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Stationary coop vs. movable paddock system

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Jess7903, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Jess7903

    Jess7903 New Egg

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    Feb 10, 2012
    Hello chicken lovers,
    I'm new to this site and have found it wonderful! Great information. I have a a few questions that I can't seem to find any good answer too. I intially was going to purchase a stationary coop with attached run for 5 standard hens. Since it's a small flock, I figured it would be fairly easy to maintain and when I'm not working during the day I could let the girls free range when I'm around. Unfortunately, I have heard horror stories of poop getting everywhere that one doesn't want it :) Also, I don't like the idea of not being able to get them in when I need to. I don't want a chicken tractor because I don't want to move it everyday, and from what I've read a few chickens will kill the grass within a day or so, and again the poop problem is there, so over time I will have many bare spots and a mess that I don't want to have. I live in a somewhat rural area, but do have neighbors and would prefer it to be somewhat pleasing to the eye. I like the idea of having a standard size moveable coop, with 4 separate electric netting paddocks for the girls to move around in. In that sense I could relocate the coop to a new paddock every week or so depending, and that would give the recently grazed grass a few weeks to bounce back, so to speak. My primary questions, therefore, are:

    1. how big of an area would I need to fence off for 5 standard hens so they are not killing the grass in one area before I move them to the next paddock? This is considering I keep them in one paddock for 1 week before relocating to another.

    2. Considering that grass seems to grow pretty quickly where I live, would I need to mow the paddocks that are not in use? I"m just wondering how people maintain multiple paddocks on their land? Should I just let the grass grow and let the chickens mow it so to speak for me? I've heard that too long of grass can be harmful, so I wanted some thoughts on this.

    3. Since I only have 5 hens, if I stuck with 1 grazing area for instance, would they completely destroy all the vegetation over time, depending on the size? I realize with a small area that would happen, but if I made it large enough maybe I would only need one grazing area for just 5 chickens? I like the moveable paddock system much better, but wanted people's thoughts on this.

    Thanks so much for your time!

    Jess
     
  2. jamband

    jamband Chillin' With My Peeps

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    moveable FOR SURE......get electric poultry netting. you can move it in 8 minutes.....50 per acre year round seems to be the# that will be good for the ground as far as handling manure and keeping grass.....I ran 30 on 1/4 acre divided into 6 spots last year.....They did ok moving 1 time a week except the coop spot took a while to recover(straw would help that) . I harvested them at 20 weeks....If they were there all year I would do half that # at most....you may want to mow? planting other food for them in the paddocks is a good idea too


    http://www.richsoil.com/raising-chickens.jsp
     
  3. TheBrumstead

    TheBrumstead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have two pairs of hawks that live in our trees, so I cannot free range here. My coop is inside a 12x7 dog pen. I supplement with grass, weeds, lettuce, and other greens. This summer, I'd love to replace the main pen with a 12x12 I saw at TSC that has two doors on it, front and back. Then I can attach the 12x7 and let them out on grass when the weather is nice. The idea is that once they start to wear it down, rotate it to another grassy area and reseed the other/give it a break. The pens are heavy, but I can do it with help.
     
  4. Jess7903

    Jess7903 New Egg

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    Thanks so much for your attached article and reply. Definitely gives me more info. I guess my only question is about mowing. Considering I'll only have a small flock, and they likely won't eat nearly all vegetation in 1 week or so before moving the paddock, the grass might get high on the paddock's they are not in. Would you recommend mowing them at any point? I guess I could let the grass get somewhat high but not absolutely out of control. What if your thoughts on this. Also, any recommendations on what to plant in all the paddocks that would be a great supplement for the chickens diet? Thanks,

    Jess
     
  5. Srucon

    Srucon Out Of The Brooder

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    You won't need to mow!!!! : )
     
  6. dmclalin

    dmclalin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a lot of hawks at the farm. I have a chain link dog run that is 8'X12' and 6' tall. If I cover with wire mesh and also put some around the bottom, would I be able to move it around the yard to let the chickens range within? They would return to the permanent coop at night. I could throw a couple wheels on it to roll it around then slide them off. I also have a covered run, but I through the movable run may help on wear and tear. What are your thoughts.
     
  7. claudicles

    claudicles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A movable run is a great idea but you'll need to plan for a couple of things. They'll need somewhere to lay and tend to be creatures of habit when it comes to laying. They are usually done by early afternoon. Also they'll need shelter in case of sudden change in weather or heat. And they'll need food and water which can be heavy to move.
     
  8. 4chickychoos

    4chickychoos New Egg

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    For the 1st year I had my 4 Orbingtons they were moved once a month from April to Sept. I have a coop that can be pushed like a wheel barrel..... and a pen with a roof and open bottom 5ft wide-9ft long-3ft high which have 2 wheels on one end and on the other end one rotating wheel in center of other end. Once moved, the coop and pen get hooked back together. I think moving confused the predators .... I always needed help moving and setting so....

    2nd year I set them up fresh in their Spring/Summer area with a fenced area 6'x9' attached to their pen so they had fresh grass too. The coop and pen have nice 6inch pile of pine shavings. The pen is using the "deep-litter-method" (with fencing laying on ground to keep out predators)... the coop is higher on legs with a wood floor which has the shavings also but I easily clean up the droppings that miss the dropping board area. Then, I moved them to their Winter area with fresh pine shavings in both coop and pen. And moved the fence too.

    3rd year... which is This year.. They are now going to be kept at their Winter area. I have to make some adjustments. Shade is one. The other is the health benefits of moving. I have been doing a lot of reading and so far Gail Damerow's guide to Raising Chickens has been my go-to source.

    The coop is for them to roost at night and lay eggs during the day, and sometimes during very very cold days they sit in there too. The pen is an "extension" of the coop. The roof keeps them dry. It has the 1/2'' fencing for safety ---the 1'' chicken fencing is too big and lets in birds and mice---. For winter I made "storm" window frames covered with clear plastic to hang on the three sides of pen only in winter to keep cold Pennsylvania wind out but still nicely ventilated. Then fenced area is 5ft high with a bird netting over top....

    My plan now is to make another fenced section on the other side of the pen. This means making another door on the pen on the other-side. This way I can let the other fenced area recoup with new grass/weeds... I will still only clean out the pen once every spring, mixing the "composted" pine and poop into my compost pile which will be added to my garden. I am also going to grow clematis vines on the fences for shade, as well as planting a tree outside of each fence. Yes, the girls have also always been allowed out to free range when I am home. I take their health, safety, and happiness seriously.

    One thought I have been thinking on is to get 2more chickens - a bigger coop- then have a chicken door on all 4 sides of coop to lead to 4 separate fenced areas to rotate them. I have enjoyed the whole process from raising the girls in my shower stall to now and looking forward to hatching eggs this spring too...I have learned much and love learning more. . Hope Ive given you helpful food for thought.

    5 to 6 chickens would do nicely in a 5'x9' which is 45sq ft which gives each chicken approx 7ft to dance and peck in.. they will not make it bare if you are letting them out to free range at least part of the day... At least my 4 never did.and some days they never get to free range... and yes, please mow it cuz they LOVE short sweet growing grass... I always have to use the weed-whacker along the fence a few time too....

    Letting them free range means a bit of poop here and there. How big is your yard?? The only annoyance is they come on my porch... The dry poop that they poop I can sweep off... BUT, that gooey poop they do once in a while is cleaned off with a bucket of water... hey, I got chickens and poop happens... really, no trouble for me... yes, I do chase them off the porch when I see them. They know, but sneak.


    At dusk... before it gets too dark,,,, the girls go in to fence area then into their coop on their own for the night...

    Also, they are relativly easy to get back into fence/coop with treats. Yes, sometimes they are stubborn and I have to use "Mr." rake to help me. I hold the rake vertically across my body and walk slowly behind the girls... if one starts to vere off I just extend the rake to that side of my body and the chickens see it thinking it is coming and go back to the path with the rest of the girls bretty much staying in front of me..... walk slowly....

    Keep me updated with your progress.. uh, process.... [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  9. jamband

    jamband Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mowing will depend alot on your grass, preferences, weather etc. Not mowing is fine. they just tend to like smaller more tender stuff but they will tear into huge dock leaves etc. You can re seed with good pasture mixes for poultry and or plant things like mulberries, raspberries , fruit trees etc. Good thing about paddocks is some of that food you will get to eat too.

    Also I would put it all in the moveable coop. Nests and all get moved.
     
  10. Jess7903

    Jess7903 New Egg

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    Feb 10, 2012
    Thanks for all the replies!

    Chickychoos- sounds like you are attempting to accomplish the same goals with a paddock system. I really like the idea of it. I have seen too many coops with runs/outside areas that are so deplorable that I would never want my girls in it. Moving them to fresh grass often seems so much healthier and really helps support the grass in a much better way. Thanks for the input on planting in the paddock, will definitely look into that!
     

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