We've finished our coop and run for our Silkies, Showgirls, and Guineas! We wanted something very predator proof that provided a safe space to sleep when they can not be free ranging and for protection from weather. The guineas free range most of the daytime for tick control, but the chickens only get to come out of the run when we can watch them so they are safe. See the bottom of the page for the links to pictures of the flock.)
First step- move an old shed we no longer needed all the way from one end of the yard, to the other side of the house, backed up to woods for shade. This was not easy, but with some patience and creativity, we were able to get logs under it and basically roll it to where we wanted with a little help from the riding lawnmower. Here are some pictures of the big shed move, we took this picture when we had it moved almost half way. The old shed might be ugly, but it does the job! We put our effort for now into making them a fancy run.
Next, we put the frame up and stained it. It is 32' long, by 8' wide and 8' tall, with another 8'x8' area that attaches to the shed. We built the roof at a slant to help snow slide off. We positioned it next to our pot belly pig run, hoping the pigs being around would deter predators as well.
We securely attached 1/4" hardware cloth to the frame, including on the top, with lots of heavy duty staples. We added 2' stained plywood around the base, to deter predators from trying to break in around the base, plus it should block drifting snow. We also added hardware cloth skirting on the ground around the base to prevent digging in.
We put metal roofing panels on top to provide shade and protection from the elements.
We added branches inside the run for roosting on and screwed them into the frame so they are secure. I rake up grass, leaves, pine needles, etc. for the floor of the run.
We added one low branch for the chickens too!
An "igloo" type doghouse was placed in the run for additional shelter. We can also move the feeder in there in the summer when we're concerned rain may blow in and spoil the food. An old tire was put in and filled with sand.
Pine chips and hay were put in the shed/coop with DE, and we use the deep litter method. We placed old drawers in the shed for nest boxes, plus added external nest boxes along one wall, and put an old wooden step ladder that was going to be thrown out for a roost in front of the window. We also added a square hay bale and extra 2x4s for roosting. Here you can see the guineas lined up ready to go out the window to free range. This is how we let the guineas out without the chickens being able to go. We open the run door when we want to let the chickens out too.
Time to come out! Woo hoo!
The inside and outside of the shed shows the wear and age, but it works well. Sometime I plan to paint it when the weather is nice again and I have plenty of time to air out the fresh paint fumes. We opted to wipe it down as clean as we could get it, and use it as it is, even if it is a bit of an eye sore. The birds don't seem to mind though. We put hardware cloth in the windows, so they can be opened to allow ventilation, but nothing can come in.
Added external nestboxes on the opposite wall. They are just high enough off the ground for us to use the deep litter method. I knew the silkies wouldn't be likely to use anything much higher up.
I found these really neat solar powered lights on sale, and so far they are working really great to provide a nice dim light so I can check on the chickens when they go to bed. It stays on for about 6 hours into the night.
Here it is all done!
Winterizing and updates:
The first part of winterizing done was the addition of hay bales around the shed.
We put up a sliced rubber mat over the chicken door that goes from the coop to the run:
And we added 6mm painters plastic around the run to cover the hardware cloth. This will block the cold rain and snow. We also added a solar motion light to the outside of the run so when I'm walking out in the cold dark evenings I can see without a flashlight.
In the future, I still would like to do more upgrades to the shed. And plan my next coop!
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