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Need help with size of area for chickens (big area)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Utard, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Utard

    Utard Chillin' With My Peeps

    So here is my deal. I will be moving up to Nyssa, OR to a nice little ranch of 80 acres.

    Right now my hens (7 of them) are stuck in a 110 square foot covered run and about a 35 square foot coop. And they can not roam out of that.

    So what I have is the pasture area is about lets just say 20 acres. That area is fenced in with x-fence. I plan on building one of those open air draft free coops big enough to support up to 50 birds. Around that I want to build an area that will be chicken wired and covered with netting or chicken wire. Size to be determined.

    I guess want I want to know is how free ranging can the chickens be?

    I will have the coop they can hang in for the night or bad weather or hide in if predators come around and lay eggs. Then and area lets just say for now that is 20'x30' that is protected with chicken wire. Then I could have a door on that to open for the day when I feel like it to let them free range over the 20 acres or should I pen them down to 1 acre or so? Or would it just be best to stick with the enclosed run?

    I have seen vids on internet with goats running around with chickens. I do plan on getting goats also and maybe cattle. Anyone know how much I should be separating these animals. Can you tell I know nothing about a farm :) Should be a fun next year?
     
  2. StruckBy

    StruckBy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It really depends on how risk-adverse you are. Like many people, the only major slaughters I've had have occurred INSIDE the coop/pen. Other than the loathed fox squirrels in Denver, every single poultry loss I've had has been to dogs not wild predators. When my birds were totally free ranging with plenty of things to hide under I haven't lost any. At this house, I didn't even bother building a secure coop. They have an A-frame shelter and an area about the same size as a good sized suburban backyard fenced with 4' chicken wire just to keep them from wandering onto the adjacent road since the neighbors drive like bats out of hell. I haven't lost one yet. Of course, the 160 lb rottie seems to discourage coyotes & neighbors' dogs (he's actually quite friendly with strange dogs but his size seems to petrify strange dogs as much as their owners) even when he's inside. And there are enough teenage boys with guns around here I doubt there's many raccoons left.

    I've never seen a coop (including chainlink with electric wire around the bottom) that a determined dog or two couldn't get in given 30 minutes or so, so I have better luck just getting breeds that are agile & smart (ie, no Polish). We have a stunning goshawk who hunts our property...I've watched her pick a squirrel off a branch right over my head and take several crows...but I haven't lost a bird to her yet. I can always tell if she's around because my sebrights bury themselves under the holly bushes. She's perfectly capable of taking a duck (ex-husband was a falconer...trust me a goshawk could take any of my ducks) or chicken but seems to prefer the crows & squirrels that come to my compost pile.

    But honestly, I've found that with that amount of space for my birds to get away, most predators like raccoons (and even coyotes which are actually omnivores) are going to decide it's easier to just eat the layer pellets & compost pile than chase the birds all over.

    Your mileage may vary [​IMG]
     
  3. StruckBy

    StruckBy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Marcola, OR
    Oh, on the goats thing....talk to a few people before you get them. Really. I have never had such a nightmare animal in my life. Escape artists, into everything, will strip the bark off of every woody plant on the property no matter how well fed, you CANNOT keep them from gorging on the chicken feed no matter how well you have it barricaded off...

    Well, that's my experience with pygmies anyway. I had good luck growing up with some of the normal dairy breeds.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Utard

    Utard Chillin' With My Peeps

    HAHA. Thanks for the info. When I get around to the goats I do plan on only one. That way if I don't like them well.....goat for dinner. But I have always felt like I would like some goats? Not sure why? Sounds like it might be best to keep them to their selves?
     
  5. StruckBy

    StruckBy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    oh please don't get only one! They are very much herd animals and shouldn't be kept by themselves. Goats can be very fun and sweet but you really need to get the right individuals and have the right set-up from the beginning. As much as the pygmies made me nuts, I probably will get a few Toggenburgs (or similar) next year to clean out the poison oak from the back 3 acres. I'm horribly allergic to it & don't want to use as much chemical as I would need to wipe it out. Property is fenced so I'd just need to put in one cross fence.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    CENTRAL MAINE
    Goats are herd animals. If you try to have just one, you will have a VERY unhappy goat indeed. Unhappy = needy, noisy, and getting into even more trouble.
     
  7. Utard

    Utard Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am probably just being overly cautious? Been a city boy all my life where everyone has a huge fence between yards.

    With this living arrangements how much would I still need to supplement them with food pellets? I know during the winter there will not be much food for them but in the summer it seems like there should be plenty of food for them to forage? I was also thinking of doing up to an acre of corn. That way I can let some of it dry and use if for winter feed? What other crops would be good to do this?
     
  8. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am looking at more land in the future and plan to follow Joel Saladin's methods (check him out on YouTube). Which aren't too different from what I've doing on minimal space; 1/4 acre mobile paddocks with a charged bird fence that, with the use a 12 volt deep cycle, can put out enough juice to keep most things at bay and is mobile; a good guard dog (flock trained); a pair of geese. Now they can move around your property every 3 days and benefit all your pasture. Happy farming.
     
  9. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The food question...When flock was smaller my consumption of feed was 50% less (50 birds - 2 acres) but many say that was twice what the average is. Experiment; each property has it's own story so who can tell. Watch your feed and follow the moving idea of every 3rd day and see. If you have herd animals have your flock follow 3 days behind them as they'll spread the manure and eat the fly larvae.
     
  10. Ruthster55

    Ruthster55 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eighty acres is a lot of land, even if "only" 20 acres is pasture.

    Unless this land is pure desert, I think you will have to have at least a few cows to keep it from going to thick, impenetrable brush.

    Your first decisions should probably be about installing some fences and subdividing your pasture into a few rotational grazing plots. The number of cows your land will support depends on how arid the area is and how much green grass there is. Since Nyssa is in eastern Oregon, it's probably pretty arid, and the 20 acres might only support 4 or 5 cows.

    Cattle are MUCH easier to deal with than goats.

    Goats see a fence as an opportunity to "jailbreak" however they can. The best goat arrangements I have seen involved very solid pens.

    As far as the chickens are concerned, the arrangement depends on how many you want and what your goals are. If you want a small egg-laying flock, the coop would be best placed close to the house. Whereas, if you wanted a hundred meat birds, you might have them in a tractor behind of the cows as another poster said.
    [
    squote name="Utard" url="/t/848257/need-help-with-size-of-area-for-chickens-big-area#post_12628925"]So here is my deal. I will be moving up to Nyssa, OR to a nice little ranch of 80 acres.

    Right now my hens (7 of them) are stuck in a 110 square foot covered run and about a 35 square foot coop. And they can not roam out of that.

    So what I have is the pasture area is about lets just say 20 acres. That area is fenced in with x-fence. I plan on building one of those open air draft free coops big enough to support up to 50 birds. Around that I want to build an area that will be chicken wired and covered with netting or chicken wire. Size to be determined. 

    I guess want I want to know is how free ranging can the chickens be?

    I will have the coop they can hang in for the night or bad weather or hide in if predators come around and lay eggs. Then and area lets just say for now that is 20'x30' that is protected with chicken wire. Then I could have a door on that to open for the day when I feel like it to let them free range over the 20 acres or should I pen them down to 1 acre or so? Or would it just be best to stick with the enclosed run?

    I have seen vids on internet with goats running around with chickens. I do plan on getting goats also and maybe cattle. Anyone know how much I should be separating these animals. Can you tell I know nothing about a farm :) Should be a fun next year?
    [/quote]
     

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