Chicken Question (How to Protect Them) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My wife and I are considering raising some chickens in our back yard (about half acre) and we were wondering about a few things:

(1) Can they free range inside a garden area or will they destroy the garden?

(2) What is the best way to protect them from predators? chicken coop, guard animal, wife with shotgun

(3) Would a chicken tractor be better?

(4) Is chicken wire fence enough?

Although these chickens would be right wing radical Christian Conservative Republicans all you left wing radical liberal Democrats feel free to give you opinions. It takes both wings to fly.

-- cottonpickerboy (, April 08, 2001


Response to Chicken Question

#1 they will eat your garden. using a chicken tractor build to fit down your rows will work best. #2 All three. (coop being the best) #3 See #1 #4 Yes. As for the political aspect...Most Chickens don't fly very well

-- grant (, April 08, 2001.

Response to Chicken Question

Hello Cottonpickerboy, We live in a very remote part of Missouri (Ozark County). I protect my garden and my chickens with a Chicken Moat. The chicken moat is constructed out of welded wire (dog wire). It is six foot high. It is two inside the other. You leave about a three foot run between the two fences for the chickens to roam. The chicken coup is attached to one end of the moat allowing the chickens access on one side and allowing me access on the other. I have a gate at the other end. The entrance for the gate is blocked off so that the chickens have to go through a tunnel underneath the footpath. The garden is in the center of the double fencing. The height of the fence and the narrow run for the chicken protects them from predators. Hawks can not navigate such a small width and will avoid swooping done on your chickens. The fence is very high and can not be clumbed by most predators, nor can they go under it since welded wire is not flimsy like chicken wire. The height of the fences and the three feet of space also keeps deer from jumping over it into your garden. Your garden is protected from insects by your chickens roaming around the moat all day. However, inspite of all this protection I still close up my chickens at night in the chicken coup. The chicken coup is build out of tin roofing material that I salvaged for free. I dug a six inch trench around the wood frame as I was putting on the tin siding. The trench was then back filled. This will discourage the predators from trying to dig under the chicken coup at night. All this works together in perfect harmony as I have not lost a chicken or a garden yet. The predators that I have in my area are: neighbors dogs, (German Shepard and Australian Shepard), coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, badgers, hawks and an occasional eagle. Check out my website for pics of the Chicken Moat Ernest

-- Ernest in the Ozarks (, April 08, 2001.

Greetings cottonpickerboy! :) It is great that you are asking BEFORE you build. I will tell you my experiences... We started off with our chickens in the shed when we first moved. They would go out during the day and lay eggs any old place, and sometimes I wouldn't find them till SEVERAL hot weeks...yuck... later. So I decided to put a hole in the door and fence in a peice for a run. They flew over. I clipped a wing or two, but they were determined. They also went under the fence where ever there was a sag. So I put strips of chicken wire over the top and on the bottom. That worked o.k. until the cat decided it liked to sleep in the coop. It would walk on the top of the run and the wire would strech and sag and soon there were gaps all over!. Chickens running wild is fine, unless you want the eggs or you have a gutsy rooster! (Mine charged me since he was "protecting" his gals. I booted him like a football and he came back twice more! We ate him.) New rooster, new coop. I took a plan from a countryside magazine.. which I have misplaced, so I don't know the number.. but it is GREAT! It is the one with the wheels on it so you can move it. You can gather eggs from a door instead of going into the coop. It has a complete frame of wood, so the wire stays where it is supposed to and I am getting lots of eggs. I am not sure what issue, but it was made of 2x2's and plywood. Maybe someone on here knows the issue. Anyway, you could always let the chickens out somedays, or move the coop around the yard. *Guard animal- while that sounds great, I have yet to find a dog that won't perk up when a chicken flutters around. (Of course-I like labs- bird dogs) Wife with a shotgun.. :) That may come in handy, but most smugglers get into the coop at awful hours of the night. I would love to catch anything in the act, but they are usually long gone. I had two chickens taken when I had them in the big shed. Too many holes and old stuff to have them secure enough. My husband did end up shooting some odd little varmits at dusk last year. I think chickens are good for the garden, but I usually let them in at the end of the season, since they rip up the ground looking for bugs. Chances are they would rip up any tender little plant too. Only thing is that the coop may not be enough for harsh winters. I read on the forum that wind under a stilted coop would be cold. I may try to insulate the floor and roof of mine.~~ Hope this helps. ~~ Bren

-- Brenda (, April 10, 2001.

(1) Can they free range inside a garden area or will they destroy the garden?


(2) What is the best way to protect them from predators? chicken coop, guard animal, wife with shotgun

All the above! Seriously, this is really a personal choice. Some folks swear by the dogs, others swear AT them. It's best to get a dog that's been trained to protect the type of stock you have. A dog trained for cattle, may not necessarily be kind to poultry. If you get a puppy, you have to put in the time for the training.

Just any ol' donkey to guard could do more harm than good. There are breeders who raise donkeys specifically for guarding.

Hmmmm, would wife stand out there 24/7? -LOL-

(3) Would a chicken tractor be better?

It would definitely be great for them. They can graze and fertilize the area at the same time. Here's some plans:

Here's a bunch of plans for coops you can ignore and just look at the different kinds of tractors:

(4) Is chicken wire fence enough?

Predators can crawl up and/or mangle the wire and/or reach thru and grab a pawful of birds. My pens are chainlink, and I've covered them from the bottom up 4 feet with 1/2 inch hardware cloth. The bad guys can't climb it nor reach in. My pens sit on the ground. I also have hardware cloth covering the ground and extending a couple of feet past the pens. Predators can't dig under to gain entrance.

Hope this helps.

-- ~Rogo (, April 10, 2001.

Thanks for the great answers. I'll let ya'll know how it turns out.

-- cottonpickerboy (AR) (, April 10, 2001.

1. They will scratch up everything in the garden. I have built a cage that hold about 3 hens comfortably and can slide down between the rows. Or, I just let the cage sit in one spot until the birds have denuded the ground for me and I can dig a new spot to plant in. One guy had a great idea for a chicken moat around a garden. The chickens patrol a fenced area around the garden and eat any bugs that come through their area. You could make it so that the gate you open to go through to the garden closed off the moat. 2 gates to go through and each one would close a side of the moat when opened. Get it? Let the chickens into the garden in the fall for clean up.

2. They are safest from predators when they are entirely caged. But then they can't free range. Weigh the risks. Our worst predator problem is our own dogs.

I've ordered 25 Barred Rocks due to arrive April 30. I plan on building something like a chicken tractor to keep them in out by the garden until fall. When they start laying, I will get rid of the hens I currently have and after thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting their coop, moving the new ones in.

-- Heather in MD (, April 11, 2001.

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