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Building our first coop and run - thoughts please

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Coop is inside a barn, will have a tunnel for them to get to an outside pen. We do not plan on locking them up at night once they understand to go to the coop at night, so it all needs to be secure.


Hardware cloth for the entire outside pen, including the top?  Walls of the coop are metal, wood, and then the top 1/2 of 2 walls will be hc.  Tunnel we are still figuring out.


We want to do what will keep them safe from coyotes, fox, raccoon, stray dogs, hawks, etc.  We don't want to break the bank where it isn't needed though.




Thank you!

post #2 of 7

If there are not any small predators like mink then you could use 2x4 welded wire and bird netting on the top. It is less expensive then the hardware cloth for sure.


The big worry for me with the critters you list are the raccoon. They will climb fencing and they get quite large so the fencing on top does need to be strong.


There are a lot of designs out there. If you do a search on here for chicken tunnel you will get a lot of information.


For your set up and not closing the coop at night I would make it even more secure then the run is. I would use lumber to frame it up and hardware cloth on all sides including the bottom. No need to have something breaking in using the tunnel.


How long will the tunnel need to be?

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks 21hens. I've been looking around at a lot of the photos - they are really helpful. I'll have to find out if we have minks around here, I don't think so but to be honest I'm not certain.

I think we've decided on 4' hc with 1' being in the ground. Then above that we'll do a different fencing for the pen.  We'll enclose the top of the pen also. We are building it so we can put a roof on it before next winter if we want to, but due to other work we are doing in that area we need to be able to open the top up this summer.


The tunnel is around 10' long. I think we are going to put a wooden bottom on it with linoleum on it wrapped in hc.  Then I can rinse it off when needed.


We are shoring up the barn also in hopes of it being tight from other animals also.  About 1/3 of the sides is under ground, so that helps.

post #4 of 7

You should not need to actually bury the apron on the run. If you lay the wire on the ground and pin it down grasses will take hold and within a year you wont be able to see the wire at all.


That is how mine is done and it stopped a fox from digging in.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks. :) 

post #6 of 7
On the apron, I like taking the turf off, laying the wire down and attaching it, then replacing the turf. I did not do that once for a dog pen and the wire got into my weed eater. That’s still a lot easier than digging down a foot and, in my opinion, more effective.

I’m not clear on how they are going to be secure in the coop without locking them in unless your run outside is really predator proof. It can get expensive to build a run like that, especially a decent sized run. I have a short elevated tunnel, maybe 2’ long, between my grow-out coop and the run. I used a guillotine type door so I could block it off. My run is pretty secure but this makes the coop really secure.

One flaw in my design is that I don’t have a good way to put chickens in that grow-out coop from the run and lock them in the coop without walking around to get outside the fence. I keep meaning to change that but haven’t gotten around to it. You might want to give some thought on how you would do that with your set-up. Hopefully your walk will be less than my 200’. I really need to get around to fixing that.

Your coop needs to perform a few functions, mainly protection from weather and predators. Different barns provide different levels of protection for both. Up where you are barns are usually pretty weather tight, unlike some further south, so all you should need is a wire coop to keep them contained. It’s really hard to make a big structure like a barn truly predator proof. They are just too big and too many opportunities for a weakness though yours may be really good. It’s hard to say from here.

If I were building your coop I’d frame it up and cover it with 2”x4” welded wire. I’d not use netting since a raccoon or even a bobcat can get through that if they want. I’d take the welded wire to a solid surface, not leave any openings for a climbing or flying predator like an owl. Rats, snakes, and many members of the weasel family can get through that, but to stop them you pretty much need to go with ½” or ¼” hardware cloth. That can get really expensive. I’d be satisfied with the protection 2x4 wire gives me with one exception.

Raccoons have been known to set just outside a fence and pull a chicken through the wire piece by piece. At night when they are roosting they are really vulnerable. If your roosts butt up against the welded wire, I’d suggest using chicken wire or hardware cloth to protect an area where a raccoon can’t reach through.

There is another potential problem with 2x4 wire if you raise baby chicks in there. They can walk right through it. If you plan to raise young chicks in there put a finer mesh inexpensive wire like chicken wire around the bottom foot to 18”. That will help keep raccoons from reaching through too. Or if you want to make your entire coop more secure, line the inside wire with chicken wire. It’s not that expensive and does improve security. Not all chicken wire or other wire mesh is created equal. The openings can be different sizes and they come in different gauges. Pick something in your budget that does what you want.

When I made my elevated tunnel, I used a piece of plywood a foot wide for the floor and bent ½” hardware cloth to make a tunnel about 12” high. Full-grown full-sized roosters can and do use that but if I were doing it again I’d make it at least 18” high so they don’t have to scrunch down and walk kind of funny.

In your climate a wire coop in a barn sounds great. It doesn’t have to cost much, you should be able to make it pretty large, it should have great protection from the elements, and will have great ventilation. Sounds perfect to me.

Good luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.


"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith


When you come to a fork in the road, take it.


"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input Ridgerunner.  We do hope that our outside run is predator proof. The sides and top will be enclosed. HC along the bottom 3-4' with either going down a foot or out a foot as you described.  Above that will be a heavy fence like a chain link type.  The top will also be a heavy fence. We will most likely roof it before their first winter.  2 sides are up against metal barn and stone wall.  

Their coop is inside the side barn and will have a concrete floor, wood and metal for the lower 1/2 all the way around. Then 2 sides will be HC the rest of the way up. The other 2 sides are wood or metal all the way up.  So their coop should be predator proof. Where the roof has a gap to the outside we are covering with HC, and it will be covered so nothing can come in from the top.  We have to finish predator proofing the doors and window in the side barn, and then the whole thing should be pretty predator proof.  Hopefully this will give us an added layer of protection for them.  


I'll watch the height of the tunnel we are doing since we don't know how big ours will be in the end. It will actually be on the ground for them to get from their coop to the outside pen.  

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