Need Advice on Coop/Run Mods

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jengacat, May 3, 2017.

  1. jengacat

    jengacat Just Hatched

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    May 26, 2016
    Central Kentucky
    So I have a new coop with secure run, but my 5 girls need more room! I'm currently in a rental situation while I build my new house, but I need some way for the girls to get more "walkabout" time without me being right there to supervise. We have a pair of Cooper's Hawks living 2 houses down! No attempts on my girls yet but he's come down into the yard after wild birds.

    My plan is to fence off (with T-posts and welded wire fence, 5 ft tall) a portion of the yard and cover it with aviary netting. I have 50 ft x 100 ft of knotted nylon netting. I'm considering 2 options and can't decide. I'm torn between keeping them safe or keeping them happy. I'd love input from those who have done similar things in their small yards.

    Option #1 (safest): Keep it simple and do a square enclosure about 35x50ft around the coop. There would be no bushes or vegetation, just the coop itself and (right now) grass. I could plant stuff for them but they'll probably destroy it unless I do the frames with hardware cloth tops.

    Option # 2 (happiest): Use existing structures (privacy fence on back, back wall of garage) with welded wire fence on 2 sides to enclose a much larger area that includes a lot of bushes and vegetation where they love to forage, dust bathe, and hang out. This is less safe because of all the trees and having to improvise with the netting around obstacles. I could use the cheap plastic deer netting so I could cut it and wrap around trees.

    Here is a pic to illustrate:

    [​IMG]

    I will only let them out in this area if I am in the yard (to start) or nearby in the house, once I've seen that the hawks aren't trying to get in. Would a hawk try to grab a chicken thru the netting? This netting is very "drapey" and I'll need to use posts or rope threaded thru at regular intervals so it will be tall enough for me to walk around under it. I'm planning to tie brightly colored flag tape on it to deter hawks too. I'm hoping that a hawk would not "dive" into the netting to get to a chicken.

    The 2nd modification I'm considering involves adding coop ventilation. We've already had a couple of over 80 degree days and the coop is still hot at bedtime, even with fans in the windows. I am planning to build hardware cloth "windows" into the clean out doors OR a 2x4 hardware cloth frame for the entire wall that I'd have to remove daily for cleaning. I just paid someone a lot of money to build this coop so I'm hesitant to cut hole in the doors! What do you think about a frame that I would lift out daily? It would give a ton of ventilation. Here's a couple pics showing the side I am talking about:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Any advice on these options (or better ones I haven't thought of) is greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. BYCforlife

    BYCforlife Overrun With Chickens

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    Just before you do netting, maybe try putting a fake owl or 2 around the yard. That keeps the hawk away, at least for my friend.
     
  3. jengacat

    jengacat Just Hatched

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    May 26, 2016
    Central Kentucky
    Thanks, BYCforlife, I did consider the owls but they (the place selling them) told me that they don't work that well to deter hawks! I wasn't willing to risk it, since I could end up with a dead or injured chicken before I knew it wasn't working :(

    Anyone else have any thoughts on my run construction??
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Use livestock panels and Tposts to support your mesh, hoop coop style for a quickie run.....you can take them with you when you move.

    Forget the fake owls.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Cluckcluck1215

    Cluckcluck1215 Overrun With Chickens

    Not sure of any advice for your questions.But I agree with Aart.I go by a house a lot, fake owl on top, Pigions all over it.
     
  6. BYCforlife

    BYCforlife Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG] The Hawks at my friend's place mush have been dumb, then. [​IMG]
     
  7. jengacat

    jengacat Just Hatched

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    May 26, 2016
    Central Kentucky
    Thanks for the advice, aart and cluckcluck! Love the pic!

    I have been checking out the livestock panels at TSC and it appears that the openings are pretty big...8 in x 4 in and 8 in x 6 in. I have one neurotic 3 lb Ameraucana who tries to fit thru the 3 in x 2 in openings in my PoultryNet. I think she might be able to squeeze thru the livestock panel openings. Do they come smaller or I guess I could put 2 ft of chicken wire on the bottom? I love the idea...not sure how I'd get them home tho :/
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The livestock panels are meant as a structural component...still need to add smaller mesh to keep chickens in and predators out.
    Getting them home is indeed a challenge.....I had buddies with trailers transport them for me.
     
  9. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How big are your chickens? It may give you some peace of mind to know that grown chickens are *likely* too big for Cooper's Hawks (or most any hawks, for that matter).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooper's_hawk
    The real risk is when they are younger/smaller.

    Of course, you may still feel better taking precautions. Just wanted to offer some reassurance.
     
  10. jengacat

    jengacat Just Hatched

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    May 26, 2016
    Central Kentucky
    Hi, Wesley, thanks for the reply. My chickens are all at least a year old and range in weight/size from 3 lbs to over 8 lbs (Ameraucanas and Orpingtons). I called a raptor expert and was told that even if my girls are too big to be carried off by a hawk, the hawk could still attack on the ground and kill/eat the chicken on the ground. That's why I always free range under supervision. The wiki link says Coopers Hawks kill by squeezing with talons, so perhaps they aren't a danger to my girls after all. And yes, I will feel better if I take precautions...there could be other bigger hawks up there lol....:(
     

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