Help me design my coop

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by chucknbob, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. chucknbob

    chucknbob New Member

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    Hello,

    I'm getting ready to buy a house on 3 acres. About half of it is fenced in (livestock fencing for cattle). I may get sheep down the road, no plans for a big cow at this point. I plan on keeping about a half dozen or so layers, a rooster, plus ideally some fryers in summer. I haven't decided if I'll use dual purpose birds or if I'll buy a bunch of Cornish Cross birds every year.

    I want to let them forage as much as possible. Should I build a small shelter and let them free range in the pasture? I already have a barn, so it will just require boxing in an area of it. They should be protected from dogs/coyotes there, but small predators will be a threat.

    The other option will be a chicken tractor, but that will require a lot of movement to keep them foraging, plus it will be harder to expand in the future if I want.

    I guess I'm trying to decide if they'll be safe enough ranging to let them run wild. Thanks in advance, and I'm sure I'll have many more questions in the following weeks.
     
  2. Roslyn

    Roslyn A Round American Woman

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    If I had that barn, I would put a separate chicken door on a wall and then build an interior chicken coop that is predator proof inside. That would save building a separate coop and then they would be safe from the racoons and weasels etc that can find their way into a barn. Then just let them free range in the pasture with any other animal that you choose.

    However, if you get Cornish Cross for meat I would pasture range them in a shelter, they have different feeding needs and habits etc. You have a great situation to buy 24 straight run dual purpose birds and when the boys show themselves pick one nice one and then send the others to freezer camp. :)
     

  3. MuddyHillFarm

    MuddyHillFarm Junior Member

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    I agree with Roslyn. Let them have the run of the place BUT only if you know where they are laying. We put an automatic chicken door on the coop to secure the birds at night and let them out in the morning BUT we have an enclosure/pen that keeps them from roaming until later in the day after most everyone has laid. If you allow them to roam they will find places to lay that might not be accessible to you or where fox/snakes are getting to them b4 you. So if you have additional space in the barn they could be there until let out to free range in the afternoon... just my 2cents
     
  4. AtlasDoc

    AtlasDoc New Member

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    This is my first year with chickens. I've placed my coop in a a shaded area beside my house and I'm beginning to think it should be more in the sun, so I might want to move it next year. In NC I'm not too worried about the cold winters so much as hot summers. Any thoughts?
     
  5. Bird_slave

    Bird_slave Junior Member

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    I too agree with Roslyn. I had great luck with free ranging my chickens (only locked in a coop at night) for four years. This past summer my luck ran out and I lost quite a few birds. Free ranging is great, but you have to be prepared for losses.
    I had 19 commercial broiler chicks (called Cobb on Cobbs) literally left on my doorstep. Out of necessity I was forced to raise them with my layer chicks. Never again. As was already pointed out, they have very different needs from most layer breeds. In my opinion, a dual purpose breed is a better choice for meat, especially if you plan to raise them all in the same space.
     
  6. Bird_slave

    Bird_slave Junior Member

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    I've lived on both the coast of NC and in the mountains. Either way I'd say locate your coop in the shade, protected from North winds if at all possible.
     
  7. AtlasDoc

    AtlasDoc New Member

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    Thanks, Bird_slave. Then they're probably in the ideal location. The wife wants more than the six we have now (but heretofore uninterested in helping with them). My plan is to double the size of the coop and run eventually. As for free ranging them, I've seen foxes out here and have been told by neighbors who hunt that we have coyotes and a bobcat in the area as well. I don't think I want to tempt fate with them.
    I appreciate your other comments on this blog. I'm sure I'll have more questions.
     
  8. Bird_slave

    Bird_slave Junior Member

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    So 'fess up, what part of NC do you prefer - coastal, piedmont, or the mountains?
    I've lived all over the country, military brat, but consider WNC to be one of my favorite places on earth.
     
  9. AtlasDoc

    AtlasDoc New Member

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    I am definitely a western NC fan. Anything else is a bit too flat. Also, I'd like to see a bit of snow in winter. I went to school at App State and can't get back out there often enough.
     
  10. sandra

    sandra New Member

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    Hi good to see another North Carolinian. I'm in the piedmont and boy do we have coyotes. They're my biggest problem of all predators. But I still free range. Predators seem to mostly hunt dusk and dawn. Any time something has happen it was then. I keep motion lights going so I can check on critters when those ate activated.
     
  11. patlet

    patlet New Member

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    Free range has to be in range, if you get my drift. We have never subscribed to keeping critters penned up and try to give everyone as much freedom as possible. (At our house the plants are locked up and the animals roam freely). However, we have also suffered devastating losses, heartbreak and tragedies....the prices for freedom I guess. To that end, at night, all the birds are in secure, lit, heat lamped (when needed) spacious buildings. The are all let free daily, fed some scratch outside and off they go. They always have fresh food and water in their homes and everyone returns at night. We like happy critters and even though we have to provide the occasional firepower for backup it works well for us.
     
  12. BigECart

    BigECart New Member

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    If/when we get chickens, I am planning on using Electronet fencing so that the chickens can forage. Won't help with hawks but hopefully will keep them safe from the foxes.