Best options for overhead protection in a “wooded” area?

MommA2K

Songster
Apr 13, 2020
160
228
131
Central MN
BYC members I again look to you for guidance! This forum is my idea of social media and I can’t thank you all enough for all the information and amusement you’ve brought me over the last 1.5 years!

With that being said, my next obstacle is this...We just purchased more land directly behind our current lot and I’m wanting to move my coop/run back there. I think there’s a perfect spot for my flock, but I’m stumped on what material to use for their roof of the run.

I’ve had chickens for just over a year now (currently 2 hens/ 3 pullets) and I’ve started making a list of things we need in the newly constructed area as well as things that I’ll change in comparison to the coop/run we have now. They currently have a nice setup, but just like my human kids I want to give them the best life possible and I think the new location would be perfect, if I can figure out the roof!

There will be a 6’ privacy fence along our property line, but I know with determined predators that won’t be enough. My girls are diligently locked in their secure coop at night. Thankfully I haven’t had to deal with predators yet, but I know they’re around. We live in central MN on the edge of a rural farm town. I often hear coyotes at night, but again, thankfully have never dealt with them and of course there are raccoons.

I’m just stumped on the overhead protection and don’t want to get too excited if this wouldn’t be a possible location. I’d like to give them the entire wooded area. If you have any suggestions please let me know, don’t hesitate to post pictures either as I’m very much a visual learner!

Pictures of the area below!
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MommA2K

Songster
Apr 13, 2020
160
228
131
Central MN
Hi!
I’d recommend getting some deer netting and tightly putting on the top of your run. It has kept squirrels, birds, and even a hawk out of my flock!!
You can get some at tractor supply or even Walmart.
Thank you! I had looked at this but wasn’t sure if that would be suitable given all the branches that I’d have to maneuver around? I’m probably not practical in thinking that the entire thing will be covered given the location though. I just keep going back and forth because I’d feel guilty if a predator got in on account of my negligence.
 

Boise-girls

Songster
May 26, 2021
366
929
188
Boise, Idaho
Could you make a very secure pen within the larger area for use at dawn and dusk, and then put several small shelters in the larger area? With the exception of hawks, I think of the dusk-to-dawn timeframe as being the most dangerous, but depends on your area. I think 3KillerBs has an article or two about "run clutter," will look for the link.
 

3KillerBs

Addict
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 10, 2009
19,168
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North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
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The chickens should absolutely love being in that green, shady space.

I know I've seen photos of one member's run that has anti-hawk netting secured around each tree in the run. I can't remember who, unfortunately. IIRC, it's necessary to use the heavy-duty netting because hawks and owls can crash through the lightweight stuff that's only meant to keep songbirds out of the blueberries and cherries.

Could you make a very secure pen within the larger area for use at dawn and dusk, and then put several small shelters in the larger area? With the exception of hawks, I think of the dusk-to-dawn timeframe as being the most dangerous, but depends on your area. I think 3KillerBs has an article or two about "run clutter," will look for the link.

Here's my article: https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...-“chickens-101”-articles-don’t-mention.76003/

This is @Mrs. K's thread that I learned from: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/a-cluttered-run.1323792/#post-21588571
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,884
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western South Dakota
You have to know your predators, I would doubt that coyotes would be a problem, with neighbors and household dogs. But they might be.

I would be very concerned about coons, but that might be because of my own experience with coons. They can wipe you out.

But as you have not lost any so far, I would think that is good. If it is hawks and eagles that you are worried about, just some shelters, a foot or two off the ground that hens can get under and out of sight would probably help a great deal.

In minisota, I would be aware, that netting and fencing can collect a huge amount of snow and tear things down.

Mrs K
 

Swbertrand1

Crowing
Apr 21, 2018
1,130
1,550
271
Wilmington, NC
Like others have said, you have to play the audience (predators). I'm not hip on central MN predators, but it looks like you're kindof rural from the photos. Here's a thought on your situation: stay away from building the run in the bushy section of the photos, but concentrate on the under the trees section. Cut the low-hanging branches off the trees, in effect increasing the head-room of the planned area of the run, then build your framework over the run and cover with wire cloth or whatever material you select. I'd give the chickens some run area that allows them to get sunlight for at least about 1/2 of the day too since sunlight is good for them. Sunlight also helps to dry things out - a run that is shaded all day will be a place for unwanted bacteria and such to thrive, and that's not good either.

Be VERY sure of your predators though! Raccoons, opossums, weasels, and the like are very persistent and crafty, and they'll spend hours trying to find a way in if they see a meal. I'm sure you've read that your vertical fencing/wire mesh should be buried at least about 12-18" down to prevent these types from digging UNDER your vertical fencing, so heed that too.

We only have to deal with aerial predators (hawks), and we run a weave of 50 or 60lb leader line (fishing line) back and forth across the perimeter framework of our run. We can run the line through bushes around trees, over and below any branches that are in the way, and it works well in our particular situation. Each line is about 12" apart from the adjacent run of line, and we don't have hawk problems any longer. Yes, from time to time one of the lines breaks, but we just cut the broken section out and tie a new piece of line in.

Hope that helps a little! :)
 

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