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Author Topic: Ok for chickens?  (Read 2634 times)

Chickenman

  • Joined Sep 2023
Ok for chickens?
« on: September 07, 2023, 04:40:24 pm »
As per the intro section id like to keep 4 chickens on this ground i have local to me. Ideally using the old ww2 shelter for a coop. 4 chickens should see me ok id like a couple of eggs a day. It is roughly fenced in but i was hoping to use one of those net electric fences a metre or so in from the boundary. The plot would be around 100m2. The shelter is solid concrete with an earth floor. Its about 7ft square with 5 or 6ft of height. How much work would this need for 4 chickens? Any vent holes drilling or would the big door be okay? Ideally id not be shutting them in and opening up each day just visiting to feed, water etc etc. Has anyone else managed solely with the electric net fencing? I don't really want to spend many hundreds fencing it all off at 7ft all around.

Chickenman

  • Joined Sep 2023
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2023, 04:41:09 pm »
Shelter / coop

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2023, 06:44:54 pm »
Perhaps that shelter will be far too damp for them in its current condition? You will certainly need to keep them off the ground. The solution might be to seal the roof, but there is going to be a risk of respiratory infections.


The area looks be be some kind of dump. I know from experience that any sharp objects cause numerous foot injuries and infections, so any glass, broken pottery, tiles, nails, rusty metal, wire needs to be removed. Their feet are very soft underneath, so if you can't walk on it in bare feet neither can they.


Chickens like grass. Eating it colours their eggs and clears their digestion, but if it's too long (more than a couple of inches) it will impact their digestion. Ideally you would clear the area and seed it.


Predators come in two forms. Those with 4 legs and those with two. The two legged variety will cause most problems- chicken theft in England was a major problem for us and we had to lock them up at night and let them out in the morning. Foxes and mink are another issue. You won't know if they are a problem until they are.


The other points are noise, because hens when laying can be very noisy. Rats will be attracted to the area and that may cause issues with the neighbours?


Interesting project though and good luck with it. Nice to make use of an otherwise useless area.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2023, 08:52:38 am »
I think the shelter will be ok as long as you have a waterproof roof. They will also need a perch of some sort and a nest box. For 4 hens it is nice and roomy. If the outer perimeter is secure there will be no need to close the door at night except in blizzard conditions. Think about where the prevailing weather comes from and fix perches and nestboxes in the most sheltered spots inside.

Agree with Chris that grass is good, but hens will trash a nice grass area quicker than you think. I would concentrate on removing all rubbish to avoid injuries and accidental ingestion. I see there are a couple of old Heras panels lying on the ground in one picture. We have found these to be effective against foxes as they find them difficult to climb, although a determined one may dig underneath. If you have a serious fox problem then electric fencing is the only real way to keep them out but you will have to ensure the perimeter is completely weed free to avoid it earthing out. Another downside to electric netting is that it will catch other animals - we used to have it many years ago and stopped using it as it trapped and killed too many hedgehogs. I now just use it unelectrified as temporary barrier fencing to keep birds off certain areas etc.

I would strongly urge you not to leave food down 24/7 as it will encourage rats which will not only eat the chicken food but also the eggs. There will almost certainly be rats around in any case given that, as Chris points out, the area looks like it has has been used as a dump. Give some thought to the type of feeder you will use. Alternatively feed them a set ration twice a day which they will clear up.

Another thing to consider: there are to likely be some sort of bird flu restrictions again during the winter, so you may wish to construct a pen that complies with the regulations, as most likely your birds will need to be confined during this period.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2023, 10:41:33 am »
I would be inclined to put some sort of flooring in the shelter to a) make it easier to clean and b) make it nicer for them to stand, sit, lie on.  For instance pallets with marine ply on top, or maybe vinyl?  And size it so it's easy to remove for cleaning
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Chickenman

  • Joined Sep 2023
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2023, 01:22:57 pm »
Thanks for the replies. Photo's were before I did a tip run the other day so it is looking less of a dump now. As for grass it was covered in weeds. I did spray them in the spring hence it is not as bad as it was. I was hoping the chickens would keep the weeds down also? I wasn't aware their feet are so soft to be honest. I'm not sure id walk around there bare feet so maybe its a no go? I wouldn't of thought I will ge 2 legged chicken theft around there but perhaps I would be surprised?

Thinking about it heras fencing would be a better option for me. No battery to recharge and I guess electric fencing shorts out in the snowy weather? Especially the net variety. What is the score with bird flu lockdowns do you need some kind of roof or net on top to secure? When using heras panels to you push the legs in the ground rather than use the feet? Do you cable tie them together rather than use the clips to eliminate any gaps?

In regards to the shelter it is damp in there to be fair however it doesn't leak as such. I've been in there in winter and there aren't puddles or water running down the walls. If any floor i'd rather chuck a few slabs down in there. Pallets have always seemed an ideal rat run to me with a nice void for them to run around in underneath. Would the shelter really need a floor? What would be involved in mucking out chickens? Could I not have some sacrificial straw/hay/shavings? The door is situated in a good spot about 3ft from the back fence so pretty sheltered.

I was aware that chickens attract rats but I never knew they eat the eggs. I thought the birds may attack the rats but obviously I know nothing about this game - complete novice. I could probably feed twice a day. One of the neighbours does have quite a few cats is this a concern for chickens or will it just help to control the rats?


chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2023, 06:45:37 pm »
On reflection I'm even less confident of that shelter as a coop. It is Summer and it will be at its driest. In Winter it could be terrible with rising damp from sodden ground. Would make a cool place to go in a hot Summer but really I think you need a proper coop.


They will scratch up weeds, but with anything sharp in the ground they won't do it for long. We had a hen made a soil bath in the garden. Unknown to us there was a rusty 4" nail in it which cut through the skin on her back. The cut filled with soil and infection followed. Our land had been used as a dump for decades and was full of nasty bits and was pretty toxic. The number of foot infections we had to deal with from those in one section was ridiculous. So the problems you may face in that respect shouldn't be underestimated.


It's pot luck with cats. Some will terrorise chickens making them so insecure they won't lay. Some are so timid the chickens will gang up on them and chase them away.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2023, 10:39:58 pm »
Can I just add on the suitability of the breeze block shed for hens: Once you have 4 birds in there in winter, not going out in the snow, or shut in for flockdown, their respirations would add enough moisture to make it a welfare issue.  As livestock owners, we have to put the welfare of our animals first.
Did you acquire this plot specially to keep hens on it? I see clearing the soil properly as being a major task :tired:
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Chickenman

  • Joined Sep 2023
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2023, 06:36:07 am »
Cheers all. Its beginning to look like more effort than its worth in this case! No i didn't acquire the land for this purpose was just trying to make some use of it and get some fresh eggs! I did consider a vegetable patch but its hard work and maybe more time consuming than chickens. Im guessing id have the same problems with a couple of little porkers.

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2023, 11:58:47 am »
I think the concerns raised are valid but maybe overly cautionary. That said, I can’t see the photographs properly - they’re tiny on my phone screen.

The damp shelter; fix the roof as needed and add gutters if needed to get water away from the footprint (or to a Waterbutt with automatic nipple drinker). put a wire mesh door on it to ensure good air flow and light year round. I’m assuming it doesn’t have a pool of water in the winter or anything.?

A high perch, with a ladder up to the perch and a nest  box will be fine.
I see no reason to add a floor of pallets or Lino. Straw or wood chip/sawdust would be good, especially in the winter of they’re going to be inside a lot. Typically add fresh material through the winter as needed then remove in the spring to compost for veg bed.

A grandpa feeder or a barrel pheasant type feeder and check they learn to use it and you don’t need to feed daily.

Your Heras fencing panels and/or wire mesh can make a small run which’ll do for bird flu confinement for 4 hens and will suffice while you clear further sections of your ground of metal and rubbish.

Cut a small “pop hole” door within your “man size” mesh door to make access easier  (small doors don’t smash about in the wind and stop some access, like big dogs.)
There are automatic door opener/closers you can buy, but I’ve not used these.
A light on a timer in winter in hut will improve laying.

I’ve seen foot infections in hens but not realistic to think hens feet are as delicate as humans; they run across stubble fields and gravel. I like to see my hens on the lawn but they’re just as happy in dust and rank weeds; they often chose this over the lawn.

Fencing can be creative: looks like there’s some good boundary walls and shelter, so a few posts and then panels of some sort should be able to make a good enough pen. Perhaps you could tension a wire from the hut to a post on the perimeter or into walls? I’ve known people who’ve been fine containing birds with nylon netting about 1.2m high attaches to bamboo canes or similar with no electric. Often thought builders barrier mesh might work. -I’ve also had to rescue hens and wild birds from a tangled fate, so it’s not ideal, but nothing is!
A couple of strands of electric is good for keeping predators well off your fence. Until you get hens or talk to neighbours you won’t know what the issues are. Some people have persistent foxes which endlessly dig and figure out ways in. I’ve also friends who’ve kept garden hens for years and never lost one to fox and mostly leave them out often.  I always shut my birds away, lost four this summer, two gone broody in hedges and two taken in the day.
Not many cats will terrorise hens.

For outdoor flooring, wood chip is great, bigger chunks the better. May get it free from a local tree surgeon. The top dries after rain and they like it. It eventually rots down and you can put more on top.

Good luck

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Ok for chickens?
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2023, 02:43:01 pm »
Quote
I see no reason to add a floor of pallets or Lino. Straw or wood chip/sawdust would be good, especially in the winter of they’re going to be inside a lot. Typically add fresh material through the winter as needed then remove in the spring to compost for veg bed.

Sorry but I strongly disagree [member=28951]Steph Hen[/member]  - I wouldn't just put straw or woodchip in that! as it would be difficult to clean out and even after a few days would be manky

If you put down pallets there's an air flow, then cover that with a sheet of vinyl and it can be cleaned easily or even removed and hosed/disintected - I've done that in the past so I KNOW it works!

jmho after having hens for 30 years
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

 

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