from city to boondocks

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by McEgg, May 23, 2008.

  1. McEgg

    McEgg In the Brooder

    Aug 27, 2007
    Guthrie, Ok
    we are moving from the "burbs" to 20acres, on a mountain-ten miles from electricity.

    With things on the way to crapville(economy, gas and grocery prices, etc) we are on our way to depending on NOBODY for our exsistance. Little does my small flock of hens realizes they are about to embark on a 3 hr drive and to a new coop. Or that I plan on purchasing about a dozen more hens to ensure PLENTY of protein in our diet.

    The coop we currently have, I pieced together when I started with 4 or so hens. Now I have 12 hens and I let them roam free 24/7 with 24/7 access to the coop. The biggest thing they need to worry about getting them here is our Mastiff, when tries to steal their "treats" I give them each morning. Our "burb" house has a 6ft privacy fence.

    I plan on making them a HUGE coop, out in the sticks, but I would like to let them have run of the place. I am not sure that it can be done with out feeding the local wildlife too, ie chicken dinner.

    Do I REALLY need a run? How big should it be so they do not peck each other to death(right now they are EXTREMELY happy, this I know because I have had a hen get sick and they actually helped her!!INstead of taking advantage of her an pecking her to death)

    How do I cover the run if it is large? How large is large? What can I make it out of that is sturdy and cheap? I need to emphasize STURDY!! If you have ever had a Mastiff you know they like to LEAN HEAVILY on anything large enough to support their weight (you the car the house a garden fence that was build to keep the chickens out)and if it can't support the weight, well then they look at whatever they just "leaned over" and look at it as if to say

    "well! thats what you get for building something that wasn't strong enough to hold up my mammoth girth"

    I really don't want to build the coop/run twice, so building it right the first time is my goal.

    Thanks everyone.
  2. SterlingAcres

    SterlingAcres Songster

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poconos, PA
    Congrats on the move! We've got a similar situation coming up, but we're only moving to a little over 3 acres. [​IMG]

    I've asked the same questions about free ranging and was told I needed a run, no ifs ands or buts. Maybe someone else will answer you, because I'm concerned with feeding our local wildlife as well.

    My grandfather's got 1500 acres here and used to let his chickens free range, but he's lost a few to hawks since they're all over the place over there. He's also got a nesting pair of bald eagles. They are GORGEOUS. I'm getting off point... [​IMG]
  3. MermanMike

    MermanMike In the Brooder

    May 20, 2008
    Northeastern PA
    I don't have any chickens yet, so take my opinion as you will, but a couple of nights ago I was visiting a friend of mine who runs an organic farm and she has tons of chickens, probably a hundred if I had to guess. They have their barn, but they don't have a run. They are allowed to free range as they see fit any time of day. And she doesn't have predator problems other than her own dogs once in a while.

    The chickens seem so happy roosting on her porch and hanging out with us as we walked around the farm. Of course they are not allowed in the gardens and such, so she has fence that area. She has about 40 acres, and the entire perimeter is fenced with 7 foot wire fencing. But, the area where you come up the driveway, which is where all the chickens hang out, is open and doesn't seem to cause any problems.

    I think we each have to make this decision for ourselves but it is interesting to hear everyone's opinions. With 20 acres I think you have a lot more freedom to let them be than most of us with close neighbors.
  4. Stumpy

    Stumpy Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Congratulations on your move. I'd love to hear about how you're going to wean yourself from electricity. We have been without it for periods of time and it was an eye-opener.

    I don't have chickens yet, and I'm sure a more knowledgeable person will have answers for you, but I wanted to say that after reading about predators, my plan is to use 1/2" hardware cloth all over, which is expensive, but I want to prevent predators, not clean up after them. Snakes and weasels can get through some tiny holes, and raccoons can reach through them. I've heard that chicken wire barely slows raccoons down. In addition, in my area we have bobcats, coyotes, bald eagles, owls, hawks, etc. I also plan to have wire going down the side of the coop and run and spread out about a foot or two, burying it in cement.

    I hope you'll share more about your transition to the country life.
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  5. slyfoxpeeps

    slyfoxpeeps Songster

    Oct 11, 2007
    Lewisburg, WV
    Congrats on the new location! I live up against the national forest here in WV. I pen my main flock up only at night. I open the doors as soon as the sun comes up. But I also have 2 other growing pens, the oldest of the growing pens I let out when I come home in the evenings, and the youngest I don't let out of the run at all. I do have a couple of broodies that sleep out under my deck at night, and my Weim does kill a bird from time to time but they do keep the racoons and shunks away. I really think it is a personnal decission on letting them free range. You have to be willing to lose some..... I keep my breeder penned up tight!
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  6. curliet

    curliet Songster

    Apr 22, 2008
    west Michigan
    First, congrats on the move! We are in the process of moving the flock we have (only 17) from the burbs to the country too, and it's a big step. Our place is only 10 acres, just got electricity last year after 25 years without it. We depended on several things. Sun, moon, generator, batteries, coleman fuel and candles. But we managed pretty well. Of course, we didn't live there full time. We're getting ready to buld, and this will make a difference. Anyway, to get back on topic, our chicks will grow up free ranging too, to some extent, but we will have a run for those times when we are not there at the place, and they will be locked securely into their coop at night. Kind of like little kids, "you can go outside to play when we can be with you." Not that we can stop a hawk or something like that, but it's less likely that a bigger predator would come around while we're in the vicinity. And most of the worst of them come out at night. But everyone has to do what works and feels best for them.
  7. McEgg

    McEgg In the Brooder

    Aug 27, 2007
    Guthrie, Ok
    Thanks for all the info. Got a huge garden started but need to find out more about when to plant stuff(cool and warm weather crops) had to find out about canning. plan on doing ALOT of freezing since its easier.

    Anybody know about storing(possibly freezing) eggs for winter use???

    Electricity-besides the fact that 100 yrs ago most people did not have electricity and all of our ancestors managed to survive, I will not do with out a/c and a frig/freezer if I can help it.
    We have a generator and battery pack (8 gel batteries(look like car batteries) and a wind generator. The wind makes the electricityand the batteries store the electricity and the house draws off the batteries.

    As you may tell from the song"Oklahoma" (-when the wind comes sweepin down the plains-) we have alot of wind. Solar is EXPENSIVE, wind is about 1/4 the set up cost of solar. Wind also makes electricity in storms and at night. Solar craps out at night and during bad weather with no sun.

    House is a cordwood house (lots of info in the internet) easy and cheap to build. By easy I mean no special tools and anybody can do it.

    If gas keeps going the way it is, I am converting my gasoline powered 1992 civic to run on methane or any gas like LP. You can make the methane your self and convert it yourself with parts from the hardware store. Methane is made from table scraps put into an old electric hot water tank. You connect a spigot to the hot water tank
    that will allow the methane from the hot water tank to fill a smaller tank(like a bbq grill tank)which is now in the trunk of your car. Also if you keep gasoline in your car along with the methane, and should you run out of methane while on the road, you open the hood and flip a switch, that you have installed,[​IMG] to make the car run on gasoline again.

    rambling, sorry.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2008
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I think it comes down to what your attitude would be towards losing many or all of your chickens. Just because some people have not had predator losses does not mean you won't, and in fact, chances are pretty good that eventually even those people will walk outside one fine morning and, dot dot dot.

    If that's acceptible losses, and the inconvenience of having to get new hens and build a strong run is worth the 'free ride' of not building a run for now, then I'd say you don't need a run.

    OTOH you could just consider a run to be pretty cheap insurance, and something you were prolly going to have to build sometime ANYhow. May as well make it a good STRONG run. You can still let them out to free range when it seems safe-ish. But you'll have that as a 'fall back position' .

    To deal with a Leaning Mastiff, have you considered putting pipe or boards at intervals around outside the mesh fence? That is how I would protect something like that from horses, who are even bigger leaners than big dogs are. The pipe or boards (built like a regular fence) will take the strain and protect the less sturdy mesh. Or I suppose you could get a battery or $olar-powered fence charger and just run a couple lines of hotwire to zap his lean-y butt [​IMG]

    Good luck,

  9. Smitty's Farm

    Smitty's Farm Songster

    Aug 24, 2007
    St Clair County, Il
    Congratulations on your move. Sounds like heaven!

    I know that on our little 6 acres lot we have lots & lots of predators, so I do have a run for our flock. We give them the best of both worlds. Protection and then supervised free ranging time in the afternoon. I haven't lost a one yet and I've had them over a yr now. I know anything can happen when they are free ranging even supervised, but can't stand to have them locked up 24/7. We also have a few dogs that leave the chickens alone, but help deter predators I'm sure. We have hawk & owl that live close by and lick their beaks, but haven't attempted an attack yet. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they get brave enough to try it. I usually just stand out there with them, but dh is more paranoid and will have a garden rake with him.

    You are so lucky. We would love to have more land.
  10. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    All primitive living notions aside, your chickens are better off controlled. People raised chickens without electricity for a long time, although they welcomed it pretty quickly when it came - possibly for good reason? I wouldnt be too hasty to be without at least some of the benefits of technology...

    That being said, chickens will best serve you under rigidly controlled conditions. The folks who allowed their livestock to wander willy nilly back in the old days soon learned this truth the hard way.

    You are going to depend on them for a part of your livelihood... especially in the beginning since they are already started. That is something much different than hobbying in a fenced backyard. Out in the toolies, it is you against the elements. You cannot sugar coat that with end-of-the-world idealism.

    Too, a century or so ago, America at large raised chickens as you have - free-run and devil-may-care. Our production numbers proved it, too... they sucked. Only through concerted effort did that change. If you want a reliable source of egg and meat protein, you gotta put your foot down. Fencing, solid construction and a determined production plan to include proper care and breeding will serve you best. Toting buckets, hauling feed and scrubbing dirt just to keep them clean, fed and watered daily is gonna change your perspective on them.

    You are also moving into a very different neighborhood. I'm talking foxes and coyotes, owls and hawks and a virtual legion of preds who are more than happy to see your little buffet come to town. Then there are the two-legged predators - just cause you're in the country doesnt mean the bad guys won't follow. In fact, there has been a disturbing increase in rural crime in recent years. Please tell me you have collected a useful firearms battery, more than a few traps and the knowledge to deal with all of these critters!

    It all sounds nice, though. I give you credit. May I suggest a source of information on profitably raising chickens "off the grid?" It is a classic and if you haven't seen it already, it is time to download it and make copies for reference. Here it is, for FREE >>>>
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: