free ranging without direct adult supervision

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CityGirlintheCountry, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    Somehow all of my chicks have managed to survive so far. We are 11.5 weeks old at this point and I have 17 of them. The coop is 4x4 and the run (Ft Knox) is 8'x16'. Clearly these figures are too small now that everyone has decided to live. Sigh.

    I am working on plans for a 4'x12' coop that will work in addition to the 4x4 coop. The problem is the run. I haven't the faintest idea what to do about expanding the run. Theoretically I should fence off a portion of the yard, but I can't do it myself and likely can't afford to have someone professional come out. Right now they are free ranging most of the day. I let them out early morning and they stay out until bedtime. Once school starts I won't be here during the day to supervise. It makes me really nervous thinking about free-ranging them when I'm not here, but I hate the though of them being stuck in the 8x16 run all day.

    So I guess this is two questions.
    1) Ways to make a run mostly daytime predator proof that is fiarly inexpensive and can be built by one person?
    2) Thoughts on free ranging while I'm at work?

    Agggghhhhh!!!! I'm stressing over this. School starts back up in a month. It never occured to me that all of them would survive to adulthood. And my backup plan of just selling some off won't work as I am too attached to them all to sell!

  2. fullhouse

    fullhouse Songster

    Apr 14, 2008
    Some of the metal posts and horse fence?

    I hear you. Not sure how all of the girls made it, and how I got so many freebies from the breeder. I am up to my ears in pullets. [​IMG]
  3. dftkarin

    dftkarin Songster

    Jun 27, 2008
    what about one of those electric fences that are portable and flexible?
  4. pkeeler

    pkeeler Songster

    Jul 20, 2008
    Why not build the 4x12 coop attached to the current run. Then you would have the two coops and the run. That would be 54 sf of indoor space, which would be enough for 17 chickens in most books. The run isn't that undersized either. You can let them out when you are home, if it is going to cause stress to leave them free ranging.

    Personally, I think chickens are better off loose if a predator comes by than in a run where they can't get away (and the predator can get in).
  5. I've bee thinking of doing the same thing. This Pastured Poultrey Pen is make from PVC pipe and look promising and the plans are free:


    I'd just use this in the yard to supplement theri regular coop and run.

  6. kinnip

    kinnip Songster

    Feb 24, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    I like the PVC run, it doesn't look too hard for one person. I've erected a good bit of horse fence and it's what I use for my run, but it's too hard to do alone. If you find you really need more fencing, cattle or combo panels are good. You'll still need some 24 in. chicken wire along the bottom (the holes in the fence are quite large), but that's easy to do with some zip ties and a couple of hours. The catch with cattle panel is that your ground needs to be pretty flat. I have extremely bumpy ground and the cattle panels will just rock back and forth like a teeter totter.
  7. Is there some young boys from the neighborhood or your church you could hire one afternoon and feed them well to help. Most kids love pizza and like to help people out if given the chance, Have a block party for both boys and girls and feed them for the work. marrie
  8. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    Good ideas, all!

    Now more questions... [​IMG]

    The electric fence won't keep hawks away, but is a good idea for dogs. I live in the boonies and people love to just let their dogs roam. [​IMG] I may be able to do that in conjunction with the PVC thingie.

    Is the PVC tractor sturdy enough to protect from dogs? Do you stake it to the ground? I've been thinking about designing the bonus coop to allow for a tractor to fit on the other three sides. That way I could rotate it around and hopefully save the grass. Plus, while we all get along right now, it would be nice to be able to seperate them if need be. The multi-option tractor coop would be a great way to do that. I like that PVC tractor. Thanks for posting the pic and link. I can totally make that myself.

    My ground is gently sloped on one side of the current run. I'll have to experiment to see if a tractor could be secured on that side.

    I'll start pricing cattle fences too. I like that I can tinkertoy those together as needed. I also can expand (a good thing as 2 of the hens turned out to be roosters which means the potential for yet MORE chickens. This is sooooo addictive...).

    Marrie- hiring local kids is a swell idea. Sadly I'm still kinda new to the area and don't really know many folks here. And I haven't found a church home yet. [​IMG]

    Here's the current coop and run-

    The current run is pretty tight. I'm going to put the second coop on the 8' end with a door opening into the run. Once that gets built I'm going to add 2' beds along the sides and plant grapevines to grow up and over and blackberry bushes around the perimeter (the thorniest I can find!). That should help with shade and inpenetrability. I hope.

    Thanks for the help!

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