I have about an acre of land in southern Ohio that I want to freerange Buckeye chickens on.
What type of shelters can be built to house them in? I was thinking along the lines of a pallet house or something like that.
Does the chicken coop need to be heated in the winter? I would assume heat effects their egg laying like the light does.
Also, is there any risk of E. Coli or any other risks in general with allowing the chickens to walk and freerange on the yard? There won't be any chemicals used on the grass so the chickens can get insects but I was worried about stepping in chicken poo and tracking that indoors and then have an E. Coli outbreak all of the sudden lol. I just want to make sure it's safe.
I appreciate your help!
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I would advise against heating or artificial light. It just messes with the birds ability to regulate themselves naturally. As long as the coop is well ventilated and free from windy drafts you should be fine. The coop needs to be dry and clean more than it needs to be warm. My chickens had no real trouble this year at -25F. Read up on deep litter methods to help minimize the workload of coop cleaning.
As far as e coli is concerned, you'll probably get tired of stepping in crap before you actually get physically sick from bacteria. That's not to say that it couldn't happen. I keep my birds away from the house in a paddock shift system as long as the ground is thawed enough to get the fence to stay up. In winter they are near the house, for ease of care and so I don't have to shovel too much snow to get to them. Stepping in poo gets old after a while so try to keep them away from high traffic areas.
Also, I have a pair of shoes that I leave near the door to change into before I go inside. It helps keep the house cleaner, especially on wet days.
I have a few hens and a rooster that roam around the yard and pasture free range. When I first had them I put them up in my chicken coop and got them used to that. Now when it gets darker they just go in there without me putting them up. I dont put any light or heat on them in the winter because when you do that that decreases the amount of eggs that you will get in the summer. Mine stopped laying for about a month in the winter then started up again. I only have 6 hens and one rooster and I get about 3-5 eggs a day and these are Cherry Eggers that are only almost a year old. I got them from Cackle Hatchery if you want any from them. They are fine freerange and I havnt had to worry about any sickness with them around here. Good Luck!!!
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