Homebodies?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Doughpat, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. Doughpat

    Doughpat Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 29, 2008
    Hi everyone--

    First post, but BYC is my new favorite online forum. About 5 days ago I brought home three lovely chickens (my first!)--two silkies and a Rhode Island Red. I converted half of my storage shed into a coop, and I fenced off about a 20 x 15' patch of my "lawn" for a run. But--they hardly ever use it! So far, they have only come out about 3 times, always late in the afternoon, just about the time I'm thinking they need to get locked up. Is this normal? Its been warm, but not unreasonably hot (80's). Though their run is pretty much full sun. Anyway--just wondering if this is normal--perhaps they're just not yet comfortable? (They grew up in the country and now they're city-dwellers) I even tried 'herding' them outside and they wanted nothing to do with it. There are a couple of obnoxious terriers on the other side of the fence that bark sometimes....could that be spooking them?

    Also--their run is fenced off with a 4' tall wire fence. During one of their forays into the run, the R.I. Red few up to the gate! She sat there for a bit and was very vocal, and I was worried she was going to leave the yard. So I shooed her back into the run, and she did it again! I'm a bit worried she's going to run off. (the silkies can't fly that high, though they tried) My thought was that the fence was high enough to keep the dogs/coons/possums out, but not high enough to keep the ladies in. But I figured they wouldn't WANT to leave because their home is so AWESOME and their run is so BIG. So if the RI Red DOES fly out of the run, should I just let her find her way back home? I'm assuming that she won't go far...hopefully within a quick flight back to safety!

    Or do I need to get going on my more permanent set-up (a fully enclosed chicken tractor...)

    Thanks you all! you've already been a wonderful source of info and encouragement. My little silkie sat on my shoulder today!! Big high point in the taming process!!
    Ryan
    Mcminnville, Oregon
     
  2. ears73

    ears73 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2008
    Westchester, NY
    Hi,

    I am a newbie myself, but I know for certain that coons and possums can both climb fences... You'd need to have a roof of some sort over the run to fully protect your birds (which would also keep the RIR inside!).

    Good luck!
     
  3. Doughpat

    Doughpat Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 29, 2008
    Hi Ears-

    Yeah...I have no illusions about the security of this fence. Supposedly the racoons/possums are nocturnal only (though I've seen raccoons during the day!), and the hens get locked up in a very secure coop before nightfall. Hopefully this is ok--its the same situation that the folks that I bought the hens from used. Kind of annoying--I have to be home, every evening, to lock them up. But as I said, eventually they are getting a tractor!

    Thanks!
     
  4. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

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    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Welcome to BYC!

    It sounds like your chickens are still getting accustomed to their new home. The barking dogs could certainly be part of the issue of them not coming out. You could physically put them outside in the mornings and see if that helps them learn to 'want' to be there.

    As you are aware your 4 ft. fence is unfortunately worthless. It won't keep your chickens in and it won't keep predators out. Even my Silkie gets higher than that - so your's might also.

    I'm thinking you need to get that tractor going sooner than later but, that's up to you. I'd hate to see you lose these chickens because they got out of the fence or something got into the fence.

    I'm glad you are locking them up securely at night. However, raccoons do come out during the day (I've seen em here and you've seen em there), although they are usually nocturnal - you can't count on that. Plus, there can be dogs or feral cats around most everywhere also.
     
  5. arlee453

    arlee453 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    I use 4' chain link fencing for my run, but have it covered with PVC pipe hoops covered in Deer netting. It keeps them from flying over the fence...wouldn't keep out a determined climbing pred - I'd recommend locking them up at night too.

    If you click on my webcam, (link below) You can see a view from the inside of the run and see the PVC pipes arcing across.

    I like the PVC because it arcs high enough so you can stand up and walk in the run, but still keep them in.
     
  6. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2008
    Arlee453 I LOVE those pvc hoops. Where did you get them and how did you do that? Are they regular plumbing pvc tubes? How did you find them so long or did you connect several?

    Please advise. I want to do that.
     
  7. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Ryan, your chickens are probably fairly comfortable in your storage shed/coop. Along about evening, they are thinking of a really safe place to be and venture outdoors looking for it. It's a little "spooky" out there for them yet and the terriers across the fence don't help.

    The RI Red probaby doesn't really want to go anywhere. She wants to stay with the other chickens and if they won't come along, she will return to their company unless something untoward prevents it.

    People have said that chicken netting can keep chickens IN but won't keep any determined predator OUT. I hope your predator population pressure doesn't amount to much and a more secure outdoor pen can be put together before too long.

    Welcome to BYC and to the world of keeping chickens! It isn't all that tuff. They are both fairly vulnerable birds and fairly undemanding. All in all, with a little patience and attention to their few needs, they are easy keepers.

    Steve

    edited to say that it is likely that both dogs and chickens will learn to ignore each other. Terriers, however, are fairly determined critters. I hope they can't get out of their yard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2008
  8. Doughpat

    Doughpat Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 29, 2008
    What you said about them venturing out and looking for a safe place for the night is intriguing! Of course, they have already spent the entire day in the most secure place imaginable (a lockable storage shed), but they probably don't comprehend that I will shut the door and secure them. I've also noticed that the RI red wants to escape into the "non-chicken" part of the storage shed in the evening. He must be looking for a spot too (and he's found my bicycle--which is now very 'chickeny').

    I'm working on the chicken tractor as we speak--constantly going back to look at new designs. My construction skills are, shall we say, limited and my tools are as well. I've just given up on the A-frame idea--those angles are way too much of a PITA!! So a nice, SQUARE tractor will do!
     

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