Chickens at a part-time residence?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by we3ernes, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. we3ernes

    we3ernes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So we were planning on building our coop this winter, raising our chicks this spring, and enjoying the beginning of our homesteading retirement. Turns out the military has other ideas for us. ;)

    Starting next summer we will be living in our current (which is also our retirement) home part-time for the following 18 months. Essentially here for 3 nights/4 days of the week and in another home for other other 4 nights/3 days. Our family will come by the house to check on things at least once during that time away. So my question is should we just put off chicken ownership for the next two years? We want to be responsible flock owners, but we (especially my daughter and I) are going to be so very disappointed to put this off!

    Here are some details that may (or may not) sway your opinions. We were planning on buying three chicks for now, but building our coop with chicken math in mind. We would have an 6' x 8' coop with an attached fully enclosed run of 8' x 12'. The run would be roofed and surrounded by hardware cloth. We live in north central Texas so we get quite a bit of heat during the summer (commonly in the high 90's with a few weeks of 100+ and lows generally in the 30's in winter. We do have a lot of predators around here - snakes, skunks, coyotes, hawks, foxes, and raccoons are the most common. Oh and the chicks would be fully grown and out into the coop by the time the back and forthing started....
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG] and thank you for your family's service!


    I think it could be done. I have my birds set up where I could leave for a few days and they'd be fine, so don't see why you couldn't do it on an ongoing basis. I do think you'd rest better having someone coming by daily or every other day, just to check on things.

    I have a large feeder that could hold several days feed, same for water. My 7 gallon waterer will last my flock of 2dozen + birds half a week, so you could find something appropriate for your birds. It's also sturdy enough I don't worry about it getting tipped over, it's way too heavy for my birds to knock over. I also elevate it on a cement block to be sure it's level and prevent leakage.

    Predator proofing is going to be your biggest challenge. Sounds like you're pretty aware of building the coop/run with that in mind. Just for extra security you might look into running a hotwire around the coop/run, just for added deterrent.
     
  3. we3ernes

    we3ernes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you Rachel! I was hoping with careful planning that it would be possible, but wanted to get the opinions of more experienced flock masters. Do you think that roll-out nests would be important to have?

    I'm certain that my family will be by more often in the summer (we have a pool at our house :D), but when cooler weather comes then the visits will slow. I'm hoping the incentive of fresh eggs will outweigh the inconvenience, but want to plan for the least participation possible (and then be pleasantly surprised when they exceed my expectations!)
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I don't know about the nests. I just have regular boxes for mine to use--actually rubbermaid totes and milk crates. I don't always collect eggs every day, even in the hot summer, and haven't really had a problem. I do occasionally get a broken egg, but overall I have enough birds I don't mind losing one now and then. Your situation, with far fewer birds, may be a different story.


    You just need to put a hot tub by the pool, that'll get you visitors all winter!
     
  5. we3ernes

    we3ernes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Now why didn't I think of that! [​IMG]
     
  6. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    I see a new trend starting, chicken coops with hot tubs and pools, am sure there are plans somewhere for such a resort facility. X2 what donrae says, it is doable, not ideal maybe, but a lot of people are gone from home 12-18+ hours a day with school or shift work so not that far off what you are thinking of. Predator proofing (animal and human) is going to be the biggest challenge, but it is even if you are home full time.
    Your set up sounds like the birds would have a ton of room, could always throw some hay etc in the run before you leave for their entertainment when people won't be there to interact with them.
    I do help pet sit for a couple of friends that have small pet flocks when they go on vacation etc. The birds are locked in a secure run and they put out multiple feeders and multiple waterers (to be on the safe side especially in the summer) and the birds could be fine for days, we usually change water and collect eggs but wouldn't "have" to do that.
    The roll out nests are an interesting idea for this sort of thing, especially if you have birds that are good layers (don't worry much about too many eggs with silkies). I personally would consider the roll out nests if I wouldn't be collecting eggs on a regular basis, mostly because I hate egg eaters and don't want to give them any excuse to start.
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You might want to enlist the assistance of a neighbor to check in on them, especially in the summer: check the birds in exchange for the eggs. If you have a routine schedule, perhaps you could arrange it so a family member would do one day, and a neighbor an other day so the girls are checked at least every other day. Also recommend 2 water sources just to be on the safe side.
     
  8. we3ernes

    we3ernes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That would be great if we had any neighbors! :D Seriously that is a good suggestion and between now and then I hope to cultivate some more local connections (we've only been here 8 months) and maybe find a 4-Her who is willing to help. I do plan on having at least one water source per bird (overkill, but worth the insurance).
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    A good 4-H or FFA kid is worth their weight in gold, I'm telling you. Especially ones old enough to drive.
     
  10. sarahswank

    sarahswank Chillin' With My Peeps

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    very doable. Due to a change in my duty station, I only get to see my birds two days a week. (If I am lucky) Your greatest challenge will be winter weather. I know texas is warmer then here, but you will still have those cold snaps where your water will freeze for several days straight. You might have to pay (or really butter up) someone to come check their food and water during those cold snaps.

    I would plan for very oversized waterers and very oversized feeders. No one likes to HAVE to drive over every few days, and knowing if someone forgets the chickens (or your gone all week for some reason) it isnt a big deal will put your mind at much more ease.
     

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