I am currently housing 18 layers of different breeds in a 8 X 8' coop, with a run that has maybe 500 ft2. They have just started laying and are relatively new to the coop, which I finished about a week ago-two months later than I hoped I'd be through. While I fine-tune the roost placement and feed/water requirements, I'm also thinking ahead to expanding their yard space. The area will be in the woods; currently, the run encircles a handful of fully and partially grown oak and maple and the expansion area will include more of the same. They have plenty of cover and shade and at least for now, some real estate to scratch at. My grass is limited to areas around my garden and though they free-ranged until recently, there truly is a very finite area of grass on my property and woods is what they are going to have to get used to. It has seemed that when they free-ranged, they spent equal time in the open and woods, so I think they'll do fine and find a lot of bugs and such that will keep it interesting for them. What I'm thinking of doing is simply fencing in a adjoining area and providing a small door cut in the (common) fence mesh, which can be opened and closed as needed; as I envision getting 25 meat birds in the spring, I'd like to be able to segregate the two groups for that two month period and then resume the layers' access to the entire run after the meaties have been dispatched. I imagine building a small structure with a roof on it for the meat birds which could be wheeled in and out of the second run as needed, so probably another access door (human size) in the second run would be needed. I am currently in the process of placing hardware cloth around the perimeter, out, 18" from the base of the fence, flat, partially buried on the ground; with the extended run, I would do the same-as time and finances permit (hardware cloth not cheap by any stretch). I can just keep adding fence in this manner and creating any number of spaces joined by a simple small door at each juncture. Let's say I finish the next run, which I imagine as being at least twice as big as the first...should I attempt to keep them strictly in the new run and let the older run regenerate-or let them have the run of both places? Certainly with access to both runs, it would be more of a free-range scenario. If the former, I'm not sure yet how I would be able to isolate them in such a way that they could easily return to the coop but also be restricted only to the second run area. Also, as all of the run lies beneath good tree cover, do i really need to think about a ceiling net of sorts or can i rely on the tree canopy for protection? I know foxes don't climb trees but raccoons sure do-and while my wife who is home currently may be vigilant, it doesn't take long for one of these critters to do damage. Fortunately we have yet to see either of the forementioned. Thoughts?