Okay, they’re not exactly beasts and they haven’t exactly been released, but our 18 chicks are now living outside in the portable coop Chareva constructed. The one real design flaw was the wheels (assuming, of course, you consider not staying in place and not rolling to be a flaw). So we attached a chain to the coop, then I made like a donkey and dragged it behind me to the field behind our house. Not a bad workout for the legs.
Chareva made two final modifications to the coop, both for security purposes. She found that with her makeshift cord latch, she could easily push the door in several inches – which means a raccoon could do likewise – so she attached a couple of better latches, one high, one low. Now the door doesn’t push in.
After a couple of readers warned us about predators digging underneath the bottom rails, she made a floor out of 2 x 4 fencing. We hope that’s enough to discourage a raccoon from tunneling into the coop while still allowing the chickens to peck and scratch. Time will tell. When she builds her next coop, Chareva will attach fencing to the underside first. It wasn’t an easy task doing a retrofit job.
The chicks cowered inside their cardboard box for a bit after the move, then began exploring the coop. Soon they were pecking the ground like crazy. I hope that means they’re eating ticks. If they turn out to be enthusiastic tick-eaters, I’ll happily raise as many chickens as we can handle.