Author Topic: 13 in 13 Chickens!!  (Read 5057 times)

Offline GodFearingMan

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13 in 13 Chickens!!
« on: March 12, 2013, 01:58:15 AM »
Got my chickens and have started construction on the coop! I live in the Pacific Northwest where we get a lot of rain and I am wondering if anyone knows if I should cover my chickens run? Or is the coop enough shelter? Thanks everyone!

Offline Ronnie53

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2013, 05:57:06 AM »
I think a lot of that depends on the overall weather in your area and exactly where you plan to put the run. 

I plan to  cover the top of my run.  My run will actually be a dog run.  So I'll have to put some chicken wire on the outside of it to keep the sparrows and starlings out.  They are a constant headache right now.  Starlings will eat anything and everything and they chase my chickens into the coop while they consume every bite of food I put out there for the girls.  I am going to "hoop" off the top of the dog run and tarp that simply because we can get very heavy rainfall here in Iowa.  One side of the run will be up against a privacy fence and that will offer some protection as well.   

I hope this helps you think things through a little bit.

Ronnie in Iowa

Offline JLMissouri

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2013, 10:36:31 AM »
If your just going to keep them in a cage a roof would keep the mud down. A lot of people around here keep chickens caged all the time, there runs turn into nasty fecal soup/mud run. I let my chickens free range and use a chicken tractor, so they always have a fresh carpet of grass. You might get some wood mulch to spread in your run. Lots of cities have it for free at their brush sites.

Offline GodFearingMan

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2013, 01:35:57 PM »
I want to let my chickens free range but it won't be all the time, so they will be spending quite a bit of time in their run.  I am in the Puget Sound area of Washington so we get quite a bit of rainfall, so it sounds like it would be best to cover it unless I want a muddy mess. 

On the free ranging part, if i keep the chickens in their coop for a month or two and then start letting them out will they go back to the coop on their own at night?

Thanks

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2013, 01:59:45 PM »
...On the free ranging part, if i keep the chickens in their coop for a month or two and then start letting them out will they go back to the coop on their own at night?...Thanks

They will do this for you after just a few days in the coop.  Or a week on the long side.  I'd say after 3 days of coop confinement, they'll return in the evening.  You may have to do a little "herding" at first, but they'll get the hint after a day or two of that.  It will help if you keep the water and feed in the coop.  They can come out to forage, and they will.  But they'll return for water and know that the coop is their shelter and food staple.

--Charles

Offline GodFearingMan

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2013, 06:56:14 PM »
Having a coop to confine them at night seems like it will take care of most of the predator problems, but what about daytime predators? Will eagles and hawks take chickens if they are free ranging and does it happen often?

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2013, 08:28:49 AM »
Having a coop to confine them at night seems like it will take care of most of the predator problems, but what about daytime predators? Will eagles and hawks take chickens if they are free ranging and does it happen often?

I've free-ranged 9 hens and a rooster since every day that there wasn't snow or bitter cold (i.e., below 20 deg F) since November.  I let them out after sun up and go out to the coop 15 minutes or so before sundown to lock them up.  Every night they're in the coop before sundown.  So far, I've had zero predator problems, and I know there are opossums and racoons in the area, as well as hawks.  We even have a pair of bald eagles that will fly over occasionally.  I fully expect to loose one (or more) at some point.  But so far I've been lucky.  It will depend on your surroundings, of course.  And I realize it will be a matter of when, not if, I have my first predator strike.  But I'll deal with it when the time comes.

If you want to see what's snooping around, put a game camera up facing your coop and see if anything comes by to investigate at night the first month or so.

Offline JLMissouri

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2013, 09:59:55 PM »
Yep, I agree with RationalHusker, your chickens will learn where home is and will want to return every evening as long as there isn't a better place they can find somewhere. I free range all year unless there is snow on the ground, in which case chickens don't like snow and won't leave the coop much.

Dogs are by far the worst predator in my area, I have had problems with coons, opossums and foxes as well. Dogs are the worst, and you will loose a chicken every once in awhile. But the chickens have a much better life free ranging, and the free food they will get will help pay for the losses if not completely cover them. Freedom and security are not the same thing, it goes for chickens too.

I have never lost a chicken to a hawk even though I have seen them in my area. I have seen a hawk dive to get a chicken inside my chicken tractor run and hit the wire hard. He looked a little confused but flew away before I was ready to dispatch him. I also had an owl try to attack the chickens one time as well.

Offline LastStand

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 11:51:05 PM »
@GodFearingMan- My friend uses clear corrugated roofing to cover his run which is a nice option for letting more light in during winter months and keeping those hawks out.

Dogs are by far the worst predator in my area, I have had problems with coons, opossums and foxes as well. Dogs are the worst, and you will loose a chicken every once in awhile. But the chickens have a much better life free ranging, and the free food they will get will help pay for the losses if not completely cover them. Freedom and security are not the same thing, it goes for chickens too.

Those predators all make sense to me but I wonder why folks suggest a minimum of 1/2" hardware cloth is used for coops/runs. Why not just chicken wire? There aren't many predators I can think of that are able to fit through 1/2" fence. I may have Mink here but that's the only possibility I can think of.

Any others had experience with this?

Offline dizzy

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2013, 04:10:40 AM »
Raccoon arms are small enough to reach through chicken wire and if they can get a hold of one, will eat a chicken piece by piece.

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2013, 09:56:08 AM »
Raccoon arms are small enough to reach through chicken wire and if they can get a hold of one, will eat a chicken piece by piece.

They're also strong/smart enough to tear apart chicken wire.  It's a lighter gage metal than hardware cloth with larger openings and therefore less structural rigidity. 

Offline JLMissouri

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2013, 03:58:34 PM »
 I use chicken wire on my run, I don't know anyone in this area that uses anything else. At night when coons come out your chickens will be in the coop, not the run. I have not had a coon attack during daylight hours. If you have a good dog they will keep your chickens safe. Keeping chickens without an outside dog is more work.

Offline 229Mick

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 11:16:43 PM »
I have my back yard fenced in with a 6 foot cedar fence, so predators aren't my concern, for the most part, so I let them free range all the time, and at night they will just walk back to the coop and go in and stay till morning.

For Rain and snow, I asked the question a while back as to what to do and someone told me 'open the door and if they come out, they're fine'. As to the cover for rain, I have netting over the area around the coop so they can eat and not worry about hawks, but then in the area next to the coop where their food and water is, I have a spare piece of the cedar fence that will keep rain off them and snow from piling up too much. If it's raining too much they will go under there or in the coop, or under one of the bushes that's really full, or even the willow.

A lot of natural cover is really helpful if you have it and/or room for it, that way they always have some place to dart to when they see a hawk circling above!

Offline Ronnie53

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2013, 04:20:04 AM »
http://youtu.be/tuIm0r15164      Making A Dustbox for the Chicken House

Offline Ronnie53

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Re: 13 in 13 Chickens!!
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2013, 02:02:05 PM »
http://youtu.be/l4BlXSxEbe8  Marjorie Wildcraft posted this.  Pretty damn slick.