Containment & lots of Qs!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by secuono, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. secuono

    secuono Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    Virginia
    So if I find out that I am allowed to have Chickens, next Spring, I will be getting them! But I need to know other things first.
    I have 2 acres that will be fully fenced before they get here. Within that space, we have our house, barn and driveway, etc.
    I wanted the birds, 6 up to 16 at the most, Bantams, to free range anywhere in the yard. We have 2 indoor cats, so they won't bother the birds, I haven't seen any neighbor cats either. Our two dogs are usually indoors, my Dobie, once properly conditioned to the birds, will rather run off from them then want to eat them. He does the same with our past Rabbits & Guinea Pigs, he doesn't like anything touching him, lol! He does great with our now 2 cats also, as long as they don't want to scratch his face off all of a sudden. Kittens, crazies! Our Chi mix is slightly different. She's gotten used to the cats, but rabbits usually were more 'fun.' Though, part of the fencing is not tight enough and she could squeeze through, so she more than likely be on the trolly when outside.
    I'm pretty sure the birds would learn to avoid her area after a few scares.

    Would the birds be fine with all that grass to roam in? would they be less likely to jump the fence? The fence is just wire, some have wood posts, but not all. The front yard faces a major road. It goes from 55, 45 to 35MPH. Though it would be an average of 45. We are next to an old historic town.
    I really hope they don't jump that fence. behind us is mostly a cow farm, like pretty much the whole area. Next to us is an old Lab and behind them is an old Chow and old Jack Russell. Though I am pretty sure they shouldn't be too much of an issue.

    I plan on converting a smaller section of the barn to the chicken coop. I just don't want to make a fenced area near the barn for the chickens. I want them to be all over and hopefully be safe.

    Also, since they have that much grass to peck at, what do I feed them, can I feed them less than chickens with a small run?? Do I feed them once in the morning or at night when I lock them up for the night? I was hoping just the once at night. How much do I feed them at night?

    Do I need to add grit to their diet or would they find the right tiny rocks for that on the land??

    I am in Sperryville, Va and for 20-30 miles around, there are cow farms and mountains. What would my predators be that I should worry about?

    What do you guys think??
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  2. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    I'll try to address some of your concerns; I think the biggest dangers to your chickens will be the dogs and the road. Dogs will do things with other dogs that they would never dream of doing alone, its 'pack mentality'. If a chicken gets in the road, some idiot will run over it. It will happen. Hawks will also be a concern, but as long as there are plants and trees for the chickens to cover under, thats pretty good protection for them.

    I have found that chickens (as well as guineas) tend to go exactly where you don't want them to go. If there is a hole in the fence, thats right where they will want to be.

    And, if they are free to run the property, they don't need grit; they'll get it from the dirt. Good luck with all this; none of us can be 100% sure that our chickens are safe all the time.
     
  3. Shannon's Chix

    Shannon's Chix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 30, 2009
    N.E. Florida
    For what it's worth, here's what I do...I have 2 1/2 acres and I let my LF free range but only for 3-4 hours in the evening. I tried free ranging my bantams but the rooster fights bloody fights with my "head hen".

    Anywhoo...they love to free range and I don't even have a fence and they have never gone outside the yard in the year I've had them, but every flock is different I guess. I would let them out for a few hours in the evening to start, chances are they'll stay near the coop, then if they do well with that add time and see how they do. Good luck!
     
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    First and foremost I would always offer free choice feed to your birds during the daytime. If they are finding plenty of bugs and acceptable greens around, they will eat less feed, but I would never restrict it, especially if you're wanting eggs eventually. I would also offer free choice oyster shell, unless you're crushing up used egg shells for them. I would also recommend starting off with the lesser number of birds; you can always increase your flock the following spring if things go well, which they most likely will [​IMG]

    I have a small flock on about 3 fenced acres, with only a four foot fence (half field fence, half board horse fence), and they have never flown over. Bantams seem to be better fliers than standard birds, but if your property has a lot to offer, shrubs, trees, grass...they will most likely hang close. However, I would still recommend some kind of run for them, just in case. You never know when you'll want to contain your birds...vacations when someone else is taking care of the chickens, spraying weeds around the property, taking a few days to deal with predator issues, visitors in who aren't comfortable around chickens, etc. A run is just handy.

    I would definitely spend a LOT of time working with your dogs when you get your birds. Some dogs work out well around chickens; some don't, even with a lot of training.
    Learn all that you can before they come!! Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  5. secuono

    secuono Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    Virginia
    I think my little dog would end up eating the chicken feed after watching them eat it for awhile...lol.
    I'm still trying to find out if I am allowed to have chickens. [​IMG]
     

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