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rainbowgardener
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Re: Letting chickens roam

I'm not quite getting the idea of shed and tree inside a coop??

I don't have any real good pictures of our set up, but here's some.

Image

That's my partner, out tending chickens in the rain. But you can see there's a coop, the red barn-ish structure. It is built on the south side of our garden shed. They don't have access to the shed, but it provides protection and a warm south wall for them in the winter. Their whole area (inside the picket fence) is under the shade of a huge old tree. That works very well, because it is cool and shady in the summer, then in the winter, the tree drops its leaves and they get a lot more sun. In front of the coop and open to it is a wire run to expand the area they have while inside. The little blue tarp in front of Jamie, is over part of that, to give some shade in that area.

Here's the area between the shed and the coop:
Image

The picket fence was really to keep our dogs away from the coop, when the chickens were new and the dogs were going crazy over them. Before we put that up, it wouldn't have taken the dogs too long to destroy the coop. We don't leave the chickens just out inside the picket fence, because they end up out in the yard anyway. They can go over the fence (they do it by flying up on the wire run roof first and from there to the fence).

When it is hot, I freeze a chunk of ice in a bowl and put that in their waterer. Having a big chunk lasts longer and keeps their water cool longer. We also add just a little Gatorade to their water for electrolytes.

Chicken waterer:
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You will want to look for heat tolerant breeds when you get your chickens. Some breeds are much hardier for hot summers than others:
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Yak_NN
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Re: Letting chickens roam

Thanks for the advice! I'm not sure if I used the word "coop" correctly, I used it to described the "territory" in which the chickens will be able to roam freely at all times, and it will be cordoned off with chain-link fencing. And I wanted to include a tree in that territory.

Sorry if I used a word incorrectly!

imafan26
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Re: Letting chickens roam

We have a lot of feral chickens here. The hens are o.k. they don't make as much noise or roam if there is no rooster around. The chickens hang around the cat colonies. The feral feeders feed the cats and the chickens compete with the cats for the food. The chickens usually win. Every once in a while people living near the colonies will call the humane society and they send out a group, usually of people raising fighting chickens to trap them. However, there are other people feeding them and they will deliberately steal the traps. Most of the feral chickens are jungle fowl whose owners have deliberately set them free. Many of the roosters don't mind being handled and their spurs have been cut.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Letting chickens roam

Yak_NN wrote:Thanks for the advice! I'm not sure if I used the word "coop" correctly, I used it to described the "territory" in which the chickens will be able to roam freely at all times, and it will be cordoned off with chain-link fencing. And I wanted to include a tree in that territory.

Sorry if I used a word incorrectly!
I think it would work better to have similar to ours-- a tree just outside their fenced area that can provide shade for it. If the tree is small to start with, you would need some other kind of shade as well, a canopy or gazebo or something.

But they also need some indoor protected area, where predators can't get to them and where they have roost bars and nest boxes. That is what I was calling the coop.

Chickens like to roost on a high spot, on a bar that is narrow enough so they can lock their claws around it. I had trouble finding a good picture of the interior of a small chicken coop, but:

Image

You can see the bars going across. On the right side of the photo you can see the slide out tray. That slides under the roosting bars. Put some straw bedding on it, then it is easy to slide out and dump in the compost pile, makes it easier to keep the coop and area cleaner.

On each side are the nest boxes, something like this:
Image

They get filled with bedding to make them soft and fluffy and that's where the hens will sit and lay their eggs. You want them to get used to always laying in one spot, so you don't have to do easter egg hunts every day. And you need to have easy access to the nest boxes to retrieve the eggs.

If you have DIY skills, there are many plans available on line for building your own coop. But it needs to stay dry, to be sturdy enough to keep out predators (and also things like birds and mice that would come for the chicken feed), to be well ventilated, and to have the kinds of spaces the chickens will need.

They can be out in the yard during the day or parts of the day (as long as they have free access to the nest boxes when they want) but they need to be tucked in on their roost bars at night.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Letting chickens roam

I just want to stress the importance of the very secure protected area for them.

Right behind our back fence is a horse ranch/ equestrian center. The ranch had a flock of chickens also. But a coyote managed to get into the coop and killed every one of them. When they are asleep on their roosts, they are very vulnerable.

I didn't even know we had coyotes in our area.

But there are lots of predators that can kill them -- foxes, wolves, feral dogs, raccoons , bobcats, skunks, weasels ....
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applestar
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Re: Letting chickens roam

Yowza :shock: That’s really terrible. They must have been devastated.

...but yours are still safe right?... Are you changing anything to secure them more? Do the coyotes pose danger to your (little) dogs as well?
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digitS'
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Re: Letting chickens roam

At another home, I lost 3 chickens to a coyote over about a 2 week period. The first time I saw him, I shot AT him. The second time, he was about 40 yards from the coop. The door was too small for him to get in but he had climbed the fence previously to kill 2 of the chickens. I shot him.

Something you should understand about free ranging. In Southeast Asia, the original home of wild and domestic chickens, it isn't unusual to see the village flock a half mile from the village. They range. There isn't sufficient food to their liking closer, apparently.

What does that mean for a homeowner with a 50' by 50' backyard? Well, it won't take many chickens very many days before they are not finding what they are looking for to eat. That backyard is not contributing a whole lot to their diet. If free ranging is compromising their safety, you have to weigh that in your decision to allow it.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Letting chickens roam

Ours are fine. They spend their nights from before dark to at least 9 AM closed up in their coop, which is quite secure and has two layers of fence around the area.

Our backyard is more like 100x100, but no I don't expect that it feeds them. They have high quality feed for laying hens (currently the higher protein version for molting hens), plus a variety of supplements, available to them at all times. Even when they are free ranging, the door to the coop is always open, so they can come back for food and water when ever they want.

I don't think they are in danger in the daylight with two barking dogs. Our dogs are not really little--one is about coyote size and one is about wolf size.

The free ranging is for exercise and allowing them to do the hunting and scratching that is instinctive, and adding a bit of variety to their diet. And they love it. By 9AM they are all lined up in front of their door, pacing and wanting out.

If I am wrong about their safety, then we will deal with it and increase security the next time, but so far what we are doing is working.
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Gary350
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Re: Letting chickens roam

City code has changed the rules for having farm animals in the city limits. We can not have 1 cow for milk or beef, 1 pig for bacon, sausage, ham, sheep, coat, and several chickens for eggs or fried chicken. I would love to have a Jersey milk cow because red color cows give class A milk it is much healthier than class B milk from a white color or black color cow, class B milk is what we all buy at the store. I would like to have a pig for bacon, pork chops, ham, sausage. Spring time farmer supply store and TSC both sell baby chickens 50¢ each at farm supply and $2 each at TSC. Wife raised 100 chickens once to put in the freezer. I would like to have 8 chickens for eggs. Wife said, no way we are retired, we will never get to take a vacation, no more camping, can't go to Michigan, Florida, out west or any where for vacation someone has to be here to feed animals 2 times every day. People in town with 6 ft yard fences trim chicken wing feathers so they can not fly over the fence. Chickens can usually fly up into a tree or on a fence to get away from a dog. When I was in grade school I don't remember chickens being a problem in my grand parents garden but I have been told chickens are a big problem in the garden. My father always had genies those birds will eat all bugs in the yard & garden, chiggers, nats, ticks, fleas, etc. but never bother garden plants or other plants and the fastest dog can never catch a genie.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: (including grand baby pics!) Letting chickens roam

We are pretty tied down here. With a cat, two dogs, and six chickens and a bunch of gardens it is difficult for us both to get away. I recently went to California to visit with my new twin granddaughters ( :D )
lark on blanket.jpg
Simone.jpg

We had hoped to go together, but getting a house sitter was prohibitively expensive. Mostly we don't leave home together for much more than four hours at a time. We have been away for as much as four days, by getting one neighbor to take care of the cat, a different one to take care of the chickens, taking the dogs with us, and leaving the gardens to fend for themselves. But even so getting away isn't easy.

Our fences are 6' tall and our chickens do not have their wings clipped. When they were younger and slimmer, they could fly up onto the fence, but they are now too big and heavy to do that.
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applestar
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Re: Letting chickens roam

Oh, they are BEAUTIFUL rainbowgardener! Why are you posting their photos in the chicken thread :lol:

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