Any suggestions for a Newcomer? Please!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MIAMIAR, Jan 17, 2010.


    MIAMIAR New Egg

    Jan 17, 2010
    Hello Everyone,

    We are looking at ideas for converting a 6' x 6' chainlink dog pen into a chicken coop. Our 2 oldest children are in 4H and are wanting to take part in the Chicken project this year. We've talked about raising chickens for some time, just not sure where to begin! I am also needing to keep costs down as much as possible, but would like the job to be done in a thorough way as to avoid having to re-do parts of it a few months or so down the road. My mom has some nesting boxes, and I have several railroad ties that can be placed around the bottom to help keep critters out. Coon are pretty thick here in N Ar, and definitely hard on chickens. If anyone has ideas, they would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

  2. fancbrd4me02

    fancbrd4me02 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Chain link is not a very good material for chicken fencing for a couple of reasons: Racoons can and will pull your birds through the chain link. Weasels, rats and mice will enter the pen through the links. You can wrap the chain link panels in hardware cloth or chicken wire, but if you are doing that it might be just as easy and look nicer to use some wood posts like 4 x4's on the corners and 2x4s for all the braces, panels, etc. I use corrugated metal for the roofs of my pen. When bolted down, they are very strong against most predators. I have even made roofs for dog kennels which I had converted for poultry. You make a wooden frame that sits on top of and just inside the front and back panels. Attach corrugated steel roofing (or plastic) to that. Instant sturdy roof. If you use the dog kennels, you will have to build safe roosts and nest boxes. I put plywood on one end and on a 4 foot section on each side. Makes it harder for raccoons to grab them, keeps them warmer. Many animals will burrow, so when you put the hardware cloth around the pen, make sure to dig a trench around the perimeter of the pen 6 to 12" deep. Bury the wire in the ttrench. If you turn the wire outwards a bit and make the trench wide enough, it might be a good idea to use the railroad ties. If you don't use the dog runs and decide to build your own pen from scratch, don't use chicken wire. On it's own, chicken wire is very flimsy and won't stop a determined predator.

    Check craigslist and freecycle for extra materials. You might get enough free stuff to build a really nice pen. Look at all the pics on this site of chicken pens for ideas.
  3. SuziQ991

    SuziQ991 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2009
    Hi Vera and welcome to BYC. Although I do not have an answer for you, you may want to provide more info. How many chickens would you be keeping and what is the weather like where you are? Our coop is butted up to our pen with a hole cut out in front of the pop door and secured to the coop. We had extra pen panels and we covered the pen with them. You may need to secure the top with hardware cloth to keep them safe. Again, I am a newbie and can't offer much help but here is a bump for you.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    Chainlink dog runs actually make pretty GOOD chicken runs, provided you do two essential things:

    1) put something smaller-mesh (1/2" hardwarecloth is ideal, 1/2" chickenwire -- NOT regular 1" chickenwire -- is acceptible if you can find it) along at LEAST the bottom 2-3' of the pen walls, securely attached on the inside not outside, to prevent weasels and baby raccoons and such from going in there;

    and also 2) digproof the pen. You *can* trench stout galvanized fencing (or chainlink) into the ground under the run fence if you really want to, though 18" is a lot safer than just 12" deep... but it is just as effective, and much easier, to lay an "apron" of stout galvanized 1x1 or 2x2 mesh, preferably 2-4' wide, on the ground all around the outside of the pen, securely wiring it to the base of the run fence and then weighing or pegging it down. You can cover it with something, or roll the turf up and put it underneath, or just let the grass grow up through it, or whatever; it does as good a job as trenching of keeping out digging predators (except rats, but rats are nearly impossible to keep out) but MUCH easier to do. You need to be serious about this though, not just 'a couple of railroad ties around the edges'.

    As far as raccoons are concerned, remember how good they are at climbing. Thus it is also highly worthwhile to put a top on the dog run, at *least* to keep out hawks and preferably something strong enough to keep out raccoons etc as well. Remember that raccoons and wet snow are *heavy*, so it needs to be appropriately strong and well-braced.

    6x6 is not a lot of space. Even assuming you build the chicken house outside the dogrun or put it inside there, raised 2' or so above the ground so that chickens can use the underneath space, unless you'll be free-ranging the chickens most days, I would not suggest putting more than maybe 4 chickens maximum in that space.
  5. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    [​IMG] Vera, from Washington,

    I love chainlink. Works well for me. You need to decide what you need though. You can reinforce the fence connections to frame if you need. and yes if you have small predators they can get in. I took the 6 x 6 kennel and assembled it on end and put it between the shed and coop. It is bolted to both with carriage bolts. The top is chainlink with plastic panel for some rain protection. (I am in Seattle) The chainlink roof does not sag. There is also chainlink on the ground. I put it down a couple inches off the ground and poured sand to raise the ground level. It's been about 6 years now with NO rust, so I imagine it will outlast me.

    Last edited: Jan 17, 2010
  6. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I agree with Pat that chainlink dog runs make good runs.....I use many of the 10 X 6 panels. You'll need to line the bottom portion with hardware cloth, but they make a good sturdy run.
  7. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    Me three (or is it four). I have 2 chainlink kennels right now and am saving my pennies for another. I do cover mine with welded wire fencing, and roofing panels nailed onto sheets of plywood over half of the run, to provide shade in the summer time. Mine stay in these all year round. They have a large run to go into from the kennels, so they have a lot of room. I did run hardware cloth along the inside to give them a little more protection. But they are great, love em.
  8. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    We were like you and wanted chickens but did not want to spend much money.

    We had a lot of things lying around that were building materials. My husband put them all together to design our own personal chicken coop and yard.

    When they were babies, we used an old plastic pool we had left over from when the kids were little and we lined it with card board boxes for the brooder. We did already have a heat lamp and had to buy special water and feed dispensers along with buying our chicks and their feed. That was our biggest expense so far.

    When they were old enough to move outside, I don't have a good photo but here is a quick description:
    We used a chain link dog run leftover and made a long narrow run with coop attached at one end. We did reinforce around the bottom. We are using sand in the run and using old dog bowls as waterers (now that our chicks are grown). These were all things we already had. We pounded stakes into the ground all around the pen, quite close together. My husband works for a stake-making company so there were plenty of rejects.
    For the coop, my husband had some metal sheeting and some plywood. He used the dimensions of the wood he happened to have, so our coop is short. So he made the roof pop up as the way to access the inside, sat the thing on some cinder blocks that were here on our property. We just used plastic bins from the dollar store to make nesting boxes, propped into a wood shelf. My husband made a roosting board and we put a pull-out tray under it that was salvaged from an old dog crate we had. We did buy a special feed dispenser that we can hang because they wasted feed in the "chick" feeders we were using at first. We use another old dog bowl as the waterer for the chickens inside the coop. That way they have water inside and out. The heat lamp is in there now (on a timer we salvaged from some other project) so the water does not freeze. We used shavings inside at first, but now have gone to sand inside and shavings just for the nest boxes. This is cheaper and cleaner in our wet climate.

    We have always fed ours Purina products because they were affordable, our chickens liked them and the ingredients on the bag look good to me. Also lots of BYC people like it. We bought our chicks at the feed store here locally and really like our birds. We used the feeding guidelines on the bag which we buy at the same place.

    I did get a good book on chicken keeping to read and read ALOT here on BYC.

    All together, we have spent more on feed than we did on the coop. We used leftover pieces for everything and then used leftover paint to paint it all one color. Looks kinda nice actually. I think our total cost of birds and coop and hardware, etc., is less than 100.00. We had to spend more than that on feed however before they started laying eggs. That makes the first eggs rather expensive ones!

    If you could find a good deal on young laying hens, it might be cheaper to not start with chicks. They were alot of fun to have, but we saw Buff Orpington pullets for sale last fall for 10.00 when we had spent more than that raising our BO pullets the same age. We do have a nice flock that like each other because they were raised as a group. But if expense were an issue buying chicks was not necessarily the cheap way to go especially if you are only getting a few.

    There are so many places on here to get coop design ideas, don't be afraid to try it. Ours worked out great and we were total newbies. There is a current thread on here where someone has made a coop from recycled "ingredients" just like ours and his is even nicer. Don't be afraid to jump in.
  9. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    [​IMG] and [​IMG] from Alaska

    thanks for joining us.
  10. Barred Rocker

    Barred Rocker cracked egg

    Jul 15, 2009
    King and Queen Co, Va
    Quote:Oh I wish I had a picture for you. I just converted a 10' X 10' dog pen into a chicken coop/pen for a friend. I used 4 x 4 posts in each corner and build a roof over it and enclosed the gable ends. It had about an 18" overhang and it keeps her chicks very dry and protected. I used metal sheets over osb ply on the roof so the total cost was around $300. Asphault roofing may be a cheaper way to go.

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