Looking for some design help for "bird City"

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jopheso, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. jopheso

    jopheso Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2015
    So I have an acre off the back of my property that we would like to turn in to bird city. I just got 25 Black Copper Marans chicks and 4 Lavendar Marans chicks not to mention I will likely keep some other dual purpose breeds and I need to keep everyone separated to properly track breeding and keep records. FYI we are in South Louisiana so we have excellent grass growth and no real winter that would impact the birds.

    My general idea is to put up a 6-7 foot tall fence(input on how high is necessary to keep the chickens in would be great). I was leaning towards standard chain link fencing with the bottom 2 feet reinforced with hardware cloth. The area I would like to fence off would be 35 ft by 180 ft and I was thinking of splitting this into 4 "yards"(I would love feedback on if this is a good amount of space for the birds). If I break it up evenly I believe I end up with 4 "yards" at 17x90 minus the area for a coop in each. How many birds would be happy in an area like this without over saturating the the ground and turning it all into dirt?

    I currently have about 25 mixed breed yard birds they completely free range around the property and we have not lost any to predation in the 8 months we have been here, so I feel pretty good about that issue.

    Any feedback you can offer on fencing materials, how you would set up a coop that keeps the birds separated and also the number of birds for the amount of space and things I should consider.

    Thanks BYC
  2. eggbert420

    eggbert420 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2017
    Sounds pretty nice.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Whether Belle Chasse, Cocodrie, or Cameron, you sure don’t have to worry about cold. Heat is your enemy, they’ll need shade and lots of clean water.

    Most full sized fowl can fly a lot higher than many people give them credit for if they want to. The trick is to keep them from wanting to. One common occurrence is that the chickens like to perch in high places. If the top of your fence is solid and looks like a good place to perch, they just might fly up there to perch. Who knows what side they’ll fly down on. So don’t have anything that looks like a perch up high. Make the top of your fence wire, not some kind of rail. Watch your post tops too.

    Another common occurrence is that a chicken gets trapped against a fence and goes vertical to get away. This could be when you are integrating or have young cockerels in the flock. Sometimes a hen really wants to get away from an amorous rooster. One thing that helps with this is to avoid long narrow areas, make them more square. Also avoid sharp corners. 90 degree corners are usually OK but if you can make them even flatter.

    I don’t give you guarantees with any of this but I normally keep my flock inside 4’ high electric netting, about 45’ x 90’. Occasionally when I have a bunch of cockerels in there one gets out by going vertical when trapped against the fence in a fight. The full sized hens can easily clear that 4’ high netting but they generally don’t. A couple of times when I got careless and a hen got out through a gate they’ve easily flown over that netting to get back inside when I was trying to herd them to that gate to get them back in.

    I don’t know what height that chain link fence comes in. For what you re wanting to do 7’ or 8’ would probably be a good height. That should keep them in but if they start getting out you can cover it with bird netting or deer netting to keep them from flying out. You need to be able to walk in there without ducking and that netting will sag so you might need some uprights in the middle to hold the netting up. But I think 7 to 8’ should be high enough without a cover. I used 2” x 4” welded wire for my main run which also works well if you add hardware cloth to the bottom couple of feet.

    I can see why you are thinking 17 x 90, you can put one building in the middle and divide that into four sections. That could work but you may need to cover that with netting. You may have some trial and error in this. A 17’ span would be easier to cover, you might not need any center supports. That may be easier than building two separate buildings and making them 35’ x 45’. I can’t give you any guarantees that the 35x45 would work without a cover either, though I think it probably would.

    I have an area roughly 40’ x 90’ inside my electric netting. My main laying/breeding flock is 8 to 9 birds but during the summer I often have as many as 45 to 50 birds in there. The majority are pretty young though, growing to butcher age. I think how many you can keep in there and keep things green is going to be another trial and error thing, some of that depending on how much rain you get. My area stays green all summer but occasionally I have to water.

    The birds will eat certain stuff and leave some stuff. I have to mow mine two or three times a year to cut back the stuff they don’t eat and allow room for the good stuff to grow. So figure out how you get your mower in there and what you do with the birds while mowing.

    I don’t have any magic numbers for how many birds per square foot you can put or anything like that. You can follow the link in my signature for some of my thoughts on that, but we are so unique that no one number can cover us all. It’s not like if you have 3.99 square feet per bird in the coop you have an absolutely guaranteed disaster while paradise is 4.01 square feet. It’s a matter of degree.

    I don’t know what your goals are or how many birds you will be breeding at any one time. I don’t know if you will be setting up breeding pairs or trios or letting roosters randomly breed hens of their breed. There are lots of different ways you could go about this. It takes 3 to 4 weeks for a hen to clean up after breeding with a rooster you don’t want eggs from. Since you are currently comfortable with free ranging (which could change at any time, say if coyotes show up) you might be better off with breeding pens and let them all free range together when you are not setting up for breeding season. There are always lots of different ways to go about these things.

    Good luck!
  4. jopheso

    jopheso Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2015
    WOW thank you RR for the excellent response. Yes I was thinking about 1 large coop split up 4 ways in the center of the fenced area. After a bit of price digging I think 2"x4" welded wire is much more economical than chain link. I think I may go with 6" tall on the fencing and maybe a center post on top of the coop that gets to 8' tall. Then run wires from that to the corners and cover the whole thing with netting. The coop will be raised so that the birds can get under it for shade and I will have at least one more piece of cover in each "yard" to hide from hawks.

    I like the idea of flattening the corners a bit and will keep that in mind.

    My idea for breeding would be something like 2 roosters and 10 hens in a "yard". So I am hopeful that 12 birds on a 17'x90' area would not be too much for the ground to handle. if it is I will cut the numbers accordingly even as low as half that. The condition of the ground is very important to me as i thin grass = happy life for birds, that is just my opinion as a noob :)

    Also I would likely run a much higher number of birds in one area where they will be breeding but be butchered. Something like red broilers, but even my meat birds will have to have the ability to range. Since they willl only be with us for a few months I dont think they will destroy the ground. At least I hope not.

    The general idea is to have 2 "yards" with black copper marans(12 birds in each yard) 1 yard with lavendar copper marans(12 birds) and 1 yard with broilers of some kind(25 birds).

    I have heritage turkeys that I will likely continue to simply let them roam the front pasture and just keep them completely away from "bird city".

    if anyone can point me to their best source for fencing materials that would be a great help as well. the typical big box stores have limited selection and seem pricey.
  5. jopheso

    jopheso Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2015
    lil update. I am now considering one small coop for each of the yards. each coop would be a cattle panel style 8'x8' coop with hardware cloth along the bottom 2' and 2"x4" welded wire up the sides. I would cover half the coop from top to bottom with a tarp that is attached with zip ties and on the backside of the coop use wood frames to build net boxes that would be exposed for gathering eggs without actually going inside the yard.

    This seems like a very effective and cost efficient way to give ample space to 12 birds. I currently have an 8'x12' chicken coop of this style that has been up and running for 8 months and has performed excellent and I should be able to improve on the construction my second time around.
  6. jopheso

    jopheso Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2015

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