Designing the Homestead

jbartlett Posts: 1
edited May 2018 in The Homestead: DIY
Hi J,

I'm in Southwest Colorado, zone 6a. We live in the mountains and there's really nothing here that doesn't eat a chicken, so we opted to create "Fort Knox" for our birds, complete with 1/4" hardware cloth apron and etc. (If you want your chickens to survive, don't use chicken wire -- it's only meant to keep chickens out of things, not to keep anything away from your chickens.)

We also created a run with the same hardware cloth and apron, but we really did that in case we were facing predator pressure and needed to keep the chickens put away for a while. Mostly, they roam our fenced backyard, which encompasses an acre of our property, and then spend the night in the very secure coop.

If you're going to let your birds free range, you'll want to protect them with a livestock guardian dog or something similar. We have two medium-sized dogs who do a great job of alerting us to concerns, although they are also our pets and sleep in the house with us, etc.

And if you've got bears in your area, you'll want to protect your chickens additionally with a strong electric fence -- which is really the only sure-fire way to keep bears at bay.

In terms of coop smell, you won't really have to worry about it too much if you properly manage the coop. We use the built-up litter method and keep the water in the run, and there's really no smell. (However, it is true that very fresh chicken poop stinks just like most fresh poop. The smell dissipates quickly, though.)

We have roosters with our flock (another layer in our flock protection strategy), so for us, we were actually more concerned about the noise than about the smell. We were trying to find a happy medium between keeping the noise from bothering us early in the morning and keeping the coop close enough for convenient access. We ended up placing the coop about 100' from our house, with the coop door and run facing our back door so that we have direct line-of-sight if there is a disturbance or if we just want to check on things. We have found that the current distance of the coop from the house works just fine for keeping the rooster crows from waking us up (and, of course, in our climate we also have double-paned windows and double-cell shades that dampen noise really well, too).

I'm not familiar with the idea of a "moat chicken run," but I'd love to know more about it!

You also mention lots of other really wonderful topics. I'm following this thread to see what other ideas our Community members offer!


  • Ruth Ann Reyes
    Ruth Ann Reyes Posts: 576 admin
    edited May 2018
    We also have the quarter-inch hardware cloth covering our's dug into the ground a foot, and then extends out horizontally two more prevent digging. We do have an automatic door that allows the chickens to free range between 3 pm and whenever they put themselves back to bed!

    With that said, we are in zone 8a and use sand in our coop....I know that's not an option in colder climates. But, here's a hot tip....Use PDZ's to keep the ammonia smell down - it works WONDERS!
  • bmaverick
    bmaverick Posts: 175 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2018
    rocky hills with vegetation works well with goats and chickens. BTW, goats even climb into trees! So, watch how the fencing runs. One wrong tree near a fence line, goats escape.
  • sherryo
    sherryo Posts: 58
    edited August 2018
    Our composting took a turn once we had some permaculture elements and chickens/goats.  I suspect you might see this happen too.
    Before, I kept both worm bins and a traditional compost pile.  Now I do neither anymore.  Food scraps and vegetation go to the animals, who turn them into manure.
    There are a few exceptions. I don't feed coffee grounds, bones or chicken scraps back to chickens so these are simply buried under the mulched beds.  Even bones disappear after a few months.  Also when trimming zone 1 areas, I cut and drop right there to mulch and compost in place.

    Manure mixed with bedding is put into piles to mellow and then returned to garden areas.
    This seems so much easier and more natural than any other composting system I've seen.