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Author Topic: New pens  (Read 413 times)

Kelly Gore

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New pens
« on: June 09, 2019, 10:52:05 PM »
As most of you know, I have not had birds (life happens :( ) in a few months. Boy do I miss them! We will be moving in Oct to Northern, AZ Kingman area. I will have more birds by spring. My worry is predators. Where I previously lived we had snakes, coyotes (although they didn't get on our property!) scorpions, and neighbor dogs. Were we are moving, we have coyotes, bobcat and mountain lion. Over the winter we will be building new pens for the very anticipated new arrivals. My concern is their safety. Any suggestions on what materials to use? I have never had to deal with these predators before, and just want to make sure that my babies will be locked up like Fort Knox! Thank you!

Don

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Re: New pens
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2019, 09:49:56 PM »
Kelly, you are right to consider keeping predators Out rather than only keeping the chickens in when you design the new pens.  I don't know what you'd use to keep out something as big as a Mountain Lion. Something that big can pretty push and tear through any wire or simple cage wire. You might start with Ag Panels, they are pretty sturdy and you'll need to make sure your attachments are heavy duty too. And you will need to have a secondary small opening wire wrapping to keep the racoons and such from getting in or pulling birds closed enought to the edges to kill or eat birds.  Of course you'll have to bury wire around the edges or have paving to keep animals from digging under.  I would consider installing a couple layers of Hot Wire and using a Livestock fence charger for animals that large. That should deter them once they understand the danger from the electricity. You can bait these wires with alumn pans slathered with peanut butter or meat fats.  That will allow them to "get a taste" of the power without pushing or testing the wire itself.  The down side is that you'll need to keep these wires clear of grass, etc. And you will Have to keep your animals, kids and friends away from these wires. So that means you'll probabaly have to install separate stakes/posts, out of reach of the cages, just for the wires and not attach the wires directly to the cages themselves. You might be able to use a timer to turn the units on around dark and day break to reduce the danger to you and yours during your active hours.   I would imagine that Livestock Guard Dogs would help too. I don't know if a lion would challenge a big dog normally.  Good Luck!  Sounds like a great new adventure.  Sounds like you are going to be busy.   Keep us posted when you have time.       
Don Cash
" No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."  Mark Twain

Kelly Gore

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Re: New pens
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2019, 02:28:48 PM »
Thanks Don! I will take into consideration all of your suggestions. We shouldn't have much problems, we have a lot of big dogs, but I want to make sure the birds are safe. I saw my first mountain lion in the wild while I was visiting the property. Oh my, they are bigger than I thought!

Kelly Gore

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Re: New pens
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2019, 03:50:14 PM »
One more question! (For now! lol) I am from the Phoenix area. Where we are moving, it snows at times. They will have an indoor coop area, anything else I could do to keep them warm? No heat lamps! Too scared of fire.

Don

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Re: New pens
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2019, 10:40:25 AM »
I don't know how cold the temps are there.  Here we dont' really have an issue unless it gets extreme for a few nights during the winter.  I don't like to close up the buildings/cages completely since it seems to cause more issues with moisture and illness than leaving some ventilation. Of course you want to keep the pens closed on all sides except for the south during the cold months. There are ways to gather the birds heat on the roosting areas to give them a little more protection. Heat rises, so capture any heat generated by the birds in a hood or tarp hung tight to the roof. This provides them a place of refuge at night when the temps are lowest. You can search some of the old journals, look for conditioning methods where they were trying to encourage birds to finish out faster.  Make sure you use fabrics, burlap or cloth tarps. Plastics will trap more heat, but trap the  moisture also. 

Of course this is from the perspective of a southern climate. I am sure that Gordon and some of the others will have more options where the temps can stay low for much longer periods of time too.  Rattle their cages and get their imput while you do your planning to make sure you have the Best info going forward.     
Don Cash
" No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."  Mark Twain

Kelly Gore

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Re: New pens
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2019, 05:11:33 PM »
Thanks Don! I don't want to close the coops completely, but want to make sure they are warm enough. I have been told it snows quite frequently (we will be at 5600') but rarely stays around for more than a day or 2. Any input from folks that live in the north?

Birdcrazy

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Re: New pens
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2019, 03:56:51 PM »
Kelly, I live in Nebraska between Omaha and Lincoln. The last three years our winter weather has been less cold. I believe last winter the coldest spell we had was -12 degrees or so. In the past we have had temps in the -20 to -25 degree range with wind chills -40 or more. My experience with raising poultry in these conditions is it is amazing the resiliency of the birds to survive under these conditions. As long as they have a shelter out of the draft (I do provide some air movement by vents for circulation) they seem to do fine. If they have access to outside pens it is quite common to see them basking in the sun even on some of the coldest days. If we have a long cold spell with temps way below zero at night and daytime temps in single digits for say 7-10 days in a row, usually any casualties are my real old breeders or the bantams. These are the ones you might need to give extra care. Making sure they have plenty of food and water can go a long way towards survival. I know getting out 2 times a day in -20 degree weather, breaking ice or rotating water containers isn't real fun. I guess that is the price you pay raising poultry in the colder climates.

Predators can drive poultry lovers crazy. You get a handle on a break in and maybe go 2-3 years and are on easy street then here comes another onslaught. Probably a different vermin than the last time. Around here we have raccoons, mink, weasels, skunks, possums, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, owls, hawks, and a neighbors dog to mention a few. We have had a few mountain lion sightings within 10 miles the last 10 years. So far they have not been a big problem with poultry, more with cattle. Thank goodness for that! I wouldn't begin to know where to start on keeping them out! My biggest problem has been raccoons, mink and weasels. Until recently break ins were confined to my 2 chicken houses, racoons killing the LF on the floor and mink or weasels the bantams in cages. I had been building houses 4 feet off the ground with runs made of 1 inch poultry netting sides and roof. These worked great for 10 years with no problems. After I took the remaining birds out of the chicken houses , I have had 2 breaking in the pens off the ground. Raccoons tore through the poultry netting and cleaned out all of the chickens in the little buildings. For now I have been shutting birds in the buildings at night until I figure how to reinforce the poultry netting runs. This has stopped my losses for a few months now. It seems like a never ending battle. Raccoons are fairly easy to catch in live traps, but mink and weasels are very hard to catch. Sometimes they move on and you never catch one, but the damage is already done. Trial and error, just when you think you've won, something attacks from a different angle!

Ok, all the negative for now. HAPPINESS/ watching the newly hatched chicks in the brooder. Watching them grow out. Taking them to a show. See the other Ameraucana birds represented at the show! Meeting old friends and making new Ameraucana breeder friends. Getting on the ABC Forum and hearing from other ABC members. Greeting new ABC members as they join the club!

Good luck Kelly on your move this October and the start of your new flock! I will be in Boomington, Illinois Oct 5, 2019 for the North Central ABC District Meet. Another HAPPY TIME watching those Ameraucana Trophies being handed out! Gordon Gilliam
Gordon Gilliam

Kelly Gore

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Re: New pens
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2019, 10:53:44 PM »
Thank you Gordon! I cannot wait to get going with my new flock! (And to get out of the Phoenix heat!) It is so beautiful out there with trees and everything. We don't have many of those here. I learned a lot with breeding the last 3 years. Still have all my notes and records of my successes and failures. Looking forward to hearing the little peeps and the cockerels singing in the morning.

Good luck at the meet in October! Keep us posted please, I am living vicariously through you right now!