NEW to BYC ... rolling coop / cattle panel / moveable run ... Ontario Canada

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Marco and Mary, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. Marco and Mary

    Marco and Mary Out Of The Brooder

    Hi all ... Never in my life did I think I would write these words ... "what an awesome chicken website"!

    My wife Mary and I purchased a derelict farm on the Welland River in the Niagara region of Ontario Canada. We spent two years clearing the land and then three years building what I think (hope) is our dream home on top of our barn/garage. And now ... chickens! We along with our two kids 4 & 7 are super excited. I'm working on a rolling coop design that can be moved around our property. We are planning on starting with 20 'day old' chicks this spring.

    Our farm is 76 acres, and we rent the land to a commercial farmer who's primary crop is construction grade soy beans. Our homestead is around 4 acres and we would love to have our chickens roam free. My concerns are a) the vegetable garden and b) the 'Roundup Read' soy bean crop. On the South side of our homestead we have a half acre garden which is divided in half by a utility road flanked by asparagus plants ... so two 1/4 acre rectangular garden plots with a grass strip (roadway) down the centre. In the past the garden has proven to be a little too large with simply too much produce and maintenance. My rough plan is to use panel fencing and two gates to alternate activity in the garden areas. Garden on one side and chicken run on the other (with coop inside) ... alternating each year to allow the ground to go follow and the chickens to have some variety. This is the reason for the rolling coop design ... as well as being able to move the coop from the open field garden area to the sheltered side of the barn in the coldest months. (where we also have power).

    So our first of a million questions ... is 34" hog fence any kind of border for chicken run? I could step up to 50" cattle panel ... but its $60-$70 (+ 13% tax) in our area ... and I haven't sourced any used panel yet. We need to cover 1/4 acre. I like the panels because I can easily move them and the metal posts each year. The fencing would not be for predators ... just to control the free range area and keep the chickens out of the GMO crop and (soon to be efficient) vegetable garden.

    Also ... considering our run would be the location of the previous year's garden ... is there something you would suggest seeding on that plot in the spring that would benefit the chickens and the ground ... nutrient wise? I could run the mower in there occasionally ...might need to invest in a couple goats as well! :) Just trying to get my head wrapped around a good plan for the spring...

    Thank in advance BYC ... looking forward to where this takes us!

    Warm regards,
    Marco & Mary
    1 person likes this.
  2. Latestarter

    Latestarter True BYC Addict

    Mar 18, 2014
    North East Texas
    WOW, the options seem endless! LOL Welcome to BYC and glad you joined us!

    OK, first, you're talking 20 chickens, which is a pretty large number to be enclosed in anything considered "movable". Sorry, but inside a coop, a large fowl chicken needs anywhere from 3-4 square feet of floor space per bird (less with more birds, more with fewer). Additionally, they'll need roost space of ~10-12" per bird... so with 20 birds, you're looking at 15-20 feet of roost... and really, once again, more space is better for a number of reasons... [​IMG] a chicken tractor set up would work for meaties as they will only be living in there for typically 8-12 weeks, at which time they will be butchered, so overcrowding isn't a major concern. They'll be in the freezer before any typical major issue would present a problem.

    From what you described, I would try to place a more or less permanent coop at the farthest end of the "roadway" with pop doors on either end so I could open whichever side led to the garden run of choice for that season. Or possibly a single pop door that opened to an enclosed wire fencing "tunnel" that I could place leading to the garden run of choice. You could either fence in both garden areas to contain the chickens within, or use a movable fence to keep them in/out of whichever one... I think if it were me, I'd place a movable fence around the garden to keep them out, and just leave the other open and unfenced. I'd place/spread lawn clippings, leaves, and other compostable items in/on the fallow garden area. The chickens will scratch through it and spread it around/turn it for you, then you could just till everything up in the spring and fence the chickens out prior to planting. In addition, this would help protect the garden from other things like rabbits and such, maybe a high fence to keep deer out...

    The main thing you need to consider is predators. your own, your neighbors and stray dogs being the biggest concern, followed by night time predators like fox, coyote, raccoon, etc. You'll also want to provide "hide" areas for the brids that they can get to in case of hawks and such.

    Congrats and it sounds like you've come a long way (and a lot of work done!) on your place. Wish you luck and hope you''ll share as you go... maybe post some pics and such. seems like you have a LOT of options!
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
  3. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Hi and welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    Chickens will decimate a garden if allowed to forage there. And when confined to a pen, they will eat every living thing that grows. I would also have concerns about letting the birds forage into sprayed cropland - Roundup Ready means the crop is tolerant of roundup (but the weeds are not), so the farmer can spray roundup as needed to kill weeds. My personal feeling is that these crops are bad for several reasons, including the fact that Roundup is then regularly used, and around your home - there is no way that the spray will not find it's way outside the actual cropland.

    Most birds would easily go over panels of any type, and with some they will go through them as well.
  4. Marco and Mary

    Marco and Mary Out Of The Brooder

    Hi Latestarter ... thanks for the info. I'm building the coop on a large farm trailer frame so the floor space will between 6'X12'' and 6X14' ... also assuming that we will likely not keep all the roosters. finally ceiling will be 6' and 8' ... so lots of room for roost overkill.


    I originally considered the thought of permanent raised coop with wire tunnels into the respective garden areas ... however, we use the road with trucks/trailers, etc and the coop would be in the way. Plus in the winter months I wouldn't be able to move it to the sheltered side of the barn ... where we also have power. I saw the 'farm trailer coop' in Modern Pioneer magazine in an article where chickens were on a rotation with bison grazing areas ... and it made sense to me. I'll have a clean out door or two where I can clean out the coop into the tractor bucket and spread in the fallow garden area. I also have two man doors (one at each end) with a moveable divider inside the coop which I can use if needed for brooding area, goat etc etc.

    We don't have too many problems in the garden with pests like rabbits ... mostly raccoons ... who I'm sure will be preoccupied with the chickens once we are up and running. The reason I would like to fence in the chicken half of the garden and not the active garden is because again we are frequently accessing garden with machinery where we need a little more room ... and I would like to keep the chickens out of the GM soy bean crop which is beside our garden area (fields surround most of our homestead area). Your points about the predators are good and well received ... I assume under the trailer would be my aerial predator hiding area ... it will also be the shade and water system area as well . However, during the day they would be as safe in the fenced in chicken area 1/4 acre as they would wondering around the farm yard. The cattle fence would likely keep most dogs out ... foxes, coyote and raccoon ... not so much. We try and trap the latter and hopefully the birds will be tucked into their secure coop after dark. That is the plan at least.

    Thanks again for the replies.

    I've seen people use cattle/hog fencing in the past to fence in chickens ... does anyone have experience with this? With a 1/4 acre of free space ... do you think they will try to get over the fence? What are the thoughts on clipping wings? Any advice is appreciated.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Huggerlady

    Huggerlady Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 17, 2016
    I would echo the thought on round up being used on the soy crop getting into the garden, this into the chicken and then into me. It's such a great plan other than this. I don't know, with all the studies done, that poison is really bad. Maybe you should consider putting everything as far away from the bean crops as possible. If they are dusting, make sure they know not to fly on high wind days. I think GMO's are the devil but soy farmers who buy them cannot go back to the old ways. It's Robbery for them to have to buy seeds. Thats a whole other monster.. I'm gonna watch and see what you decide!
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  6. Marco and Mary

    Marco and Mary Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks guys ... though we are not a fan of the round up use we are unfortunately not at the point where we can take over farming the land ourselves and do it without spray. We have fields on basically all sides so we can't really move away from the soy crop. The good news is that they are spraying with a ground sprayer and spray close to the ground. We have about 20' or more of grass between the fields and our garden/chicken area ... you can see the line where the spray is applied and the unaffected lawn right beside it. The crop isn't crop dusted ... thankfully!
  7. Huggerlady

    Huggerlady Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 17, 2016
    That's good news :)
  8. lynnehd

    lynnehd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2015
    Vancouver, Wa.
    Clipping wings usually works, if you keep on top of it. The problem of this is that they can't escape predators.
    And with a busy family and 20 chickens, it might be hard to keep up.

    Fencing to keep chickens in doesn't have to be strong, in fact, it can even be a little bit floppy at the top- they don't like landing on something that isn't secure.
    7' high is usually enough to keep most in. Hog fencing with something else on top to make it higher should be OK.
    You can also consider using deer fencing as well, again, without anything solid at the top.

    Last edited: Mar 10, 2016
  9. Marco and Mary

    Marco and Mary Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks Lynnehd ... great advice.

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