Keeping Chickens When Your Neighbor Has Chickens As Well

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RattleCan, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. RattleCan

    RattleCan Chillin' With My Peeps

    127
    23
    73
    Oct 25, 2014
    Maryland, USA
    So my fellow chicken keepers, I'd like a spot of advice from you. I live in an apartment and currently only have two RIR hens who live in a coop out back. They are not currently free-range since I live inside city limits (dogs, cars, college kids, other threats) and I honestly don't believe I'm even supposed to have chickens. That will be changing next week though, as we're about to settle on our first house in a rural community with a large yard and my soon-to-be next door neighbor even has their own flock. But that has left me with several concerns.

    I'm looking forward to eventually expanding my flock, getting some new breeds, and maybe even getting a rooster so I can hatch a few chicks of my own. Ideally, I wanted to have free-range chickens that could poke around the yard all day and come back to their coop in the evenings. But now I'm wondering, will my neighbor's flock affect my future flock? The neighbor's chickens are free-range, they're always running about the yard every time we go to the house and I know they have at least one rooster (not familiar enough with different breeds yet to identify them, but the roo is solid white). If I tried to have free-range chickens, what would stop my chickens from going into my neighbor's yard, eating their feed, laying their eggs in my neighbor's nestboxes, hanging out with the neighbor roo and returning to my neighbor's coop at night? I'm assuming no matter what, if I try to have free-range birds, there's going to be some level of mingling and that doesn't really bother me at all. But I'd still like to know that my chickens are coming back to my coop to lay their eggs and sleep. If they're trained to go back into their coop at night, will they always return to the same coop even if they discover another? And would it cause trouble if I was to eventually get my own rooster? I'd like to end up with 8-10 hens and have a rooster to protect them if they roam about the yard. Should I expect my own and the neighbor's rooster to start a fight? Or would they likely try to avoid each other, or fight it out just once to establish a pecking order? I suppose I could always just build a custom coop and large pen/run for my birds if I really wanted to keep them separated, but I was just really hoping to have free-range birds.

    In summary, I'm new to large flocks and free range in general, so any advice on how to keep free-range chickens (while your next door neighbor also has free-range chickens) would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

    3,352
    1,156
    296
    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    Old saying. GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS. We will be looking to you for answers as you experiment and let us know what is good. I would definitely build coop and enclosed run initially . Then fence off your property and let them rip free range. Yes I know that chickens can fly over fences. There are steps to minimize. When you get to that point then , you can do appropriate. The most important thing is how will you get along with your neighbor. Can you work out issues , should they arise . Large flocks mingling together not a good idea on many fronts. Chicken sicknesses being one. These are my opinions. WISHING YOU THE BEST.
     
  3. LRH97

    LRH97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    988
    126
    171
    Jul 29, 2013
    Southern Illinois
    The amount of mingling really depends on how far away your neighbor is. If they're right next door, it is likely that the the flocks will meet each other. In my opinion, two completely different flocks mingling carries some pretty substantial risks that I would avoid. My neighbors have kept a flock for probably ten or so years (our land is inherited from family and poultry have been here probably just as long as we have, say 70-80 years) and both our flocks free range. Their property is about 200 yards away, and only a handful of times has one of their roosters gotten brave and came over to check my hens out. My roos would have nothing to do with this and promptly chased him half way back across the yard. If you're pretty close, you may run into problems, especially with roosters. Two roosters who are "strangers" to each other, are not usually nice to each other. Now it doesn't mean they'll fight to the death (not always the case) but you could wind up with an injured roo. Solutions would be obvious, large run or fenced in yard. However, if there's a good gap between your yards, you could probably pull it off. As far as the birds finding another coop, probably not. A good week or so locked in their coop with food and water before allowing them out to range pretty much reinforces that locations as "home base." If they ever wander a little farther than what your comfortable with (which will happen occasionally) simply keep them locked up for a day or so. However, if your are so close that the birds start to integrate into one big flock, you may get birds starting to roost at the neighbors. It is a good idea to have a run, however, in case problems arise (predators etc.). A major concern with mingling flocks is disease. If your birds have come into contact with the neighbor's and your neighbor's birds have a disease, now your birds may have caught that sickness or should be treated as a precaution, or the other way around. In all, if it was me and it was close quarters, I'd invest in a good fence to play it safe. Just keep an eye on things, see how they go, and keep us updated. [​IMG]
     
  4. How large of a yard? If, like me, you can't see the neighbors' houses, you are probably fine. If not, fencing in your yard may be a good idea. As your chickens get used to the yard, they may want to wander further and further, so keep an eye on them to see where they will roam will be necessary. Take some precautions--if your neighbor had many similar chickens, and you're afraid they may get mixed up, use some leg bands to set yours apart.
    Tell your neighbor about your flock and your concerns, and they will probably offer reassurance and let you know what you may need to do to keep your birds where they belong in the neighborhood.
    Side note: Ask the neighbors about what kinds of predators are around and how to avoid them while you're at it.
     
  5. RattleCan

    RattleCan Chillin' With My Peeps

    127
    23
    73
    Oct 25, 2014
    Maryland, USA
    Thanks for excellent advice so far! I agree a lot of it is going to depend on my relationship with the neighbors. Hopefully they'll be friendly chicken buddies and not Im-going-to-kill-your-chickens-if-they-come-near-ours sort of people. Guess I'm just gonna have to figure that out when I move in.

    A fence would be ideal, especially since it would help with a dog I plan to get as well. The only downside to that is, this house is quite a bit of a fixer upper and my current job is only seasonal, so I'm already probably going to take several years just to afford all of the updates for inside the house. A fence just won't be in my budget, at least not anytime soon. So it sounds like my best bet is just going to be to build a big coop and run for them, practicing with letting them out to see how they do with the other chickens, and ultimately aiming to build a fence. The neighbor is close (Houses only about 30 yards apart on either side) so some mingling would be impossible to prevent if they were free range.

    Edit since I missed earlybird's post:

    The yard is just over an acre, but it's long and narrow. There's only about 100 feet on either side of my house to the next house. Straight behind my yard is forest and state land. But I do indeed live practically on top of this neighbor, so I know our chickens are going to get to meet. I'm really hoping they are friendly people, and we can both have our chickens and enjoy them. I know their flock is in the yard at my new house all of the time. There's little dust bath bowls under every bush around my house. So I'm hoping it wouldn't bother them at all if my birds free ranged and did the same to them!
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    20,289
    8,959
    596
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Before you invest in fencing for a run, I'd like to suggest that you look into electric poultry netting. You may find that by the time you buy the fencing and posts that the electronet would be a good option for you. I wish you the best, both with your move, and as you establish a relationship with your new neighbor.
     
  7. RattleCan

    RattleCan Chillin' With My Peeps

    127
    23
    73
    Oct 25, 2014
    Maryland, USA
    I just looked into the ElectroNet, and it sounds like a pretty cool deal. I'm sure it would (for the most part) keep chickens in and some of my lovely local predators (including foxes, coyotes, and bears but I doubt it would stop one of them) out. I imagine something like this could be a good compromise-- my chickens will still be mostly contained to my yard but they will still have the option to roam about the fenced off area. And the pricing for the ElectroNet in particular doesn't seem too bad. It looks like 100 foot of fencing is about $130, and there's a neat solar panel kit they offer for about $200. I'm not too familiar with electric fencing in general, but that doesn't sound unreasonable to me at all if it would offer a safe area for my chickens to free range in the yard with less concern to me about them getting out or wandering off.

    Does anyone else have experience with using electric poultry netting? Is there another brand or type you all would recommend?
     
  8. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

    3,352
    1,156
    296
    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    I checked out the electric fencing. It is not all that permanent. It has limitations. Requires some maintenance and checking if it is working. I watched one sellers video explaining it . If I was budget minded, I would look for other options like used fencing. Craigs list.. Until you are in a better position to get what you want. WISHING YOU BEST.
     
  9. equinealot

    equinealot Out Of The Brooder

    53
    1
    41
    Feb 23, 2013
     
  10. equinealot

    equinealot Out Of The Brooder

    53
    1
    41
    Feb 23, 2013
    Chickens will roam everywhere without fencing & Roosters will fight. While giving riding lessons 2 Roosters were fighting next door. The fight lasted to long so went & checked it out. The older Rooster had the much larger RIR stuck & pecking him bad. Big guy was bleeding out the eye. These are 2 different neighbors that got chickens with no pen. Do their hanging at my house. Took the guy in put in old pen & doctored back to health. Just let him out for first time yesterday. Guess where he went to roost last night. So locked him in for safety. Now have to go get chicken food. Been feeding horse pellets. Don't reckon that's best food for him.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by