How often do you let your flock out?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Wyandotte34, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. Wyandotte34

    Wyandotte34 Out Of The Brooder

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    We are about to get three new Wyandottes and move them into the coop we just built. The coop itself is about 3x4, and our run is 8x8. Now the run is pen made of 1x1s, with two panels that serves as lids essentially. The whole thing is covered in standard chicken wire which is stapled into the 1x1s and buried several inches in the dirt, angled outward, and weighted with rocks. So my question directly relates to my title. Would it be cruel to keep the birds in the coop when we aren't home? And do you think an enclosure of chicken wire is strong enough to keep out a dog? I live in New England so I believe the biggest threat to us is neighborhood dogs during the day, and at night the chickens will be in the coop. The coop has windows which are covered in galvanized hardware cloth with about a thousand staples in each piece. I guess this could also go in the pest section but my real question is, how often should they be let out? For a few hours everyday, and most of the day on the weekend? Or all day every day and just take our chances? I mean I know which one sounds better, but I am still very new at this and would also like advice from people who have had to worry about these things.
     
  2. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    I don't want to sound mean but IMHO, it would not be good to have your chickens w/ only 4sq ft of space ALL the time. You have 12 sq feet of coop space and that doesn't include feeders, waterer, roost, nest box.. They will become bored and maybe even sick.... and no-- chicken wire will not keep anything out.. a dog can chew/tear through it w/ little effort! a large dog could break 1x1 boards w/ little effort! Is your yard enclosed w/ any type of wire or wood fencing or is it completely open? You can read 1000's of post here about a dog, coon, possum etc getting thru their fence--killing, hurting, stealing their birds..
     
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    The answer does depend on a lot of things. Sure, you can keep them in there all the time, they may not be happy about it and you may eventually have pecking issues etc., but you can do it. If it were me I'd try to get them in something larger but I always do try to go as large as possible with my animal containment. On the other hand, yes, you can leave them out all the time while your gone, as long as you are prepared to loose birds at some point.

    It boils down to how you want your birds to live and how important their comfort and saftey is to you. Some people have large flocks and it isn't that big a deal to loose one here and there in the process of free ranging. If you have a small flock and a predator arrives, well you may have no flock in a matter of minutes.

    I have 8 birds that are kept in a coop/run most of the time because I'm not interested in feeding the local wildlife and neighbor dogs. They are let out into a pasture for about 2 hours each afternoon. But, I have a fairly large coop and run. The coop is 5x13 so about 8 square feet of coop floor space per bird, and the run is 13x24. They have plenty of room to scratch in the dirt, sun/dust bath etc. and plenty of room to get away from each of if somebody gets testy.

    And no, unfortunately regular chicken wire is not your friend. Very good for keeping chickens in but won't keep anything out. Hardware cloth is pricier but does a far better job of keeping the chickens safe.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  4. jamieg

    jamieg Out Of The Brooder

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    I let mine out every morning and they free range all day without supervision. We also have a large run and in my opinion they are much happier and healthier if they aare able to be outside. Pretty much, every day I let them out although, I am sure that will change come wintertime. Enjoy your chickens!
     
  5. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In addition to what others have said, i think that if you keep them in the coop all day long, you are likely to inhibit the egg-laying process. Chickens need sunlight. They need to be in a run, at least. If your yard is fenced in, then you will probably be o.k. with the run you have, but from your question, i am guessing that it isn't.
     
  6. WhetzelMomma

    WhetzelMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If I read your post right, you will have a total of three birds, and they'll have 8'X8' of outdoor space.

    I think you'd be smart to put hardware cloth around the coop in place of the chicken wire. (I wouldn't worry about replacing the buried wire)
    I think it sounds like you've got a pretty nice set up for three birds.

    I suggest making sure there's plenty of STUFF to do when you're gone, like scratch, and fresh cut grass... things to mimic foraging. I'd let them out in the evenings when I got home, and let them range until they were ready for bed. I don't think they'll be so bored they won't lay if you give them plenty to do.

    I live out in the country, and I'm home most days, so my chickens all range free on our property now. All day. BUT we don't have any dogs nearby to take birds either.
     
  7. CarolAnn

    CarolAnn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in the country too. Nearest neighbors on either side are 1/8 mile away. I lost all but 4 of my original 22 chicks at 4 wks to the neighbor's dog. They weren't too hard to get to, in a big rubber stock tank covered with heavy wire top. I was keeping them in my wood shop but had the the big door rolled up on a gorgeous day. He smelled them and came hunting. He didn't take any, just pushed off the top and jumped in and bit and trampled them. I almost lost it. I replaced them the same day because I had a hen house coming in a few weeks and I wanted big birds to put in it. My hen house is 8x9 ft and my runs are side by side 10x10 ft and 6x18 ft with a gate between them. As soon as we've covered the 6x18 they'll have the run of both all day. I let them out to play every evening for 1.5 - 2 hrs. I can't leave them out all day because we have hawks and owls around. They're happy birds I think and I feel they have plenty of space when they're penned. I sure would recommend you replace the chicken wire with the heavier hardware wire, think that's what it's called, and wish you'd used 2x2's instead of 1x1's. Is your own yard fenced?

    I don't work away from home and am staying home a lot more this year. My chickens make it easier for me to be content doing that. My little terrier has been around them since I brought them home as day olds so she's great with them. Except she things my little cochin roo is hurting the girls, they make such a fuss sometimes. She's getting used to it now. So am I. lol
     
  8. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    My Coop
    They get out at least a couple of times a week about an hour before sunset.
     
  9. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I let the whole flock out daily and they always come home at dusk.

    I have almost 5 acres - they pretty much keep to the one acre.
    Caroline
     
  10. jafo

    jafo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    every day, even though we lost 4 to a predator last year. Can't beat the antics!
     

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