How many separate runs/coops/pastures do you have for your chickens?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sarahandbray, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. sarahandbray

    sarahandbray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 12, 2014
    We are 11-weeks into chicken owning and already I'm seeing that one big coop may not be enough!

    Our set-up is as follows:
    10'X10' walk-in coop
    12'X8' attached dog run (covered)
    which opens into a 40'X40' pasture (PoultryNet)

    If I get new chickens next year or the year after, etc., assuming I have enough space in my coop (4sf/bird), do I need to have separate pastures and coops for the different age birds based on nutrition/behavior, etc.?

    Must be naïve of me to think that they could all live, wandering around a big pasture together, with no problems!

    Sarah
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    They can live together, once the young ones are old enough, big enough and you have gone through the proper integration practice. For that reason it is really convenient to have an extra coop/run available right next to the other coop as a grow-out pen for batches of new youngsters. That's what I have and it's so convenient and easy. Pop them in their own pen at about 5 weeks old and let them stay there until they are around 10 - 12 weeks old. At that age then you can start letting them out in your pasture area together with the older birds. This works well because there is plenty of room to get away if an older bird gets nasty. But by then usually things will have settled down, the older birds will have had time to get used to the new ones and it usually goes fairly smoothly. In my experience it's a lot harder when you only have one coop and have to integrate new or young birds directly into the coop/run.
     
  3. sarahandbray

    sarahandbray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 12, 2014
    Thanks! We have the pasture room, so maybe I can make a little "Pullet Island" with its own small coop and pen at some point. Thanks!
     
  4. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    I started with one little coop and run. After needing quarantining places, one for injured ducks, injured chickens, broodies, babies with no mother, another broody in case I have two at once, ducks, bantams, roosters, and large birds, one coop was no longer efficient. I have two 8x7 coops, a 6x6, an 8x10, a 5x3.5, a 4x3, a 3x2.5, a 2.5x2, and an 8x4. The birds will take over your life. I love them though.
     
  5. sarahandbray

    sarahandbray Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 12, 2014
    We actually just bought a 4'X5' coop with 4'X8' covered run attached last week, used on Craigslist. Working great for 6 rather bossy (but wonderful laying!) Golden Comet hens we got. This works out great--literally dropped it right next to the big pony shed coop, wired it up for light, and the girls spend the night and morning in there. I let them out to pasture when I get home from teaching and all day on the weekends. Having that electric fencing around the whole perimeter really makes me sleep soundly at night knowing they're as protected as I can get them! Hopefully, these hens will integrate better over the coming weeks and I'll use this set up as a breeding pen or a grow out pen for pullets in the spring. :)
     
  6. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with cafarmgirl that having an extra run side-by-side with the main run can be an optimal set-up.

    Because, the crucial thing to my mind is that it be set up so that birds can still see each other from either area all or most of the time. With such a set up the chickens feel like they are just in one big coop together, so flock cohesion is promoted/maintained, yet the birds cannot fight or bully each other or steal each other's feed. You can separate sick/injured birds for a while this way and they won't be bullied when they are "reintroduced" because they've essentially never left the flock in the first place (from the chicken point of view)! And new birds or young birds can be left in the side run for a while, and then by the time they are "introduced" to the main flock they are already considered part of the group by the other birds, so there's naturally less bullying by then. Works great, and makes integration/segregation/reintegration or whatever else you have to do all much less stressful. A quick solution on the same principle is just to run a piece of chicken wire across a corner or end of an existing coop, add portable waterer, feed trough, and your'e set--We always do this for chicks until they are old enough to fend for themselves in the pecking order. Or for just one chicken, plop some kind of portable cage right in the middle of the coop/run and stick a mini waterer in there with the chicken to be "isolated." I've done this for injured chickens several times that otherwise would have been pecked to death. Also for broody hens I've built a little chicken wire cage right around the whole nest box so they can set in peace, but still be where they want to be.

    Regardless of how exactly you cobble stuff together or why, the general principle of keeping "separate" groups "physically separated but still adjacent and visible to each other" revolutionized our flock management solutions once I learned about it and understood how it worked in terms of the chicken psychology.

    Anyway, grasping this concept really helped me. GL!
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  7. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    In some occasions though, having them be able to see each other will make things worse. If you separate a bully or males from females, it can cause them to be even more aggressive when they get together again. If you have a rooster coop where the boys can see the girls, they will sometimes kill each other over the girls they can not get to anyway.
    EDIT: Same with quarantine pens. They need to be far away, at least in the beginning.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  8. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Right. Because psychologically and socially they feel like they are in the same pen together, even though they're separated... :)

    Oh, and for quarantining of course, if it's because of something highly contagious, particularly airborne, then obviously that's a different thing altogether and you would want to get them as far away from the rest of the flock as you could (and then be careful about being a carrier yourself too). Theoretically. In practice, I find these sorts of measures often a little unrealistic and often unnecessarily extreme for the small, home-grown, healthy outdoor flock. And most of the time they are simply not needed. Though others will no doubt feel differently on the subject...

    Cheers!

    PS: when I give workshops on keeping home flocks, I always feel like I have to give a discussion on diseases, but even after keeping chickens since childhood, my experience is so limited in that area that I find this part awkward! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014

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