Please Help Me Before It's July!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by tabray, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. tabray

    tabray New Egg

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    Jan 2, 2009
    Hello Everyone!

    I'm currently trying to design my chicken house for this spring. My eyeballs hurt and my head is spinning - just when I think I have things worked out, I foresee another problem or question. I live in western Wisconsin where the weather ranges from Arctic cold and snow to Death Valley dry and hot, and everything in between. I'm planning on meat birds (probably Cornish cross or something commercial) and purebred pullets for my laying flock. My idea is to divide a 10x10 foot single house with a fixed wall (allowing for no more than a dozen birds on either side). I'd raise pullets on one side and meat birds on the other. The meat bird side could be further divided in half with a removeable barrier, for isolation or when I simultaneosly get replacement pullets and meat birds. When only one flock is in residence, pop holes in the fixed wall would give them the entire run of the house. I want to have four quadrants of range corresponding with four pop holes on the exterior of the house, so that I can funnel the birds onto one patch of range at a time. The difficulty I'm having is the fence.

    We have foxes, coyotes, neighbor's rowdy hunting dogs, bears(!), etc. etc. I'd like to do the electric netting, but it does not work in winter (This is straight from Premier fence. They said it won't hold up in snow, and also the snow provides too much insulation and ground). A fixed perimeter fence all the way around, broken into quadrants (with gates allowing ME to get in and out) seems like it might be too expensive, and I really would like the the option of zapping predators during other seasons. I thought about doing a fixedperimeter fence on the laying side only, and just doing electric netting on the meat side. But how to close the gap between the two? I can't put the netting on the fixed fence or it would short out.

    All of this agonizing is because of my belief that I'm not supposed to let the chickens be on any one piece of ground too long (built up disease/ pathogens in the soil, dirt yards and the corresponding dust or mud and dirty eggs, etc.). What do you think? Can some of you with fixed runs tell me how you manage? I don't think the tractor idea works for us because the chickens have to over winter (definitely need insulation) and I'm also afraid of predation in a tractor-type situation.

    Please help, or once again we will be grilling frozen chicken breasts from the grocery store for the 4th of July![​IMG]
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I think many do their layers on the same ground year after year. I have movable tractors for my birds and they free range. They aren't kept off any part of the ground for any time and so really, over the past decade, have been on the "same ground" without issue. 30 years prior to me getting my birds, commercial leghorns were raised on the "same ground" for a few decades, without issue too.

    So as long as you keep the coop clean, and don't have too many birds per run, the whole bird on the same ground thing shouldn't be a problem.

    As for meat birds, I don't raise them in a coop per se. I keep them on the soil. They potty so much I just tractor them around weekly and let them range when old enough. They go though lots of food and what goes in comes out. To save on bedding material cost, I keep them on dirt and move them often.

    As for your idea, sounds like it would work, but as for electric fence and such... I can't provide much ideas since I don't have fences other than the cruddy ones meant to keep the chickens out of the garden areas... at times unsucessful...
     
  3. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 4, 2008
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    I frequently remove some soil from the smaller inner run, which goes into my garden. Then I replace it with fresh soil from the garden. Good for both chickens, and garden! [​IMG]
     
  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have the same kind of predator and biosecurity issues. In the links below hubby and I describe how we set things up- it might be helpful!
     
  5. tabray

    tabray New Egg

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    Jan 2, 2009
    Thank you all for the input! Lynn your links were great - enjoyed your writing (I write too!). The foxes I've seen have run for the hills upon seeing me, but one of my neighbors had one that would stand and stare at him, snarl, and refuse to move off. You're very brave! I really have fears about opening up a predator fast food restaurant on my property! Scared for myself and my kids. Yet somehow I can't seem to shake the chicken fever...
     
  6. AmazonDragon

    AmazonDragon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 21, 2008
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    Hello tabray [​IMG]
     

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