Before I Build...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sneakychickens, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. sneakychickens

    sneakychickens New Egg

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    I haven't purchased my chicks yet, as I'm waiting to find out if it's legal in my town. However, I'm starting to plan my coop and run anyway. Better to be prepared, right?

    The area I have chosen is behind my house in a space that used to be a vegetable garden. It's surrounded on 4 sides by chain link fence about 4 ft. high, and there is no gate. I had trouble measuring out the dimensions today, as it's a weird shape and there's a lot of weeds blocking my access to the back fence. Judging by my estimations of the back fence and accurate measures of the other 3, I have a space that is approximately 234 square feet. Here's a sketch of the shape, with the estimated length in red.


    [​IMG]

    Essentially, my plan is to put either chicken wire or hardware cloth over the chain link fence and joints to make a more impermeable barrier. I want to rig the cloth or wire to cover the enclosure, too, but at a height I can walk under to clean the coop and run. So here are my issues:
    1. How can I rig the wire to cover the run at a height I can walk under? I want to cover it so I can leave the girls out in it during the day.
    2. Where in the pen should I place the coop?
    3. Is this enough space for 5 hens? I think so, but I want to be sure.
    4. Is that telephone pole a problem? Should I cover it with something to protect the girls from the chemicals?
    5. Will barking dogs harass the hens? I can put plywood or another cover over the fence so the dogs can't see them.
    6. Would a slightly elevated coop with two or three nest boxes be acceptable?
    7. How deep should I bury my wire under the ground to deter critters?
    8. In the 6' 2" gap where there's no gate, what sort of gate would be best? I have no idea how to build something that fits tight enough to keep unwanted visitors out.
    9. There's a honeysuckle vine on the wall between the dog run and the chicken area. Will that be a problem? Will the girls eat it, do you think?
    10. Should I make a composting area for waste, or throw it out? How does that usually work?

    Other than that, I think the space is pretty perfect. I want to dig out the dirt and lay some gravel with sand over top of it for a drier footing. I'm also thinking about making a temporary fence that can be moved when not in use to span the space between the corner of the house and the chainlink fence (23' on the left of the picture) to make an enclose "free ranging" area around the big pine tree. We don't use the space, and it's full of leaves and pine cones and other good stuff that the hens might like to dig around in.

    Help! I'm brand new to chickens, and I want to get it as correct as I can on the first go-around.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It looks like you have the room for a nice coop, run, and "free" range area.
    1. To get the height to walk under I think you are going to have to frame in a roof over the run and then cover it with chicken wire slanting down to the fence. Because you already have chain link, I think chicken wire will work for the sides as well, just be sure to attach it securely and bury it at least a foot.This will give you the option of putting a tarp over part of the run in the winter, just be aware that the "roof" will have to hold the weight of the snow, if you get snow. But on the dog side I would go with something with a little more strength, especially to bury. Hardware cloth maybe.
    2. I would put the coop somewhere along the dog fence, the dogs will protect that side of the coop from predators. And I would at least try to acquaint the dogs to the chickens so they don't bark at them all the time.
    3. It should be enough room for 5 hens, especially if you plan to let them have access to the other side sometimes. If you are really worried about it you could put your coop on the other side of the diagonal fence, raise it on posts and allow them to also access under the coop for shade/weather protection. You want you coop large enough to easily house the number of chickens you intend to keep, the bigger the better, easier to keep clean and the chickens won't be as hard to convince to use it.
    4. no
    5. With just a little work you should be able to accustom the dogs to your chickens and vise versa. If it doesn't work out that way you can put a 24" sight barrier in later.
    6.2 0r3 nest boxes will be sufficient, they tend to all lay in the same box and if you have 2, then you have an extra in case a hen goes broody
    7.At least a foots. You can bury chicken wire but it won't last as long as a heavier guage
    8. If you go to the top of the page, next to the forums link is "coops" there are a lot of pictures of coops in progress with commentary, that should give you an idea of how to build a door or gate. That's what I have to do. and there are some great coops,although many people build too small.
    9.? maybe look it up on the Internet " will chickens eat honeysuckle?
    10. I would do both, a lot of kitchen waste is good for chickens, but some of it (coffee grounds for example) isn't.
    Good luck with your endeavor, hopefully a bunch of people will post ideas. But most of all, have fun and enjoy your chickens.
     
  3. sneakychickens

    sneakychickens New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2013
    Thank you so much! I think your idea about covering the run is probably the best one I've found so far. Thanks for all the feedback!
     
  4. conny63malies

    conny63malies Overrun With Chickens

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    What does the neighbor think about having chickens right on the fence line? Does the land slope towards him and would in the event of torrential rain any feces go onto his land? How close is the neighbors house to the coop? Eventhough it might be legal you might have to stay anywhere from 30 to 100 ft away from any not by you occupied buildings(usually is 50ft) . THe fasted way to make chickens illegal in a town is to bother the neighbors with them.
     
  5. TW1Kell

    TW1Kell Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would be careful burying chicken wire. In my experience, it lasts very little time if you bury it, considering how caustic chicken poop is. I have had it rust away to nothing in less than a year, when it was buried. It is better to use 1"x4"'s and staple it to the board, and attach the boards to the posts. Since you already have a chainlink fence, I would simply ziptie the bottom of the chicken wire to the bottom of the chainlink. In your case, boards and burying wire isn't necessary.
     
  6. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last summer we had to evacuate or property for 9 days due to a forrest fire. During that time we housed our 43 chickens in my sister-in-law's garage and it's attached dog run. We were concerned that the fence of the dog run was too low, particularly because the run had a steep slope and we could envision the chickens flying from the high part of the run over the low part of the fence. Because the run was built with tubular steel fence posts, covered by chain link fence, I sent my husband to Home Depot looking for something like bamboo posts that we could fit down inside the tubular fence posts and then attach some sort of netting to the bamboo to extend the height of the fence. Instead, he came home with 3' T-style metal fence posts...the kind you hammer down into the ground. There was a good 12-15" of post below the "t" that is usually hammered into the ground that slid nicely into the existing tubular fence posts, leaving 2 or 3 feet of extention on the top that we could zip-tie plastic netting to. It wasn't as pretty or permanent a solution as you will probably be wanting, but if you have those tubular fence posts, you may be able to do something similar, slipping PVC pipe or bamboo or even those metal fence posts inside your existing posts to make them taller.

    The photos shows a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about. Again, it wasn't pretty and it wasn't a permanent solution, but it worked for the 9 days we were evacuated from our home. The cloth on the fence was an attempt to provide some shade, because it was brutally hot and sunny while we were there.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Chicken wire will keep chickens in, but won't keep predators out. . . in town would likely be dogs, cats, racoons, possums.
    Do a ton of reading to see the pros and cons of materials and layouts while you wait to see what you legal status is, which could change your plans too.
    Good Luck!
     
  9. sneakychickens

    sneakychickens New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2013
    The neighbor's house is a good 100 yards from the fence. It is down a slope, which could be problematic, but the slope is covered with trees, bushes, and a thick layer of ground ivy. The space my coop will be in is currently a mess of dirt and compost, and we have yet to have an issue with washout. (My family has been in the house since the '40s.)
     
  10. sneakychickens

    sneakychickens New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2013
    I'm worried about that, too. If I bury anything, it'll be hardware cloth or vinyl coated hardware cloth. I'm thinking I'll just ziptie and bury, like you said.
     

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