Advice on chicken runs/ pasture space?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by wateboe, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. wateboe

    wateboe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 8, 2008
    Lebanon, Ohio
    Greetings. I could certainly use some advice! I recently went from a very small "day-pastured" flock of five chickens who never wandered out of our pastures, to a larger flock (25 birds) full of far-wandering hens. Their night-quarters are wonderful... a very secure five-stall barn. I am tentatively planning to invest in electric netting from Premier than can be moved weekly, rotating it around the barn (there are doors on each side of the barn) so that the flock can be moved from pasture to pasture weekly and still have daytime access to the protection provided by the barn interior. So, here is my first question... how much pasture space should I provide for 25 chickens on any given day? I want them to be happy and healthy in their space, so I would prefer to err on the side of "too much"space rather than "too little." Each pasture space would have three weeks of non-use in between it's one week of use. I would welcome any advice!
     
  2. Nemo

    Nemo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 22, 2008
    N'rn Wisconsin
    Welcome to the forum!

    The standard suggestion is to have at least 10 sq feet per bird in the run. The more you can supply without the fence becoming too much of a burden, the better. And, I don't know if you would need to move it EVERY week... Make something 20x20 and it should have enough greenery for quite a while.

    If the ground is basically grassland, you might also supply a dust-bath box that you can move around with the fence. Just a small something (like a kiddie pool) a few feet across with six-or-so inches of sand. We have sandy soil in our run, and the chooks really love to dig it up and flop around in the hole.
     
  3. wateboe

    wateboe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 8, 2008
    Lebanon, Ohio
    Nemo, nice to meet you!

    Thanks for the help. My budget was hoping that I could start with one roll of electric netting, and it sounds like that will work (insert sigh of relief here!) I will probably add another roll in the spring to ensure that they all have plenty of room. I am guessing that they will be spending most of their time in the barn through our Ohio winter.

    I thought that we were going to go from five birds to eight, but my husband (just can't resist a good deal OR a pretty bird) came home with twelve new birds instead of the expected three. Fortunately, we have space for everyone. Also fortunate for him, I have become quite enamored of the chickens!

    Our hens have created several dust baths in their free-range pastures already, but I will be sure to supplement them in the fenced pens and in the barn this winter. I love to watch them wallow around in the dust bowls!

    Assuming that every-bird makes it through the stress of moving and the winter, we should start the spring with fifteen hens and one very happy rooster. I would imagine that we may add a few more in the spring.

    Do you, or anyone else, have any advice on egg-laying through the winter? I understand that light is the key to keeping the girls productive, but are there any drawbacks to this? We don't need all of the eggs (although they will help pay for feed!) that they could produce... should we give them a break?
     
  4. Nemo

    Nemo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 22, 2008
    N'rn Wisconsin
    If you want eggs through the winter, you'll need to supply 12-14 hours of light during the day. Some people say it's OK, and others say it's good to give them a break for the couple months. I guess it's just a personal choice. A hen is born with all the ova (egg cells) that she will ever have; none are produced after she hatches. But, producing eggs does take a toll on a hen... It takes a lot of energy and resources to produce one.

    We just got our chickens last spring, so we haven't gone through a winter yet. They should start laying pretty soon, and we plan on giving them light... I put a timer on one bank of the fluorescent lights. We don't have any windows in our dog-kennel-turned-chicken-coops, so the light runs all day. When I do get some windows in, I'll put a photo-sensor in the loop so the light only comes on if there isn't enough natural light. We'll see how the chooks do, and change plans if need be.
     
  5. pdpatch

    pdpatch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    In the winter we use a timer on a light, that is set to turn on early in the morning, and we let the go to bed at sundown. Since chickens have poor or no site when it's dark it's easer for the, to find roost with the setting sun.

    In the winter 12 to 14 hours of day light is what is needed. Along with a tempature above 45 for best egg laying.
     
  6. wateboe

    wateboe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 8, 2008
    Lebanon, Ohio
    Thank you both for the winter laying tips. I just realized that I am off-topic, so I think that I will check out the index for all of my other off-topic questions! I wouldn't want to get a reputation as a scofflaw during my first couple of days here [​IMG]

    I really appreciate all of the help!
     

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