Keeping Chickens

I’ve been keeping chickens for about 3 years now and today was moving day again. For the first couple of years I moved them through the grassy areas of my property, but then I lost 3/4’s of my flock aerial predators so I started keeping them under the cover of the brushy areas of my property. This is not ideal as there is not as much greenery for them to eat, but it does keep them from being killed by hawks and owls. This does make moving them a fair bit more effort as I first have to clear brush along the path I want the electro-net fencing to run and the fencing has to be pulled up and the whole section folded and moved. When I was on the grass I could just move the fencing a few feet at a time, but you cannot do that when there are trees and brush in the way. Therefore the chickens do not get moved as frequently as I would like. If you go with the portable electro-net fencing like I did by the 80′ lengths rather than the 160′, they are much easier to move and give you more options.

Some people feel they need to provide a coop that is well insulated and completely free of drafts for the winter and some even supply supplemental heat. I have not found this to be the case in S.E. Michigan. I do what is best described as a 3-sided coop and I have not lost any birds in the winter. However I do have the coop in a place that is naturally sheltered from the wind. In some magazines from the late 1800’s that talked about farming in the mid-west talked about having large windows on one side of the coop (preferably the side opposite the wind) and just having them covered in chicken wire, no glass. The claim was the biggest problems with chickens in a fully closed coop is the build up of humidity and ammonia and having good ventilation takes care of that. While I cannot comment on if it is better because I have all my experience is with these “well-ventilated” coops, I have not experienced any problems with not having a tightly sealed/heated coop. Breed may also make a difference, I’ve had White Leghorn, ISA Brown, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks & Australorps.

To date I’ve only lost two birds to something other than predators. One got her neck caught in the fork of a honeysuckle bush and basically hung herself, the other was an adult bird that died 2 days after we got her. Since this works for me I do not plan on changing. I’m not claiming what I do is what you should also do, however if it works for me you might want to consider it for your flock.

Author: Jerry Ward

Working on creating a 10 acre urban homestead in S.E. Michigan. To pay the bills I work as a product manager/business analyst in the IT field. Now the admin of Save Our Skills