How large of a yard outside the coop/run?

diana_of_the_dunes

In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 22, 2009
30
0
32
St. Joseph County, IN
Hubby and I have had chickens for a few years now. We had always let them free range, which the neighbors were all okay with. But today we got a note from the Humane Society saying that we need to contain our birds. We have a nice coop and run, but if they're going to be in there full-time, I'd like them to have more space. I was wondering how much room 5 birds need in order to maintain the grass cover. I don't want just a dirt yard; I'd prefer for them to have the benefits of free-ranging, just in a smaller area. We have half an acre of property, but don't want to fence the whole thing!
 

Fred's Hens

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
5 birds need every inch of a 1/2 acre around here to find nourishment. Your yard may be much, much richer. If it is merely the grass cover you're mostly concerned about, I'd highly recommend having 4 runs. Each need to be 30x20, let's just say. Then, rotate them on a weekly basis. This gives time for the previous runs to recover. All it really takes is water. Goodness knows, they'll be fertilized adequately.

To make life easier, I might also suggest light weight, easy to put up and take down poly netting. It is primarily sold as deer netting, but it makes great chicken fencing. A 100' roll, 7' high runs about $75 at our local Home Depot.


 
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diana_of_the_dunes

In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 22, 2009
30
0
32
St. Joseph County, IN
Wow, sorry. I must not have my settings on automatic subscriptions. I had no idea there were replies here!

I'm not quite sure what the neighbor's real issue was, as they didn't bother to come talk to us. I thought that I had spoken with everyone prior to getting the birds, but I either missed someone or they changed their mind. I would guess that they were upset about the feces, though personally I appreciate free fertilizer in exchange for bug control! Regardless, the Humane Society just left us a note saying that no violations had been observed, but they had been called out for a complaint about uncontained chickens. I didn't bother calling them about it. It was never my intent to upset my neighbors, and I'd be looking for a containment solution if they'd have just come to talk with us instead of using the Humane Society as a screen/threat.

But anyways... Fred's Hens, I ended up with a plan similar to yours. I bought 100 ft of portable fencing from Premier1 Supply. It is able to be electrified, but since I shut my birds in the coop at night, I didn't see the need to charge it. The entire roll weighs about 20 lbs, and it is attached to PVC posts with U-shaped stakes. It's perfect. I have been moving it every 3-4 days, and it only takes 15 minutes or so to set (I'm sure it could be moved more quickly, but I'm hugely pregnant at the moment!). Because I don't have any portable nesting boxes, the rotation has simply been around my coop, but we are working on fabricating something portable with a roof that I can move about the yard. Then I can set up the fence away from the coop, lure the birds in with some treats, and leave them there until it's time for them to go to roost. I figure if I open it up 30-60 minutes before sunset, the chickens won't have much inclination to go far from home, so I won't have to worry about upsetting anyone.
 

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