Advice for new run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jettgirl24, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    Hi All,

    I will be moving to my parents farm in the spring/summer when they retire to their other home in Eastern Washington. Since it's my parents' place I can start working on my chicken set up whenever I would like and have it completed before we move in. I would like to begin working on the run as soon as the weather warms up a bit but would like a little advice before I get started. The new run will need to be much sturdier than what I have now as there are more predators than I have at my current home. I have done a lot of research on building a proper run and I know exactly what I would do in an ideal world.... Unfortunately I just don't think I can afford to build my ideal run all at once. I guess I'm looking for advice on what to prioritize to make the run as safe and secure as possible with the means I have right now, then over time I will make improvements when I can.

    My chickens are ALWAYS locked in at nightfall so do keep in mind that this will only be used as a daytime run. We will be building them a very secure coop, or converting the large existing shed which is built on a foundation a few inches off the ground. I plan on expanding my flock so the enclosed run will be about 25' x 25' for 20 - 30 birds. Here are my questions:

    - The run will sit on top of a crushed rock driveway that is very hard packed. I have tried to dig in this area before and made little to no progress so I definitely can't/don't want to dig up the area to lay wire underneath that layer. My plan is to put a few inches of sand on top of the crushed rock inside of the run. Will it be necessary to lay wire down between the rock and sand or will the hard packed ground be enough to keep predators from digging underneath? In an ideal world I could afford to lay down a hardware cloth or welded wire floor but realistically I just don't think I can afford to do that and still build the enclosure. If I need to put a barrier down underneath, is there a next best alternative that is cheaper?

    - I want the run to be tall enough for me to walk in so that I can clean it easily so I'm planning on making it 6' tall. I found a really good deal on 36" x 100' rolls of hardware cloth. I want to use this at the bottom of my run and eventually I'd like it all the way up. If I can only afford to do the bottom half at first, what is the best material for the top half?

    - I have had good luck with the plastic hardware cloth for a roof to keep hawks out so I'll probably go with that again unless someone has a better, equally inexpensive idea [​IMG]

    - My other idea is to scrap the fence plan above and go with electric poultry netting on top of the gravel + sand footing. I found 25' x 25' bird netting which I would put up over the entire run to keep hawks out. What do you guys think about this option?
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Personally I don't like the whole "wire under whole run" thing in the first place, except in a few very specific circumstances. I think you'll be in great shape if you just put a wire mesh apron around the outside. (You *could* just rely on the hardness of the gravel driveway to deter digging but if it were me I'd do an apron...). Get some mesh, it could even be 2x4 fence wire if you are mainly just concerned about big critters digging in, and lay it 2-3' wide on the ground all around the run fencing. (This may mean buying 4-5' tall fencing and slicing it lengthwise down the middle, which is a pain in the butt but can be useful and make things more affordable). Wire it securely to the foot of the run fence, and then peg or weigh it down well along its free edge. You can cover it with gravel or mulch or big rocks or concrete rubble, or leave it mostly-exposed, as you wish. This is really just about as good as burying the foot of the run fence, and ever so much easier.

    - I want the run to be tall enough for me to walk in so that I can clean it easily so I'm planning on making it 6' tall. I found a really good deal on 36" x 100' rolls of hardware cloth. I want to use this at the bottom of my run and eventually I'd like it all the way up. If I can only afford to do the bottom half at first, what is the best material for the top half?

    Unless the run will have a SOLIDLY SECURE top I honestly don't see any much point in using hardwarecloth higher than 3' or so. Reach-through is not an issue at that heignt, and rats or weasels that can climb up 3' to get in thru larger upper mesh will perfectly well be able to climb an extra 3' and just go 'over the wall' even if the whole side is hardwarecloth.

    I would suggest therefore using some larger mesh heavy-gauge wire, 1x1 is nice, 2x4 is reasonable as long as you lock the chickens in by evening. Beware of 2x2 or 2x3 mesh as all the ones I've seen are very flimsy "garden grade" stuff with thin wire and crappy welds that I would not trust vs a dog or whatever.

    - My other idea is to scrap the fence plan above and go with electric poultry netting on top of the gravel + sand footing. I found 25' x 25' bird netting which I would put up over the entire run to keep hawks out. What do you guys think about this option?

    I would seriously not advise using ONLY electronet unless it's for a portable fence where you're forced to use jsut that. The problem is that electric fencing ALL fails SOMEtimes, and predators can be pretty quick to figure it out. If you CAN have a secure physical fence, I think you really should. You can add hotwire of course if you want.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    Thank you for the input, that is really helpful. The apron and using larger mesh wire up top will cut down on potential costs considerably. What gauge do you recommend? It looks like most of the garden type is 16 gauge and the 1 x 1 or 4 x 2 look to be 14 gauge. Is 14 heavy enough?
     

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