housing advice please

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by katiebob, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. katiebob

    katiebob Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 22, 2009
    Nor Cal, CA
    Hi All,
    If anyone who has experience with the following situation, I would appreciate your thoughts.
    I live in an urban setting where my neighbors are very close, i.e. houses are about 15-20 apart. Though chickens are not allowed, our county does not inforce this law unless a neighbor complains of noise or smell. I want to get 3 chickens but unfortunatley there will be days they will need to be cooped up most of the day. They will definitely need to stay in until after they are done with their egg song, I hope the girls lay mostly in the morning. I plan to let them roam the backyard for at least 2-4 hours per day- worst case scenario. More often they will be out all day. Though, there might be times when we are gone for the weekend and then they would have to stay cooped up for 2 days, but this would not happen very often. Thia is what I am concerned about.

    I plan to use our daughters deluxe playhouse as a coop as she dosen't play in it any longer. The playhouse has internal demensions of 7'3 x 7'3 and tall enough for me to walk inside- I am 5'7. It is insulated, 4x4 constructed with dry wall and siding. It has a 'living roof' ( 6 inches of dirt on top )where we plant flowers. There is a door with a screened glass window, as well as a 34"x34" sliding glass window with screen as well, in addtion it has electricity and AC.
    I plan to partition off the corner at an angle to accomodate the door that swings in as well to provide space to put my air purifier. With the the partioned part I still have just over 40 sf of space on the floor. Nest box will be off the ground to allow the chickens maximum floor space. I plan to bed with shavings that I spot clean every couple of days. I plan to hang a couple of treat balls stuffed with cabbage to keep them occupied. I also just planted wheat grass seeds in 3 plastic 'under bed storage containers' that I plan to rotate. These tubs will provide the hens with fresh grass in their coop even if it is only lasts a couple of hours, this is my attempt to enrich the girls quaility of life while cooped up. I also will have a special light bulb that replicates natural light- UVB and UVA rays (these can be found in the reptile section of a pet store). Because of the fact this house it right up against the fence and our house it has excellent insulation. It always at least 10-15 degrees cooler than the outside temp. If it gets too hot I will turn on AC on and set the temp just enough to keep them comfortable.

    By the way- my Barnevelder and Sussex chicks just hatched and it is 3 girls from this group who will live in the playhouse. I choose these breeds because I was told they are very docile and run a little on the lazy side too. Should the girls be discovered or are obviously too unhappy with these conditions and I have to find new homes- I have more than 3 people, including my sister, who are happy to take them and are aware that they are my back up home.

    So do you think 40 sf is enough for 3 hens to live in, on occasion, for 20 hours of the day or if I can't let them out that day at all? I want them to be happy enough. These chickens will be treated as pets, but, they are also indended to give me eggs. Definitely beasts of burden.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  2. The Fairy Godmartyr

    The Fairy Godmartyr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 7, 2010
    40 square feet is technically enough space, but I would still question the quality of life that you it would provide them to only get a very limited time out each day. Mine can't wait to come out in the morning and will stay out all day (except for when it is snowing--then they go into self-imposed lock-down).

    I would ask myself a few questions before going through with it. First, is your daughter on board with totally losing her cool play house? Second, are you comfortable with getting fined for having the chickens? And are you going to be able to handle it if you are forced to get rid of them when your neighbor complains (since that sounds likely)?

    You are entirely positive that it isn't legal for you to have chickens? Where I live, they will tell you that you shouldn't have chickens if you aren't zoned agricultural, but I know for a fact that they have no legal recourse if you get them. They can't make me get rid of my chickens, even if someone were to complain (but my neighbors love my chickens, so it wouldn't be an issue).

    I just can't see going to all of that effort and getting attached (and you WILL get attached) if there is a high probability that you will have to get rid of them because of the legality.
     
  3. mountaintopchicken

    mountaintopchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2007
    They will definitely need to stay in until after they are done with their egg song.

    Are you assuming that they will lay only in the morning, and then you can let them out? Chickens lay eggs at all times during the day.​
     
  4. churchx3

    churchx3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 30, 2010
    Georgia
    I would question the quality of life the chickens would have being locked up 20 hours a day every day in such a small area. Kind of like keeping a dog on a short chain their entire life.
     
  5. katiebob

    katiebob Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 22, 2009
    Nor Cal, CA
    40 square feet is technically enough space, but I would still question the quality of life that you it would provide them to only get a very limited time out each day. Mine can't wait to come out in the morning and will stay out all day (except for when it is snowing--then they go into self-imposed lock-down).

    I would ask myself a few questions before going through with it. First, is your daughter on board with totally losing her cool play house? Second, are you comfortable with getting fined for having the chickens? And are you going to be able to handle it if you are forced to get rid of them when your neighbor complains (since that sounds likely)?

    You are entirely positive that it isn't legal for you to have chickens? Where I live, they will tell you that you shouldn't have chickens if you aren't zoned agricultural, but I know for a fact that they have no legal recourse if you get them. They can't make me get rid of my chickens, even if someone were to complain (but my neighbors love my chickens, so it wouldn't be an issue).

    I just can't see going to all of that effort and getting attached (and you WILL get attached) if there is a high probability that you will have to get rid of them because of the legality.

    My daughter is ready to give up her playhouse and happy with the idea she would have chickens.

    My neighbor is very nice and I'm pretty sure she would be kind enough to talk to me before calling the county, but I will let her know what I hope to do. She is aware of my two pet Muscovy ducks (I am not supposed to have) and has no problem with them because they are not a nuisance to her ( they are silent). I plan to have the girls out the entire time I am home- that is most of the day. If they get to 'baw goking' I can at least run out to intervene. The 2-4 hours is worst case scenario on a given day. But with that said there will be an occasional day they will only get out for 2 hours or not at all.

    Should the girls be discovered and I have to find new homes- I have more than 3 people, including my sister, who are happy to take them and are aware that they are my back up home. I can afford any fine that I might receive, however, this county gives a warning before fining- according to a friend who tried to keep a rooster.
    I guess what I am thinking is that my situation is very unuasual and there is no way to tell how my particular chickens will fare. Still I am trying to decide if my girls will be beasts of burden or not. I might give it a go and keep an eye out for sings of stress such as aggression and feather plucking. If the girls don't fare well I will give them to my sis. Still undecided right now.

    I do respect all who responded and appreciate your concerns and thoughts. I am definitely going to really put some thought about how these chickens would fare.

    So what are you thoughts on horses who live in stalls.
    I can't but help think of the numerous show horses kept in 12x12 stalls for much and some horses for their entire life. Horses live into their late 20's and early 30's and I believe they are more intelligent than the average chicken. If a horse who is a herd animal, meant to roam, can be kept in a stall for 22 hours a day and still remain sane and personable then I suspect these chickens can tolerate their lot in life as well. I have grown up showing jumpers, I have always had to board my horses and felt lucky they have been able to have them at a facility where they are turned out for usually 6 hours a day. I bet if people 150 years ago learned that someday there would be 'horse centers' (facilities that accomodate numerous trainers and sometimes 200-300 horses all living in stalls, all on 20 acres or less- they would think this scenario was not a good quality of life as well. I agree, this is not ideal but very commom here in California- bay area and southern cal mostly. This is normal to horse people around here.

    Also, there is a couple who have a blog about their 'urban homestead' that I came across today. They keep their 3 chickens in a small pen in their basement. From what I've read this couple works all day and lets the chickens out in the evening and for a little while on the weekends. Been doing this for over a year and it seems these chickens are doing fine and laying eggs. I am going to try to contact them and ask questions.

    Thanks again​
     
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Quote:Are you assuming that they will lay only in the morning, and then you can let them out? Chickens lay eggs at all times during the day.

    This was actually my first thought. Just know that they can lay anywhere from first thing in the a.m. up through 5 or 6 PM. Typically, it's before noon, but that's certainly not a given. Can you arrange for the door to swing out rather than in? That would give just a little more space for them, since most of their time will be spent indoors. A roost at the window would be good too. If there's any way to add a window, that would be wonderful. I don't know how hot it gets in your area in the summer, but you will need to make sure that the playhouse/coop is set up (ventilation/windows) so that it doesn't become an oven if they'll be cooped up much of the time. Good luck!
     

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