20 sq ft), which is a great size for an adorable kid's playhouse. But if I was to make room for the quail in there, too, then I would need to add another 20 sq ft. That's too big. My yard is fenced, but I cannot EVER have a runaway chicken in my neighborhood since I'm not supposed to have them anyway. I don't expect to completely keep the birds as a secret from my neighbors, but I hope to keep their sound and smell and nuisance to such a minimum that they won't care that I have them.
Anyway, I guess my real question is, do you think I could let the chickens and the quail alternate one day in the tractor, then one day in the garage? Chickens, quail, chickens, quail, etc, etc... Or will this confuse the birds and stress them out? Or should I just scrap the whole playhouse disguise idea? Will being in the garage in the relative darkness be bad for them? I worry about their egg production.
Oh, also, I live in the great lakes area, so winter is awful here and it rains a lot - like, literally more than Seattle - so they will need to be inside starting in the fall.
Here's pictures of what I've got.
2'x2' rabbit cage on left with 3 adult quail, Rubbermaid Brooder on right with 5 quail chicks & 2 bantam chicks, above to the left is a bird cage where I'm keeping my trouble maker adult quail. She's in time out.
Here's the additional cages I have in the garage. 2 large dog crates and 1 chicken hutch. All are about 2'x3'. You can see the area in front of the cages is where they would "free range" inside the garage.
Exterior of garage. I will use that entire side of the garage as "The Barn."
Input & advice is welcome! Thanks!