Raising Chickens with NO COOP! Good idea or bad?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chasnkris, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. chasnkris

    chasnkris New Egg

    Dec 16, 2013
    Northern California
    I'm trying to amass info for my neighbor. She has about 3 dozen various birds (chickens, roosters, ducks, geese) in an area that allows 2 dozen. She recently had a problem with predators (something stole 7 ducks over a 2 week period).

    She does have a coop that is about 5 X 6 that is more of a "lean-to" shed (no door). To combat the predator, she enclosed the entire run (about a 20 x 30 ft area) in dog fencing - even the top. For added protection, she keeps an outdoor spotlight on them all night long. The result is that she has a chicken yard that stinks beyond belief (because her method of cleaning is to hose it down) and is extremely muddy. We also see rats and mice running in the trees above the coop all night, so there is a big pest problem.

    Here's my dilemma that I'd love advice for: Should she build a real coop? Could she even train the chickens to use it? She has about 6 that live in medium sized dog crates because of behavior problems. If she got the rest of the flock into the coop and trained, could she try to integrate those crated chickens back into the flock?

    Lastly, should she provide some type of separate coop for the ducks? Or do ducks even use a coop?

    Thanks for any advice, links, blogs, etc that you can throw my way. I'm compiling resources and info to try to help.

    No. California
  2. poltroon

    poltroon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2008
    California (North Coast)
    I applaud your attempt to be a helpful neighbor rather than a vengeful neighbor.

    My experience is that our birds like to be in their coop at night. If I move them to new circumstances, within a week they are going into the new coop at dusk with little prompting. The ducks like to stay out and float in their tiny pond, so sometimes they have to be shooed in.

    Alternately, chickens like to roost in relatively high places, sitting on a roof or other perch.

    Chickens and ducks can live together in a large enough space, but I wouldn't personally coop them together at night if I could help it. Ducks are messy because of the way they love mud and water.

    Keeping the area dry is important for the health of the birds, and wetness is probably contributing to the smell. Hosing it down if it is not able to dry is not a good solution. A litter like sand can be helpful, as can shavings. Bringing in gravel or coarse sand to lift the elevation and increase drainage is also useful.

    When there are too many birds in an area, keeping it clean and dry takes a lot more work than if there are fewer. If the area is overstocked, it will have to be manually cleaned with a scoop.

    If you look up 'treadle feeder,' you'll see a design that can be helpful against rats and mice. The birds can open it, but the rats and mice cannot. Alternately, birds can be fed in a coop situation where the smallest holes are hardware cloth to keep pests out. Rats will chew through wood even to get to food, and small rats and mice can get through chicken wire.

    The crated ones are probably roosters that don't play well with others. It may indeed be necessary to keep them separate.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  3. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2014
    I would recommend it. If she lays down a cement floor it will help with predators but she needs to score it so it isn't slippery, thats what I use for my ducks and we all love it. I can hose it out to clean it now no mud no problems! I also give hay in there for them...

    The pests are a huge problem, they will eat chicks and eggs. Does no one have a cat?

    She can train them to use the coop by feeding them in it when she puts them up at night. Our ducks see food and they head straight for their coop!
  4. TheEggCollecter

    TheEggCollecter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2014
    Definitely a good idea!

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