We used to let our chooks free range around the backyard - they loved wandering around and having a dig. It's not a problem so long as your backyard is enclosed, otherwise their inquisitive nature could lead them further afield. We used to shut our chooks in the coop each night to keep them safe from foxes (we also put chicken wire underneath the coop to stop any predators from digging under the coop).
Another tip - make sure your coop is easy to clean. Some coops have a removable floor for easy cleaning. - Darren
My parents have 5 chickens and they live in a coop that has a fence around it. During the day the chickens have free run of the coop and the larger area (about 3 x 5 metres), but they get locked up in the coop at night. This works well because if they're given free reign over your whole garden, there is a chance they'll be digging up parts of the garden you don't want them to (or even worse, your neighbours garden). Obviously it all depends on how much space you have to work with.
Another piece of advice - as well as making sure your coop is fox-proof, you should also try and make it rodent-proof. Chicken feed is pretty attractive to rats so you need to make sure they can't get in. - Jackson
Backyard chickens are the best pet to have! They supply you with more eggs than you know what to do with, they supply your garden with constant fertiliser and their melodic clucking soothes your soul! For small backyards (which I have) we got Peking Bantams which are a small breed and are less destructive in your garden and pot plants compared to other breeds. We live in an area that is prone to foxes so we actually put our coop on top of pavers. I wouldn't recommend this though if your chickens will be spending a lot of time in the coop - they love scratching in dirt! Let your chickens roam free! You'll have very happy and content chooks! Enjoy your scrambled eggs! - Blawson
We have chooks and they're wonderful. They eat our scraps, provide us with eggs and everything I clean out from their little home goes in my hot composting system to make amazing soil to grow great veggies.
You definitely want them to roam a bit. I built an enclosure around their coop so they can roam free and then just wander if for a sleep at night. This keeps them safe from predators (including my kelpie!) but also out of my garden. They love to eat grass and it gives a boost to their yolks that we really notice. - timjeffries
I had this chicken coop and no you cannot keep them locked Inside this 24/7. Depending on the size of your yard they will get overheated and die. I also built a large pen around the coop.
I put a layer of bird net over the roof of the pen and sewed it onto the chicken wire. This is to stop crows and hawks and goannas getting in. If you have a large grassy (not weedy) lawn you could build a chicken tractor & pop the birds in that for the day to forage & just wheel it from shady place to shady place a day. If you let them out to free range do it about 2 or 3 hours before sunset that way they put themselves to bed when sunsets. They need a high protein laying mix for egg formation and feather regrowth after malting. Collect egg cartons. - Ginger60
We have six beautiful girls. They bring us so much joy, eggs and beautiful fertiliser!
The chook run is approximately 4 x 4 metres. We have a metal chook coop approximately 1.5 x 1 metre for the girls to sleep in at night and lay their eggs. The flooring is concrete slabs in the coop so it is rodent and fox proof when they are sleeping at night. The floor cover in the coop is Snoozle ( wood shavings ) and Charlie Charcoal (absorbs the smell ) this is cleaned out monthly and straight onto the compost heap. No laying box, they lay underneath their perch (wide piece of pine) with heaps of chopped up lavender (calming) and fragrant. The fencing is Reo Mesh and Star Pickets. I purchased everything from work (Bunnings).
The run was couch lawn they made sure they destroyed that, so now it is bales of straw and Charlie Charcoal. They work through it and it makes a beautiful compost for our garden!
I am growing Wormwood in the run. This is fantastic to repel Mites and fleas. I also chop into pieces and add to the coop. I have plenty of Italian Parsley in there, they don’t touch it. Also Elderflower , Mint and Tagetes. I grow lots of greens for them too but they are on the outside of the run.
We normally get between 3-5 eggs per day. - mich1972