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Lodgings for new chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Nonny, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. Nonny

    Nonny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm trying to decide the best way to house two separate aged groups of chooks with the least amoutn of stress and upheaval for them, and I just can't decide, so I thought I'd put my lists up here and get some feedback from those who know better than I do. :)

    My present setup is this:

    Coop 1 is a small coop/run combination I got from Ebay with an open floor, one roosting pole and two nest boxes. The coop itself isn't predator proof because it's not on level ground so there are plenty of gaps under it, but the run is fairly safe, the feeder is rodent proof and we don't have to deal with 'coons here, only cats and dogs, perhaps foxes (heard of, but never seen in our side of town, and there are quite a few people with chickens around here), and of course the Australian Possum (will eat eggs and grains and vege scraps, but not live birds) and rodents.

    It's already home to my two chickens, I can fit three adult birds at a pinch because they only use it to sleep and lay eggs - the attached run is plenty big enough for the maximum of 6 fowl that our laws allow us to keep. The run is not what I would consider sanitary for new chicks, in that there may be worm eggs, lice etc from the wild birds that roost in the trees overhead, plus we recently lost a chook to a random respiratory disease. The other two are fine, but since I don't know what it was, I don't know if there might be something left of it in their environment. I considered putting hardware cloth as flooring for predator proofing and relocating it elsewhere on our land to a more level site, and pretty much using it as a tractor for the newbies until they get too big for it, so they can have access to grass through the wire floor. The sleeping/nestin bit is only slightly raised so the ramp up is an easy grade and the roosts are all low.

    Coop 2 is being built. It's big, new, fully predator proof. No known existing pathogens or potential health threats to newbies. The down side is that it's at the far end of our yard (within sight of the house, but not enough to see if anything is going on in there) and, being designed for adult chooks, the ramp leads up to a waist heigh coop, and the roosts are all going to be at an adult height. The chicks won't have access to green grass in there (I let the older girls free range when I can because they're big enough not to be easy fodder for my cat).

    So... can anyone give me some guidance on whether it would be better to relocate the big girls into the new coop and let the new chicks have the smaller one until they're too big for it... or is is better to start the newbies in the new coop and move the big girls in once they're all closer in size? (Either way the newbies will be in the house for the first 4 - 6 weeks. It's Summer here and plenty warm enough to let them out after that).
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    You might want to talk to animal control if you think you don't have all kinds of potential predators for your chickens. Just because you don't see them does not mean that your section of Brisbane does not have them. I know Australia does not have the same animals as North America, but you have predators of all kinds too. Think snakes if nothing else, but also weasel like animals.

    A good way to keep things from crawling under the fence or digging under is to make an apron. Take some fencing about 18" (1/2 meter) wide and lay it horizontal around your run. Attach it to the bottom of the run so nothing can get through the gaps. You can maybe take the sod up around your run and bury it a couple of inches if you want, but that is not really necessary. Weigh it down with something like rocks or boards so it lays flat. The grass should grow through it and hold ot down pretty quickly. The idea is that something will try to dig into your run or squeeze through underneath. They start digging and hit the fence, then don't know enough to back up.
     
  3. hollyk

    hollyk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would relocate the big girls and use the smaller coop for the chicks. Once you have made it varmit proof you can lay down several inches of wood shavings or something of the sort to give some fresh flooring for the chicks. I am not a big fan of sterile environments, they don't allow natural immune systems to develop strong. Sanitary is the main thing and fresh flooring and a good scrubbing will take care of that for me.

    I have no idea what kind of challenges regarding predators you would have in Austrailia. I hope to visit there one day![​IMG]
     
  4. Nonny

    Nonny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I'm pretty content with our predator proofing of the big girls for now... the new coop they will all move into eventually is one with a built in run (all housed in the one frame) and that is fully predator proofed including the wire skirt around it.

    The only predators I have to deal with are foxes, dogs, snakes, possums, quoll, cats, vermin and birds of prey. The run around the small coop has bird netting to prevent aerial attacks. It's is not fox proof, or proof against dogs digging under it, but our yard is fully fenced and fully enclosed, and there are a lot of dogs in our neighbourhood that send out the alarm when there are strange dogs roaming (usually because a storm has made someone's pet jump the fence) so the chances of these is slim enough that I'm willing to bet the many other chicken owners in our neighbour provide an easier target than my girls and I'm happy with that risk at the moment considering the new run will be finished in a few weeks and I'm not going to go to the time and expense of adding more protection to a run that will not be used for long.

    So, I really only have to worry about the foxes, dogs and cats. Possums will break into the run to eat any food left out overnight - this doesn't bother me so much because I put a rock on the feeder lid at night so they can't get in, so all they get to eat is a few vege scraps the girls left, and the new coop/run is possum proof anyway. The snakes we get here will eat eggs and chicks, but since neither egg nor chicks will be in the big run they aren't able to be targeted, and putting wire on the bottom of the small coop should keep them safe. Quoll are too rare to be a threat here and our suburb is nowhere near any of their preferred types of habitat anyway. I dare say if a quoll got to my girls I'd be calling the news crew because they are endangered and sightings are rare around here.

    So, bearing all that in mind, it seems oK to put the small girls in the small coop, and move the big girls out as soon as the new one is ready.... but at what age can I integrate them? The newbies will outgrow the small coop well before point of lay I expect. I will introducing four new girls, to the two older ones. Not sure what the pecking order will be like but I hope the newbies are in with a chance by sheer numbers.
     
  5. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First off there is a lot of information here to digest. So with this much info sometimes you miss some of the simplest of things. So I would like to address a few questions and questions are your best tools to come up with solutions. It doesn't have to be difficult to work.

    The time of year there is perfect for raising the kids outside during the day. I am in agreement with Holly ;"I am not a big fan of sterile environments, they don't allow natural immune systems to develop strong. Sanitary is the main thing and fresh flooring and a good scrubbing will take care of that for me." What do you have to do to make it sanitary enough to put the kids out there during the day? My Idea about simple is this. How big is the big cage? If its 15' X 20' or around that size big why not make a pen inside the big cage and let the kids have their own area that's removable and you accomplish 2 things at 1 time. 1 a safe place for them when out during the day bc your bringing them in at night, right? #2 Introducing the little kids to the big girls all day long and soon when you bring them in and there is no little caged area the big girls will already be used to them being around. I say this bc while this is being done over summertime you have opportunity to observe the big girls to see who is going to give the kids a hard time and when removing the inner area wire the kids were in you can what that bird or big girls to correct them early. If the big cage is large enough and predator proof you have to do nothing else. You will not need the old cage and build anything at all but tractor it away some where and not use it.

    Roosting poles as mentioned is easy to do branches, boxes, made up 2x4's
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    Do not forget the sand box for dust baths1/4 DE and ash to 3/4 sand or dirt or both

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    One of your concerns was
    there may be worm eggs, lice etc from the wild birds that roost in the trees overhead, plus we recently lost a chook to a random respiratory disease.

    What would it take to fix that issue? Some plywood and a wood frame? So clean up the area throw down some Diatomacious Earth and it will smother all the little critter like mites and lice. The Dust bath will protect them if you put it out as a regular box for them to use and bath in.


    Tractor coops are very cool and can be made in tones of sizes with or without sleepers attached and hardware clothe is easy enough to get and lay down and attach so it will allow for grass picking, bugs and scratching around in. Just bc I showed you a monster one doesn't mean you have to build one that size a all build the size you want or can afford or need.

    Your kids do not need to be right next to the house ours is on the side and we have to go around to it.

    Best of luck to you there will be other ideas but list what you need to do and list what you want to do and think in 1 unit and it may be the easiest choice.​
     
  6. Nonny

    Nonny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    SteveBaz - How did I not think of such a simple idea!!! [​IMG] Thanks!

    The new one is roughly 10' x 6' floor space for the covered run, and the enclosed coop takes up a third of this space, but is raised up high so you don't lose any ground to it.

    I think I could easily partition off 1/3 of it for the littlies as a "day area" and put basically a box on legs in there so they also have a sleeping area without losing floor space. The big girls probably won't miss the space short term since they get to range outside of it as well.

    We are already planning DLM in the coop, and sand in the run. DE is a bit hard to come by here - I'll have to try and find an online source.
     
  7. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I forgot to post this great tractor. I can be made in 4 foot panels and as many panels as you want with or without the sleeper/brooder

    [​IMG]
     

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