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city / suburban chickens

                                


Joined: Mar 23, 2009
Posts: 16
I am working on a little suburban homestead here in the LA-area, and am wondering if I can get some chicken advice from y'all more experienced folks. 

1)  Do your dogs get chicken poo on their paws?  My dogs (and my kid) are allowed to come in and out freely through a dog door.  Since I'd like the chickens to roam around at least part of the day, I'm wondering how much will stick to dog paws.  My Bernese Mountain Dogs are fine with free-ranging chickens, but I'm still going to limit the ranging to times when I am present and watching.  I'm just wondering if I'll need to lock the dogs outside during those hours, and wash their feet before they go back inside (ditto with the kid).

2) Wing clipping:  is it necessary?  I really don't want to.  I'm fine if half of them fly away never to return.  I'll just keep the ones who want to live in my yard.  But do you think more than half will fly away?

3) Has anyone tried the Egg-loo chicken house?  It looks cute, convenient, and easily move-able for a suburban-sized yard.  But it's almost 500 bucks.  I'd love to make my own chicken tractor, but I'm not very handy and I need it to look good to impress my neighbors.

Thanks so much!

                                


Joined: Mar 23, 2009
Posts: 16
Oops.  I meant to put this under Critter Care.  Sorry, Paul.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I have four hens, they roam the whole place since I haven't gotten their own yard fenced yet.

The dogs only track in chicken poop occasionally, but I track it in all the time.  Unfortunately.  Your kids will, too.

Ordinarily, chicken poops are easy to see because part of it is usually white.  If you have a chicken yard with straw on the ground, and only let them run the yard an hour a day or so, you could look around with a can and a trowel and scoop up the poops for your compost, or flip it under the bushes.

Get a dual-purpose type of chicken that is heavier than the lighter, flighty breeds, and they will stay in your yard, then you won't have to cut a wing tip.  By the way, if you do cut wingtips, you only cut ONE wingtip on each bird, and you only cut the feathers, not the wing itself.  It's to throw them off balance when they fly.

My Buff Orpingtons can be confined with a loose piece of 2x4" mesh welded wire fencing only two feet high.  I can move it around like a chicken tractor, but it won't protect them from the top like a tractor would.

Here is a site with photos of over 100 chicken coops:  http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/thecitychicken/tractors.html

How many chickens do you want?
Are chickens legal in your area?
If you're sneaking them in, what will you do with them when someone complains and you have to get rid of them?
What kind of predators do you have there?  Raccoons? Opossums? Stray dogs?

I made the mistake of making a sturdy chicken tractor that could keep out predators (raccoons, opossums).  By the time it was finished, it was almost too heavy to move, even with wheels.  Now they have their own 4x4' coop (off the ground), and I will be fencing in a 15x15' area.  I will also be building them a lightweight tractor soon to keep them confined to certain other areas, as well.  All in one doesn't work.

If you have raccoons, use hardware cloth or rabbit mesh for their coop.  Raccoons and dogs can tear through regular chicken wire -- it's designed to keep chickens in, not to keep predators out.

Your area has hot days and warm nights, so make sure their coop is well ventilated.  Chickens produce a lot of body heat, and if they get too hot in summer, they will die.

They're fun to watch.  Train them with a little chicken scratch in a tuna can, to come when you call.

Sue
                                


Joined: Mar 23, 2009
Posts: 16
Thank you so much, Sue!  That's exactly what I needed:  poo scooping details.

And the photos of chicken tractors are awesome.  More and better stuff than I got in the chicken hobby magazines.

I was thinking 4 laying hens, too; enough eggs for my family of 3 and any leftovers to share with the neighbors.  I also want to share the composted poo with the neighborhood.

As for legality, our area is actually still zoned agricultural because nobody bothered to change the zoning laws when the houses went up.  About half of our neighbors don't speak English; as for the others, I've spoken to them about it and they just want to make sure I don't get a rooster to wake them up in the morning.  Other than that, they're looking forward to the fresh eggs.   

We are also trying to organize a neighborhood disaster response plan for when the next big earthquake comes.  Having fresh eggs will be my contribution (assuming the chickens live through it).

As for predators, we do have 'possums.  So some serious security is needed at night.  But I'm sure our dogs will appoint themselves flock guardians should anything else come our way.

You make an excellent point about the heat.  That Egg-loo house looks like a miniature oven.  I could come home to roasted chicken one day.

Thanks again!  I'm learning so much here!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14841
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Valorie wrote:
Oops.  I meant to put this under Critter Care.  Sorry, Paul.


It took me all of 10 seconds to move it.

Chicken poop on dogs paws:  I dunno - does your dog get seagull poop on his paws?  Robin poop?

If you are letting your chickens out for just a few hours once in a while, you probably won't have much trouble.

For your first ever chickens, get buff orpingtons.  They are an excellent beginner chicken, and quite good for the folks that believe in dual purpose breeds in the long haul.  And they are not flighty.

Chicken tractors:  I really don't like these.  Of course, I really don't like the idea of too many chickens on too small of a property either.  But ...  you make the best of it in the big city. 

I endorse all of Susan's advice.  I like her idea of the portable paddock more than the idea of the chicken tractor.    It's cheaper and opens things up for the "paddock shift" system which is [glow=red,2,300]far[/glow] superior. 

Predators should be your number one concern.

It's too bad that you are going to skip the rooster - the buff orpington roosters are amazing gentlemen.  If they spot a tasty bug, they call the hens over rather than eating it themselves.

Are your dogs outside at night?

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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
excellent suggestions so far. the only thing I will add is that make sure you feed them as far away from your door as you can. otherwise they will all hang out on your doorstep waiting for yummies leaving little chicken poop surprises on your welcome mat. kind of defeats the purpose of a mat by the front door. 


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"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
If my girls are near the house when it starts to rain, they run for the deck.  If they're there very long, they leave calling cards.  Then they line up and stare in the glass sliding door and the cats are sitting there in a line, staring right back.

+1 on the Buff Orps, that's what I have.  Nice beginner chickens.

I find the chicken tractors most useful for cleaning up a garden area.  If you make a lightweight one (1x2s or 2x2s and 1" chicken wire), make them the same size as any raised vegetable garden beds you have.  Call your girls with a little scratch in a tuna can and sprinkle it on the bed. Then you can set the tractor right on top.  A container that hooks onto the side of the tractor to hold water is a plus, as they perch on freestanding containers and poop into the water.

Another way to confine them to a certain area is that orange plastic fencing that you see around construction areas.  Pound in a few posts and wrap the orange fencing around it.

Just be SURE to keep the chickens ('chooks' in Australia) OUT of a new garden, or they will scratch it into oblivion.  It's hard to imagine how destructive chicken feet can be until you see their 'handiwork'.

When you give eggs to the neighbors, make sure they are FRESH.  Consider writing the date of 'harvest' with a pencil on the egg.

Teach your dogs that the chickens are 'family'.  My dog is a shepherd type, and she could sit and look at the chicks in their wire dog crate in the bathroom.  Her look said they were starting to look 'meaty'.  Outdoors, I put her on a leash and we sat and looked at the chickens and chatted. After a few days, she got bored with them (as opposed to racing around the cage on the grass, trying to herd them).  Don't just put them together and hope the dogs don't kill them.

My hens are mostly larger than my cats, and seem to intimidate them.  But I'm sure that isn't always true.

Sue

Sue


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14841
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
About the chickens obliterating your garden ....

A common trick is that you have your chickens in a confined area (reduces the amount of poop on the porch).  Once in a while when you need some bug control, turn your chickens loose in your garden a few hours before dusk.  The chickens will scour the garden for bugs first and then return to their area to roost for the night.  Then close the confined area again.

The chickens like bugs far more than they like what you are growing in your garden. 

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
They certainly do love bugs, but they scratch to find them.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
that is my experience too. although they have eaten my maters and it is annoying, it is the scratching to eat the bugs that is most frustrating. I have also put one down next to a pile of squash bugs and they aren't interested apparently they don't like them. stupid chickens. my chickens right now have this whole acreage to run on and they come hang out in the yard and garage. they seem to actually like tended lawn areas more so than the pasture 
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
One of the reasons I got the chickens was hoping they would eat the thatch ants and the wild bittercress weeds. They are very careful not to touch either of them.

But they certainly love termites!

Sue
                                


Joined: Mar 23, 2009
Posts: 16
Thank you so much for the advice, everybody!  That's such a cute story about the cats and chickens staring at each other through a window.  Your comments totally helped me visualize what I'm going to do. 

As for the dogs:  my bitch (I love calling her that) has spent a couple weeks on a farm already, with a large flock of free range chickens as well as sheep.  My (male) dog pretty much follows the bitch's lead, but I'll need to keep an eye on him.  He's quite the herder.

As for predators:  we live in such a warm climate that I can keep the french doors in my bedroom open to the back yard, pretty much 9 months out of the year.  My dog sleeps in this doorway, keeping watch over the yard all night.  I think I'll position the cage where he can see it from the door.  Finally, he'll have a job--he's been wanting one his whole life.

As for the rest of the logistics, I can section my yard into 3 areas, based on how much I want to co-mingle (or clean up) that day.

I read about a documentary just released on DVD called Mad City Chickens.  Supposed to be pretty funny.  I'll have to put it on my Netflix list!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14841
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Leah Sattler wrote:
that is my experience too. although they have eaten my maters and it is annoying, it is the scratching to eat the bugs that is most frustrating. I have also put one down next to a pile of squash bugs and they aren't interested apparently they don't like them. stupid chickens. my chickens right now have this whole acreage to run on and they come hang out in the yard and garage. they seem to actually like tended lawn areas more so than the pasture 


Where did you get your chicken from?  Did you get it as a chick at a hatchery?  So the chick never had a mom to teach it which bugs make for good eating?

If you do things in such a way where the chick has no mom, then you have to be the mom.  You have to teach the chick what is food. 

So, when you bring treats out, you say "chick chick chick" and put out yummy food.  Then bring the squash bugs out and say "chick chick chick" ....

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
That's the problem with buying chickens these days, they're sold the day after they hatch, and never know their mom.  It is difficult to buy POL (point of lay) pullets that probably would have been.

Hey, maybe that's a business?  Raise to POL and sell them to people who are afraid of starting with day-olds.  The last going price I saw was $10 each.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
well they seem to know to eat grubs and termites and worms and scratch when I call them but turn up their noses at the stink bugs when I call them. honestly I don't think chicky mommas have much to do with teaching them what to eat. I don't eat grubs or worms or termites and they figured that stuff out all by their little bird brain selves when I called them...........they call theri babies (or girls in the case of roosters) over when they find something yummy not because they are 'teaching' them what to eat but becasue it is part of social ranking system and bonding of the group.

for example at least 1/2 of my chickens are banties that are at least several generations from hatchery chicks  (mystery adults when I got the originals) I have always had plenty o stink bugs on my place and they don't eat em and seem rather miffed that I wasted their time when I chicky chicky them and they find out they are just stink bugs. they are also not terribly interested in potato beetles.

maybe mine are just spoiled. I went back to the old house to catch the remaining chickens. I thought...heck after two weeks without feed and fending for themselves completely they will be starving and will rush around a bowl of layer pellets and I can grab them one by one and stick them in a box. nope. they leisurely swallowed a few pellets then meandered back off to the woods. havn't wanted to stay till dusk to get them off the roost because the lights aren't working right on the trailer and I already got one ticket
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Leah, Leah, Leah.....!

Now I KNOW you're smarter than a few chickens!

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
  that is debatable! the only ones left are my good delaware look alike that is a super duper forager and layer  and all those wild smarty pants bantams! I thought I would set that pan of feed down in corner of the shed and they would be duped. only a few would go into the shed when I called and just eyed me suspicoulsly at the door. so I tried to leave a little trail......sort of the thinking I could be the pied piper of chickens and they would hungrily follow me as I led them to the suitable catch area. nope. they are too suspicious. they have some sense about being cornered. thats why the dogs have'nt eaten them. and several of them are excellent flyers. so...I admit.....I have been outsmarted by chickens. admitedly too though.....I have a very low tolerance for frustrating things right now. 15-20 minutes of lunging and grabbing at chickens in an open feild and I was at the point of " f*** the chickens"........ but then I remember that uncatchability is part of what I like about them.
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 966
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
Leah, do you have a fish net?  That might help you catch a few of them (until they got wise to it!).  You might also try a 'bait station' in that shed you mentioned.  Keep putting feed in there until they are used to it being there (and maybe water also, if water is scarce in the surroundings).  Once they've come to expect the food to be there, stop for two or three days, then put some in there and see if they don't come running.

I think there are certain bugs that don't taste good -- I've never been able to get chickens to eat potato beetles or their larvae, either.  When you think about what the potato beetles are eating -- plants in the solanum family, mostly -- it's not surprising that they'd taste bad.  I've wondered if they might even be poisonous, since the plants they eat are poisonous.

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
freeholder- I think you are right about the tasting bad. never thought about what the bugs were eating making a difference or even making them poisonous, that makes alot of sense. those squash bugs sure stink when you squish them so I bet they taste bad too. may years ago, for two years in  row I had a late summer invasion of black beetles. they would defoliate a tomato plant in a day, they destroyed my late tomato crops and I couldn't get the chickens to eat them either! maybe it was because they were munching on tomato plants! that was the last time I ever used any pesticide. the third year when those things showed up I dusted the ground under the tomato plants with seven to kill them (the moment you touched the plant they all fell to the ground) and never saw more than a few of  them again, in numbers that were quite manageable by hand picking. i considered those years "the black beetle plague" years. ... I hate that I had to use a pesticide but at that point I didn't feel I had any option.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Here's a method for catching wild pigs that you may be able to adapt to chickens.

Decide where you want your 'catching station'.  Put some bait like cracked corn down there for a few days and nowhere else.

Put up a wall.  Leave some corn in the same place (this will be the center of the 'catching station' when you leave.

Put up the second wall.  Leave some corn.

Put up the third wall.  Leave some corn.

For chickens, you would need some netting for the roof.  Leave some corn.

Make the last wall movable, or leave an opening in it.  Leave some corn.

Put corn inside.  When pigs are inside, find a way to close the gate.

Sue
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I bought three chicks at the local feed store that are supposed to be Marans.  So I was looking around to see what these guys are supposed to look like.  I bought them because they're suppose to lay dark brown eggs ("chocolate", but I wasn't sure what they're supposed to look like.  I'm still not sure.  Actually, I'm not sure they're really Marans, or completely.

But I found an interesting site called The City Chicken at
http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/index.html

They have the Chicken Laws of various U.S. cities (and they want more, if you know yours), the Henhouse of the Month, and a collection of 140 photographs of chicken tractors!  And they've got some interesting articles, too. 

Maybe you'll 'be bitten by the chicken bug'!

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
those dark eggs are neat! there are several varieties of marans. I think the cuckoo ones are popular right now, they are barred black and white. i thought for the longest time that was what marans were but then I found several different variations for sale on the web not to long ago.

chickens are so easy I think everyone should have a few!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14841
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I am sooooooo glad that folks are raising chickens in the city.

And, as with nearly every topic here, I am riddled to the gills with obnoxious opinions on this topic. 

First, I am against the chicken tractors.  Chickens, IMOO, need to have more room than that.  I especially don't like that they leave the tractor in the same place until all of the green is gone.  Ug - the chicken is so desperate for greens it will eat even the most toxic stuff.

Second, I am against chicken coops that sit in one spot.  It is just a disease incubator.

I am in favor of tiny, portable coops.  Move it once a week or so.  And I'm a big fan of "paddock shift" which can be done on a city lot.  You could set up four paddocks on your lot - or use some fencing that you move around.  Let your chickens into one paddock for about ten days and then move to the next paddock.  Let the old paddock rest at least 30 days. 

My obnoxious opinions go on and on and on ...  but you get the general idea ....
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
that really is the ideal way to do it paul. but especially in the city you have to be extra careful not to tick off your neighbors. especially because it is often against city ordinance to have them. one bird escaped and pooping on your neighbors porch could spell the end of your poultry ventures.

yard size can be a problem too. many of the yards in tulsa aren't much bigger than a large room. in that case I think it would be best to dry lot the birds and let them out each day a few hours before dark. otherwise even just two or three would destroy the yard pretty quick! there are some benefits to having a coop and chickie yard in a fixed location. you can more easily collect the poop daily to compost it. with the limited compost material available in the city I would think that would be a real plus.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Chickens on a small lot, and thus confined to a small area, really require a mulch of straw or similar.  I've seen sawdust used, and I've shoveled wet sawdust, and I was not thrilled.  All it does is pack down and stink.

I use straw in the bottom of the coop (4x4', at least 4" or 5" deep, and every late afternoon I scatter a good handful of scratch over the straw.  Looking for the tasty little nuggets, they kick and fluff the straw, helping to keep it dry.  Much of the manure sticks to the straw.

If you just throw down some kind of mulch and don't give the chickens a reason to work it over, they won't.  It just mats down and stinks.  And you can't leave it there forever, either.

Chickens are relatively low-care, but they're not no-care. 

I will be building a chicken tractor soon, I hope, but it is mainly to confine them in the areas out side their pen to prevent crop damage (esp young plants).  I intend to move it two or three times a day, depending on the site vegetation.

Most chicken tractors are deliberately left in one spot long enough to kill everything -- that's the reason they're using chicken tractors in many cases.  And they usually use a higher density of chickens than I do.

But I had to learn the hard way that chicken tractors and coops are two entirely different things -- a coop can be fairly predator-proof, and chicken tractors aren't, unless you make them so heavy that you can't move them easily.  My armored chicken tractor must have weighed over 200 lbs -- big mistake.

My new tractor will be 1x2s or 2x2s with chicken wire and a small hatch on the top with some shade provided.

Pennie O'Grady


Joined: Jun 09, 2007
Posts: 367
Still working at my chicken buildings.  I have 5 young 'uns in the city and want to build a tractor as you describe, Susan -- also to move after an hour or two -- though I do want them to work the ground under a couple of fruit trees pretty good.  When I'm not out in the yard, they are in their predator safe (I hope!) run/coop. 

My plan is to build a tractor that can be stored inside the run and used to cover a space in the run that grows new seedlings for them, then move the tractor storage to a new "paddock" in the run and plant more seeds, etc.  When they are out of the run, the tractor won't need to cover their crops.....

Meanwhile, I have plenty of weeds and toss them in a couple of times a day when they don't get out.  I know what they like from observing them free ranging in the yard.  Now I have too much planted to let them do this. 

I agree that city chickens need to work into the limited space available and I want mixed use in my yard -- which means they have varied days and varied jobs.

Anyone have suggestions for lightweight moveable fencing?  The stuff I have (some kind of plastic stuff staked with bamboo poles) is so light weight they are finding their way out of it.  Sometimes I want a larger area defined, other times I do want them to concentrate on a small area (thus the tractor).  They are only about half size (11 weeks), so they can still slip through spaces that won't be a problem in awhile.

Pennie
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 966
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
I respect Paul's reasons for disliking chicken tractors, and certainly wouldn't use them if we had enough room to free-range.  We aren't exactly in the city, but it is a subdivision with neighbors too close to allow the poultry to run loose.  I move my tractors almost every day, though, and they seldom run out of green stuff to eat. 

The chicken tractors I'm using now are the fourth or fifth design I've tried, and probably the best I've come up with so far.  They have no frame at all; they are built out of rabbit wire, 1/2" X 1" or 1" X 2" (the smaller mesh is sturdier, but a little heavier).  I spread a tarp over all five tractors and weight it down with metal T-posts to keep it from blowing off.  The weight has also prevented loose dogs from getting into the tractors, and so far this summer seems to be detering raccoons, although I've had a little trouble with skunks digging under the edge far enough to steal eggs that I forgot to pick up before I went to bed.  Other than that, the only real problem has been snow load in the winter (the chickens do fine, although they don't get moved as often -- I use a thick layer of bedding and move when the bedding needs replaced).  Oh, and loose goats jumping on them!    I've been trying different door arrangements; three of them have a door at each end of the top, and this is the best arrangement for access to a row of cages like I'm using.  One has a single larger door at one end, and the other one has a door in the middle of the top -- this one has to be positioned on the end of the row for access.  It's the easiest one for catching chickens, though, as I can crouch inside the cage and reach both ends.

Kathleen
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
if I had to use a tractor again I think I would build one like these....

http://fayar.craigslist.org/grd/1224728261.html
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14841
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
More of my obnoxious opinions ...

Yes, I know what the intent is for "the chicken tractor" and I am uncomfortable with that intent.  It does eradicate all plant life from a patch of land - which some people see as an easy alternative to doing it themselves.  I'm all for using chickens to make other chores easier - but only when it is also good for the chickens.  It is my opinion that this is not good for the chickes.  First, they are simply too confined.  Second, they end up spending too much time walking in their own poop.  Third, they eat all the good greens and then when that is done, they move on to the icky greens and later eat the stuff that is really quite bad for them.  If they are in something that is moved every couple of hours - such that the chickens eat no more than 30% of the growth - then that is about 10 times better, but still makes me uncomfortable.

Free range:  I don't do this anymore.  Even with a great pyr around to protect them.  I just don't like the poop on the porch or everywhere else I don't want it to be.  Plus everything benefits from a controlled graze.

Light fencing:  what do you have now?  I would go with a six foot woven wire.  Kinda stiff.  You might even put in some bits here and there that are semi permanent and just add a bit of temporary fence as needed.  If a chicken can get over this, clip one wing about once a month.  Pennie, if you like, I could come over and help you figure something out along these lines.



Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 966
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
Paul, I don't think I'm stocking as heavily as what you are thinking of.  When I move my birds every day, they have eaten a good bit of the green stuff (we don't have anything here that is toxic to them, thankfully, and not much that they don't like), and trampled the rest, and that seems to be a good thing for the soil.  You should see the improvement in what's growing on the areas that have had chicken tractors on them several times in the five years we've lived here!

Kathleen
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14841
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Kathleen,

Are they eating more than 30%?  I suspect that the answer is "yes" in which case, I wish to express the opinion that I would not do it that way.  My concerns are that by that point enough of the greenery is coated in chicken poop that the chickens are (in my obnoxious opinion) eating too much chicken poop.  Further, I suspect that some growies are more toxic than other growies - so the chickens are probably eating some greens that they would rather not.  Further, I think chickens need to have access to toxic plants because to them, that is their medicinals.  Plus, confining chickens that much simply bothers me.  Chickens are forest animals, not cage animals. 

So - I know that my opinion is radically different from 99% of the people that raise chickens.  And I accept that 99% of the people that raise chickens are completely comfortable with the way they raise their chickens and think it may even be "optimal."

I am not going to stop you or condemn you.  But .... if you ask for my opinion or my endorsement of what you are doing, I will say "what you are doing is far better than average, and, at the same time, I would do it a different way."

Pennie O'Grady


Joined: Jun 09, 2007
Posts: 367
Hey Paul -- Sure you can come over.  I usually appreciate your obnoxious opinions.....  Maybe you can also help me figure out how to get the hens to roost at night.  They had been roosting just fine in their cardboard box in the house, but outside they're content to just sit on the floor of the (higher up than the run) coop. 

I do want to have some (semi) permanent fencing around, for instance, my apple tree.  Also of note, though, is that we have a significant population of aggressive raccoons lurking about, even in daylight hours.  So I would not be inclined to put them in an accessible enclosure unless I'm out working in the yard.

Maybe you -- or anyone else? -- has some ideas for a fast growing shade tree that is deciduous and doesn't get taller than, say 15 - 20 feet that I could plant at the southwest corner of the coop to keep it cool.  It would be great if it was relatively easy to care for here in the Northwest.  I would love a tree with fruit, but again am concerned about attracting raccoons and having them sit on the run roof as they eat and freaking out the chickens.  But maybe the chickens would think it was a good laugh?
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
I'm guessing you're in Washington, dunno how fast they'll grow there, but Mulberry trees grow really fast in Okla. and the shade they provide is dense! You just have to make sure you get the right sex of the mulberry tree to have fruit! I didn't and all I have is shade. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14841
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
And mulberry is one of the very best chicken feed plants!

Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
...and people love them too! I was soooo disappointed when I realized my tree wouldn't make fruit! 
Pennie O'Grady


Joined: Jun 09, 2007
Posts: 367
It wouldn't attract raccoons?  I also hear they're messy, need lots of pruning?? 
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
I think just about anything that has anything to do with food attracts raccoons. From a trash can to a veggie garden/fruit trees to chickens, etc. Raccoons are pretty hard to avoid. I would guess dogs would help keep them away.

I think any tree that produces fruit can be messy. If you got chickens running/pooping around, mulberries would be the least of your mess makers!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I agree fruiting trees are messy. the chickens themselves will attract coons.
Pennie O'Grady


Joined: Jun 09, 2007
Posts: 367
I know the chickens will attract raccoons.  I'm not worried about mess.  I just don't want to encourage 'coons to climb on the see-through run roof and hang out there eating fruit and stressing out the chickens more than they might otherwise (under the tree and above the chickens).  But thanks for your thoughts on this.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
the chickens get used to things if they happen often. mine will sit on the other side of a fence with all four dogs yapping at them and won't blink an eye.
 
 
subject: city / suburban chickens
 
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