View Full Version : Chicken questions

03-20-2009, 05:51 AM
I'm working at turning a crummy old outbuilding into a chicken coop. It now has 3 openable screened widows, a fenced in yard, and a cute little chicken door. Ethel and Lucy, my neighbor's chickens, tried out the door and approved.

I'm not even sure what I need to ask. A couple of things pop out right away, though. Although I love my resident brown-shouldered hawks, I'm not interested in feeding them. Should I use plastic netting to form a roof over the entire fence or can I just string baling twine every foot or so?

And the walls of the coop. How tight do they have to be? Parts of the walls are plastered. Is it worth my time to plaster the rest? Will the girls do ok without insulation? Will snakes and rats be a problem? And if so, how do I fight them?

03-20-2009, 07:24 AM
My brother and I always had chickens growing up. In fact, Jason used to have a pet chicken who would sit on his shoulder. We always had netting, or chicken wire over the roof. Mainly just to keep other things out. Never had any insulation in ours. I wouldn't leave too many big holes in the walls, that way you won't let anything in that wants a chicken dinner. Unless the fence goes all the way around, and if it does, you should be fine. We never really had any problems with rats, but I can remember us having a problem with snakes one time. My brother put moth balls, not the crystals, but the whole balls around the outside of the pen, and that stopped them. Don't know if I was any help, but thats my experience with chickens.

03-20-2009, 09:11 AM

Keep in mind that with chicks you need a brooder area. You can confine them to a small space where you can keep them very warm with heat lamps and no drafts. Lots of people keep the little ones in the house until it is warm enough or they are big enough.

03-20-2009, 09:26 AM
I've always heard that a chicken coop will draw snakes, though I have no personal experience with this.
I would think making the coop as tight as possible would be a good idea (like plastering), if this snake story is true.

03-20-2009, 10:11 AM
Chickens kill snakes.

03-20-2009, 10:14 AM
Chicken coops only have two doors. If they had four doors, they would be called chicken sedans.

03-20-2009, 10:42 AM
Chicken coops only have two doors. If they had four doors, they would be called chicken sedans.


Growing up, we always had chickens at dad's (and he still does). From experience, I can tell you that you have to keep out raccoons as well as snakes, hawks and coyotes. We use netting over the top of the pen, wooden eggs in the nests and something to fortify the bottom of the pens to keep dogs/coyotes from digging under. Really think raccoon when you are designing because raccoons are crafty little buggers and they WILL kill chickens.

03-20-2009, 11:01 AM
Chickens kill snakes.

And chickens scare the crap out of Bob-the-Cats. He refuses to go outside if Ethel and Lucy are near the door.

I've never seen a raccoon where I live or even nearby. Very few possums. Or rabbits. Could be the yard dogs. Maybe larger predators too.

We had chickens when I was a little kid, but that was a long time ago. My mom tells a story about the chickens being out and us leaving for the afternoon. We got home to discover the dog had killed most of the chickens. The dog died that day too.

03-20-2009, 11:22 AM
I always had to take damned chickens to the Foods For America thing at school because I was the only one that had them (or noone else would admit to it). Never got to take a horse or a calf - just chickens. And every year dad would tell me to go out and catch them while it was really early and they were still roosting. And EVERY year I wouldn't take his advice and would have to chase them all over the barn. Somehow, as an adult, I really want a chicken coop! I couldn't even tell you why.

Good luck with your SWC! Everyone LOVES fresh eggs!

03-20-2009, 01:46 PM
Sometimes chickens get loose but they're easy to catch.
We always kept a home made poultry hook on hand. Like a shepherds hook but obviously smaller.
Ours was made of bamboo with stout wire formed into a hook tied at the end.
Prolly 8-10ft long, maybe shorter. Just slip it under the chickens belly-even at a dead run-and you'll almost always end up snagging a foot and I've never seen it harm one.
I can't stress enough how handy that tool was.
Some people like to keep a big fish net with a telescoping handle on hand.

I don't recall having a snake or rat problem.
What rats or mice came around were usually focused on where the feed was stored. We ended up keeping ours in a good old fashioned metal trash can that they couldn't chew through. Trash can tech has come a long was since then though.
The only time hawks were a problem was when the chickens were chicks. When we had all full grown chickens the hawks hardly ever came around and when we had chicks they were kept in a fenced yard that was built on to the coop. I don't think the hawks fancied diving into a yard with a 5 foot high fence. Keep in mind this was in Illinoise. The Ozarks has a much larger hawk population. At least it does compared to the hawks I grew up seeing in Illinoise.
We had pretty tight coop and when the chickens went into roost we always closed the doors up for the night so they were shut in and predators shut out.
We did free range up until we lost all of our chickens to dogs packing together and raiding.
After that we kept them in the fenced chicken yard and in the coop.
We used chicken wire of course and we modified our original fence - because of dogs - by burying it 4-5 inches at the base.

03-20-2009, 01:50 PM
So...my method of running around, flapping my arms and screaming at them trying to get them to faint so I could just pick them up was a little misguided? All I needed was a hook...

I'm kidding! Save the animal abuse hate mail...

03-20-2009, 01:54 PM
So...my method of running around, flapping my arms and screaming at them trying to get them to faint so I could just pick them up was a little misguided? All I needed was a hook...

I'm kidding! Save the animal abuse hate mail...


That's a funny mental pic you paint.

03-20-2009, 02:14 PM

It was the "dog dieing too" that got to me, but i do understand once they kill, they continue, so understandable!

I had chickens growing up at my Grandpa's and they roosted in the manager in a shed, we lost alot and came upon quite a few snakes, and lost alot of eggs until my Grandpa baited with wooden eggs.

I had them again in my first life as an adult, Bante Chickens, Cute little things that lay little eggs. We shut them up at night and did not lose any.

Good Luck!

03-20-2009, 04:42 PM
We had chickens when I was a kid. As a lesson in responsiblity, feeding them before schools was my chore. Once in a while, I'd forget to latch the gate to the yard and there would be an escape. They invariably headed straight to blacktop.

My mom would help chase chickens. I have a vivid memory of her running down the road, dressed for school: girdle, stockings, high heels chasing chickens. The last time she did that was when she noticed that all of us, including dad, had stopped chasing our own chickens and were all watching her.

God bless Mom. She was a good role model. It was by her example that I have avoided girdles and high heels all my life.

Other than that, my only advice is not to let me be responsible for your chickens.