Need help evaluating coop design please

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Jay13, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    Reading all these messages about possums, coons and other no-good-rotten-predators has gotten me thinking about my coop set up.

    Currently its a 10x14 metal shed that we bought from Lowes, we shut the doors at night after the chickens have all decided to go in ect. The building itself is on 4x4 wooden beams which sit on solid concrete blocks that are flush with ground level.

    The area where they range has 4' feild fence with the graduated spaces from just a couple inches to 8" gaps in the openings. On the outside of the fence I have electric lines 4" from the ground and 3" above the top of the fence. The inside of the fence is covered with 2" chicken wire that is 5' tall. I haven't seen my chickens make it more than a couple feet off the ground, some of them are having minor issues with the roosts...lol

    My questions are these:

    1. Even if the outside run isn't covered from above, will the electric lines keep predators out? We plan on having them be able to free range in our 1 acre orchard once the weather is nicer and they start being a little more brave about being outside in general.

    2. Do you think that a digging animal will still be able to get inside the building? What about through the metal, has anyone seen a predator do this?

    3. Do I need to put some kind of a latch on the door? Can raccoons, possums, ect slide a door open or would that be overkill?

    I want my chickens to be safe but there are limits budget and otherwise to what I can reasonably do....

    Thanks.
     
  2. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    Hi. the good news that you shut the door every night on your chicken, preditor can not destry metal, but if the floor of the shade is very old and broken( not your building) then rats can get into it.
    usualy coons and possoms show up overnight or when it is start to get dark, the electric fence you have is real good, but if they figure out they will dig undernieth the fence.
    latch for the door is always good,just incase of high wind or bad weather.
    it is important to secure your run from top if you have hawks around your area.

    best luck.

    omran
     
  3. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    The problem with trying to secure the run from the top is that it is a fledgling orchard about an acre in size. I cannot possibly get enough netting to cover it!
    .
     
  4. CTChickenMom

    CTChickenMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 5, 2009
    SE Connecticut
    I don't think power lines are going to a deter a predator that is looking for a meal unless the wires covered the whole run real close to the top of the perimeter of the run. I'm pretty sure most birds are not effected by the power lines anyway. At my parents the wires are always lined with various birds. If your run is open on top, it's a guaranteed meal for any racoon or opossum wanting a snack, they will climb. Many of the predators are nocturnal like the coons and opossums, owls, coyotes. Hawks can take out a chicken without ever landing and they are around during the day.

    A lockable hen house is necessary I think. Coons have opposable thumbs and are quite clever with getting into things. A sliding latch with a simple lock for the people door will keep your girls safe as well as a latchable pop door. Check any vents and windows too...there have been a few posts lately of opossums getting into coops.

    Having an acre to cover is going to be tough...even half of that is tough. If your area is prone to flying predators, you may want to reconsider your plan for letting them free range over such a large area.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  5. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    Quote:The reason birds don't get shocked when they sit on power lines is that they are not "Grounded" when they are on them. I believe that the fence is a powerful ground (being metal and in constant contact with it) so if they tried to climb between the top hot line and the fence they would get zapped, as well as while along the bottom getting on the fence.

    I had forgotten about coons having opposable thumbs...lol Definitely adding a latch. And am I strange? I don't have a pop door at all, I just open the people door about a foot and they run in and out... do I need to add one?
     
  6. Meisel Photography

    Meisel Photography New Egg

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    Jan 28, 2009
    North Dakota
    Raccoons are clever and extremely adept with their paws. I left a bag of dog food in a car with the window open about four inches. They reached in and rolled the window down enough to get inside the car. Coops need to be well coon proofed.
     
  7. Renee

    Renee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2008
    CALIFORNIA
    If your chickens are locked up at night (with a good lock on the shed door) your system sounds safe to me.

    A normal predatory animal can't get through sheet metal (do you have bears?) and the majority of them are on the hunt at night, when your chickens are locked up.

    The only remaining common predators are dogs and hawks. I would worry less about hawks than I would about stray dogs. In our neighborhood, no one has ever lost a chicken to a hawk, even though we have nesting or seasonal Red-tails, Coopers, Red-shouldered, Kestrels, and Sharp-shinned. Many people have lost chickens to neighborhood and stray dogs, though. That would be my main concern.
     
  8. wasatusay

    wasatusay Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 29, 2008
    South Carolina
    A lockable hen house is necessary I think. Coons have opposable thumbs and are quite clever with getting into things. A sliding latch with a simple lock for the people door will keep your girls safe as well as a latchable pop door. Check any vents and windows too...there have been a few posts lately of opossums getting into coops.

    If you can put pressure against door and latch it will make it impossible for a coon to flip it. I make sure there is hay in the door way so that I have to really push against the door to latch them and push against them to unlatch them.​
     
  9. azelgin

    azelgin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 18, 2008
    S.E. AZ
    I think your fence set up will be fine for ground based predators. We have a similar set up, but with a barb wire strand above the field fence and an electric wire on the inside. Our set up was designed to keep our mules in. We have had only one coyote end up inside the fence in the five years we have been here. He came in through an open gate and tried to clear the fence on the way out, getting himself hung up between the barb wire and the electric. Never saw him again. I have seen coyotes walking outside the fence line several times since. No more break in attempts.
    My next door neighbors have two dogs that had been continuously tunneling out under his fence. He put an electric wire about six inches above ground on the fence and all escapes stopped. They won't even go near it now. We used regular poultry netting on our run with electric twine at three heights along the posts and when our miniature wiener dog hit the bottom one, it would have run all the way to Mexico, if the driveway gate had been open.
    I am sold on electric fencing and it will take some real convincing otherwise, to change my mind. Ours charger is a 110 volt plug in model that was the highest jouls we could find under $200. The practical range (knock you on your butt distance) is about a half mile of wire distance from the charger. We loop the circuit back to the charger, for a total distance of over a mile. The manufacture lists it as having a fifty mile range, but that would have to be with wet soil conditions. I have only seen raccoons around here once and not at all since we started keeping chickens.
    On another note, we had a pet raccoon when I was growing up and they can open just about any knob or latch. Door knobs, screen door hooks, cabinet twist latches, hasps, sliding windows and so on. The only thing that kept her out of the kitchen cupboards was twist ties. She knew they untwist to open, but would keep twisting them past open to tight again. She also learned to use the toilet without anyone teaching her. Never learned to flush afterwards though.[​IMG]
     
  10. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    Quote:Your comment about bears made me think twice for a bit. but no, I don't think we have bears. Some of our neighbors say there is a swamp bear nearby but other neighbors say its just an old boar gone feral, either way, it hasn't been seen anywhere near our property.

    I have the occasional hawk/buzzard that circles, but the chickens all run inside whenever they are around, good instinct I guess. As far as stray dogs go, we have them in abundance but they have ALL learned to respect our electric fence. We have about 3 total fenced in acres that is our yard. The rest of the property is unfenced. but we have several strands of hot wire inside, outside and on top of the fence wired to a 50 mile charger. I got popped myself once and now know why the dogs took off running. lol


    What about a pop door? Do I really need one or can I just keep using the people door? They really seem to like basking in the sun during the day inside the coop out of the wind.... or am I inviting trouble?
     

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