Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Housing For Chickens and Rabbits

  1. #1

    Default Housing For Chickens and Rabbits

    Next summer my husband and I were hoping to raise some chickens and rabbits. We live out in the bush and although we don't have a problem with moose or bears coming into town, I would assume that foxes and lynx's would be knocking on our front door... or the front door of the chicken coop/ rabbit cage. I don't know if anyone else in Alaska raises chickens or rabbits, but I'm sure there are a few. So I was just wondering how do you build a predator proof cage? Coming from the lower 48 I sometimes had problems with coyotes and raccoons, so to ward them off I build an extra barbed-wire fence around the original coop. Would this work for foxes and lynx as well? Also do you keep them through the winter and if so how do you ensure they stay warm?

  2. #2
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    1,481

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lonealaskangypsy View Post
    Next summer my husband and I were hoping to raise some chickens and rabbits. We live out in the bush and although we don't have a problem with moose or bears coming into town, I would assume that foxes and lynx's would be knocking on our front door... or the front door of the chicken coop/ rabbit cage. I don't know if anyone else in Alaska raises chickens or rabbits, but I'm sure there are a few. So I was just wondering how do you build a predator proof cage? Coming from the lower 48 I sometimes had problems with coyotes and raccoons, so to ward them off I build an extra barbed-wire fence around the original coop. Would this work for foxes and lynx as well? Also do you keep them through the winter and if so how do you ensure they stay warm?
    My neighbor had to put solar powered electric fence around his chickens to keep the bears out.../John

  3. #3
    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sterling, AK
    Posts
    359

    Default

    We use an electric fence also.
    To keep chickens warm in the winter we insulated our coop and close them up in the evenings. The more birds in the coop the warmer it gets. We keep about 40 birds in an 8 x 8 coop at -30 outside it's 45 in the coop. We have a large covered run so they can spread out during the day.
    Rabbits do great in the cold no heat needed. When we dip below -10 I put a nest box in their cages with hay inside. Most rabbit hutches are built up off the ground so you shouldnt have to worry about fox or lynx.
    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day,
    Teach a man to fish and he'll also learn to drink, lie, and avoid the honey do list.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks so much, that really helped. We'll definately make a hardy investment in a good electric fence.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    63

    Default

    Gypsy I have an insulated chicken house and use 1 or 2 60 watt bulbs for heat. You can also try burying wire mesh about a foot down along with elec fence and barb wire fence. You can always make some money off the chickens during the winter by shooting or trapping the critters.

  6. #6
    Member power drifter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Down wind of 2 Glaciers
    Posts
    1,088

    Default

    I have kept a few hens for eggs over the years and one thing that I believe is important is to not use chicken wire. I use a good wood frame with 1/2 in hardware cloth for wire. There are many critters out there that like chicken and not all of them are big. Think about ermine as there are many of them and they can get into a small hole.
    Insulate the coup and like has been said a light bulb will work for warmth.
    Nothing like fresh eggs. Just cooked some up and the yolks are bright orange not like the stores pale yellow.

  7. #7

    Default

    I am most definately looking forward to fresh eggs again, one of my favorite things. Do you keep the lightbulb on at night? And you bring up a good point with what kind of wiring to use. I never thought about that before, but I'll keep ermine in mind when purchasing fencing.

  8. #8
    Member Steve_O's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Delta Junction, AK
    Posts
    168

    Default

    This year was my first winter with chickens, we just enclosed them and put a flood light on a timer. they need about 14 hours of daylight to stimulate laying. Water is the hardest part. I used a oil pan heater glued under a cake pan placed upside down with the water dish on top. this was not on a time it was full time heat. In the interior we dipped to about 50 below and the coldest it got in my pen was around 0. I only had 8 girls through the winter and never had a problem. Check for eggs daily so they don't freeze and keep water in the pan.
    I agree with Power drifter on the small critters, I lost 2 chickens last fall to either ermine or martin. I saw both around our place. Set a few traps and caught a dog sniffing around the pen. Unfortunately I lost three girls to the neighbors dog yesterday. too bad I didn't leave those traps set...
    Make sure you let them out as soon as the temps start to warm they love catching bugs and stuff outside in a pen.
    Steve

  9. #9
    New member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    8

    Default

    I did the same thing here with the oil pan heater under a cake pan and a light on a timer. My chickens did great. I dont like as cold as you we are out kgb from Wasilla. Still... the year before I lost chickens to the cold and hardly any eggs. Also had it on its own meter and we never used enough electricity for MEA to charge us any money.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Off the road system,AK
    Posts
    372

    Default

    I just wanted to share some of our experiences this summer with our chickens. We used chain link fencing as our neighbor gave us a deal on a bunch from an old dog run. I'm really glad we did as the neighbor dogs kept trying to get in! We also used some old gill net I found at the dump to drape over it to keep the eagles and owls out. We let our chickens out one day while we were in the yard and I kid you not an eagle came down like lightning and grabbed a 10lb hen and flew off with her only 20ft from me my wife and two full grown labs! We were ticked and I ushered the girls back into their pen and another eagle or the same one came crashing into the side of the chain link fence! We lost one more a week later as she got out and I'm sure the eagles got her. the neighbors lost a bunch and a few ducks just last week. We heard the dogs going crazy the other day and we were looking up in the trees and sky for you know who... the sucker was on the ground in the bushes making a stalk on our hens! I've never seen an eagle stalk on the ground before. After a few shouts and getting the dogs to go after it, it finally went away.
    I have since built a covered chicken tractor with wheels so I can roll it around the place and they have an open bottom so they can forage and netting on top to keep out those **** eagles! Sheesh!
    Cover your hens at all times!!

    Mountaintrekker

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    205

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lonealaskangypsy View Post
    Next summer my husband and I were hoping to raise some chickens and rabbits. We live out in the bush and although we don't have a problem with moose or bears coming into town, I would assume that foxes and lynx's would be knocking on our front door... or the front door of the chicken coop/ rabbit cage. I don't know if anyone else in Alaska raises chickens or rabbits, but I'm sure there are a few. So I was just wondering how do you build a predator proof cage? Coming from the lower 48 I sometimes had problems with coyotes and raccoons, so to ward them off I build an extra barbed-wire fence around the original coop. Would this work for foxes and lynx as well? Also do you keep them through the winter and if so how do you ensure they stay warm?

    Sorry I am long winded but here is some other info

    when it comes to keeping chickens itís all about keeping others out, 2"x1" wire is the only way to go as far as wire. I first used regular chicken wire but a dog chewed a hole in that the first year I had hens and killed 8 of them.

    4" round spruce poles with top and bottom rails will keep out foxes and dogs and while it did not try very hard do detour a black bear around my coop this last spring. Lynx will be able to climb over even with a top net but in summer food is usually plenty and most animals will keep to the seclusion of the woods winter is a different story though. Your birds should be completely closed up in the winter, lynx and ermine are very plentiful around my house but keeping the coop and run sealed up and having a family dog keeps most of them away.

    Two times I thought for sure there was something in the coop killing my chickens from the racket that was going on but both time I opened the door it was the chickens that had the upper hand once on a feral cat and another time with a mink, both time the ten hens had the would be hunter backed into the far corner and were darting in to peck scratch and both the cat and the mink wasted no time getting out of there once they had the chance.


    Something to keep in mind for keeping chickens through the winter is the type of breed as much as the conditions they live in. I have been keeping chickens since 2004 and have found that buff orphingtons are an excellent breed for our conditions here in the AK. They are large bodied birds with small wattles and combs making them less apt to frost bite produce a large brown egg and when given supplemental light can lay two eggs a day.

    I keep 10 hens at a time and no rooster so I do not have to worry about chicks, the buff is by far the most docile chicken we have had out of the 8 breeds we have tried sometimes you will have to push them out of the way just to get to the feeder or watering tray. Another nice quirk is they are kind of broody so in a small coop all the hens will lay in one or two nesting boxes and they take turns sitting on the eggs, while they will never hatch this lessens the chance for the eggs to freeze between egg gatherings.

    When raising them from chicks a whistle call every time they were fed has trained them to come to us with just a whistle and they follow you where ever you go.

    Our coop has no extra insulation I just make sure I close off the summer vents to prevent blowing snow or drafts in the winter. The only heat source is the heater water pan that a regular poultry waterer sits on $20 at animal food warehouse a couple years ago. Chickens will provide between 10 and 12 BTU's per bird. A couple years ago I tried bringing the ceiling height down to five feet figuring it would make for less cold space and provide a spot to keep straw and feed but it made for a real hassle when it came time to fork out the old straw and replace with new.

    I provide them light 24 hours a day with a CFL this keeps egg production up and lets the birds keep their own schedule for roosting and egg laying. I section off a small area outside the coop with plywood and add put a lexan sheet over the top to let sunlight through this will help get the hens outside the coop I also move their food tray out here so they spend more time in this area to defecate.

    The top being covered is to prevent the birds from standing in snow. If they can stand in snow, they will and it usually ends up in the loss of a toe or two. I keep plenty of straw in both the coop and the small run outside and instead of fluffing it up for them I just split the bale in two and drop a half in each area they really like tearing into it and tossing some scratch or feed into the straw keeps them busy and moving when confined to the smaller space for the winter.

    I also like to up the protein content of the feed from 16% to 20% when the temps drop, it just seems to help with egg production. With all this above I have kept my chickens in good health and laying eggs down to -30 if you have any other questions just ask.

    Questions about a particular breed or feed can be answered by triple D hatchery in Wasilla give them a call and ask for Anthony.

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Tripple D went out of business this yr. Sad to say....

    I have kept chickens for the past say around 6 to 8 yrs. I have had a few neighbors dogs, one ermine, and a wolverine clean me out. The bears stayed away due to the dog lot, the fox, coyote also... The wolverine tried to take the dog lot fence apart then went for the chickens and ended up clearing out 70 of them from my yard, all free rangers. I usually keep Rhode Island Reds, Buffs, Golden comets. I have found both the comets and the buffs along with the black sex links to be the best breeds... large bodied, easy to get along with and great layers. I keep a mixture of them in my hen house. I keep 2 roosters both of which survived the wolverine. My old man is now 8 or 9...not sure. I will probably loose him this winter. He is a tough old man... been a very protective bird to his flocks but at the same time very gental and friendly to his people family.

    My coop is insulated but I have really never put a door on it so to speak. They lay most of the winter except maybe dec, jan and feb. Most of the time the birds perch out on the fence at -30 wind or no wind. I have really never had many problems with them.

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    205

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Washkeeton View Post
    Tripple D went out of business this yr. Sad to say....

    I have kept chickens for the past say around 6 to 8 yrs. I have had a few neighbors dogs, one ermine, and a wolverine clean me out. The bears stayed away due to the dog lot, the fox, coyote also... The wolverine tried to take the dog lot fence apart then went for the chickens and ended up clearing out 70 of them from my yard, all free rangers. I usually keep Rhode Island Reds, Buffs, Golden comets. I have found both the comets and the buffs along with the black sex links to be the best breeds... large bodied, easy to get along with and great layers. I keep a mixture of them in my hen house. I keep 2 roosters both of which survived the wolverine. My old man is now 8 or 9...not sure. I will probably loose him this winter. He is a tough old man... been a very protective bird to his flocks but at the same time very gental and friendly to his people family.

    My coop is insulated but I have really never put a door on it so to speak. They lay most of the winter except maybe dec, jan and feb. Most of the time the birds perch out on the fence at -30 wind or no wind. I have really never had many problems with them.
    Wow sorry to hear about Anthony going out of buisness, I have been in afghanistan for some time and will have to stop in and see him when I get home.

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    14

    Default

    I suffer -50F temps and critters galore.... my strategy to amintain layer throughout the entire winter is this...

    Build a coop8 x16 x5 foot high, raised floor thats insulated beneath, insulated walls and vapor barrier. I run 30 chickens in this coop. It is attached to an outdoor run enclosed by chain link fence and then screened over with finer wire..I like the sound of hardware cloth. I keep the chickens on a 16 hour day, with a timer i extend the photo period at dusk and dawn throughout the winter.

    The chickens body heat will keep the temp in the 20's... all roosts are close to the ceiling so they can escape the cold air below. Spring thru fall I let them free range a bit every day after they lay their eggs.... If I dont wait,invariably a handful of birds will start dropping eggs in the woods.

  15. #15
    Member greythorn3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Chasin the ladys! away!
    Posts
    2,507

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rdrash View Post
    Sorry I am long winded but here is some other info

    when it comes to keeping chickens itís all about keeping others out, 2"x1" wire is the only way to go as far as wire. I first used regular chicken wire but a dog chewed a hole in that the first year I had hens and killed 8 of them.

    4" round spruce poles with top and bottom rails will keep out foxes and dogs and while it did not try very hard do detour a black bear around my coop this last spring. Lynx will be able to climb over even with a top net but in summer food is usually plenty and most animals will keep to the seclusion of the woods winter is a different story though. Your birds should be completely closed up in the winter, lynx and ermine are very plentiful around my house but keeping the coop and run sealed up and having a family dog keeps most of them away.

    Two times I thought for sure there was something in the coop killing my chickens from the racket that was going on but both time I opened the door it was the chickens that had the upper hand once on a feral cat and another time with a mink, both time the ten hens had the would be hunter backed into the far corner and were darting in to peck scratch and both the cat and the mink wasted no time getting out of there once they had the chance.


    Something to keep in mind for keeping chickens through the winter is the type of breed as much as the conditions they live in. I have been keeping chickens since 2004 and have found that buff orphingtons are an excellent breed for our conditions here in the AK. They are large bodied birds with small wattles and combs making them less apt to frost bite produce a large brown egg and when given supplemental light can lay two eggs a day.

    I keep 10 hens at a time and no rooster so I do not have to worry about chicks, the buff is by far the most docile chicken we have had out of the 8 breeds we have tried sometimes you will have to push them out of the way just to get to the feeder or watering tray. Another nice quirk is they are kind of broody so in a small coop all the hens will lay in one or two nesting boxes and they take turns sitting on the eggs, while they will never hatch this lessens the chance for the eggs to freeze between egg gatherings.

    When raising them from chicks a whistle call every time they were fed has trained them to come to us with just a whistle and they follow you where ever you go.

    Our coop has no extra insulation I just make sure I close off the summer vents to prevent blowing snow or drafts in the winter. The only heat source is the heater water pan that a regular poultry waterer sits on $20 at animal food warehouse a couple years ago. Chickens will provide between 10 and 12 BTU's per bird. A couple years ago I tried bringing the ceiling height down to five feet figuring it would make for less cold space and provide a spot to keep straw and feed but it made for a real hassle when it came time to fork out the old straw and replace with new.

    I provide them light 24 hours a day with a CFL this keeps egg production up and lets the birds keep their own schedule for roosting and egg laying. I section off a small area outside the coop with plywood and add put a lexan sheet over the top to let sunlight through this will help get the hens outside the coop I also move their food tray out here so they spend more time in this area to defecate.

    The top being covered is to prevent the birds from standing in snow. If they can stand in snow, they will and it usually ends up in the loss of a toe or two. I keep plenty of straw in both the coop and the small run outside and instead of fluffing it up for them I just split the bale in two and drop a half in each area they really like tearing into it and tossing some scratch or feed into the straw keeps them busy and moving when confined to the smaller space for the winter.

    I also like to up the protein content of the feed from 16% to 20% when the temps drop, it just seems to help with egg production. With all this above I have kept my chickens in good health and laying eggs down to -30 if you have any other questions just ask.

    Questions about a particular breed or feed can be answered by triple D hatchery in Wasilla give them a call and ask for Anthony.
    looking to get into chickens, u ever get babies to sell me?
    Semper Fi!

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    205

    Default

    I don't let the eggs get fertilized, when I order some more chicks in the spring I can add some to it for you Ray.

  17. #17
    Member greythorn3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Chasin the ladys! away!
    Posts
    2,507

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rdrash View Post
    I don't let the eggs get fertilized, when I order some more chicks in the spring I can add some to it for you Ray.
    thank you James. gotta build a coop too.
    Semper Fi!

  18. #18
    Member pacific23's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Whitesboro, Texas
    Posts
    534

    Default

    Here is a VERY good site for chicken info.
    http://www.backyardchickens.com/

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •