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Hens in or out during the day? And, should I get a rooster?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ZoeStevens, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. ZoeStevens

    ZoeStevens In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2012
    I have 7 hens - 5 sex-links (3 black, 2 red) and 2 black silkies. I got all of them this weekend and have been letting the silkies out during the day. I haven't let the sex-links out yet because I want them to see the coop as home before they get the opportunity to fly off.

    The coop is 9' x 5' and I fenced off a large area for them with chicken wire - I'm not sure of the exact size of their pasture but it's about 80 x 60 feet, fenced off with 3' chicken wire.

    Over the weekend I was comfortable letting the silkies out but with work tomorrow I'm not feeling comfortable letting them out. Not that I could save them from a hawk while inside doing the dishes but it feels like I'm abandoning them if I'm gone for eight hours. I haven't seen any, but I'm sure there are predators around here (coyotes, foxes etc). I live in a rural / forested / agricultural area. I would be less worried about the sex-links as they are bigger, stronger and can fly away. The silkies would not even be able to enter the coop right now as the door is closed to keep the sex-links in.

    I'm leaning toward keeping them all indoors while I'm at work, at least until they can all be out. The other options I can think of would be to plan some shrubs and such to give them cover, to build a small tractor for them to get fresh air and grass while I'm at work, get an outside dog to protect them (which seems like more trouble than it's worth), get a rooster (but then I get fertile eggs and I wouldn't want my family to find chicken embryos in their eggs!).

    I'm new to this if you can't tell :) And would appreciate some guidance.

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012

  2. ZoeStevens

    ZoeStevens In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2012
    Hmm, now I am starting to wonder if I should get a rooster. While I have neighbours they are not very close - I am on a 2.5 acre, mostly wooded lot - and trees separate the neighbours on both sides. I am in a rural area anyway. I do not mind some noise from the fellow as long as it's not constant. I could stand to get up earlier anyway.

    From what I understand, if you pull the eggs out daily and keep them in the fridge or room temp (assuming it's not 90+ out), they will not develop and still look like normal eggs? What should I do? :)
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Couple of point - I am sure you have predators and a well fenced run is a nice thing to have. However, chicken wire is to keep chickens in, it will not keep predators out....

    However, the majority of losses occur at night, so if you lock up the coop tight, it will help. but that is not to say that you can't lose hens during the day, cause you can, Lord knows I have.

    A lot depends on your tolerance. I do have a totally enclosed run, and if it will be dark when I get home, I leave them in it. It is big enough to keep them in all day, where as my coop is not. Yours does sound nice size, but chickens kept tooo close together, get bored and develop nasty habits.

    I think outside birds are healthier, and I let mine free range nearly every day. And I do have a rooster, and since he matured, my losses have dropped dramatically. But roosters need to be nearly 14 months old+ before they are much good in this department. It takes time to grow up a good rooster, and some turn mean.

    I am not sure what you mean by a 'pasture 60 x 80, fenced off with chicken wire. I would let them out in that, if they can return to the coop at will. Also, setting up an old pallet on some cement blocks, can give your girls some shade and something to get on or under. Or an old box.

    If it is unfenced free range - I would let them out in that, an hour or so before dark, and then gradually lengthen that time over several weeks.

    Mrs K
    1 person likes this.
  4. ZoeStevens

    ZoeStevens In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2012
    Yeah, a determined predator or chicken could get in or out of that fence. I couldn't afford to build a fence big and strong enough to 100% keep chickens in and predators so this is more of a "suggested line" than a real barrier.

    The coop is very secure. I actually thought it was a nice shed when I bought the house.

    By the pasture I mean there is the coop (building) and around it (well only half of it is inside the pasture) is a fenced perimeter that is about 60 x 80 feet which is their run. Once they are all out together they can return to the coop at will as the back half of the building (the half that is in the pasture) has the door.

    So I guess my plan now is to leave them in while I am away and let the silkies out in the evening for an hour or two when I get home. By next weekend I hope to be able to let all of the hens out and have a nice rooster to keep an eye on them while I am at work. I will keep them inside if I am going to be home late or if there will be a lot of rain. I also have parts of an old roof so I will make a little shelter for them within the run, plus they can hop back into the coop if they want.

    Does that sound right? :)

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