using a movable coop...not a tractor

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by newfmadible, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. newfmadible

    newfmadible Out Of The Brooder

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    I am looking forward to getting my first chicks this spring. [​IMG] Layers not meat birds. We already have an 8x8 coop and my husband has graciously agreed to put wheels on it so I can move it around our yard and eventually into our fenced pastures. I don't plan on having an enclosed run but intend to let them free range during the day. My thought was to start out with the coop in the yard area as the pastures can be quite muddy in the spring, then move the coop to the pastures in early summer. My plan is to move them around following the sheep in their rotational grazing of the four pasture quadrants. My questions: Does anyone else do something like this and does it work ok? Will they be ok without an enclosed run? They will have trees & bushes for cover in the yard and will have access to sheds and barns (and their coop of course!) in the pastures. Will the pasture fences keep them contained? Will they be confused by the frequenht moving of the coop? Is the whole idea more bother than it's worth? My husbands thinks this is nuts. [​IMG] As an alternative, I could just move the coop a couple times a year...to the yard for winter and spring and to the pastures for summer and fall, assuming they will fly over the interior pastures fences to range the whole area.
    Thoughts from anyone??
     
  2. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Will the pasture fences keep them contained? Will they be confused by the frequenht moving of the coop? Is the whole idea more bother than it's worth?

    It partly depends on the type of fencing, and whether or not they have all they need inside the pastures.

    My chickens willl sometimes go through my fence, but it's quite rare now that they've learned it carries about 8000 volts!

    I think if, when you move the coop, you leave them confined in it a day or two, that when you let them out , they will return to it with no problems.

    I think it's an EXCELLENT idea, and one I've been planning on doing myself. I've been waiting to run across an old trailer I can put a coop on so I can move it with my tractor or ATV, since I have 12 acres of pasture and some of them are several hundred yards apart.

    I think it will not only help with the sheep parasites, but will help control pasture pests such as caterpillars and grasshoppers.

    And it's more FREE food for the birds!!​
     
  3. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    When we had sheep, I had the chickens pastured with the sheep. I didn't have a single loss to predators during that time, not even to hawks, which are a big problem here. I miss those days! I haven't had a loss in years, but it's a lot more work and worry, these days.

    I had the coop and run next to the paddock for the sheep. We put a small chicken door in the run, to connect them. That way, I could allow the chickens out with the sheep or not, depending on what was going on. Like sheep shearing or chicken dusting.

    Every morning, the chickens would follow the sheep as they went out to graze or go up in the woods to browse. The chickens loved scratching in the leaf litter for bugs, while the sheep were browsing. They'd take naps together in the grass, out in the pasture. In the evenings, they'd all come back home together, for some food and to bed down/roost.

    I know this isn't what you are planning on doing, but I thought you might like to know how we did it. They got along very well and the chickens went quite far from the coop. I'd say from one end of a 5 acre area to the other end. Maybe that will help you in your calculations.
     
  4. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    When we had sheep, I had the chickens pastured with the sheep

    The only chickens I've ever lost were to my Maremmas, who were protecting their sheep from those deadly intruders! LOL!

    Of the 4 I have, only one likes to eat the birds. The others just want to play with them, but the chickens cant take a 100+ lb dog pouncing on them, playful or not.
    Now the chickens have learned it's not a good idea to cross the fencelines.​
     
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    I move both of my coops. Both of my coops are on skids. I use my tractor. One has wire under the roosts over a poop pit. The other coop doesn't have a poop pit. The one that has the poop pit stays cleaner. I did fence in their range area due to preditors. My range area is moveable too. Also I have an electric wire going around it. There are pictures on my BYC page. I think one of the dogs that roam my neighborhood. killed one of my birds. There were dog like prints where I found her half eaten. She was one of my older hens and a great layer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  6. FarmerChick

    FarmerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    this is called pasture ranging.

    you put the coop out in the pasture and the birds free range during the day.

    they will not wander that far from the coop at all. it is their protection and they know it.

    at night when they roost you can come out and close the door for predator protection.

    What you need to do is move the coop just far enough from their previous grazing range and their pooping areas.....not that far probably. They will follow the coop.

    Do not move it from left side of pasture then take it to a 1/2 mile away on another pasture or something. You move them slowly across the whole field just moving out of the previous range.

    Kinda like a chicken tractor going across a pasture.

    This is a great idea!!!! You replenish the pasture with poop, chickens get well fed on natural fodder and everyone is happy.

    BUT if you have true predator problems, you can then fence with electric poultry netting around the whole coop and move in a few days when needed.


    hope some of that helps
     
  7. newfmadible

    newfmadible Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow! What great responses! Thank you SO much! [​IMG]
    My husband about had me convinced to give up on the whole idea. Woodland Woman, thanks for sharing your experience of pasturing the sheep and chickens together. I had considered doing that but was unsure if they would be "compatible". I don't have livestock guard dogs so that is not an issue, but do have llamas so I would have to see how they got along with the poultry.
    Farmer Chick, your description is much like what I am envisioning. I had thought about the electric poultry netting too. I use it for my sheep sometimes to give them more pasture area but was unsure about it for the chickens.
    You all have given me the confidence to proceed with my plans and see what happens. I will keep you posted on how it goes! This forum and you guys are the best! [​IMG]
     
  8. FarmerChick

    FarmerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    oh what you are going to do is a very great way to raise chickens. it is the new "grass-fed" chicken vs. the commercial growers in big houses.

    So you are right on the money with what you will accomplish!
    And if you google on the internet all about day ranging, pasture ranging etc. they will show you exactly how to handle your flock.

    It should work out fine for you! GO FOR IT!!!!

    and your llamas are great protection animals. chickens and llamas will get along fine.
     
  9. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady Premium Member

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    We recently finished up my DH's 10x10 coop. It is a large square and I do plan on finding all the photos we have taken over time of it and posting a thread.
    Anyhow, it is 6 ft tall and we do put it on wheels and move it around. Once it warms up we will move it up to our front pasture but right now the wind is too strong and we only have temporary tarps on the sides. The sides are only wire basically, the frame is 2x4's and 2x6's and the roof is PVC panels. At this time I only have 5 birds in there so we have the wheels off and it is stationary but we have moved it a few times since he finished building it, just around our courtyard because as you say, it is muddy everywhere.
    We do plan to open the door once they are in the front pasture. Since it is all wire they will be able to see all around them to start with. I plan to keep their food and water inside the coop always and have them come back in at night to roost and I can close them up. If the weather is bad then they have protection and can get down on the dirt floor but stay inside. Oh, my front pasture does not have trees or bushes so this "tractor/coop" will be their only protection.
    My chickens go through my hogwire fence like it isn't even there so your fence probably won't keep in your chickens since mine even fly over a fence on occasion. It depends on what is on the other side.

    We like to move our tractors all around the pastures as it fertilizes as it goes and keeps bugs down, they trim the grass faster than we can mow and we like seeing the pretty ornaments walking about besides the same old brown horses.
     

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