New to chickens coop questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by KathyK, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. KathyK

    KathyK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 10, 2009
    Liberty Hill, TX
    Hi all. I am new to this forum and new to the world of chickens. I hope to have some birds this coming spring. My hope is to have a predator proof coop for the birds at night and let them free range during the day in our fenced acreage. We have a metal barn that is enclosed on 3 sides and has an unused horse stall inside. I was hoping to build a coop inside the stall as the structure is already there. I could build a run in front of the stall/coop for times when I wont be home during the day and/or available to shut them up at night. The run would be under the roof of the barn. This would not get any direct sun. Is this a good idea, or should I start from scratch and create a coop/run outside of the barn in the open? I don't have any other animals that they would share the barn with.
    I've read that it is okay to let chickens free range in a dog-proof pasture during the day, and they can be trained to come back to the coop at night where they can be secured and safe. Any thoughts, ideas, advice is greatly appreciated.
    Kathy
     
  2. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

    I don't see why you couldn't build a "coop" inside the barn as long as they are free ranging in the day. My only wory is to have the opening above the roost area enclosed. Opposum and racoon climb over, uner and around everything!..... Good Luck!
     
  3. kdcrws

    kdcrws Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    L.C. FL
    It's always good to use what u got [​IMG] . Sounds like they will be free ranging a lot so don't think the sunlight will be an issue. When they are old enough to go out into the coop, lock them in for two days, after the two days u can let them out and they should come home again at sundown. Good luck! I have had chicken for just over a year now they are always entertaining, and it's always exciting to find eggs in the nest box.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    Welcome to this forum. Glad you are here.

    Absolutely use the existing structure. Coops can get expensive as many of us know, and the existing structure should make it a lot easier. I'll give you a link to a thread about building coops that should help. You can take from this what applies to your situation.

    Coop lessons learned
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=140561

    A run is normally harder to preditor-proof than a coop. I know my run is not preditor-proof as a raccoon or possom could climb into it. I think it is pretty safe against dogs, coyotes and most standard daytime preditors, although raccoons, possoms, foxes and such will sometimes come out in the daytime. I d let mine in the run during the day and lock them in the coop at night. How you manage that depends on your confidence in your run and your risk tolerance. Using a lot of hardware cloth and an existing structure, you may be able to preditor-proof a run built inside the barn, but preditors can climb very well and they can dig under barriers.

    There have been recent threads on here about whether chickens need direct sunlight. There is seldom a concensus on here about topics like that, but I think the general conclusion was that if you feed them standard feed, they will be OK. They do get vitamin D from sunlight but chicken feed also contains vitamin D. And if you do let them out into your fenced acreage, they will certainly be OK as far as getting all the sunlight they need.

    As far as letting them into your fenced acreage during the day, they will always be at some risk. You don't say where you are but I'll assume you have all the standard predators; dogs, bobcats, raccoons, possoms, skunks, snakes, foxes, hawks, owls, members of the weasel family, and others I am probably missing. These are the ones that are pretty common to most of us. If you think because you live in suburbia that you don't have most of these, I suggest you talk to your local animal control. You may be surprised. It is impossible to totally protect them if they are allowed to roam outside a fully enclosed run. You'll have to access your specific situation and your risk tolerance and make that decision yourself. I don't let mine roam, not because of predators but because I cannot keep them out of the road. I'm not going to put my neighbors at risk with them having an accident by trying to avoid one of my chickens on the road, but that is my decision and my risk tolerance.
     
  5. dacdeihl

    dacdeihl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 24, 2009
    NorthEast, In
    I agree with all the others with just putting the coop in your existing stall. I used a old shed as a chicken coop. Put in nesting boxes and roosts and they are set. Check out my page for photos. The only thing I recommend is to have a water supply out by the coop, one that doesn't freeze. I'm carrying a bucket of water out every night to put in the waterer. I have a heater on it so it doesn't freeze, but I can't wait to have a ground spicket next spring.
     
  6. KathyK

    KathyK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 10, 2009
    Liberty Hill, TX
    Wow, thanks for all of the advice...and so quickly. I should clarify a few things. Rural environment for sure. Yes, lots of predators. The acreage is fenced and quite dog-proof. I wasn't thinking about airborne predators. Was just thinking of nighttime vermin. Coyotes, bobcats, foxes all that stuff are here, but normally only at night. Lots of dogs in the area. Nobody seems to think the dogs need to be confined. Luckily the fence is good. Previous owner had goats. My risk tolerance is probably very low. I get very attached to my critters and would be devastated to lose one. So maybe I should be thinking smaller and more confined for safety sake. The barn run was only for when I'm not at home or can't get back home early enough to lock 'em up at night. Got more thinking to do...
    Kathy
    Central Texas
    Rural Liberty Hill
     
  7. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds as if you have a situation that calls for using the interior space you already have. I will say to think, plan, and do it from this perspective: Predators, predators, and again, predators. Do not be deceived into thinking that they are afraid of a barn or any building. A man near me lost 34 pullets to coyotes that dug their way in one night. You will have to secure every inch of it with 1/2" hardware clothe mesh. Weasels and rats are as deadly as foxes and coyotes, and they can find ways in that you cannot believe.

    Regards free-ranging you will definitely save on your feed bill and you will definitely have losses to your flock at some time too. Do put them away when you are to be gone. Murphy's law. Some friends in Mich reported to me last spring that they were gone an hour and returned to find a slaughter of over 40 fowl, chickens, geese, ducks, etc. Dog pack got them. They thought would be ok for an hour to leave them unattended, being that they live out in the country on 10 acres. [​IMG]
     
  8. beth59

    beth59 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 2, 2009
    Pensacola, Fl
    We live in a semi-rural area and have foxes, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, etc. The only ones that have been a problem for us are the hawks. Our chicken house has a wood floor and we are able to secure them inside at night by closing their "hatch" door, so we've not had a problem with the 4-legged predators. They can't dig in or tear into the coop. We use two 10 x 10, 6' high chain link dog kennels configured lenthwise for our chicken run where they stay part of the day. We have netting over the top to protect them from the hawks. Ours get to free range for half the day during the week while we're at work (I come home at lunch to let them out and potty the dogs), and all day on weekends when we're around the farm. We lost one hen to a hawk early on when we first started letting them range. The rest of the poor babies were apparently so traumatized by it that now, if they hear or see a hawk, they run for cover. Still, it's really difficult to protect them from something like a hawk if they are free ranging. We just hope that they know the hawk is there and they can run for cover, which we have plenty of.

    Beth
     
  9. pacetruckguy

    pacetruckguy The West Coast Chicken Whisperer

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    Dec 8, 2009
    Petaluma,CA
    I'm new to chickens as well. You old experts can correct me if I'm wrong, but I was told that racoons will dig under to get in your coop, but if you extend the wire out from the coop at the bottom 6 inches or so and burry it, they don't have sence enough to back up before digging. I haven't had any racoon problems yet but I'm sure I will in the future. The little buggers are everywhere here. My neighbor has removed or killed 23 this year.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    The theory is exactly as you stated, put wire horizontal near the top of the ground on the side you do not want them to start digging from and they will hit the wire and not be able to get through. Make sure it is attached to your fence wire. Some people bury it a couple of inches but several also just lay it on the ground surface. The grass will grow through it and hold it down pretty well.

    The question is how far horizontally do you need to go. I don't think 6" is enough. 12" is probably pushing it, with 18" probably pretty safe. I think 2' x 4" welded wire would work very well, but some people insist on hardware cloth. I do remember someone on here mentioning a fox that did back up about 2' and got under, but I have not seen anyone else report anything like that. I don't think anything is 100% preditor-proof, but tricks like this can certainly greatly improve your odds.
     

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