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.

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15 Responses to “The Farm Report: Release The Beasts”
  1. Vicki says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t trust that fence along the bottom of the coop to keep out a determined raccoon or even fox and mink. And even if these animals can’t get past the fence, they still might bite off your chicks’ feet. Chareva might want to consider adding a sleeper box with stairs that she can lock the chicks into at night. Here are a couple of examples to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

    http://www.mobilechickens.com/yourGallery.asp

    Good luck with your poultry!

    • Sheri says:

      I think you are right. I definitely like the mobile chicken house for moving them around the yard, but they need to be very secure at night or they won’t make it long.

  2. Jay Jay says:

    Looks pretty damn secure to me. You’ve got some lucky chickens!

  3. Kim says:

    Looks like you’ve got some Plymouth Barred Rocks and Buff Orpingtons? Same as ours. We’re at the stage of anxiously awaiting our first egg and, given the age of the chickens, it should be any day now. Good luck with this new adventure You’re going to love watching your girls as they grow and, believe it or not, develop some distinct personalities!!

    You’ll love those eggs. We still get a few from our seven older chickens, but we could use a lot more.

    • smgj says:

      Don’t ready your old hens for the pot just yet!
      http://blog.mcmurrayhatchery.com/2010/10/27/why-arent-my-chickens-laying/

      My father was a commercial egg producer in Norway ad we had tight daylight control back then. The henhouse was windowless (I know!) and the artificial dawn started at about 4:00, lasted for half an hour and the “daylight” stayed on until dusk started at about 17:30 (also lasting for about 30 minutes). All this for keeping up an even production also at winter. Too bright light would bring out stress and aggression (natural in the confined space) so it was a narrow balance.

      My guess is that your old hens would become “as chicks” again if you add something like this http://www.lumie.com/collections/all to the coop. (Maybe not this year, as they have started “wintering”, but if you start from early autumn next year…)

      I appreciate the tips. We won’t put them in a pot until we’re sure they’re done laying eggs.

  4. Sheri says:

    Your older chickens are probably just molting right now. They stop laying as much during the winter, and then production will pick back up next spring. Ours are 2 and 3 years old. We had plenty of eggs over the summer, but now they have slowed down considerably.

    I hope you’re right. Three eggs per day isn’t enough for this family.

    • Sheri says:

      I understand. We have the same problem. It can’t hurt to have more chickens. We currently have 15 hens. My husband is talking about getting some more in the spring.

  5. Daci says:

    How many roosters did you get? Can you tell yet?

    No idea yet.

  6. Live Free Or Diet says:

    I don’t think you need to worry about them not wanting to eat ticks. Chickens will eat anything that moves. And more so if it stops moving.

  7. Libby says:

    There is no such thing as too many chickens! There IS such a thing as too many predators. Lost my three favorite chickens two days ago. Good luck!

  8. Libby says:

    We usually let them free range, though…the price of freedom.

  9. ngyoung says:

    Maybe lay the ground fencing on the outside. Attach it to hinge and fold up against the side when transporting then lay down and use ground stakes to secure it. Will force any would be preditors to have tunnel pretty far to get in.

    That’s a good idea for next time.

  10. Larsson says:

    This seems like the perfect platform to ask that question I’ve been meaning to for ages,given the diverse knowledge in chicken farming here!Anyone faced a situation where the rooster lays eggs-occasionally?Like really old roosters.I’ve heard these claims time and time again but I’m yet to confirm them.I hear these eggs are exceptionally nutritious! :) ) Anyone?

    • Stephanie says:

      My sister has a hen that grew a larger comb and spurs after she got rid of her rooster. Now that she has a new rooster, this manly looking hen is starting to lay again.

      Has the hen also demonstrated a renewed willingness to ask for directions when lost?

  11. Vic says:

    We have a chicken tractor made with 2×4 frame and an old truck topper, we fenced it with chain link we got at the local re-store. My husband had some old license plates he added for effect. To move it he put steel cable around the bottom, through some hefty “eyes” he can then place the cable on either end through the hook on his tractor and slowly pull it into a new spot. I stand guard with a hoe and rake it on the sides if the girls get to close to the edge. We learned through sad experience that chickens don’t seem to be aware of the danger of getting caught under the edges (yuck.) We have had our girls in tractors for 2 summers and haven’t lost any to predators, we do, however have a very protective dog on duty. (She is afraid someone else might get a chicken dinner.)

    A tractor is on our to-buy list. It would sure make the job easier.

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