Ok, we free range our chickens and have a large coop...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by missnu01, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There is no run, and no fencing at all...A road and woods separate our property from anyone else's...Here is my deal...The chickens treat the road like a fence...they go up and pick through the ditches, but always stay 3 or 4 feet away. They don't leave our property, or even come close...we have 4 acres and they have traversed perhaps 100 feet from the coop...we only have 12 chickens right now, so here is my question when I have a lot more than 12 can I still let them free range, or will I need to put up some sort of fence...I don't want to be the neighbor with the wild chickens running all over the place...so what makes a chicken stay close to home? Is it just that they have to like their coop and know there is food there? I want a rather large flock of maybe 50 chickens or so...so will 50 chickens scatter, or will they stay by the house the way the current chickens do? Or is it subjective on the type of chicken?
     
  2. Coupe

    Coupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Its hard to tell....i think they would go much further than with only 12..less food with 50 chickens, so tyey have to venture further out.
     
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Yes to the last question, but there are the other aspects, too. If they are well fed with nutritious feed, they won't NEED to forage far. A flock of 50 will break up into smaller groups and each group will hang together, with a few solo chickens going here or there, and some mixing of a few individuals from this or that group will occur. A rooster, or roosters, will move from group to group, and even round up stragglers. That's one of the rooster's jobs.

    I have two-thirds of an acre, fully fenced. Large coop, 50-some chickens of very many breeds, 23 ducks, four turkeys and two geese. During winter, they have denuded the entire property of any growing things and they will stick their heads through the fence to get at the grasses, even though they are well fed. They're just drawn to the tasty looking stuff when it isn't all around them. The rest of the year, I seldom see any of the poultry even near the fence, because there is plenty on the property.

    Most chickens seldom wander more than an acre away (unless they aren't being fed at home) and some chickens don't go more than two or three hundred feet away from their coops.

    Your mileage may vary.
     
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  4. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Almost all of our 4 acres is more like forest scrub...so they can't denude it...they can't scratch through where they first come out of the coop to...the dog has dug them a few holes here and there that they scratch in, but the whole back side where they seem to want to stay is forest floor all the way, ferns and strange vines...Another great thing about the place we live...hawks can't get the chickens...there is only a few spots in the yard that aren't blocked in one way or another. So...as long as they have ample food and enough space they shouldn't wander too far...I was worried at first with these chickens because the coop is pretty close to the road, but they have never stepped claw on that asphalt luckily. I am so excited about having more than a few chickens...I want to look out the window and see a field of chickens, as opposed to the 5 that actually leave the coop to come into the yard at all. I have 7 almost 5 month old birds that have never stepped into our actual yard...just the bank where the coop lets them out at...so they have gone 7 or 8 feet from the coop max...They are weenies, or they really like their coop...although it is super roomy for only 12 chickens...I'm thinking we'll build 2 more coops...the current coop is 18x20 so they have a whole lot of space in there...right now..although I find that I think of building space by how many chickens I can fit in it. How many chickens can actually happily fit in an 18x20 ft space?
     
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    If they are allowed out of the coop, either into a run or to range freely, the minimum space inside is 4 square feet per chicken, and that's actual floor space; if there are nest boxes or. Feeders, storage cans, etc., then those are deducted from "available" space.

    So, 18 x 20 = 360. 360 divided by 4 = 90.

    Hehehehehehe.

    My coop is 17 x 20 = 85.

    You're good to go!
     
  6. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well their food and nest boxes take up perhaps 3-4 feet total so...I guess I can fit a pretty good number up there...I know that it looks bare up there with just 12.
     
  7. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know how many poops 12 chickens make...I can only imagine how many poops that 90 chickens would make...I'm going to need a lot more hay. that is for sure. All the chickens roost in the rafters, so in the mornings there is literally a rectangle of poop that spans right through the middle of the coop...a poop strip if you will...I just kind of mix it all up, so I guess the deep litter method is what I am using, I do plan on cleaning out all the straw and replacing it this spring though. I figure every 2 or 3 months I will replace it...and turn it everyday much like I do now...the poop just seems to disappear. We nailed black plastic to the entire floor of the coop to help with drafts, and also so if we decide to get rid of the chickens and want to use the building again it won't be forever smelly like a chicken coop.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I tend to take the "4 sq ft per bird of coop space" as a bare minimum. The more room they have the better, start crammin them in and problems will arise.

    I also wonder if the chickens might broaden their range once they are mature, some/all are only 5 months old?
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  9. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well my young birds don't really like to leave the coop at all...I can entice them out with food tossed right by the coop door, but as soon as they eat it they run back in the coop...Their mom has just started perusing the yard with the other older chickens. Our rooster is old...I don't know how old because I bought him used, but he has 3-4 in spurs as thick as my fingers and his feet look like they belong on a dinosaur...and he doesn't go more than a 100 feet from the coop. We have 4 acres and they haven't explored a speck of it so far.

    I want to build 2 more coops...perhaps 2 10x12... One for 15 meat birds, and the other for I don't know...but something else chickeny...Lol. I can't wait for spring time. I want to be awash in a sea of chickens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  10. 4 Love of Baby Chickens

    4 Love of Baby Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Your chickens, as they get older, will venture further out from their coop. Especially when they see all the delicious treats in the spring! Bugs and such.
    I do too! I love watching chickens free range.[​IMG]
     

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