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 Post subject: Advice on replacing free ranging with an outdoor run
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:29 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:26 pm
Posts: 97
Location: Thornleigh, NSW
I have 4 hens, 16 months old, 1 each of RIR, Australorp, Barnevelder & Silver Campine. In addition to their coop they have 8 m2 permanent run with river sand, protected including roof with snake & mouse-proof level netting, buried in the ground and right under the floor (under the sand) for fox/dog protection. I let them out for 3-4 hours in the afternoons to free range in the garden, as our veggie patch is protected by a full enclosure. However, we now have two 5 month old Bengal kittens and we are not doing well at keeping the peace in the afternoons. I thought the kittens would get bored with chasing them. Hoped they would get a serious peck when little and avoid the chooks. Continually supervise and generally protect the chickens. It's just not working! Yesterday it was lucky I was close enough to stop the two kittens ganging up on the RIR, who they had cornered. I fear I am going to end up with an injured or dead chicken. They are stressed and off the lay (0-1 per day now instead of the usual 2-3 eggs). I love them dearly and feel bad about it all. I have been naive to think it would sort itself out - it hasn't.

Plan B is to add another run for the girls to go out into in the afternoons. It would add about another 16 m2 of garden (so dirt and plants - I'll move anything they can wreck). I plan to still lock them in each night in their permanent run, so it needn't be fox proof - but does need to be cat proofed. I am thinking of getting OH to concrete in posts to hold chicken wire netting on all sides, including the roof (these cats can really jump). The cheapest netting seems to be 1800mm in 50m rolls, 1mm wire with holes 50mm hex diameter. Will this be up to the job?

I will leave the dirt as floor - should I add in sugar cane mulch for them to dig through/entice insects? Should I sprinkle dolomite lime around to reduce smells? (I clear poop from their coop & sand run daily). I can add an additional outside roost for them and there is an area of bracken fern they like to use for shade or cover. I currently give them a breakfast wet mash, then greens from the garden at lunchtime, then let them out about 3.30. So, yes they are pampered. Instead, I thought I would let them into the garden run and add greens about 3.30pm each day.

The Silver Campine is by far the least tolerant of confinement (which I knew when I got her). Whilst I think the others will grumble about not getting access to the whole garden, she will shriek for hours....... From today, I am not letting them out till the garden run is finished. She's shrieking already. Is the kindest thing to find another home for her? I wonder if her distress at not free-ranging will make the others more distressed than they would be otherwise.

Apologies for the long post. I feel I have created this bad situation and seek any advice on how to do the best I can for my 4 lovely chooks.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on replacing free ranging with an outdoor run
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:29 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:29 pm
Posts: 207
Location: Canberra
Can you build a cat enclosure and enclose the cats (when outside) instead? Maybe enclose a patio or something and keep that as cat space and leave the yard to the chookies? That way every animal has its own space (including your expensive kittens) and the local birds will be safe too.

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 Post subject: Re: Advice on replacing free ranging with an outdoor run
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:08 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:18 pm
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Location: APF
That was my first thought when just reading this :-D

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 Post subject: Re: Advice on replacing free ranging with an outdoor run
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:22 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 9:35 am
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Thats what I would do with the cats

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 Post subject: Re: Advice on replacing free ranging with an outdoor run
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:01 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:27 am
Posts: 117
I think I would do the same but then I don't have or like cats


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on replacing free ranging with an outdoor run
PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:53 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:26 pm
Posts: 97
Location: Thornleigh, NSW
Thanks for your suggestions. It would just be a lot more construction doing a cat enclosure, as it would need to come off the back of the house and the ground levels change dramatically there.

As it happens, the 4 chooks have been happy enough staying in their permanent run. They are back laying again and do not try to push me to go outside (as they used to) as I guess the kittens have made the garden too scary for them. Even the Silver Campine doesn't make a fuss. This weekend we start on their garden run, so they will have even more space and be able to dig massive holes again. There is an area of shade and it gets some winter sun, too, so I think we are all a lot less stressed now with this approach. Oh, and I get to plant some groundcovers again! The chickens ate the lot, so, once they are happy in their expanded run, I will plant some more.

Appreciate your thoughts


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on replacing free ranging with an outdoor run
PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:39 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:54 am
Posts: 1
Get your self a big rhodes red rooster and watch the cats run for the hills :lol: mine did he fixed them up and they stay well clear of ALL the chooks now


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