Raccoons and Electronet

Surprisingly, the local raccoons found a time when the solar charger was mistakenly left off and the chewed a hole right through the fence. Thankfully this stuff is easily repairable with bonded putty you can get at your local hardware store. The electricity just flows around it.


The dangers of day ranging

Wow. We’ve lost three chickens to birds of prey in the last two weeks. Two taken by owls – one I chased around our field at 1AM with a flashlight¬†– and a third one by a Peregrine falcon that¬†inadvertently¬†trapped himself in our chicken tractor.

He got into the tractor, killed a chicken, and was eating it when the door to the coop got blocked. I was furious when I found him (and my dead chicken), but he’s on the protected list, so I had to let him go. Very, very frustrating.

Not sure what we’re going to do about all these birds of prey. They sure don’t make day-ranging chickens very straightforward.


Day-Ranging chicken coop :: version 2.0

Just as our chicken tractors went through a few improvement versions, our day-ranging coops are as well. Introducing the new and improved version 2.0 of the Day Ranger.

Still protected by the electronet fencing, this one abandoned the use of political signs as walls and roof for the use of salvage lumber. The political sign coop works well, but it needs to be a backyard that does not have high winds.

In addition to going with heavier lumber to resist the wind, the version 2.0 Day Ranger features six nest boxes and 20′ of roost space, in anticipation of starting a newer, larger flock this winter.

A few more photos to see the additional details:


From chicken tractor to day-ranging

We’re moving.

Not from our small town, but from our current Joel Salatin inspired chicken tractor setup to an Andy Lee style day-ranging setup.

Why?

  • Transition most daily chores to weekly/monthly/quarterly.
  • Enable remaining daily chore (egg collection) to be done by kids.
  • Increase health of the birds. Hoping that more space means less pecking each other.

How?

  • Built a smaller coop meant to solely be a place to lay eggs and roost for the night. Protection from elements only, not predators. Self-imposed limit on the coop was it had to be made entirely from found materials. We used old political campaign signs as the wall/wings and roof, IKEA bed slats as framing lumber, etc. Local woodworker did the design work and let use use his awesome workshop.
  • Added 1/4 acre of electronet fencing to protect from daily coyote visits and occasional raccoons. That’s enough pasture to not need to move the coop and fencing but once every 1-3 months, depending on the season.
  • Added rebar posts with pinwheels to distract the local birds of prey. We get daily fly-bys from eagles, osprey, hawks…and owls each evening. They are beautiful, but I like to eat eggs.
  • Added a range feeder that holds 50# of feed while keeping it dry. My daughter is wearing the top part as a hat in the nearby photo.
  • Made my own 7-day waterer from an extra 5 gallon bucket and $1 chicken nipples (can’t believe I just wrote that) from Farmtek.

Here are some photos…