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Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by blessedmamato3, Jul 13, 2011.
What do I need in term of housing for free range chickens?
Even free range chickens should have a coop to house in at night, with a door that closes. Just tuck them in at dark and let them out again at dawn... or whenever you wake up, if your coop is roomy enough for more than sleeping.
Quote:Agreed. What's generally recommended here on BYC is a min. of 4 sq. ft each of housing space - more if possible in areas that get decent winters, and can get by with less if you don't really get winters. But if you don't shut them in each night (just leave the coop open) then you've created a virtual smorgasbord just waiting for nocturnal predators (because chickens are totally helpless in the dark); so you can expect higher than average losses, especially once your birds are discovered.
I can get by without locked door because of dog patrolling area. My coop / roosting facilities setup so access requires a short vertical flight > 4 feet. Oppossums thwarted and other predators greatly slowed improving odds dog can do his job. My biggest ongoing concerns are adequate wind protection in winter and ventilation during heat of summer. During summmer, if roost area becomes too hot, then birds will choose another nocturnal retreat which means now coop / roost.
Possum, coons, fox all can climb and dig their way in. So a short flight won't stop them, and unless the dog is outside 24/7 no matter what the weather and right there you will eventually have a predator.
The type of coop you need greatly depends where you live. Souther states use open air coops, but we also do t have winters to protect against.
Quote:Dog always assumed on duty 24/7 and need not be LGD bred for protecting ruminants. Design of successful coop / roost requires effective knowledge of predators and birds. They have limitations in respect to how wlll they climb and jump. Jumping limitation of four feet will defeat oppossum or coons. If doubt, then get permit and raise one to learn more about such predators. Otherwise default routine, build Fort Knox and respond improperly when depredation occurs.
Please allow integrated pest management to be considered.
I am trying to learn how to make my own coop because I am looking after my birds with someone else's flock and I intend to move away from this property, probably within the next year. I'm considering making enough housing for 8 birds and separating the flock into 2 groups for spring (separating the roosters). I figure I can make another 8 bird (or larger?) house once I know more, if we want to get more birds.
These are free-ranging, the weather can be wet and the ground gets a bit boggy. The temperature gets up to 35°C(95°F) in summer and down to -2°C(28°F) over-night in winter. There is an orchard here and low lying shrubs under which the birds shelter from weather and hawks. The only predators we get are hawks and pet cats (who are only a worry to chicks). Possums (NZ brush tailed) might have an interest in eggs but seem to have paid no attention whatsoever to the birds so far, and the have often been left for weeks without anyone locking them in at nights.
Currently we have about 20 birds roosting in a shed approx 3mx2m(6½feet x 10feet) The sun facing end of the shed is open to the elements, with chicken-wire covering it. There is a dirt floor covered in barley straw, 2 roosting poles running the length of each side of the shed and a unit of 3 nest boxes at the far end of the shed from the open end.
We have a small tractor we use as a brood hutch to keep predators off the chicks.
A couple of questions:
Why do people suggest raising nest boxes? Do I need to consider having a raised floor?
If structure used primarily as a roost and egg laying, space adequate for a good dozen birds.
With hawks, experience will show what types of cover help reduce losses. Generally fruit trees not effective. Cover needs to deny hawk advantage of flight. Heavy shrubs and briars are my preferred vegetative cover.
Your brush-tailed oppossums are likely as capable as our racoons. You may need to research how prone they are to get into poultry.
You climate is mild so wind and rain block at night your biggest weather concern. Birds will not be in coop during heat of day, if they are make certain good ventilation.
I raise boxes because it is easier than having to bend over all the time to harvest eggs. Hens also out of direct line of sight from most of flock while laying thus reducing social strife during the process. Some less agile egg predators (our oppossums) more likely to consume eggs in nest on ground.
Thanks for the tips.
Differences between Australasian "Brush Tailed Possum" (Trichosurus Vulpecula) and Nth American "Opossum" (Didelphidae) here:
I can't find any references to how voracious possums are, but I have seen them on the property, I know the Dept of Conservation uses chicken eggs to bait mammal traps in National Parks, and I have not lost any birds to them despite the fact that we have a tree roosting guinea fowl.
I'd like the chickens to have twice the needed space for roosting. Mornings, and evenings they need the extra spaces for stretching and preening.