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  1. #1
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    Default Chook house and run ideas

    Hi all, wondering if anyone has any advice or ideas about chooks. We are starting to build a chook house and run. We have acreage so it's quite big. Any tricks or tips we should know?

    Does anyone know about including trees in a chook run? We have a tree that we'd like to build around in one corner of the run but then how do we put the chook wire over the top??? I assume a run needs a ceiling of chook wire.

  2. #2
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    Some thoughts/tips

    -sink the wire into the ground a foot or so if you arent putting a base on the pen. Foxes etc will dig under the fence if they can. you could maybe tuck the wire in under some big flat rocks and refil the soil over the top to make this easier.

    -if it was me i would not include the tree in the chook pen. the chooks may damage it. you also run the risk of limbs falling on the chook pen and damaging the pen, if not the chooks. if your heart is set on it i would wire around the tree so they cant reach it.

    -you do need a ceiling (just chook wire) or hawks might steal your chooks/foxes can climb over the wire


    - our pen is fairly large wire netting and we havent had a problem but i have a neighbour who replaced their pen netting with one that had smaller holes. they had on more than one occasion had a chicken stick its head out of the netting and get it bitten off by a fox.

    - you probably already know this but - its best to have a door on the laying coop, so you can lock them up at night in a more secure area than the netted run.

    - line laying boxes with straw or something so eggs dont crack, once an egg breaks they tend to start eating all the eggs... its a hard habit to break

    -it is handy to have laying boxes that slope into another box that you can open from outside, the eggs roll down safe from chicken attack and you dont have to go in the chook pen if it is super muddy.

    -put a golf ball (or something eggy looking) in the nests for the first little while. it will encourage the hens to lay in the nests rather than on the floor, behind the door, etc

    wow, that was long, hope some of it helps

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  4. #3
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  5. #4
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    Wow, thank you so much! Great advice there. We've made the access flap from the back of the nesting boxes so that should be good. Hubby made some great boxes last weekend. Some other excellent advice there that I'll definitely use.

    Do you know what height the roosting poles should be? We're adding these this weekend.

  6. #5
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    Our roosting poles were staggered, the first being around 20cm off the floor, but our coop was raised off the floor and less than a meter high I think. We also had to consider the strength of our birds as they were rescued cage hens and pretty weak when we got them!

    We also got a pretty cool gadget from germany - it was an automatic door that closed at sunset and could open at sunrise or a preset time! It was a bit costly for a chook pen but useful for us if we were out late or out early

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    I LOVE the automatic idea! But don't think we'll invest at this stage.

    I'm a bit worried that foxes will be our issue as there are a lot around the farm since we haven't lived out there yet. So we will work hard to keep the run as safe as possible.

    Thanks for the roosting heights. I read to begin at 2 feet off the ground and go upwards but this seems pretty high. I figure if there is plenty of room they'll choose which ones they like. We are building with room for more chooks one day so there should be plenty. We'll start with a dozen chooks. How many do others have?

    A friend told me to put in 2 runs so that one can be re-seeded and grow some green feed and stop the ground getting compacted and muddy by alternating between the 2 runs. We will be doing this as we have plenty of space. The chooks will be out of the run during the day too. Nice life!

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    Are you getting Isa Browns? Do you have an avenue to sell or give away the eggs?
    A dozen Isa Browns will lay a dozen (give or take) eggs a day, that's a lot of eggs.

    A friend of ours has a seeded patch in his chook pen (we will eventually get around to doing it too). it is just wooden frame with a grate over the top and he seeds the ground under it. The grains and things grow up through the grate so the hens can eat it but the cant stand on or dig up the shoots.

    I would love to let our chooks roam, they are so entertaining, but we have woodchip on our garden beds and they TRASH the place. They are only out under supervision.
    Last edited by notquitesupermum; 22-02-2012 at 14:07.

  9. #8
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    Hi,

    We've just built a chicken coop and run. Not as big as yours by the sound of it, as we're in an urban area and only have 5 chickens. However, being wedged between two golf courses, we have alot of foxes. We ended up using weld mesh instead of the flexible chicken wire. Was alot more costly, but one of our neighbours had a fox chew through the chicken wire to attack their chickens. We have ended up just digging a 30-40cm deep trench around the run, and pouring in cement, as a barrier to foxes. We tested it before the chickens came by throwing a few frozen chickens into the run and seeing if our dogs managed to dig/break in. They didn't, and as they're staffies, we felt pretty confident!

    It is a good idea to have that secondary run - we're planning to use it for vegies in the 'chicken off' times.

    Apparently chickens were originally 'jungle animals', and prefer filtered light through a canopy. We are growing kiwi fruit vines over the wire for the run, as they are deciduous, and will provide leafy protection from the sun in hot times, and let winter sun in to dry the ground up. We'll also get nice fruit!

    We also hinged one whole side of the coop/nesting area, so when it comes to cleaning out, we lift it up and just sweep everything out and replace it. Very easy to clean.

    Artemesia (Wormwood) is supposed to help with minimising intestinal worms, so I'm growing a hedge of it alongside the run, that the chickens can peck at.

    Good luck!

  10. #9
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    Oh , just remembered! When we got our chooks (was in the uk, not sure what it's like here) we didn't have a clue what we were doing lol. One day, we were changing the straw in the nesting boxes and noticed a lot of the coop was covered in dark patched. Next thing we know, we are itching like crazy and look down to see hundreds of these little bugs crawling all over us! We had a bad red mite infestation - trust me, you don't want this! We had to strip down and hop in the shower and had to wash our clothes a couple of times to get them off us (yuck)
    Our coop was insulated and they'd got right into that. It took us a good couple of months to get rid of them, by sterilising the coop and dusting the chooks with red mite powder regularly. Not fun! Anyway, just thought I'd let you know so it doesnt happen to you

  11. #10
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    Mollymoo - the vine sounds like a great idea. I was thinking of a passionfruit vine. I'm supposing that's okay for chooks and I have one that has grown really quickly so I'm hoping a new one does the same on the chook pen.

    Brummiemummie - YUCK!!! I'll keep an eye out for the mites! We have a garden shed decked out for chooks and paved floor so hopefully it will keep clean and mite free....geez I hope so!

    Not sure what type of chooks we'll get but yes, we have some opportunities to offload the eggs. Living in a small country town with one small and very expensive supermarket means that people are very keen on getting produce anyway they can. So I have no doubt friends and workmates will make use of any eggs. I also run a cooking group for kids so eggs will often be on the menu there too! M

    My biggest concern is the foxes so we'll see how we go there.
    Does anyone know if dogs can be housed next to the chooks? We will have a labrador and an old kelpie and we're thinking of putting their dog run next to the chooks to deter foxes. They will not be in it all the time (of course) only at night possibly or if we are away from the farm during the day, but we thought it might help.


 

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