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Chicken coops/pens??
January 7, 2009
2:14 pm
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Pete
WV
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Anyone have any ideas about where I get information about building a chicken coop? Or pen, or some sort of protective enclosure/s?

We have the land mass for having some chickens but are surrounded by woods with some nasty critters in it.  So, we stop when faced with having to build something completely enclosed.  If it's going to become that involved, I really want some guidance about square footage needed per chick, etc.

Have thought of a building of some sort that can be secured from the outside with an open yard of some sort.  Yes, I've been around chicken coops of all sorts over the years, but don't remember any which needed as much protection as we need here.  And there could be some really easy way to accomplish this if we only get a couple of chicks…

Thanks for any ideas you may have, everyone.  Or websites which might help.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

January 7, 2009
2:23 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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Pete, we have chicken wire across the top of our chicken yard–I think that's a must.  And we have hardware cloth around the ventilation openings on the chicken house.  Had just chicken wire on there at first but after I saw evidence of attempts to break through that we put hardware cloth on there.  There's also hardware cloth over the screen on the door into the chicken house.  Of course we keep our chickens put in the chicken house at night so they aren't in the chicken yard, so just for daytime use, the chicken wire is fine for the top in the yard.  Our chicken house is at the edge of the woods and we haven't lost one yet!  There are several posts about our chicken house if you look under chickens on the Barn page (on the menu above).

Clover made me do it.

January 7, 2009
3:06 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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There is an eggcellant website on chicken care and coop building backyardchickens.com. You will learn a lot and the people are great. Some of them read Suzanne’s blog, too! (Which I try to promote as often as possible, lol!)

January 7, 2009
5:27 pm
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KGidget
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Once upon a time when I still had chickens & other fowl, I thanked my lucky stars that my grandfather who had built the chicken coop put a cement floor in. It sure kept the skunks and fox from digging in. Once I took over (and really, it was my mom because I was 7 when given over the chore of caring for chickens), we created a pen for the fowl. They had been free range, but too many coyotes and fox started getting TOO many of my beasties. To thwart the diggers, we dug down about 2 feet all around the perimeter, dropped down ties and stapled the chicken wire to them, then covered the ties back up. The digging creatures gave up trying to dig under the fence, and I didn't lose another one that way. ('Course, the broken window letting in an owl who proceded to help himself to my half grown friers was a whole other matter. Mom fixed that with a pitchfork and a .22. She's a tough lady.).

www.neutralhillsstills.ca

January 7, 2009
7:42 pm
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Linda
IN
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When we raised birds we put an electric fence around the bottom of the pen. Anything trying to dig in got in the fence. It was a very hot fence. We found dead snakes on it some times and once even an owl that had perched on it. But it kept the bad critters out.

January 8, 2009
11:59 pm
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Salamander
Charleston, WV
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Pete since you live so close you are welcome to come and look at our chicken coop. We bought a dog kennel and put extra fencing around it and over the top to use as there yard and attached the chicken coop at the door opening of the kennel, it works well for us. You do have to level the ground around the bottom of the kennel so there are no gaps.

The person who upsets you the most is your best teacher, because they bring you face to face with who you are.

January 9, 2009
6:17 am
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Pete
WV
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Thanks, Amanda.  Was thinking along those lines as well, considering that we already have a bunch of chain link as dog kennels, it might be fairly easy to just add on somewhere.  Might offer protection for both to have them adjacent.

Was also thinking of using one of the unused dog houses, at least until we could build a proper enclosure.  Obviously, nesting boxes at a higher level are much more convenient for the one collecting the eggs than trying to retrieve them from the inside of a dog house! But as a temporary measure, it might work out well.

A neighbor has offered us a beautiful rooster.  Not just sure how to take that offer…  (snicker)

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!

January 9, 2009
6:30 am
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WV_Hills
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Amanda said:

Pete since you live so close you are welcome to come and look at our chicken coop. We bought a dog kennel and put extra fencing around it and over the top to use as there yard and attached the chicken coop at the door opening of the kennel, it works well for us. You do have to level the ground around the bottom of the kennel so there are no gaps.


Could you post a picture? That sounds like a great way to get started. They sell the components for a chain link dog kennel at Home Depot!

January 9, 2009
1:39 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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We did the same thing…. Dog run that I covered comepletely with hardware cloth, top, bottem and covering the run. We use 2 old dog houses that we converted to small hen houses. It works fine for my small flock. I am hoping to replace one of the hen houses next summer. Here is mine- not pretty but it works! ( I have fixed the gap in the doorway since the picture was taken.)

Photobucket

January 9, 2009
2:41 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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Here are my pullets…

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

January 9, 2009
5:44 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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We do have railroad ties buried under the chain link, and the chain link is buried, too. I have to admit my coop is a little inconvenient for retrieving eggs, but I found a squared off dowel that I can use to pull the eggs toward me, if they lay out of the milk carton I have for them. We cut out vent holes at the top of the dog house, and a window on the side, covered all the openings with hardware cloth stapled from the inside. My husband built a slider cover of Plexiglas for the window. I made roost for them inside and they also love to roost in the rafters of the dog house/coop. It works fine. They go back and forth between the main coop and the extra house I have for them, during the day. I am looking for an affordable shed that I could convert into a coop, next summer.The main coop is attached to the run from the outside. The other one they like in the daytime is an all weather plastic dog house that I moved inside the run. I hope I didn’t blather on too much….

January 9, 2009
8:01 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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Jayne said:

Ya’ll almost have me thinking I could do chickens in my yard!  My neighbor had them, including the rooster that crowed every morning.  They let theirs free range in the yard and then locked them in the shed for the night.


Jayne, you probably could do it… many cities are legal for chicken keeping, like New York, Chicago, Seattle and many smaller towns. Check out http://www.backyardchickens.com . You only need 2-3 for most families needs. There is a huge underground backyard chicken movement, believe it or not!

January 9, 2009
8:09 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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Jayne, unless you have an ordinance where you live, there's no reason you couldn't have chickens in a backyard!  Get hens and your neighbors won't even know they're there.  A rooster's gonna crow…and crow….and crow.  It doesn't annoy me, even at 4 am, but it might annoy your neighbors, so you might think twice about a rooster, but hens are quiet enough.  If you only had a few, the housing could be very simple and small, and just a handful of hens, once they're laying, can make plenty of eggs!

Clover made me do it.

January 9, 2009
8:19 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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That is what I do. I live near a lake on a little over an acre. I have all hens and pullets. Many people do it on smaller lots. The girls cluck a little bit when they lay, but really are quiet. They are so funny! I get a lot of peace watching them- it is kind of timeless thing. I am doing something in having chickens that my grandmother did and hers before her.

January 10, 2009
6:01 am
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WV_Hills
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I moved last year from a city in Southern California. I never even thought about having chickens, even though all my neighbors and I had gardens in the back yard. I never knew my neighbor across the street had chickens until they moved and had a yard sale – including three chickens in wire cages. I wanted to buy them on the spot, but since I was living with my son before the move I had to respect his decision – “Please mom – corn, beans, and everything else took over the whole back yard. You even grow tomatoes and herbs in the front yard, but please NO chickens!”

January 10, 2009
3:51 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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I have been amazed at how easy it is to keep a small flock… Just get some “Stall Dry” or DE and every week sprinkle a good amount in the coop bedding and stir it up. I have had NO smell or fly’s. With no rooster there is little noise (though I would LOVE to have one.) I got my first ones as day old chicks from the feed store. We kept them inside in a large Tupperware crate till they were feathered out enough to go outside… which is right about the time you don’t want them inside anymore. They are so tame. My others I got from people who live near me on BYC. You could do it, for sure. The eggs taste so much better than store bought… even look different. They are good for eating your left over table scraps, too…. lots of pluses to having them.

January 10, 2009
6:27 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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Here is a closer up picture of Betsy, the EE. She lays huge blue green colored eggs (just saying that to encourage you to get chickens, lol.)
Photobucket

Here is the coop in the summer- It looks a lot better than in winter, but still, nothing fancy.

Photobucket

January 10, 2009
6:54 pm
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Mo olelo
Central Nebraska
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I have to second Suzanne's and other's suggestion that if you're going to have chickens in town, don't get a rooster, just hens. 

When we lived on Maui, for our last year and a half there, our neighbour across the back fence had several roosters and they crowed day and night.  In the country, a rooster will roost at night and not be crowing, but in town the street lights are constantly shining, so they were constanting crowing.   One would crow and another would answer him.  Not bad, if there had only been two roosters, but other houses down the street also had roosters, so they would start and others would answer all the way down the street.  There would be a break and then one rooster would start it all over again.   Even my husband, who can usually sleep through anything, had trouble sleeping while we lived at that house. 

Now don't anyone go feeling too sorry for us… we were after all living in Paradise and this was a small price to pay.  Though I'll admit, there was more than one occasion when rooster stew crossed my mind… lol.

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January 10, 2009
7:01 pm
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nursemary
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Here's what my coop/yard looks like.  I found the wooden playhouse fully assembled and on clearance at Lowes for $85.00  I put a chicken wire floor in and two perches.  I put it up on blocks because we back up to a creek and are subject to flooding.  The fencing is 4X4 redwood posts in cement and the top and bottoms are 2×3's.  The fence is covered in 1″ heavy duty chicken wire which is folded over about 6 inches at the bottom and buried with decomposed granite.  We added the topflight netting over the whole thing after the hawk attack.  I found some dead branches in my yard to prop the netting up so we can walk around inside without stooping.  I built a little raised “patio” for the girls and put a roof over it.  That is their favorite spot when it rains.  I used a store bought garden trellis as my gate.  The wooden star says “Celebrity Chicks.”

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We installed an automatic chicken door that we found online.  We have it set to close just after sunset and open just after sunrise.  The birds have managed to get themselves in and out on time every night too!  It really gives us freedom to go away and stay out late without worrying about our girls.

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This is how the automatic door looks from the outside.

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I used two short wrought iron plant hangers and cemented them into the ground to hang my feeder and waterer.  I open the front doors of the coop during the day just to air the coop out and close them in the afternoon.  Most of the time they stay closed.  I learned to love chickens from my grandmother so I dedicated my coop to her.  She passed away just shy of her 100th birthday.

Image Enlarger

That's how the Celebrity Chicks live at my house!

Mary

Living with Miracles and Mayhem at the Buck 'N Run Ranch,

 

Mary

January 10, 2009
7:20 pm
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Jayne
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Mo olelo said:

I have to second Suzanne's and other's suggestion that if you're going to have chickens in town, don't get a rooster, just hens. 

When we lived on Maui, for our last year and a half there, our neighbour across the back fence had several roosters and they crowed day and night.  In the country, a rooster will roost at night and not be crowing, but in town the street lights are constantly shining, so they were constanting crowing.   One would crow and another would answer him.  Not bad, if there had only been two roosters, but other houses down the street also had roosters, so they would start and others would answer all the way down the street.  There would be a break and then one rooster would start it all over again.   Even my husband, who can usually sleep through anything, had trouble sleeping while we lived at that house. 

Now don't anyone go feeling too sorry for us… we were after all living in Paradise and this was a small price to pay.  Though I'll admit, there was more than one occasion when rooster stew crossed my mind… lol.


This story reminds me of my visits to Key West.  The chickens (and roosters) roam free on the island.   My last visit was for the wedding of a friend who lives there.  We had partied it up after the wedding and the next morning that dang rooster started crowing before day break.  I think we all heard him start at one end of the island and every step he made to us and past us.  He crowed and crowed and crowed.  I guess he didn't like us up all night partying, keeping him awake!  I could write a book about that trip!

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