Contraband Chicken Cover-up (How do I let them free range?!)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cotekim, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. cotekim

    cotekim Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2013
    Buffalo, NY
    Chickens are not legal in the suburban neighborhood where I live. However, I'm not letting that stop me! I've been keeping Coturnix quail in my basement for 6 months and I have loved having the birds and eggs. We recently hatched 2 Bantam Cochin chickens and 5 more Coturnix quail. They are all in my basement right now. We have a nice sized garage that I have turned into "The Barn" and I hope to transition all of them out there now that the weather is getting warmer. I have a few large dog crates and a rabbit hutch that I was planning on keeping them in at night, and they can "free range" in the enclosed garage, but I feel like wherever I keep them - the basement or the garage - they are locked away in the dark like little vampires! I want them to feel the sun and eat the grass and chase bugs!!!

    So, I'm planning on making a chicken tractor that's somewhat disguised as a kid's playhouse for them to graze in. I have read that chickens each need 4 sq ft inside and 10 sq ft outside. This means that for just the chickens, the playhouse (tractor) needs to be at least 4'x5' (20 sq ft), which is a great size for an adorable kid's playhouse. But if I was to make room for the quail in there, too, then I would need to add another 20 sq ft. That's too big. My yard is fenced, but I cannot EVER have a runaway chicken in my neighborhood since I'm not supposed to have them anyway. I don't expect to completely keep the birds as a secret from my neighbors, but I hope to keep their sound and smell and nuisance to such a minimum that they won't care that I have them.

    Anyway, I guess my real question is, do you think I could let the chickens and the quail alternate one day in the tractor, then one day in the garage? Chickens, quail, chickens, quail, etc, etc... Or will this confuse the birds and stress them out? Or should I just scrap the whole playhouse disguise idea? Will being in the garage in the relative darkness be bad for them? I worry about their egg production.

    Oh, also, I live in the great lakes area, so winter is awful here and it rains a lot - like, literally more than Seattle - so they will need to be inside starting in the fall.

    Here's pictures of what I've got.

    2'x2' rabbit cage on left with 3 adult quail, Rubbermaid Brooder on right with 5 quail chicks & 2 bantam chicks, above to the left is a bird cage where I'm keeping my trouble maker adult quail. She's in time out.

    Here's the additional cages I have in the garage. 2 large dog crates and 1 chicken hutch. All are about 2'x3'. You can see the area in front of the cages is where they would "free range" inside the garage.

    Exterior of garage. I will use that entire side of the garage as "The Barn."

    Input & advice is welcome! Thanks!
  2. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2013
    They all need to be outside they need sunshine and fresh air first of all, there is no way to keep a chicken quiet they squawk when they lay an egg, smell is easy keep everything clean, 4x5 is a max of 5 chickens especially when your not going to let them out, they don't need to come inside for the winter as
    long as you have a decent built draft free coop with
    alot of ventilation, god gave them down coats to wear year-round, having a dry run would be a plus to keep them dry I wouldn't want to stand in mud all day, if I were you I'd get rid of the quail as the chickens are far better producers.
  3. cotekim

    cotekim Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2013
    Buffalo, NY
    I'm not really worried about the squawking. Some noise will be fine, as long as it's not a rooster's crow.

    The 4x5 is just for the outside tractor. They will be inside one of those cages in the garage at night and every other day they will be "free ranging" inside the garage. I think I'm going to find some netting that I can cover the garage entrance with. That way I can open the garage door to let in sunlight and fresh air and the birds won't be able to escape.

    In the winter I plan on leaving them inside the garage full time. If it's a rainy day I wouldn't put them outside. I agree, muddy feet aren't nice.

    I also agree with you that chickens are better producers (although I've never kept chickens before.) But I have kept quail and what I learned from that experience is: 1) Quail eggs are adorable, and a fun, fussy gourmet food to have on hand, 2) Quail is a delicious bird to eat 3) Quail are very quiet and you could even keep them in an apartment if you wanted to!

    HOWEVER, chicken genetics have been artificially selected by humans to be exactly what we need. One bird feeds a family of four nicely, an egg is the perfect serving size for a kid, 2 eggs are the perfect serving size for an adult, and what I didn't know, (but have learned in the past 2 weeks since my Cochin chicks hatched) is that chickens are super cuddly!!! [​IMG]Quail are lovely birds, but they are very skittish, and if you're looking for a cuddly pet, they just will not do.

    I'm gonna keep the quail because I like to have the fancy little eggs, but I'll get my cuddles from my chickens!
  4. SavageDestiny

    SavageDestiny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2014
    Bend, OR
    Personally I think this is a bad idea. Chickens can be LOUD, especially the egg song. One of my girls in particular starts making noise around food time, and I can hear her in my house. On the opposite end and opposite SIDE of the house from their run. I can easily hear them clucking from the street as well, and they're located at the back of my house.

    Keeping them indoors the majority of their lives- like all winter- is not good for them either.
  5. SixChickFlock

    SixChickFlock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2014
    Chicago - Old Irving Park
    My young pullets are soooo happy running around outside. I'm building them a coop and run attached to and partly inside my garage.

    If you had space on a long sunny side of your garage, perhaps you could build an enclosed aviary/compost pile alongside the garage. Landscape it a bit (or a lot!) to disguise it from the nosy ones and build a proper coop inside the garage with a "pullet-shut" door through the garage wall into the aviary. Add some ventilation from the coop space to the great outdoors.

    Mine is more elaborate. 10X5 run plus 6X4 below the hen house... The hen house is 6X6 plus whatever space three nesting boxes will take up. I should be able to collect eggs and feed the flock from the comfort of the garage. I hope it will be proper deluxe digs for my chicken friends... But it is designed for my convenience and pleasure.

    And spend as much real free range time with them as you can. They really seem to love it... And follow me around while I'm working!
  6. MariDavid

    MariDavid New Egg

    Jan 28, 2016
    Hello hello!

    I was wondering if you have an update (if you're still on this site)/ I'm thinking of keeping a few quail in my developing urban homestead in the city. I was thinking of how to keep them in the garage but I have the same concerns you do "little vampire quail"/

    Love to hear an update, thanks!
  7. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2014

    Not the OP but I have illegal chickens too. Check your local ordinances. In my town quail aren't restricted like chicken are.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by