First time chicken coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LorenaAZ, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. LorenaAZ

    LorenaAZ Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 29, 2008
    We have a young flock of 10 ranging from 4 days old to 3 weeks old. Hubby and I are working on a coop but I wonder if we are going about it correctly. We are making a coop only for the hens to lay eggs and sleep in. For the rest of the time, we are planning on letting them free range in our fenced yard (tall privacy fence). The 3 week olds spend all day outside already and I bring them in the house to "the chicken room" to sleep. The chicken room has boxes with hay, food, water, and a heater.

    Our design looks like this, except ours is larger, and the inside will be a single floor plan with hay + nesting boxes, and there won't be a pen on the other side, it will just open up to the garden.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/coops/edlup.html

    Are we being unrealistic in thinking that they will only need a place to sleep and stay safe at night for a coop? They just really love free ranging and we would hate to see them caged up. This is our first time having chickens, so any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe you could think about tacking a net across the top of the fence to be safe. They have large bird nets on ebay up to 100 feet for about $20.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Honestly, the decision to free-range or not just depends on your preferences and tolerances regarding losses to predators. Which you can pretty much figure you WILL have at some point, you just don't know when or how much.

    At the very least you will have hawks. Most places also have most of the following: coyotes, loose dogs, and raccoons (a particularly serious problem), and several other miscellaneous predators depending where you are. You CAN'T rely on 'oh, well I have never seen a <whatever> around here' -- most predators are nighttime things, and can be much commoner than you think without your ever seeing one, not even as roadkill. I'd ask around, including your local animal control or wildlife agency, to get a better idea of what to expect.

    It would be nearly impossible to proof a large fenced back yard against the four-legged predators. Hawks (etc) are a *little* easier, at least to substantially reduce the risk, but it will not be a low-visual-impact thing.

    It really does come down to how you will feel, retrospectively, about your decisions when you lose one or more chickens to predators. <shrug>

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  4. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Do you ever get horrendous weather? Most of our birds head for the barn when there is a blizzard, tornado or lightening storm. Will your flock have enough room if they are in their enclosed area for a day at a time? If they are too crowded, there may be fights and pecking.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  5. LorenaAZ

    LorenaAZ Out Of The Brooder

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    We live in Flagstaff, AZ. Right now we are going through the monsoon season, so we get heavy storms with lightning and thunder daily. As of now, when the monsoon hits I bring them in the house to the chicken room. But once the coop is done, they will definitely be able to fit. We were also thinking about adding some kind of roofing material in addition to the coop, in case they'd prefer to be outside but still have something over their heads so as not to get wet. We live in a very urban environment, so coyotes and such are not a problem.....but raccoons and skunks could be. Will a hawk take a 10lb chicken?? Orpingtons get big.

    Also...we are already thinking about a winter coop. We get some snow up here.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  6. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:A hawk can lift a deer






    Eagle flying carrying a goat
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  7. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Shamong
    If you are free ranging, they will probably only be in there to sleep. But I wouldn't leave it open 24/7. In other words, when they are in there at night they should be protected with all openings shut or screened. Don't forget roosts either. I'm sure you haven't, but you didn't mention them.
     
  8. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Shamong
    Although...do you have shade in the yard? During the heat, my chickens all gather under a big mountain laurel bush. If you don't have shade, they would probably return to the coop and if space is small, it could cause issues.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Just FYI, coyotes are seen on a regular basis in Toronto (the city), and in other big cities. I shouldn't think it'd be that much different down there in Real Coyote Territory, although I dunno for sure.

    Pat
     
  10. Heather J

    Heather J Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:A hawk can lift a deer






    Eagle flying carrying a goat


    Holy Moly! I can't believe that hawk! I figured my adult birds were more or less safe from them, but I guess I've just been lucky so far because I've seen hawks and eagles in my area, but not lost a bird yet. I only let them free-range a few hours each day and they have a big covered run the rest of the time. Now I'm going to be afraid to let my cochins out to free range (when the eggs get here and hatched, that is.
     

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