Why do some people need to have the fort knox of secure chicken coops? We certainly had the Taj MaCoop at our previous house. I personally have never free ranged my chickens since it is not allowed in the city, but I never realized why I needed such a secure coop. Below are the reasons a secure coop and run is necessary for some flocks of chickens. If you lack the space to free range and live in an area with wildlife you may need to go the extra mile with hardware cloth and heavy bolts just to keep you flock safe.
It is a sad week here at the Reaganskopp household. With heavy hearts we had to rehome what was left of our chicken flock. We moved them to our new home, the new girls started laying and everything was going fabulously… Until it wasn’t.
First, one of the three redneck chickens (bantams) got a case of bumble-foot that could not be cured. So, I had to put her out of her misery. Please know as a chicken owner you may end up dealing with things like this. It is the ‘not fun’ part of owning livestock. 10 of 11 left…
Secondly, we had to leave town in a hurry to help with a family medical issue. When we got back someone/thing had opened the gate releasing all the chickens for an entire weekend. Luckily the girls took roost under the porch and made a nice dirt nest by the basement. However, the silver laced wynadotte was never to be seen again. Chicken count 9 of 11…
Oh number 3! The day the bear came. Loose fencing and a large bear make for an exciting Saturday morning. The bear decided to drag our head chicken down the hill. Condoleezza was my personal favorite so that was a real blow, plus I got the adrenaline rush of a life time when I came within a 2 feet of a large bear in the woods. And yes, you read that correctly a bear… I live in a city but that city is located in the mountains so we get exciting things like bears. I had seen movement in the woods and thought it was our wayward chicken. Nope it was the bear that had taken our chicken. Backing slowly away worked well. We moved closer to the river and have over 3 tenths of a wooded acre now (Huge in the City) so apparently that makes us bear central. Do not get me started on our trash issues or the new bear safety lessons we have had with the kids… 8/11 (not looking so hot for the flock)
And the final straw after fixing the hole in the fence and bird netting the entire top of the run… Foxes. Bears and Foxes. Can. Not. Make. This. Up. The foxes figured out a way to climb in-between the layers of netting. They also decided to polish off the last two bantams. Leaving behind half of one for me to fight a swarm of yellow jackets to clean up the remains. Let’s just say that is a sight that can not be unseen. Since we were down to 6 of our original 11 chickens we knew we had to take action fast. We realize exactly what type of coop will have to be built to survive the wildlife on this side of town and that was not about to occur in a single day. So we found a nice couple with a large free range area surrounded by an electric fence who were happy to have 6 laying chickens before the sun set and the foxes returned.
So that means we will eat the last of our eggs and have to go back to buying them at the farmers market like everyone else. It also means that Adam is planning the most fabulous coop build over the winter so we can start fresh in the spring. Now to save the money for the yards and yards of expensive hardware cloth it will require to make a safe space!
Moral of this story for anyone thinking of owning chickens. Depending on the predator load in your area you may be fine with a simple netted run or even an open coop with full free range. BUT if you have a lot of predators and the chickens only have a small space to roam you must have a secure place for them. They are simply too easy and tempting to be left alone by any predator that can reach them if there isn’t adequate coverage for them to run and hide. Our mistake was not realizing the difference a 2 mile move makes and providing a secure enough location up front. At least we found a good home for the remaining flock and now have a plan in place for next year.