Run Specification - Threat of Predators

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jmorr, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. jmorr

    jmorr Just Hatched

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    Jan 23, 2017
    I live in rural central IL and I'm starting my research for raising chickens. We live in the country but are part of a small neighborhood. I plan on building a coop on my property near a wooded area. I have not seen any hawks or owls but I know they are in the area. I have plenty of space (2 acres) and would love to let my chickens roam the yard but I also don't want them getting murdered. Is there major risk in letting them roam? Is netting over the top of the run the best option? Has anyone experimented with using a removable net when the run needs cleaned out? Has anyone used movable runs where you could relocate your chickens each day to a new area? This novice needs some help!
     
  2. birdwrangler057

    birdwrangler057 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello! And [​IMG] glad you joined us.


    For starters, just because you can't see the predators doesn't mean they aren't there, but, you don't have to live in constant fear that your chickens are going to be gobbled up by them.

    Take it from me, I have been free ranging my chickens for 3 years. Now, this all depends on how you want to do it. Do you want to keep them in a run, or just let them roam free? This will explain a lot.



    Here are a few things I recommend for full on free ranging birds;

    - Let them out every other day to kind of throw predators off

    - Lots of trees to provide cover

    - Don't leave food close to the outside of the coop

    - Always be around when they are free ranging, this will double safety, I have literally walked outside and a hawk was sitting in a limb right about my girls

    - Do frequent head counts

    - If there is no natural cover, it would be smart to create some ( planting bushes, maybe some trees, etc.)



    Movable runs are very useful as well if that's what you plan on doing, but they require a movable coop to attach. With movable runs, try to place heavy objects around the perimeter so rodents and small mammals can't burrow under, and always lock up the coop aside from the run at night.
     
  3. birdwrangler057

    birdwrangler057 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  4. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC. You can definitely let your chickens roam a fenced in yard fairly safely. I have a large coop with attached 15x15 covered pen which opens up to a 1/4 acre chicken yard which is fenced in with 4' high electric net fence. Prior to having the electric fence, I would lose 1-2 chickens and ducks a month to predators as the chickens and ducks were out in the unfenced yard. Once I put up the electric fence, I have had 0 losses in 3 years. My chicken yard has 1 huge apple tree and 1 huge pear tree which provide good shelter / cover from flying predators. I see plenty of predators on a regular basis - bears, coyote, dogs, fox, bobcat, raccoons, opossum, hawks, owls and eagles, so I know they are there. You just have to make your chickens too much of a hassle to get, and they will generally stick to easier meals.

    Putting a net over the entire yard might be impractical and expensive, but if you have a huge fishing net lying around go for it! When the hawks come around, my chickens all run back into the covered pen where the hawks can't get them. When you build your coop / pen / yard, make sure you think about how you will work in and around them. Rather than making a removable net roof, I would make the net roof tall enough that you can go in without hunching over. In the long term, you will be happy you made it big enough for you to work in, and your birds will appreciate the extra space as well. Good luck!

    Here's my coop, pen and yard for ideas.

    [​IMG]
    Here is my coop and pen. The pen has a metal roof and fence sides for full protection. Solid roof keeps the pen from turning to mud during rain or snow.

    [​IMG]
    Pen has double layer fence walls. 2x4" field fencing on the outside to keep out the big predators and 1/2" hardware wire on the inside to keep smaller ones from reaching in. The fences are separated by 3" space.

    [​IMG]
    Here is the 4' high perimeter electric net fence. Fence runs at 8000+ volts. My tester only goes up to 8000, and it hits that level no problem. I've touched it by accident, and won't do that again!

    [​IMG]
    Roo is my last layer of defense, and he keeps a sharp eye out for any predators, and when he sees something, he crows and all the hens run inside the pen.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. birdwrangler057

    birdwrangler057 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Rooster does help, mine sometimes even attacks my dog out of defense.
     
  6. birdwrangler057

    birdwrangler057 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your coop is very pretty, I love the barn design.
     
  7. JenniferCNY

    JenniferCNY Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @thomasboyle the picture showing your rooster is great. He is all business!
     

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