Surrounded by Predators

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Butterfly65, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Butterfly65

    Butterfly65 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 24, 2016
    Hi Everyone,
    I am new to chickens and country life. We just purchased 8 baby chicks. They are about 3 weeks old right now and we are not positive, but we are assuming that they are Red sexlink or Red Star chicks. I wanted to allow them to free range, because we have 5 acres, but we also have plenty of hawks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and free roaming dogs and snakes around. lol I want the birds to be happy, but I really do not like the runs that I see many people have for their chickens because they just do not seem roomy enough.
    Right now we have them in a small coop that we purchased from a local builder without a run. It only has 3 egg boxes and it is approx. about 6 feet by 4 feet. I am getting vibes that it's too small for 8 chickens to roost in at night while full grown, but not sure. Someone told me that they don't mind small spaces when they're sleeping.
    What we're doing right now is taking them outside daily for about 1 hour and sitting with them in a make shift pen under the Oak tree so they can have fun in the grass.
    Trying to figure out a way to attach a run to their coop so they can go in and out without fear of getting eaten. I know I have tons of research to do on this site to get some ideas, but just wanted to say HELLO!
    PS I would like to add a photo of our coop possibly later today if I can figure out how to do it. lol
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hi and welcome to BYC - thanks for joining us.

    I'm on expert on all those predators, cos my only problem is the occasional hawk - I'm sure other members will chime in soon. Theres a forum on predators and pests that may be worth looking at. Additionally, I'm sure there will be some reference to predators in the Learning Centre.

    Ultimately, if you free range, expect some losses. The extent of those losses will be determined by what proactive steps you take to try and minimise them.

    All the best
  3. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    Welcome to BYC! This is such a great group and there is always someone willing to help. I've learned so much here :)

    Yes, it's true, most of those prefab coops are too small for more than 2 or 3 full grown chickens. We made the mistake of buying one when we first got our chickens. Those little chicks grow fast into large chickens. Before they were even out of the brooder we realized our mistake and sold it on Craigslist to someone raising Bantams since they are much smaller. We repurposed an existing shed on our property and added on a run.

    We also can't free range because of the many predators in our area. Our coop and run can't be seen from the house so a very safe set-up was necessary.

    A 6' x 4' coop is way small for 8 full grown chickens. Can you build your own larger coop? Or you could buy a prefab storage shed and retro fit it for the chickens. Add a large, secure, covered run and they will be happy and safe.

    The 3 nest boxes is fine, I have 6 chickens, 3 nest boxes and they only use 2.

    We have 6 chickens, the coop area is 8' x 9' (the actual shed is double that but we use half for storage) and the attached, covered run is 8' x 16'. They can be out in all weather which is great since they can't free range.

    What I would do...start construction now on a large, secure, covered run with the idea of adding on a larger, home built coop by winter. Put that small coop inside the run for now.
  4. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    6x4 coop is fine as long as they are not locked in it. A secure run is essential. It does not need to be big, based n your coop size, 6x9 would do.

    Do not free range chicks. They don't need going outside.
  5. ChickityChina

    ChickityChina Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016
    Carroll County, Maryland
    I disagree though - 6x4 seems like it will be okay for free range chickens, if they are only going to be in there during the night and to lay. I wouldn't go smaller than that, but I don't think it is too small.
  6. rottlady

    rottlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2016
    Georges Mills, NH
    We live in NH on a mountain with every predator you can imagine possible from tiny Short-Tailed Weasels to Bears and everything in between and MULTIPLE species of "death from above". EVERYONE near us has a terrible time with chicken losses and the people close to us have had their flocks totally wiped out several times.

    We see them all in person or on trail cameras all the time. Especially the Weasel, Fox, Coyote, Bobcat and Bear. They are in the yard and field almost every night

    We have never gotten chickens for this reason but decided to try this year.
    We are NEVER going to be able to let the birds free range so we are building a 4X8 coop/pen on wheels for the 8-10 birds we will have. A sort of Chicken Tractor hybrid to move it every day or two around the field but bring back to house every night
    It is either that or expect a demolished coop and dead birds within a month
  7. Butterfly65

    Butterfly65 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 24, 2016
    Thanks for the replies. We are in the process of building a HUGE run. 1080 sq. ft, I just want them to feel like they're free range because we will not be able to free range them. Now I just have to study up on how to keep all known predators out of it. lol

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