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Author Topic: 30 free range hens, what do I need?  (Read 592 times)

Tyla

  • Joined Nov 2019
30 free range hens, what do I need?
« on: December 09, 2019, 06:23:38 pm »
Ok, I've been asked to provide 24 ish eggs per day for a local campsite between April and November. They want free range and party coloured eggs and are willing to pay a premium.

I have plenty of room and would ideally like to move them regularly as part of my land clearance system.

I am thinking electric mesh perimeter for day time with a heras fencing chicken fort protected by more electric around the coop. Also planning to fit an auto door to the coop.

I would also like to produce some meat birds for the same market.

The farm is covered in scrub and full of foxes so it's going to be a challenge keeping them alive.

All and any advice gratefully recieved

Voss Electric Fence

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: 30 free range hens, what do I need?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2019, 05:14:06 pm »
Electric poultry netting is the only thing that keeps foxes out, mains powered preferably. For 30 hens having a movable henhouse (as in a chicken tractor) for one person to move it may be too large, but you could get one that can be towed by a tractor/4 x 4?
Btw - using a re-purposed garden shed is a much more economical solution than a purpose built poultry house. As long as it is tall enough for you to stand up in it you can use plastic storage boxes or the like inside for nest boxes and clean out easily. Put up perches at differing heights, and I would line the floor with strong wire mesh and then put a second layer of floor boards on top - rats can chew through single strength floors quite quickly... Also needs ventilation added, again covered with wire mesh. Stoats can get through quite small spaces.


Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
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Re: 30 free range hens, what do I need?
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2019, 08:09:04 am »
I don't know where you are but keeping eggs going till Nov is going to take artificial lighting.  Also the 'rarer' coloured egg breeds  are likely to go into moult earlier in season  so you may have an egg shortage by mid Sept with these.   Pick your breeds carefully.  They may also go broody.  You may struggle to get 24 eggs from 30 hens from Aug to Nov. 
Linda

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chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: 30 free range hens, what do I need?
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2019, 08:23:08 am »
Think the first thing to do is the maths Tyla. Hybrids will give you two laying seasons and consume 150g of feed each every day all year. Will those purchase costs give you a profit? Setting aside the larger capital costs at the moment, the biggest problem will be pests, disease and predators. With no previous experience you are looking at a very steep learning curve full of risk. As said, cost it out properly.


I've seen a fox clear a 6' wall without touching it, so electric netting is no guarantee of security and you really do need better.

Tyla

  • Joined Nov 2019
Re: 30 free range hens, what do I need?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2019, 07:01:29 pm »
Thanks for the replies.

I've no experience of trying to make hens pay, that is true, but I've kept them in varying quantities most of my life so hopefully have some transferable skills.

As stated I'm expecting foxes to be the main issue, I've yet to see a truly fox proof chicken run especially as i want it mobile. If I was going to keep them in one spot a pheasant style pen, of which I've built a few, would be ideal. I have thought of a mobile version using heras fencing but if would still be a big job to move it so to start with I'm going to try electric poultry net I think.

The point about maintaining eggs into the autumn is a good one, luckily the csmpsite popularity tails off with the weather so the demand will be lower later in the year. I hadn't thought of that though. My previous ex layers never had artificial light and still laid pretty much into autumn  if a bit sporadically.

What are people's thoughts on 25mm weldmesh for coop floors?

Briggsy from Gower

  • Joined Nov 2018
Re: 30 free range hens, what do I need?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2019, 08:53:31 am »


We have a 25mm mesh floor to our duck enclosure, though it has never been tested.

A 6' high fence with barbed wire over the top seems to have worked so far.

I know that foxes come up at night as we can hear them.

During the day we play radio 4 as a human voice deterrent and let the ducks free range over a wider area, so they are well educated ducks, but are thoroughly fed up with Brexit!

Good luck with your endeavour.

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: 30 free range hens, what do I need?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2019, 11:57:50 pm »
I have had a fox climbed over a 7 ft heras fence! Very clever beasts! Be careful! The only thing that will keep fox away is electric fence or proper guard dog or even better both.
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

 

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