Use a daytime tractor? or cover a big garden?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Mattsculpt, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Mattsculpt

    Mattsculpt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 29, 2011
    Proctor, Arkansas
    I'm planning on having a permanent run and coop for my 6 chickens, however I'd like them to also be able to do some foraging.
    I have a 48’ by 48’ garden that is surrounded by a 4 foot high, 2”x4” wire fence. How could I make this safe for them during the day? There is a pair of redtail hawks that nest not more then 100 yards away. Would I be better going with a chicken tractor to move around the area? Or is there an inexpensive way to extend the fence up 2’ and roof that large of an area that would still let me work in the garden. Would aviary netting be feasible? I’ve heard that small birds (sparrows, ect.) can get caught in it and die. I’d hate to have to try to cut an angry hawk out of the stuff.
    Also would the chickens poop up the garden and make it unpleasant to work out there if allowed to range around its 2304 sq ft?
    If I go with a tractor how do I get them back into the coop and run in the evenings?
    Thanks for your suggestions.
     
  2. One of the girls

    One of the girls Out Of The Brooder

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    My girls live in a tractor which I move every two or three weeks to clean ground. But they also range for about 2 hours or more daily. They know to come home to roost. Your birds undoubtedly can learn to do that too.

    With local hawks you definitely need some sort of covered run type tractor. If it were me I'd start with placing it adjacent to their coop for several days. At dusk, or when they normally race to their roost, let them go to the roost from the tractor to the coop.

    If they do this successfully for a few days then start moving the tractor gradually toward your garden or where you need them to work.

    With my hens, if I move their tractor suddenly quite far from the current location, they get a little confused and stand around in the old locale seemingly unable to make the mental jump that 'hey girls the roost is now 20 yards away and behind the shed . . . " So I quit moving it that far. If it's plainly visible, 20 or 25 feet in proximity to the old locale they don't seem to have any trouble. If it looks like they're confused I simply put treats into the open run and in they go.

    Hope this helps. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Would aviary netting be feasible?

    How big is your bank account?
    Can you get a second mortgage? [​IMG]
     
  4. chickenbaguette

    chickenbaguette Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We also have six chickens, and what we're doing at the moment (after moving house) is building a 5m x 5m cage-type run with chicken wire all over the top and sides (1.05m high and slightly pitched by stakes in the middle) to keep them completely safe from the foxes and anything else that likes chicken. It cost about £100 altogether.

    We're then going to build another one of the same thing beside it, with room for a shed in between. The shed will be converted into a coop with a door on either side. We'll just open one door and let them out into one run for a few weeks, and then when it gets all scratched up rotate them into the other run so it can regenerate (and any worms or parasites can die).

    If you chose to do this your runs would need to be bigger, though, as three of my chickens are tiny bantams AND they get to free-range for an hour every day (and more when we actually get a fence around the garden).

    We also thought of using fruit-cage netting on top to save money, but determined predators will chew through it and it might not hold the weight of a fox or two. It doesn't help that we have overhanging trees as well. But if you don't, the side netting for fruit cages is much cheaper than aviary netting [​IMG]
     
  5. chickenbaguette

    chickenbaguette Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If I go with a tractor how do I get them back into the coop and run in the evenings?

    They learn what it looks like and they will go back to it automatically to roost. Just try stopping them! That won't be a problem at all. But if you get a new tractor you'll need to just let them work out how the outside corresponds with the inside and how they get back in at night.​
     
  6. One of the girls

    One of the girls Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 25, 2011
    "Also would the chickens poop up the garden and make it unpleasant to work out there if allowed to range around its 2304 sq ft? "

    Forgot to address the manure issue - My girls do their part to fertilize the garden when foraging free every afternoon. I can avoid walking over the droppings most of the time. If these occur in a walkway a quick bit of soil over the top solves the problem. If you decide to use the tractor it won't be a problem anyway because everything will be concentrated right in that spot.

    I vote for the tractor and never mind the expense and huge hassle of trying to cover the entire garden. Easy peasy.
     
  7. Mattsculpt

    Mattsculpt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Proctor, Arkansas
    Thanks Folks,
    I'll go with a tractor for their daytime outings. I want them to get some grass and bugs in their diet.
     

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