Need help with ideas

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Canamer, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. Canamer

    Canamer In the Brooder

    Jan 15, 2015
    Eastern NC (Grifton)
    We are planning to get chicken's in the next few weeks, and are trying to figure out the best design for the run/yard and coop to keep out predictors (and our family dog).

    I have an area about 100ft X 100ft that is presently fenced in with three strands of electric fence. I was thinking of adding two more strands at the bottom to keep out the dog, and hopefully any fox. This was suggested by a friend who also has chickens. Do you think that will work when they are roaming around during the day?

    As far as the coop goes, I am starting with a blank slate, and would like to go the least expensive way possible. Hoping to start with 10-15 chickens about 4-5 months old (not ready to start raising from chicks just yet). How large of a coop will we need, should we get one already made, use one of those sheds, or start from the ground up. What's the best way to set up the inside? how large of an area outside should we screen in for when I am not around and do have to close the hens in, or at night?

    Is there anything that can deter hawks, eagles (we have 4 residents about 300 feet from our barn, and where the chickens will be), fox and raccoon.

    I have been sorting through other threads,and am getting good ideas, but wanting to get some ideas all in one place.

    Thanks for your help. I love this forum!
  2. dgh

    dgh Songster

    Sep 16, 2008
    Build Fort Knox. Everything eats chicken.

    the electric fence will only work if a furry animal touches the wire with its nose. you need actual fencing. The birds will be able to fly over anything up to 5 ft. if their wings are clipped, (lead feathers trimmed).

    Put fencing on the ground inside the coop. this will keep the chickens from scratching up the roots of anything which might give shelter from a hawk in an emergency. When the weeds grow high the hawks cannot land. they need to be able to outstretch their wings. I also built a cattle panel T-Pee in the middle of our yard.

    You will have to check daily for any signs digging from Foxes or Fishers or dogs. many people bury fencing horizontally in the ground to deter digging. In addition, groundhogs can dig a hole in hours which will let a fox in.

    I think 10X10 ought to do it for a temporary secure fenced area. at that size, you may be able to secure the top with bird netting.the snow does a number on it though.

    I just posted about a poop tray. something I learned from this forum and I am very excited about. it is under the roost and collects all the night droppings. (which is most of them) the coop is staying cleaner.
    If you make a poop tray, clean the poop tray once a week as the ammonia can damage their lungs. and properly ventilate the coop with a roof vent. even in the winter, the frost can cause lung damage and frost bite.

    I built a sand box for dust baths underneath the roosts so that they can bathe. 1/2 peat and 1/2 sand.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  3. Canamer

    Canamer In the Brooder

    Jan 15, 2015
    Eastern NC (Grifton)
    No ground hogs and no snow here :) Was thinking with the bottom 4 strands being only 4 inches apart that might deter the animals. I know it will my dog (he won't step foot inside the horse pastures). Not sure I can afford the expense of a fence around the whole 100X100 feet. Was thinking that if they were outside of the fenced area and my dog or a fox went after them they would know where safety was? So maybe just let them out while I am around?

    But a 10X10 area for the building, or for my completely fenced in run?

    Thanks for info.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Open the link in my signature to get my ideas about how much room you need. I don’t believe in magic numbers for much of anything to do with chickens and I don’t give you any. We keep them in so many different conditions that one number cannot cover us all. I just try to give you some things to think about and reasons you might need more or less room. I do believe in going bigger rather than smaller. I find that I get fewer behavioral problems, have to work less hard, and have more flexibility in dealing with problems if I do not crowd them.

    Fur or feathers will insulate an animal, at least to a certain extent. And the animal has to be grounded for the electric fence to work. Dogs, foxes, skunks, coyotes, possums, bobcats, and who knows what else are so used to going through a barbed wire fence a strand electric fence will probably not slow them down much. Wires closer to the ground will help a lot but I would not want to depend on it that much. But it will help. Many things like fox or coyote can easily jump a fence but the tendency if they meet a barrier like a mesh wire fence is to stop and investigate it. Most of them investigate with a tongue or nose. Once bitten they tend to not come back but there are always new ones being born so you can’t let your guard down.

    There is another problem. The chickens can go through that fence and get outside of the protection. If they touch the fence with their combs or wattles they will get shocked but their feathers will insulate them if their heads don’t touch. They will probably not fly over it, just walk through. Baby chicks especially are bad about his.

    I don’t know how your fence is set up, but I’d look real hard at how to attach something cheap like chicken wire on the inside to form a physical barrier to slow down the predators and keep the chickens inside.

    One big problem with electric fencing is that weeds and grass will grow up in it and short it out when it is wet. Whatever you do, keep the maintenance of grass and weed control in mind. I use electric netting and use round-up to stop the grass and weeds from growing but some others won’t like that method.

    For that many chickens you need a walk-in coop. About the easiest way is to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and get a prefabricated building. Those are really not that hard to set up as a pretty good coop but they are not real cheap. You need to add ventilation, roosts, nests, and a pop door. A window too if it doesn’t have one. Those are really not hard. You probably need a foundation of some type too so you get it off the ground to prevent rust and to tie it down so the wind doesn’t blow it away. That can be a concrete foundation, brick or cinder blocks mortared in, 4x6 treated timber or other ideas. The goal is to have a solid barrier animals can’t just walk under a low spot, prevent rust, and tie it down. The foundation may be the most work in one of these prefab buildings.

    It is less expensive but more labor intensive to build your own. If you buy new building materials most come on 4’ or 8’ dimensions. If you can incorporate that into your design you can usually build a coop with a lot less cutting and fitting and with less waste. If you have other material handy consider what you have when you come up with sizes. Often on Craigslist you can find a building to buy cheap that you have to either relocate or tear it down and get building materials.

    One easy way to stop animals from digging into a coop or run is to make an apron. Instead of burying the wire straight down, lay it horizontal on the ground around the coop or run and attach it to the bottom of the fence or wall. You don’t have to bury it but just weight it down with boards, rocks, or something so the grass can grow through it and hold it down, but if you remove the turf and put that over it, the wire is protected from lawn mowers and weed eaters. About 18” is plenty. The idea is that an animal goes up to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and does not know to back up.

    I suggest you lock them in a secure coop at night. It’s a lot easier to make a coop predator proof than a decent sized run. In spite of what you may hear, many predators can be active during the day, but the night is your most dangerous time. Many are more active at night and you don’t have human activity at night to scare them away. They have a lot more undisturbed time to generate mischief.

    I find a predator-resistant run to be quite handy. There are times I don’t want them out roaming. You can make a run pretty predator proof if you spend enough money and put in the labor, but it is really easy for there to be a weakness somewhere. Something is better than nothing.

    How big does it need to be? I have no idea of the absolute minimum you could get by with. If you build it with fence posts and welded wire you can make it fairly big fairly easily and without a great expense. If you build it out of lumber and hardware cloth and cover it, the costs and labor involved go way up.

    Flying predators are rough if you don’t have a roof over everything. I had an owl go into a grow-out coop one night when I was late locking them up. We’ve got all kinds of big hawks around here and I saw a bald eagle just a few days ago, but that owl is the only time I’ve ever lost a chicken to a flying predator. I know others have. You can read many different things people do to try to discourage flying predators. The only one I try is to have a few places the chickens can run to if they sense a bird overhead. That might be bushes, small buildings or structures, or even an old satellite antenna a bit off the ground if you want to get that trashy. For foxes, coyotes, dogs, and raccoons I’d think hard on electric fencing.

    We all have our different predators and predator pressure. Often the problem turns out to be something we did not expect. Be flexible and good luck with yours.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Canamer

    Canamer In the Brooder

    Jan 15, 2015
    Eastern NC (Grifton)
    Thank you for the great info!

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