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How to? Ideas for foraging 24 hens safely (can't free range)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chxmama, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. chxmama

    chxmama Out Of The Brooder

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    Thinking forward to spring, green grass and how to manage 24 hens outside of the coop/run so they are able to forage, but can no longer free range safely.

    Last year the girls grazed freely across our property, but we encountered problems w/ red-tailed hawks putting a dent in the flock. Quick fix was plastic garden fencing around the base of the kids trampoline which worked GREAT for the chickens (only 5 chickens at the time), but was inconvenient for the kids since they bounce a lot more than we realized. We moved the trampoline around weekly to fresh grass. Girls would run to the trampoline in the AM when I opened the run and back to the coop again in the evening. I liked that they were digging for bugs, worms and getting grass.

    Winter now so chickens are confined to a nice sized coop and attached run which is covered with fencing (and would be adequate year-round), but looking forward to spring and wondering what we can build that would be large enough to allow 24 birds to forage safely? (We have/are increasing the flock since last year so we need to consider area for 24 chickens)

    Needs:
    - enclosed to contain and protect from predators, but not feeling like it needs to be fort knox. our biggest threat so far has been hawks, although we do have coons, foxes, possum, dogs, cats, etc.
    - easily move-able
    - accommodate 24 chickens
    - budget-friendly (we are DIYers)
    - does not need to house chickens 24/7, only needed to allow freedom to "free-range" safely during daylight hours

    Do we build one large chicken tractor that could be moved around?
    2 smaller move-able tractors and split the flock?
    1 tractor and rotate who gets to go out each day (could be tricky since all are integrated)?
    Other options?

    How do others "free-range" safely w/o actually "free-ranging"?

    Would love to hear some thoughts and maybe angles that we haven't considered!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
  2. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens

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    The link in my tagline to make a hoop coop might be more than you need. Check out the links in this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/819353/pvc-chicken-run-plans

    Since this does not need to be covered (well, maybe a corner for shade) you can use lighter construction materials to save money and make it lighter to move.
     
  3. chxmama

    chxmama Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the link! I remember looking at some of these when researching in the earlier stages of coop/run design, but had forgotten about them. Some good ideas to work with.
     
  4. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  5. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Alright well I was trying to find the video for this on YouTube but I couldn't find it so here is how it works as I don't remember the dimensions but I would recommend a run24-30 feet long but it had the coop alright and they had a little run area around the coop they could be in all the time and then it had two long runs and while they where using one the others grass would be recovering and you just slide the door as to which side you didn't want them on and how the door slid was a 4x4 with just a homemade door and the 4x4 had a like a crease in it and it slid the door in the crease to allow you to slide the door to what ever side you wanted to let them on and you could also just put the door in them middle and allow them to go into both hope this wasn't to confusing
     
  6. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok I found it hope this helps
     
  7. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    I have seen the one Roada linked and think it is a neat idea.
    I think since it is hawks you need to keep off the chickens a tractor or rotational pens are the safest options.

    This one is also interesting.

     
  8. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could always put a top on it though
     
  9. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh I totally agree. I think the one you linked is a great plan. But if someone has not got the room to dedicate to that set up tractors are a nice option.

    The tractor I linked is interesting to me because it moves very easily. I do think the person that made it uses a bit to much plastic covering on it and it could get very hot. I would just have the wire and perhaps a shade cloth put on one end.
     
  10. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I like that to but for the amount of hens he has it might be quiet hard to for maybe only a few hens at a time but here is a bit of a larger design to be able to accommodate a few more birds its a very similar design


     

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