Chicken domes in the wind and the rain

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Mike_E_from_NZ, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. Mike_E_from_NZ

    Mike_E_from_NZ Junior Member

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    It's a windin' and a wettin' tonight and I feel ever so sorry for my chooks. They are roosting in a dome built to the design outlined in Linda Woodrow's book Permaculture Home Gardening. I have read that I should keep the chooks out of the wet and the wind, but when it does both at the same time and the chickens are in a chicken dome, I have no show whatsoever.

    It might be okay tonight, because the wind is from the north and it's no so cold.

    But what happens when the winter comes and the rain and wind are not so warm?

    Has anyone built a chicken dome and solved this problem, or does the problem need solving at all?

    Mike
     
  2. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Mike_E

    You have run headfirst into the conundrum of 'wow that sounds so intelligent and ''I am still convinced but in hindsight no one mentioned that I should live in a semi-tropical/temperate rainforest'' type environment.

    Chook tractors/relocatable chook enclosures are wonderful land convertors.. this has been widely acknowledged.

    Mike, I think the issue is that you should build a chook tractor based on your own resources. Given the permie stuff I have checked out since there was an internet............ I am perplexed that someone like yourself would struggle and then ascribe to someone like Linda Woodrow and wonder why it 'failed'.

    Mike_E ........ we were either worth listening to or we were not. The fact that you now want to 'filter' that information through Linda Woodrow is madness. I do not know who Linda Woodrow is but the information that is readily available here is free and valuable.

    Mike_E.. you are a great researcher from what I have seen here. What on earth are you doing listening to 'chookologists' or book sellers.and assuming we are continually doing the real thing.

    There are dozens in here that have great advice, maybe they have not published it but, from my experience, it is valuable. Many of them struggle with literacy and language, I adore their efforts and their sincerity and research.

    mate, It may only just be me but I very much looked forward to your research and comment... for you to ask the questions you have done, and look towards Linda whatisface. I dunno, maybe I over-estimated your perspective.

    PS.. from my readings I hope to not offend anyone, let alone Mike_E.

    floot
     
  3. Mike_E_from_NZ

    Mike_E_from_NZ Junior Member

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    Floot

    Let me reflect on your comments for a while. In retrospect they seem quite accurate.

    Mike
     
  4. Mike_E_from_NZ

    Mike_E_from_NZ Junior Member

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    Floot

    While outside in the pouring rain rearranging things I have had a (tiny) chance to reflect.

    1. I was greedy. If this worked the payoff was pretty good.
    2. I figured that if there were any problems I would be able to solve them later. (Now is later, and this post is part of my research)
    3. I couldn't find anyone else (at the time) that had done this, so I figured that if I could get it to work then that would be one more story to tell.
    4. I was impatient. The chickens had been hatched by my father and one of our broody hens (who lived in palatial quarters). A dome was on my list of things to get to one day. Put those two things together ......
    5. The chickens seem happy enough - albeit wet. You would think the number of eggs would tell me how happy they were. Last storm we had the number of eggs stayed level at the time and after the storm. Hence the question 'do I have a problem to solve at all?'

    Would I do things differently? Yep.

    I'd build only one dome. The plastic tube in those things is expensive. Then work through these issues. (That said, who said 'if you are going to fail, fail big'?).

    Can I still get it to work?

    My challenge here is to keep the dome easily moved. A wind and water proof cavity should be pretty easy (but not necessarily simple) to fabricate.

    Mike
     
  5. macthedog

    macthedog Junior Member

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    Hi Mike,

    Let us know how you go with the water/wind proof box in the dome.

    I liked the idea of the dome and we built one here. Just not practical in our environment here as the feathered friends get too cold & wet and I find it awkward to move single handed - but I am only 5ft 2in, which may have something to do with it.

    I wouldn't build another one, but now that we have this one we use it as a chick nursery. When a broody hatches her chicks we move them into the dome for the first few weeks. Their home inside the dome consists of 2 - 3 straw bales arranged in a U or V shape, with corrugated tin over the opening and another couple of bales on top.

    It works quite well as it isolates them from the grown ups and chances of disease from them, and it also protects them from the goshawks. (We often see the goshawk sitting on top of the dome looking down at the family below but they have never figured out how to get in).

    After a few weeks we start letting the chicks & mother out to free-range with the rest of the flock and later on we re-locate them to roost with the main flock. Then I can move the dome, leaving a well-scratched & fertilised circle to work with. The bales usually last for a couple of sets of chicks and then become compost or mulch.

    Still on chickens, but not domes -
    We have since built a couple of small enclosures for similar use using things easily available to us - scrap wood, chicken wire, tin etc. They are not as big as the dome & are heavier to move but they work for us and the chickens seem okay. We also have a chicken enclosure in the middle of our vegie garden and we let the chickens out to range in fallow sections in rotation and use them to turn over the new straw mulch & eat the seeds etc. It works for our situation.

    But would love to hear how you go with the dome !

    Bernie
     
  6. Mike_E_from_NZ

    Mike_E_from_NZ Junior Member

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    I like the idea that the dome might have a re-use if I decide to give it up.

    Mike
     
  7. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Being a pemie chook breeder of allmost 18 years I wouldnt use a dome if you paid me.......

    Not knocking Linda woodrow either or you Mike E comon floot thats a bit rich,
    thats worse then what i said to chik poo recently..

    A CHOOK needs Strong Sturdy hen house,It HAS to be Draft proof,Water proof,and maintain a resonable level of comfort ( warm in winter and cool in Summer..

    Any building that doesnt cover at least these 3 major requirments isnt going to justice for the poor old chooks...Movable domes are flimsy light weight bits of piping and some covering..If it can be lifted easily by a single person,How do you think ittll handle a strong Breeze with or without rain???

    Chook domes can be practicle, but only as a short term thing only,

    Can be good if erected over a babies(chooksducks etc,0Nursery area,Arial cover from crows,eagles etc, untill at a safe asge and size..

    If you realised how much a chook actualy drops a day youd soon realize its eating its own waste in just a few days if all it does is scratch and forage on the ground as in a tractor.

    Yes weve all sen chooks on tv in a dome,but ........


    Permaculture on TV is totally diferent from the average permie garden,

    Just ask the old timers ..the ones DOING it EVERYday for 20 years,

    Not someon on TV..

    Chook tractors are another total waste of resorces,They are too small and asrnt much better or bigger in size the chook battery cages..


    Tezza
     
  8. Muddy

    Muddy Junior Member

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    Very sensible advice from Tezza. Several of my friends attended a Perm Design course recently (I couldn't afford it). They came home and imediatley set about building tiny enclosures for the chooks called tractors. What a crazy idea.
    The chook house should be as big as you can possibly make it. Think of it as a machine for processing all your organic waste. Throw in all the lawn clippings, weeds, spent vege plants and food scraps. My chook house floor is littered with prawn heads and crab shells. Once a fortnight rake it all up (now mixed with lovely chook poo) and spread it in your worm bins. Stuff from the worms goes back in the garden - brilliant!
    Not sure what these domes are as I don't have a TV.
     
  9. Mike_E_from_NZ

    Mike_E_from_NZ Junior Member

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    I think the truth is somewhere in-between all of this.

    My chickens looked bedraggled after the storm - a 150 year storm they are calling it - but as soon as it stopped they were out chirping away and they did not miss an egg during or after. They shook the water off and even looked dry. My chickens that had a choice even ventured out.

    So, I ask, why is the 'correct answer' that chickens must have a draft proof, water proof, sturdy house?

    As for the chicken poo issue, the advice by Linda Woodrow (the author of Permaculture Home Garden, when she is home) is that the dome must be generously mulched every day. The chickens poo and scratch and generally create a nice growing patch over two weeks. The dome has 12 m2 of 'ranging' area for 10 chickens which is in excess of what some books advise, and 3 m2 of roosting area which is many times that advised. They cannot eat their own poo and look pretty happy.

    As for the wind, the roof is pegged down separately and not connected to the dome in any way. It can blow off and leave the dome in place. Wet chickens, of course, but in place nevertheless.

    Like I said, the promise was a good one.

    But I am think possibly that if this storm happened in the winter I would be a few chickens short - if not on the night, then within weeks.

    And, therefore, I agree that the dome is probably a fair-weather solution.

    And then we get the advice that can never be wrong because it doesn't actually say anything. Quite clearly that is not permaculture advice since beyond a certain area per chicken, the chicken cannot process the waste, nor keep the weeds from coming through, let alone dig up the weeds. Muddy, I have 46 acres that I could let my chickens range. That fits perfectly well within your advice, but is quite clearly only useful for..... well I'm not quite sure, you'd never even find the eggs.

    Sigh. "If a man has one watch he is certain of the time, if he has two watches, he has no idea". Trouble is, Tezza, if I asked two old timers, I'd get two different answers. Bill Mollison raved about the soutions presented in the book. Not the chook domes in particular, of course.

    Floot, I think I learnt more from your post. And Bernie, I think that is where we will end up.
     
  10. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Sorry Mike The old timers In a Permaculture sense are not exactly filling the airways.The average chook handler doesnt do it like Permaculturists
    do No one does it like a permacultureist 8) :lol: :lol: :lol: 8) 8)

    And then youll only get a couple of old timers who would bother to give free info away, So you arnt doing too bad in here...Ill see you right 8) 8)

    Actually chooks if inclined and or stupid enough will roost in trees,summer,spring,winter,autumn,without many egg laying losses,

    But there more weather hardy,,

    Being in as shed or simuler has distinct advantages over most other materials.. WArmth,shelter,dryness and security..

    My chook shed doesnt have a door on it at all,actually my chook house at moment by their choice is an old rainwater tank...

    Chooks only need a shed etc to sleep, if on roosts they take up little area,alowing the underneath to be nesting/laying boxes,(not under roosts)
    Im attempting to incourage my chooks to lay n hatch out side under tres/bushes,attempting to be as natural as possible,My chooks run on open range,meaning 24/7 free to come and go into their sleeping areas,

    Allowing for 12 hours sleep and 12 hours scratching thats a lot of free time.

    Do you realise how much mulch would be required to mulch the run as often as you said......I hope you got plenty of energy because youll need it :( :( :( :(

    Just ralised i made a spelling error in my previous post

    I meant to say....I wouldnt use a dome even if you paid me...

    Tezza
     
  11. richard in manoa

    richard in manoa Junior Member

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    Forgive me for jumping in and posting without reading more than the two most recent posts, but if the issue here is chooks needing shelter, well, obviously to a big degree that advice is predicated on climate. Most of the draft free type of advice is aimed at cool climates I would bet, whereas the chicken is descended from a tropical jungle fowl. I think rain isn't the problem, since chooks have oil glands at the base of each feather and are wonderfully waterproof. But if the chook gets too cold then it will probably succumb.
    You all knew that anyway, I know...

    (I used two chook domes at the last place - both were destroyed by wind and/or dogs!)
     
  12. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    If there is some perfect way to raise chickens, I don't think I've seen it yet, and I have been looking.

    Space - they need enough for them, but if you want them to scratch and weed for you, it has to be smaller than their daily natural range.

    Feed - they should have access to a wide variety of plants and weeds. They seem to know what they need.

    Protection from weather - my chookies hate rain and snow. It is said that excess heat or cold causes stress, which seems likely.

    Protection from predators - here, that would be an occasional dog that jumps the fence, raccoons, opossums, hawks. My girls are Buff Orps, so they don't fly much or very high. Chooks are virtually blind at night. They either need height or strength between them and predators.

    I am hazily visualizing a night house that is relatively small, with adjustable ventilation, some kind of predator-proof entrance that they can enter/leave on their own, a covered yard suitable for rainy days, some movable pens for confinement on areas to be weeded, manured and cleared of insects, and a perimeter area of natural vegetation and herbs for their own choice of medications, with occasional access to the vegetable garden for fall cleanup.

    If anyone has any suitable ideas or designs, please let me know!

    Sue and her Golden Girls
     
  13. arawajo

    arawajo Junior Member

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    We built a dome as per Linda's book. We put a plastic tarp on the top of the dome under the big tarp that covers but is seperate. It has withstood storms and the chooks have been dry. We live in Queensland but not on the coast. We also keep a couple of little doghouse type shelters on the floor of the dome and once we did have a big storm that upended the dome. We found all the chooks in these when we went out to check.

    Movable chook pens are really great. Around here there seem to be frequent outbreaks of Stick-fast fleas and some people have ended up culling the whole flock to get rid of them. We moved ours every two weeks for a couple of months - never returning to the same patch for that time - and we eradicated the stick-fast fleas. They have never returned.

    Our chooks get very excited about moving to new ground and scratch away noisily and happily. I reckon they would be so bored if they were in a permanent spot.
     
  14. Carmen

    Carmen Guest

    My comments would be similar to arawajo in the preious posting. We built a chook dome pretty close to Linda Woodrow's specs, out of scrap 1" black poly tubing found on the farm. We covered it with hail net, and put a skirt of net around the edge as we have foxes in this area. We now put small rocks around on top of the skirt (fox-proofing). I started with a small tarp over the top (as in the book) but found that it did not give enough shade or shelter.
    I have purchased a larger tarp (a $20 one from Crazy Clark will last nearly a year). This folds down the sides a lot lower, and I can change the angle to protect the birds from the northern sun, and the prevailing coldest winds coming from the south-west. As in the book, this tarp is independent of the dome itself.
    To give the chooks better shelter from the particularly cold winds (as the dome is not what I would term "snug", we have tried building shelter walls on the bamboo perch itself, even installing a "box structure" on the perch. However, they like to sit ON it (being mere chooks) so we are a little stumped there.

    I feel that the chook dome does work well, given that it is built to be moved every fortnight / month. However, I agree that I really do feel for the birds in the cold weather.

    The other thing I would ask / comment on is the door. I changed the design so as to have a flap closed by velcro. Worked well, but now (over a year later) the velcro has to be "backed up" with wire. I did not like the door design in the book. Anybody got comments on that too?
     
  15. sammiiz

    sammiiz Junior Member

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    Here's something of what others have said about the Linda Woodrow dome:

    So there you go...
     
  16. Ryan

    Ryan Junior Member

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    We have 10 chooks right now that roost and lay in a 8'x12' coop that has wire over the windows and sheet metal skirting buried to keep foxes out. There is a 8'x10' cage built off the front. The coop is encircled by a series of outer runs, which I try to rotate them around. They have access to the orchard which is a really large area when I have all the gates open. I built a 5'x10' tractor when I first got them, but I don't like to use it b/c they don't like being in there, they like to roam. So what I do is put a big piece of cardboard under their roost to collect droppings and I change it out once a week and collect all the food scraps they dont want. I just spread the food scraps on the ground then flip the poo covered cardboard over and use it to sheet mulch unused areas of my garden and orchard. Seems to be a good C:N ratio after I cover with spoiled straw and leaves. It is more maintenance then merely moving a tractor, but I feel better letting them roam instead of them looking for a way out of the tractor all day. I guess if you put chicks in a tractor and it is all they ever know they can handle it, but my birds were given to me as free rangers. They do a great job off keeping the grasses and weeds down. I just put fence circles around plants I want to protect. One of my house mates left a gate slightly ajar last week and I came home to find my sheet mulched straw beds destroyed. The chooks thought they found heaven. I like the idea of large movable paddocks. A tractor would have to be huge for me to use it, but it would probably be hell to try and move. At any rate, raising chooks is fun and I learn new stuff about them all the time.
     
  17. baringapark

    baringapark Junior Member

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    I have 2 of these domes. I love them! If it is hot/cold/windy/wet I add extra tarps. They certainly are an essential part of my food garden.

    Did you solve your dilemma Mike E?


    E :)
     
  18. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Hello Elizabeth Long time no see or hear..Hows things going at your place?.

    Sounds like your chook dome is still going strong....

    Could you explain how u rotate your dome? Do u move it..

    After visiting This garden last febuary,I can testify that in some cases chook domes can be a sucsess in a larger size area of ground,Mines only approx 25 x15 mtrs in area where Elizabeths is over 5 acres from memory.

    Meaning... a larger area can be a disadvantage when chooks come into the eqasion.If left to their choice or roaming area,they never seem to go where their intended to be..

    Hows your dome going after a while exposed to the weather,any probs with foxes or winds.?

    Tezza
     
  19. baringapark

    baringapark Junior Member

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    Hi Tezza!!

    I move my domes (I can do it by myself) at least every 2 weeks for the reasons you have mentioned with poo, compaction etc. I then go over the cleared plot and dig out any hard weeds. Sometimes I use a little tiller if needed. So you can see that there is more to it than just the chooks. I often add lime and gypsum. I don't bother adding the mulch any more when the chooks are in there, as it impedes their ability to scratch deeper - for my soil anyway. I really love how quickly and easily the chooks clear most of the stuff - better them than me! In turn they get a great feed and good exercise. The swinging trapeze-like perch is a wonderful tool for building muscle, especially in preparation for a show!!

    We have not had a prob with foxes as yet, but as I no longer tie my domes down (too lazy) it could happen. Sometimes yes, I find the dome in the next paddock and chooks wandering around wondering what happened to their house. Usually if we are expecting very windy weather we stick a stake in one side.

    I rotate my chooks so that no individual spends their whole life in the dome. They take it in turns. I also have a large run with shed attached. I really have way too many birds. Sometimes my domes sit empty and idle, as I have scaled down my vegies, and have no use for year round scratching by the chooks. My pigs have taken over my life now and our pork business is going great guns!
     
  20. Luisa

    Luisa Junior Member

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    Sue in WA,
    I have seen/heard of designs where the chooks have something like an old fashioned dunny but no door, instead there is a chook-sized pop hole up high on one side, with perch outside and roost inside. There is one or two short perches sticking out at right angles down the outside. The chooks can fly up via the outside perches to the pop hole but foxes can not get up there.
    Is this the sort of thing you are looking for? I think there was a photo and story of a similar thing in an old issue of Australasian Poultry, where someone in Europe had done a similar thing on an old 6x4 box trailer.
     

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