Diary of my North Texas Chicken Adventure....Guidance and input welcome!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by dpenning, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. dpenning

    dpenning Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    So I have purchased some land in the country and have been lurking at this site for a year or so. I"ve posted a few times as this has become somewhat of an obsession but until I move full time I cannot have any livestock. So given that I have six months to a year to plan I thought I'd start a diary to track my thoughts, plans and progress. Someday it may be fun to go back to.

    I'm a certified city slicker who loves animals, birds in particular. Chickens are a natural fit for me. I would love to be able to raise layers and meat birds as well as attempt to re-populate my local area with bobwhite quail. In the next year or so I can work toward making the back acerage appropriate habitat for Bobwhite quail. We back up to a Parkhill Prairie in North Texas so with my acerage and the prairie I think I may be able to pull off the quail dream.

    At any rate, I also want to start planning for my chickens. I do not honestly know if I would ever be able to kill a bird so the meat birds would be a secondary endeavor.

    I'm thinking I would like to start with a small flock of layers. Perhaps 4-6 birds. We only go through 6-8 eggs a week as far as consumption goes. My current thought is to build a shed like building that I could split in half, half being the coop and half being storage until I decide to try meaties or quail.

    I currently am living (at least on the weekends) in a double wide on the property. I have about 3/4 acre fenced in for my dogs, two of which have a very high prey drive. I'm debating the location to build my coop. If I put it in the dog yard it would help protect against predators as there wouldl be multiple fences they would have to cross and lots of dogs. The only down side is I would have to keep the dogs out of the yard when I want to free range. That is not all bad as I can put the dogs in the "front" yard which is about 23 acres. :)

    Alternatively we could put the coop in the front yard where we could enjoy the chickens free ranging from the porch, but would have to control the dogs. Not undoable.

    How far from your house would you put a chicken coop? I'll post pictures in a moment of the possible location. Any input would be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
  2. ellie32526

    ellie32526 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, mine is right out back about 200 yds. from the back of the house. I don't have to jog too far when it starts raining to shut the big door to my coop nor too far in the heat/cold to collect my eggs. I have 7 dogs as well so I totally understand your dilemma. I have a place for the chickens to roam in their small yard and I let them free-range in my 1/4 fenced yard at least 1-2 hours a day when I pen up my pit bull. The others have learned to leave my chickens alone. Those are Momma's chicks and messing with them gets you in trouble.

    But Buddy, my Pitt just thinks its good clean fun to run the chickens around the yard until they drop dead. He was a perfect gentleman as long as I had him on a leash, but as soon as I took the lead off and turned my back he was chasing chickens, and the rest were helping him. When I lock Bud up the others will behave themselves. Buddy is a big puppy who never grew up. He is not mean, but he plays too rough.

    Back to you - I don't have a problem with smell because I keep things pretty clean and I use PDZ. But after we had several days of rain and then a warm day, I did detect a slight odor when the wind blew the right way.

    It does help with predators that I have the chicken house inside the big yard. My dogs patrol all night. I also have a pop door and a mote door so it would be difficult for anything to get inside my house. Not that its impossible, just difficult. We considered predator proofing when we modified our storage shed. I have a 6X8 shed and 15 chickens. It was originally supposed to be 6-8 but you know chicken math!

    I'm rambling so I will stop. Good Luck to you!
     
  3. dpenning

    dpenning Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    First picture is at the back of the dog yard. I could put the coop in the back corner of the dog yard which would provide the most predator control and the run fouls go under the tree for natural shade. Or I could put it on the right side of the fence where my dogs couldn't get them when free ranging but more susceptible to wild predators.

    The second picture shows the front of the dog yard and the third picture is just a little to the left of that. I like the idea of putting the coop in the front yard as we could watch the from the deck. A little less predator control but not as bad as the back yard.

    So where would you put your coop and run? I expect they would be in the coop and run 85% of the time. Only free range on weekends.
     
  4. dpenning

    dpenning Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    200 yards is a long way! That is two football fields, you are in better shape than I am! Lol.

    I really don't know how my dogs will react. I have an English Mastiff who I think would be ok as it would require too much energy to chase chickens, two Pomeranians, one of which would certainly chase them but could possibly be taught manners by the right Roo, and a triple wide chihuahua that would be no threat.

    It is tough to decide where to build. Another alternative is we have a cement slab that is not being used for anything but does not offer any natural shade.
     
  5. ellie32526

    ellie32526 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Typo I meant 20 yards. sorry. There are about 9-8 foot long fence panels distance between the back of our house and the front of the chicken house.
     
  6. dpenning

    dpenning Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    LOL! That is much more reasonable. :)

    I think I have decided my spot. In the second picture with the propane tank, that fence is between the dog yard and the front yard. If I put the coop against that fence I can have he best of both worlds. I can put a run on either side of the fence or even just a pop door so they can free range on one side or the other. It is kinda close to the trailer now but when we build a house for full time living it will be far enough away.
     
  7. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Living in Texas, you definitely need some shade for the coop/run area. -looks like you have some nice trees on that beautiful property that will work (wherever you decide to place the coop). -best of luck on your endeavor!!

    p.s. The "shed coop" is a great idea. We purchased a shed from a local hardware store and customized it for our small flock. -gives them plenty of room and permits some good storage for feed/rakes/cleaning supplies that are essential to caring for the birds and their living spaces.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  8. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From the back door of my house my 3 pen doors are 25', 40', & 55' away. The only reason they're so close is because that's where the side of the barn is I that built onto but I never smell a thing, and it's easy to carry feed & water that short distance.
    I would go with under the tree where the propane tank is too because it's shady and close to the house.
    I noticed your fence isn't very tall. The chickens could go right over it. When I had bulldogs they were great climbers and could get over a 6' wooden fence with a little effort and a 4' fence with no effort. They would also chew on the wire on the chain link gate till they deformed it enough to slip thru.
     
  9. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Invest in a lot of electric fence (solar). It will keep your dogs where they are supposed to be and keep most predators away from your chickens. You will probably also want to build some shelters here and there for your birds to run under in case a hawk tried to get them, and they probably will. I don't have any yet but friends say that electric poultry netting is great - very portable and very effective. For that number of chickens you could build a portable coop and along with the poulltry netting move them all around your place for bug control or whatever. Check out "hoop coops" also. You could build one for your birds for $200 or less.

    ...also the "deep litter method" will keep the odor down. My coop has 10 chickens in it with little to no odor at all. But you would have to leave the coop in one spot to do that. Feed "fermented feed" and you won't have a fly problem.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  10. dpenning

    dpenning Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Thanks TXChicmum! I'd love to see pics of your setup. I thought about buying a shed from home depot but that wouldn't help me keep busy until I can actually have chics so I am going to try to stick build. :)

    Question for anyone. I know the coop should be predator proof, does the run need to be as tight? Meaning does the wire need to be buried to prevent digging, etc? I see tractors often and I'm thinking that those can't be that tight so that maybe if the coop itself is tight the run can be less so?
     

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