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Can I run my set-up idea by you?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chanamarie, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. chanamarie

    chanamarie Out Of The Brooder

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    We're planning on getting eggs to incubate next month. This is the idea I'm currently floating around in my head for the set-up...please let me know any pros/cons you can think of!

    We have a coop with a small fenced area around it (very small - too small for that to be it for them). I was originally looking to build a larger fenced area around it, but am now interested in getting the 'omlet chicken fencing' https://www.omlet.us/shop/chicken_keeping/omlet_chicken_fencing/#buy_now
    and moving that to a new area every day (we have a large yard). They would then be locked back into the coop at night.

    Pros: fresh grass/bugs every day, less poop to scoop, keep life interesting for them

    Cons: not very predator proof - my big concern. I will provide one of those plastic igloo dog shelters (and other natural cover like tree canopies), but will the chickens run in there if there are hawks nearby? We do live in a rurally suburban area. Do wild animals tend to bother chickens during the day or is that mostly a night problem?
     
  2. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    The biggest problem that your chickens face is being cornered in a coop, pen, run, or other shelter by a hawk or some other hungry varmint. If the coop or run is open enough for your fowl to seek shelter there, then a hawk can also enter and pen your chickens against the wire much like a school boy pins dead butterflies onto a piece of cardboard.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  3. chanamarie

    chanamarie Out Of The Brooder

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    So, then is the solution to provide more shelters? A smaller moveable run? Or does it have to be covered? I like the idea if it not being covered because then I can incorporate trees into the pen, but if they're just always going to be eaten...
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    My Coop
    There won't be less poop, it will just be spread around.
    How will you move the birds form coop to fenced area twice a day?....that can get old quick.

    I have a large mesh covered run to deter most predators, especially hawks, and don't scoop any poop out of there....just add ramial wood chips, straw, twigs, dry grass etc to cold compost the poops.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    So many different questions and issues here. I’ll try. Some people have horrible problems with hawks. I keep mine in electric netting with nothing on top and often see large hawks and even an occasional eagle around. I mean lots of large hawks. Even though I often have fairly young chicks in there I’ve never lost a chicken to a hawk. One night an owl did go into a small shelter I was using for juveniles when I was late locking them up and took one of them. The risk is there. I have a few small fruit and nut trees in that electric netting but they don’t provide a lot of cover, I keep them pruned too well. They do have safe places to go to if they wish, that shelter, a covered well-fenced run, and the main coop. I can’t tell you how big a threat those hawks really are to your chickens. As I said, some people have huge problems with hawks. I do think trees and other shelter helps.

    For me, my biggest threat is from dogs, mainly dogs people abandon in the country. I have plenty of foxes, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, mink, skunk, and possum around but dogs have been my biggest problem. That’s why I got the electric netting. In about four years since I got that electric netting that one I lost to the owl is the only one I’ve lost to a predator. I also lock them in a very secure coop at night.

    I have seen everything I mentioned above hunting during daylight hours, even a possum. Your risk is much greater at night from most of those, but there is still a risk during the day. At night you normally don’t have any human traffic to keep them away. Quite often there is human activity during the day so they don’t have as much uninterrupted time to do their mischief. Many of us use a system where they are in something predator resistant during the day and predator proof at night to reduce risk.

    I also agree moving something on a regular basis gets old really quickly. I tried a tractor one summer and will not do that again. As the advertisement for that netting said, it night keep chickens in but will not keep predators out. If you have a broody hen raising chicks those chicks can get out. Anything is better than nothing but I would not try that myself.

    I suggest you look at electric netting. It’s really good to move to new areas regularly and basically stops any land-based predator if it’s maintained. Grass and weeds will grow up through it and short it out, so you do occasionally need to move it to a newly mowed area. Leaves or cut grass might blow against it or wash against it in a heavy rain so you might need to remove them to keep it from shorting out. It does not work that well in snow, but once a critter is shocked it’s normally reluctant to test that fence again. I suggest you look at Premier’s website (if you are in the US) or even call and chat with them. I find the ladies there to be quite helpful and friendly to chat with.

    If I had it to do over again I’d build a mesh fence and electrify it. But that would be a large fenced in area and I’d use Roundup to keep the grass and weeds from growing up in it. Many people would find that unacceptable. When I need to replace this netting I’ll probably go that route. Supposedly the netting lasts about seven years.
     
  6. chanamarie

    chanamarie Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks everyone for raising some points. It raises some other questions/points from me...

    Dogs, I'm not overly concerned about. We have dogs ourselves and we've lived here for more than 30 years (since I was a child) and have never had problems with dogs running into our yard (could be our own dogs being here helps deter that, but I think generally, loose dogs are not a problem in this area). We have neighbors who free range their chickens (seriously, their birds travel into other yards - so really *free* range) and I don't think they've ever lost one to a dog (cars, yes).

    Hawks/birds of prey... this is still a concern of mine. Kinda thinking about providing some kind of loose shade cover over the pen to deter them...not sure yet. We had chickens when I was a teenager for a few years. I barely remember them (was in high school and into other things), but my mom said she never lost one to a hawk. She thinks it was the heavy tree canopy (and we're at the same house now, so same canopy).

    I get that moving them around every day is probably kind of a pain. But I want them to have fresh grass/vegetation every day, which they wouldn't get if they were in a single place all day, every day. And I don't want them to be completely free because of the cars and going into other yards. I think my thinking has been heavily influenced by 'pasturing' chickens. Any thoughts on how to make this work?

    I've thought about electric fencing. But isn't it stressful to be in a small enclosure that's electrified? But will check out that website.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Netting comes in different lengths, 168’ and 50’ sections being common as I remember. Mine is anchored on my permanent coop/run but I have and area about 45’ x 90’ inside my netting. I don’t know how many chickens you plan to have. At times my main laying/breeding flock is one rooster and six to eight hens, but I seldom get down to that. Often I have over 40 chickens in season, many young ones growing to butcher size. Climate and time of year has a lot to do with how fast that greed stuff grows, but I have to mow inside that three or four times a year to keep it from becoming overgrown.

    If you don’t anchor it on a permanent coop or run you can move it as much as you wish. And you can get different sections of netting and put them together to get even more area.

    Many chickens are quite happy to be in small runs that are totally barren, no green stuff at all. They are content to scratch in dirt and take dirt baths. They have good lives. What you are proposing is even better than that. Don’t stress yourself stressing over whether your chickens are stressed. I’m a huge proponent of providing as much room as you can, but yours are going to be so well off it’s really not a concern.
     

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