Newbie--Lots of ???

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lhayes1976, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. lhayes1976

    lhayes1976 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 8, 2010
    Louisville, KY
    First off, I am already addicted to this site. Now for the my questions:

    My run will be 24x4--is it large enough for 8?

    If everything is completely enclosed, do I still need to close up the coop at night? Sometimes I get home late and wouldn't be able to do it until long after dark.

    I teach, so I am off during the summers. I spend alot of time in the yard. I would like to let the girls out sometimes during the day while I am out in the yard, is it difficult to get them back to the coop?

    I know roos are noisy, but what about hens? I'm not worried about the noise, it's the neighbors. I'm trying to keep my chicken project covert, at least in the beginning.

    Thanks in advance for all your help. This place is awesome!!
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC!

    Quote:Sort of. In total area, it is a perfectly respectable size. However, 4' wide is a VERY narrow run indeed, and it is generally best to err on the side of caution with really narrow livestock paddocks because you can run into trouble with somebody getting someone else cornered at the 'bag end' and whuppin' the crud out of them, or some of the flock being unable to access food/water/shelter because they end up at the far end of the run and are unable or unwilling to run the 'social gauntlet' required to force their way back to the other end. You could still try 8 chickens in there, especially if they are of a fairly sedate breed and you have every reason to think they're likely to get along unusually well with each other -- but if you could have fewer chickens or (ideally) a wider run, that would be a safer bet IMHO.

    If everything is completely enclosed, do I still need to close up the coop at night? Sometimes I get home late and wouldn't be able to do it until long after dark.

    Check out the "Predators and Pests" section of the BYC forum and see how many people lose chickens to predators at night when they were *sure* their run was totally predatorproof. Beyond that it is a personal decision. Robustly predatorproofing a run is MUCH more difficult and expensive than you may be expecting, though. At a minimum you will need dog-strong fence, fully roofed (solid or heavily-supported strong wire mesh roof) to withstand a couple feet of snowload, 1/2" hardwarecloth along at least the bottom 3' of run walls and preferably the whole entire thing, and some form of preventing things from digging underneath.

    I would like to let the girls out sometimes during the day while I am out in the yard, is it difficult to get them back to the coop?

    Not if your yard is fenced, and you've first trained them to come reliably to you (for food!) before letting them loose.

    I know roos are noisy, but what about hens? I'm not worried about the noise, it's the neighbors. I'm trying to keep my chicken project covert, at least in the beginning.

    People will almost certainly know you have chickens, especially if there are 8 of them (as opposed to like 2-3). Some hens are more vocal than others, but they will all bawk bawk bawk at times (esp. when laying an egg, or when they see something they think is a threat, like a hawk flying overhead) and sometimes that can be pretty loud.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. gkeesling

    gkeesling Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hagerstown, IN
    Welcome to the BackYard Chicken Forum. I"m sure you will find most of the answers you are seeking. I know I did when I first started. This forum was a great help to me.

    Typically I've read that you should allow at least 10 sq. ft. per chicken for your run. At 96 sq. ft., your run should accommodate 8 chickens ok.

    My run is totally enclosed and I don't close the pop door at night. It faces the East and stays open all night. However, saying that, you should do some preditory proofing in your run. I put 1/2" hardware cloth 3 ft. at the bottom of my fun fencing and chicken wire the next 4 ft. up. I put hardware cloth down and "L'd" out about 6 " under ground to keep preditors from digging under my run fence. I also put a roof over part of my run that comes directly from the coop. That provides both shade and keeps flying preditors from swooping down and snatching a hen. After 18 mos I haven't had any preditory problems around my coop. I catch racoons, 'possums, and one skunk in my barn, but none have ever gotten in my coop.

    I don't let mine free range hardly at all so maybe someone else can answer this question. I have let them out for an hour or so bu they never got very far from the run and I was able to chase them back in fairly easily.

    You will get that "egg laying song" with your hens lay an egg. It's not terribly loud, but sure loud enough that next door neighbors will hear it if they are outside. If you start out with chicks then it will be somewhere around 20 - 25 weeks before they start laying though.

    I hope this helps. Enjoy your chickens.
     
  4. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Your run is close to the bare minimum of 10 sq ft/chicken. Being that narrow, I would be sure that you have hardware cloth mesh around the lower 3 ft to prevent a coon from reaching in to rip parts off of the birds. If possible, I would make it bigger, and definitely make it tall enough to walk into.

    Always close the coop at night. it is the last line of defense if the run fence is breached. Chicken wire is no good for anything but keeping chickens in.

    You can train them to come to you by offering treats. I whistle to mine and they know that is a sign of treats.

    Hens are not all that noisy. Best way to keep neighbors out of it is to be sure that if possible, it is hidden from view, at least from the street . Be sure it is not junky or trashy looking, but instead, a neat complimentary structure for the property.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  5. lhayes1976

    lhayes1976 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 8, 2010
    Louisville, KY
    Wow you guys are speedy quick.

    The more I research I am rethinking my plans. I think I will lower my hen number to 6. I have an existing 24x24 fenced in area that I have been using as my veggie garden. In the middle of the garden is a 5x8 raised bed. I will be building a raised coop over that raised bed. I am going to make the run extend out the back of the coop to the back of the garden. So with the area under the coop it will be a "T" shaped run. I am figuring about 130 sq. ft. total. I can make the the top part of the "T" about 2 ft. wider. I hope you guys can picture this. The other two sides will be used a garden. The chickens will not have access to this area.

    The noise may not be as much of a problem I originally thought, as we are on a corner lot. I would say the nearest neighbor is at least 100 feet away.

    I plan on making the coop look like a cottage playhouse. Since the area is fenced in with a nice wooden picket fence, the neighbors won't be able to see what's under the structure. I will not be able, however, make the run tall enough to walk into. I want the area to look like I just built a playhouse for the grandkids. So I need to keep the run low, below the fence. How huge of a problem will a run that's only about 4 feet high be?
     
  6. Koolduck

    Koolduck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
    I'm about an hour east of you! We go to LOU all the time for your resturants...Lex is such a culinary wasteland!
    BYC has been a wonderful resource and I read about chickens for about 6months before taking the plunge last March.
    I live in the country so I have a Ft. Knox coop and haven't lost a bird at night so far. Yes the coop is locked at night. Watch for neighbor dogs as that was the only problem I have had so far. I'm glad I don't have neighbors too close because my girls are LOUD! The first time I heard the "Egg song" I thought something had the hen by the neck! Still shocks me when they all chorus! My Roo is just a sedate English Gentleman(Buff Orpington) I guess as he doen't say much. I think bribery goes a long way...give your surrounding neighbors eggs...that should keep them happy...and ofcourse if they garden...all the chicken poo they can compost![​IMG]
     
  7. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2008
    Shamong
    I teach, so I am off during the summers. I spend alot of time in the yard. I would like to let the girls out sometimes during the day while I am out in the yard, is it difficult to get them back to the coop?

    They will go back in on instinct.

    I know roos are noisy, but what about hens? I'm not worried about the noise, it's the neighbors. I'm trying to keep my chicken project covert, at least in the beginning.

    If roosters are a 10, and dogs are a 7, then hens are a 1. Somewhere underneath chickadees, airplanes, and wind chimes [​IMG]
     
  8. TM Chickens

    TM Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2008
    Alabama
    I teach, so I am off during the summers. I spend alot of time in the yard. I would like to let the girls out sometimes during the day while I am out in the yard, is it difficult to get them back to the coop?

    As long as you keep them in the run for the first few days so they know it's their home they will go back to it at night without any prompting.

    I need to keep the run low, below the fence. How huge of a problem will a run that's only about 4 feet high be?

    Shouldn't be a problem for the hens, but if somebody lays an egg out in the run, you'd have to crawl out to get it. Cleaning the run would also be hard.​
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Sounds reasonable to me [​IMG] You will find it very useful having the chickens and the garden in the same place, in a lot of ways [​IMG]

    The noise may not be as much of a problem I originally thought, as we are on a corner lot. I would say the nearest neighbor is at least 100 feet away.

    I still suspect that people will notice fairly soon, at least once we get to open-windows spending-time-outdoors season. My house is about 80 feet from my coop (which is heavily insulated and much more sound-damping than most peoples') and I certainly hear the hens on a regular basis during the summer, and my hens are not especially noisy as hens go.

    Are chickens legal where you are? If not, you'd better have a plan B (and might want to consider having a heart-to-heart with your immediate neighbors about it); if they are, it shouldn't really matter whether people notice them, right?

    I will not be able, however, make the run tall enough to walk into. I want the area to look like I just built a playhouse for the grandkids. So I need to keep the run low, below the fence. How huge of a problem will a run that's only about 4 feet high be?

    No problem at all AS LONG AS you make access hatches at intervals in the sides of the run, so you do not have to hunch your way through the whole thing to retrieve a floor egg from the far end of it [​IMG] A half-height run (some people even go just 2.5-3' high, in which case you can have the access hatches on the top if you want) is not such a terrible thing as long as it is narrow which yours *will* be.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  10. lhayes1976

    lhayes1976 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 8, 2010
    Louisville, KY
    They are legal in the city--the limit may be 5 though. I can't find my HOA rules, but I do remember reading something about farm animals in the bylaws. I'm not even supposed to have a garden, but I guess since mine is fenced in and looks fairly nice, that's why there hasn't been a problem. There are quite a few of the HOA rules being broken in the neighborhood, some I won't be the only rebel.

    Back to the noise, is it just a low clatter, with an occasional outburst? Can you hear them from inside the house? Not too many people around here open their windows during warm weather.

    I think hatch openings is a great plan.

    I will be able to give them to a friend if I am busted. I am so excited. Can't wait for my little chickies to get here!!
     

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