I want opinions!!!
I'm sketching out plans for breeding pens, to be kept in 4x8 panels (for disassembly and storage). Background: I have roughly 1 acre int ehback yard, maybe half of that clear enough to use for chicken housing. I have two major coops/families (Egg Coop, aka Cream Legbars, and Meat coop, aka Naked Necks), each of which has a large paddock for ranging (to be rotated for ground renewal). I need additional pens for breeding, extra rooster housing, brooding, and/or quarantine. I have little nooks everywhere for these. I don't have the sketches done yet, but here's the idea. If it works out well, I'll produce multiples:
The whole pen is 4 feet wide and 12 feet long, 8 feet high. (ranging outside of this area would depend on use of pen, e.g., quarantine vs extra rooster). Enclosed "Henhouse" elevated 4 feet above the ground (with ramp up), made of plywood, 4x4x4 sides, with nest box/egg door on one side, roost in center/back, and along the back, opens to get to scoopable dropping pan filled with sand/sweetPDZ. Under the henhouse is where the feed and water will be kept; ability to shade in summer depending on location. Remainder of pen is a run lined with hardware cloth, built of 4x8 panels of HW cloth stapled to 2x2 lumber (one panel with human door). Covered with plastic netting overhead. Deep litter method.
(I'll try to upload sketches once I finish them.)
- Ant Farm
2x2 lumber is not sturdy enough. It tends to split easily when you put in staples and screws. Even the treated 2x2s tend to warp badly with the cycles of wet/dry. Not to mention it is easy for a canine type predator to get it into its mouth and tear things up. I would recommend a minimum of using 2x3 if not a 2x4 lumber.
4x4 is not very big for a henhouse. I have a few 4x4 ft houses with attached runs. I find that for our large fowl birds, 4 hens in one is pushing it. When you free range, you can put a lot more birds into a smaller space but when they are confined, they need more room to keep the pecking order problems down to a minimum. This becomes even more of an issue in bad weather, when they seek shelter inside and don't have enough room. You'll need to look at how many birds you're planning on having. With a 4x4 house, you may need more houses than you anticipate in order to work two flocks for serious goal oriented breeding.
Plastic netting overhead is not going to keep out predators except for maybe aerial predators. The plastic netting also does not give much stability to the run at the top and is subject to faster deterioration from UV light/weather exposure than wire. You really need welded wire at the minimum to keep out larger predators that can climb. The wire will also give stability at the top so that you don't have to use so many crosspieces/rafters, to give the run good stability.
We use a double layer system with welded wire and chicken wire for teenage and adult chickens - welded keeps the predators out and the chicken wire keeps the chicken parts in. For runs that will have younger birds/chicks in them, we use a combo of welded wire and hardware cloth. The chicken and hardware cloth is used to line the bottom walls of the run up 2-3 ft up from the ground. And of course hardware cloth on any windows/vents in the coop.