Chicken keeping without coops or with mutiple coops

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Shadrach, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    My Coop
    I’m interested in any experiences that people have had keeping chickens without a coop.
    There are a number of farms and smallholdings locally here in Catalonia, Spain that have been keeping chickens for generations without purpose built coops.
    4 kilometres down the mountain where i live there are 9 chickens who roost up a tree at night.
    Across the valley there are a number of farms where the chickens roost in open barns, up trees, and in spare rooms in the house.
    I’m particularly interested in hearing from people who have mixed breeds living in such conditions
    I realise that many people will consider keeping chickens in this manner irresponsible but chickens are kept in similar conditions all over the world and have been for generations.
    The chicken lays all those eggs because in ‘natural’ conditions few chicks survive.
    I also realise that many breeds now can’t get up a tree because of human interference by target breeding for particular characteristics; heavy meat breeds and some dual purpose breeds for examples.

    I’m using a multiple coop system at the moment; a coop per tribe, but the chickens don’t always come home and the Bantams in particular go up the trees every night. This isn’t a problem, they come down when I call them (mostly) and go into their coop but it does demonstrate that the Bantams and the cross breeds still have the instinct to sleep in the trees.

    It seems to me that a lot of ‘old knowledge’ based on generations of experience and observation has been forgotten as the chicken became product and egg and meat production became more important than the long term welfare of the chicken.

    There are a few pieces of old knowledge that I have picked up as I gathered information for my book that reading some of the problems on this forum might be worth bearing in mind.

    1) Don’t mix breeds
    2) One cock for every 3 to 5 hens
    3) Provide lots of cover, bushes, trees, plants even man made shelters
    4) Chickens fight but fights in the family or tribe tend not to be serious while fights between cocks and hens from other tribes often are.
     
  2. Snackdraggin

    Snackdraggin Chirping

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    Following. My flock mainly roosts in the coop but I have a few hens and a Turkey that refuse to and will inevitably break out to roost on my porch or nearby tree. Every morning they are back at the coop waiting to be fed. I have two roos that get along fine but wont roost together. During the day they seem to work together to keep the girls safe but at night they separate "their" girls and roost separately. I tried to force them but the stress was too much so I finally gave up and let them do their chicken thing; every one is happier now.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    I have done as you describe over many years at multiple locations at same time. Breed was only one that is tops in ability to evade predators. For system to work, you need to be able to exclude the majority of predators most of the time. System works better when larger livestock also present.
     
  4. Brahma Chicken5000

    Brahma Chicken5000 Team Wendy

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    Are you referring to the American Gamefowl?
     
    biophiliac likes this.
  5. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    Are the cocks related?
    How many hens does each cock herd?
    Are you in a position to build separate coops for the cocks and their hens?
    Do you want them in a coop at night or are you still happy with them roosting outside?
     
    NoFlyBackFarm likes this.
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    Yes. I have in the last decade or so kept American Domniques free-range 24/7, but they need real protection and are not good at reaching roost I prefer them use.
     
  7. Kfults

    Kfults Songster

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    My grandfather never had a coup, he had several old open sheds that the chickens would lay in.... they laid eggs everywhere. They roosted wherever and free ranged 24/7. He had so many chickens I would wonder if he would have even noticed if he lost one to a predator. I imagine he would be amused at my set up and all the protective measures that I have in place.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    I would not attempt such husbandry unless:

    1. I lived in a more temperate climate. I don't. I live in winter wonder land where temps can stay below 0*F for weeks at a time. Snow cover up to 4' and I never saw bare ground between Nov and April last winter.

    2. I had a LGD or two that lived outside 24/7.

    3. I was located far away from any neighbors.

    4. I was willing to accept heavy predator losses.

    5. I was equipped and willing to kill all predators that crossed my boundary.

    6. I had lots of protection from overhead predation. This is my worst problem now. Most of my flock is kept under bird netting 24/7. THe hawks have killed all of the song bird nestlings in my area. No doubt, all of the 22 chicks hatched this season would have been hawk fodder if not contained.

    7. I would consider an electric perimeter fence to be absolutely necessary. This fence would have to have good current, be checked daily, and kept free of weeds or other entanglements that would ground it out.
     
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    It really does depend on where you live. Where I live, with a over the top, totally fenced in coop that has been reinforced numerous times with a rooster on patrol...I have fed way too many predators.
     
  10. Snackdraggin

    Snackdraggin Chirping

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    Got them from the same vreeder but one is a blue ameracauna and one is a blue isbar. The isbar is MUCH smaller so I think he just yields all the time. Big roo has 5 hens, lil guy has 3, then 3 hens that kinda float around or sleep alone or with the Turkey. Not in a position to build dual coops at the moment, tho I plan to asap. I would prefer they all roost in a secure coop at night but I'm lucky to live in a spot with very few predators. My neighbors have a few dogs and there's a feral cat but my dog patrols the yard and sleeps near the coop now.
     

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