The Coop Problem

-Bella Cataline-

In the Brooder
Jun 17, 2021
9
49
37
East Tennessee
Hello everyone!
I've come to love chickens and I'm very excited to start my own flock. My biggest problem right now is a coop.
I'm really not comfortable free ranging as our property is surrounded with predator filled woods. (Racoons, foxes, coyotes, you name it) We also have neighbors with large dogs and cats.
But I really want to provide them with space, sunshine, and fresh grass to keep them healthy and happy. My friends tell me a 5×3 chicken tractor is perfectly fine for 4 chickens, but it's pretty evident their chickens are sickly and unhappy. I like the idea of a stationary coop with revolving pastures, but we have hawks everywhere who I'm sure would enjoy a fresh chicken.
Any suggestions?
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I know it's long!
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Premium Feather Member
Jul 31, 2018
18,974
155,436
1,592
Catalonia, Spain & UK
My Coop
My Coop
Hello everyone!
I've come to love chickens and I'm very excited to start my own flock. My biggest problem right now is a coop.
I'm really not comfortable free ranging as our property is surrounded with predator filled woods. (Racoons, foxes, coyotes, you name it) We also have neighbors with large dogs and cats.
But I really want to provide them with space, sunshine, and fresh grass to keep them healthy and happy. My friends tell me a 5×3 chicken tractor is perfectly fine for 4 chickens, but it's pretty evident their chickens are sickly and unhappy. I like the idea of a stationary coop with revolving pastures, but we have hawks everywhere who I'm sure would enjoy a fresh chicken.
Any suggestions?
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I know it's long!
It's a really difficult problem.

Ideally free range solves most problems bar one and that's predation. With just four chickens (all hens?) I wouldn't want to risk free ranging either.

I think the answer is in what type of chicken tractor you build. Most that I see are basically a mobile pen with not much going for them apart from the fact that the chickens can get to fresh foliage.

They don't have to be like that. You can build a very large tractor and provide ledges and perches annd other items to interest the chickens but you would have to use some imagination and of course work out how you would move it.

There is another possible compromise. Build the standard style coop and permanent run but use the mobile coop as a safe exercise yard.
 

Swbertrand1

Crowing
Apr 21, 2018
1,122
1,503
271
Wilmington, NC
A 5x3 coop is pretty small. If you take a baseline of coop design that says one needs 4 sq ft of floor space per bird, the 5x3 doesn't meet the need today. Building a coop larger is something I think more than 90% of us wish we'd done at the outset. Hint: chicken math is REAL. In other words, build for a flock of 10, 12, 20 when you build. You'll wish you did later; trust me!

Predators are a constant struggle with all chicken keepers, so we have to balance their safety with quality of life. In general, you have to come up with how you're going to handle and maintain your flock. If you're going to be available to allow them to have supervised free-ranging time (we do this every evening), then a stationary coop/run will work. Ours are fine in their large run all day, but once we get to about 2 hours to sunset, they're lined up along the fence tapping their feet and looking at their watches as if we missed the "let them out time".

We don't know much about chicken tractors, but the concept doesn't appeal to us with a manicured lawn and defined planting beds and such. We feel that we'd just end up with one dead section of yard after another after another. For some it works though.

At the end of the day, you want the birds to have enough room to thrive, to be happy, and to be safe. Evaluate your options, the physical limitations of your lot and location, as well what you're really willing to do for them. If you're like us, you put a nice coop up, set up a clearly defined run, provide day and nighttime protection in the coop/run, and let the birds out to have fun time in the afternoon when we're out there with them.

Run a search for coop and run setups on these forum, and you'll find LOTS of information. Click "Forums" above, then look in the beige bar just below that tab where it says "Search Forums" and click that tab to find more info.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
34,429
70,990
1,462
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
There is another possible compromise. Build the standard style coop and permanent run but use the mobile coop as a safe exercise yard.
This is a great idea.

I like the idea of a stationary coop with revolving pastures, but we have hawks everywhere who I'm sure would enjoy a fresh chicken.

This would work, you would simply have to cover the runs.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,731
143,989
1,867
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I've come to love chickens and I'm very excited to start my own flock. My biggest problem right now is a coop.
So you asked this question back in June...
...when are you planning on building a coop?

How much space do you have to work with and......
Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
1634684118869.png
 

-Bella Cataline-

In the Brooder
Jun 17, 2021
9
49
37
East Tennessee
It's a really difficult problem.

Ideally free range solves most problems bar one and that's predation. With just four chickens (all hens?) I wouldn't want to risk free ranging either.

I think the answer is in what type of chicken tractor you build. Most that I see are basically a mobile pen with not much going for them apart from the fact that the chickens can get to fresh foliage.

They don't have to be like that. You can build a very large tractor and provide ledges and perches annd other items to interest the chickens but you would have to use some imagination and of course work out how you would move it.

There is another possible compromise. Build the standard style coop and permanent run but use the mobile coop as a safe exercise yard.

It's a really difficult problem.

Ideally free range solves most problems bar one and that's predation. With just four chickens (all hens?) I wouldn't want to risk free ranging either.

I think the answer is in what type of chicken tractor you build. Most that I see are basically a mobile pen with not much going for them apart from the fact that the chickens can get to fresh foliage.

They don't have to be like that. You can build a very large tractor and provide ledges and perches annd other items to interest the chickens but you would have to use some imagination and of course work out how you would move it.

There is another possible compromise. Build the standard style coop and permanent run but use the mobile coop as a safe exercise yard.
I was thinkin
It's a really difficult problem.

Ideally free range solves most problems bar one and that's predation. With just four chickens (all hens?) I wouldn't want to risk free ranging either.

I think the answer is in what type of chicken tractor you build. Most that I see are basically a mobile pen with not much going for them apart from the fact that the chickens can get to fresh foliage.

They don't have to be like that. You can build a very large tractor and provide ledges and perches annd other items to interest the chickens but you would have to use some imagination and of course work out how you would move it.

There is another possible compromise. Build the standard style coop and permanent run but use the mobile coop as a safe exercise yard.
I was thinking five or six chickens, I like the idea! What do you mean by standard style?
 

MadGardener

Chirping
Oct 7, 2021
38
185
79
SW Virginia, USA
A mobile coop and portable electric netting may be another option worth considering. I've only been keeping chickens for a couple months, but have been happy so far. No predator issues yet, but I provide several places to hide.

It will take time for pasture to recover, longer in very hot or very cold weather. I have about an acre to rotate on and I don't think I'd be so happy if I had less land.
 

-Bella Cataline-

In the Brooder
Jun 17, 2021
9
49
37
East Tennessee
So you asked this question back in June...
...when are you planning on building a coop?

How much space do you have to work with and......
Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
View attachment 2871630

So you asked this question back in June...
...when are you planning on building a coop?

How much space do you have to work with and......
Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!

I've been hindered from getting chickens since then because of some family things, but I have some new things to add to the question now that it's over so I thought I'd ask it again.
I have an area in my back yard that is about 30' by 25'. I live in East Tennessee, so a pretty warm climate.
 

Aunt Angus

Crossing the Road
Jul 16, 2018
6,324
16,188
832
Nevada County, CA
I second electric netting. It's been awesome for us! And it works even in weird shapes, up hills, down our ravine...

I live in a wooded area. We recently had part of our first masticated for wildfire protection. We have all of the same predators plus bobcats, black bears, and mountain lions (nothing we can do will stop a determined mountain lion, however). Here's what I am in the process of doing:
  • Buying a 10x10 shed kit. Pricey, yes, but I built my first coop out of recycled wood for super cheap. I'm buying the shed because it will match my goat house, which is also a converted shed. Otherwise, I'd build again - totally selfish and shallow reason. And I have 12 chickens and 4 ducks. You could do much smaller, cheaper, and easier.
  • Electric netting ($250ish). Worth every penny. We use it for our goats, too. At 8000 volts, it's pretty good at deterring most predators.
  • Heavy duty bird netting over the top. The area is about 40x40. Again, pricey, but no hawks = happy chickens and duckies (and happy Auntie, too). We atttach it to the electric netting and put it on tall posts so the set up resembles a circus tent.
In the future is a more permanent woven wire set up with hotwire at intervals. But this will work for now, and the electric netting can be moved.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom