Building the ideal chicken run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kressg23, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. kressg23

    kressg23 In the Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    I've been reading as many posts here as I can about this topic, and I'm trying not to duplicate questions already asked, but if you could have any kind of run (your dream run!), how would it be built? Hardware cloth seems to win as far as what to use for the fencing. Burying it also seems to be what most do. As a newbie chicken owner, I don't know how to build fence, but I definitely have to redo what my DH did for our current run. He put steel posts in the corners only (about 10 ft apart), then tied the hardware cloth (buried only about 2 inches) to the posts with steel fence ties. The cloth is only 3 ft tall, so the top of the wire is wobbly and insecure. Anything could get in at this point. Also, I want to make the run bigger. How big should it be for 14+ chickens? How tall? (I want to make it as big as I can in case I decide to get more chickens later.)

    So, a couple questions. First of all, do I need to stick more steel posts in the ground, or would it be better to go all out and bury/cement in wooden posts? As it is, there's only about an extra 18 inches left of the steel posts to increase the height of the run. I would like for them to be able to jump around and "be free". I also want to add a gate so that we can get inside the run with them. As it is, we can't now.

    My DH is a building contractor, so I have access to most of the materials I need without having to buy anymore. I do like the idea of using a soccer net as the roof. Can anyone post pics of there "bigger" runs? I'd love some ideas on how to improve mine. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
    Zoomum likes this.
  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator

    Sep 25, 2007
    It's so great that you're interesting in providing safe and effective fencing for your chicken run!

    There are many options for fencing, and you just need to figure out what works best for your comfort level and what materials you have available.

    You can see some of my run in this picture; it's not the Taj Mahal, but it's very safe. We used 4x4 treated posts, and chicken wire for the "roof." Our posts are set in concrete, but I don't think they actually needed to be. We used 3' wide hardware cloth for the bottom, and regular chicken wire above that, with a 1" x 6" treated board over where they overlapped, and we stapled it really well along the 1x6. We put 2x4 treated board on the ground between each post and secured them with screws to the posts, and then secured the hardware cloth to the 2x4s. Our run is almost 7' high, so we can easily walk around, and they have room to fly up into our "chicken trees." The one thing we did not do in this run is bury the hardware cloth; what we did instead was, I think, overkill. We dug a 12" deep trench from post to post and poured concrete into the trench. The run we are building now will have buried hardware cloth rather than the concrete.

    Good luck!

  3. FisherMOM

    FisherMOM Songster

    May 7, 2008
    Bergen, NY
    I am starting my run as well. I decided to go with metal posts for the main posts and in between I am planning on using 2X4's for added support of the top 2X4. 2X4's on the bottom too. Also planning on using all hardware cloth for the sides.

    Netting or chicken wire will go on the top.
    It's raining today AND I have to work. Either this weekend
    or next week I will start it.
  4. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Here's a picture of part of our run (it's not finished in this picture but gives you an idea):


    It's a lot like Wynette's except that we buried our 1" chicken wire almost 18" into the ground. We also used cement with our 4x4 posts and spaced them 8 and 1/2 feet apart. Our run is six feet high so we can walk into it, I don't have it covered at this point as I have goats in with my chickens and the hawks have thus stayed away. (Not to mention the dogs and cats "guarding" the place. [​IMG]

    I am making a separate run for my chicks that will be covered since hawks are far more likely to go for them than the adult hens and the goats won't be in with them.

    I used 2x4 welded wire only because I can't afford hardware cloth. I did use hardware cloth over all windows into the coop.

    This second picture shows what we did under our run gate: that will likely be your weakest link so this was our solution. It's worked great -the gate doesn't get caught on anything and nothing can dig under it as we poured the cement about 18" deep also.

    black_dove2, OG Anomaly and MinBH2O like this.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    As for height, I'd say 'tall enough for you to walk around without bumping your head'. Seriously [​IMG]

    The only disadvantage I can see to a soccer-goal net (or deer netting, or fruit-tree netting, etc) is that a fox or raccoon that climbs up your fence will probably have little trouble chewing through it and getting inside. This would not be a concern if a) you have dependably-charged electric wires on the outsides of your run fencing, or b) for whatever reason you believe there is roughly 0% chance of having a raccoon or fox around (although raccoons are almost everywhere...), or c) the chickens will be shut inside a secure coop from dusk to dawn and there will be a dog or etc on patrol during the day to chase off daylight raccoons/foxes.

    I'm about to start on a new run that will be chainlink, with a solid (translucent plastic) roof and large pavers set along the outside of the run fence to discourage digging (and weeds [​IMG]). I *should* run hardwarecloth along the bottom 3' or so, and when budget permits I prolly will, but they will always be in the coop at night so I am not too worried.

    If you are redoing your run, use pressure-treated (or cedar) 4x4s for the corner posts, set DEEPLY and securely into the ground. On a short run of fence (like, 8-10') you could just stabilize the middle with a tall metal t-post or two (check at TSC or some other farm type store - you can get them in all lengths up to ten feet!). Any longer and you really ought to use wooden posts, ideally every 5' or so. Pressure-treated (or cedar) 4x4's are ideal, but p.t. 2x4's, set with the 2" edge against the wire mesh, are not a bad second choice. Run a 2x4 (does not need to be p.t.) along the top of the fence to connect the posts for much greater strength and stability; also another one at ground level. Staple the fence mesh on the OUTSIDE of all fenceposts/boards.

    Have fun,

  6. dixygirl

    dixygirl Songster

    May 14, 2008
    If I were making my ideal aviary, it would have a pyramid roof covered with clear polycarbonate roofing like a greenhouse. Maybe tinted for shade. It would be covered with graduated welded wire fencing that has smaller squares at the bottom.
    But you could use hardware cloth all over.

    You did say a dream run right. I would have white outdoor drapes gathered at the corners with tassels. I like the Roman column look in the picture above actually for that.

    PS On second thought that would probably be better for my parrots or peafowl [​IMG] No, that would be better as a sun room for ME ! [​IMG] I have seen a sturcture like this made of round steel fence posts. Just 4 posts around the corners and a 4 post pyramid frame roof. You could cover it yourself.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
  7. kressg23

    kressg23 In the Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    You guys are truly amazing, you know that??? I LOVE your replies!!! Keep 'em coming!! [​IMG]
  8. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2008
    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    We just got back from Menards with a little help from this post (thanks for the great ideas!) I think we got a pretty secure fence coming up this weekend. We are starting in the morning.
  9. 6chix

    6chix Songster

    Jul 24, 2007
    Western Ma
    I think one of my runs is the ideal run. It is a dog kennel made of chain link fence attached to the bottom is 3 ft hardware cloth buried 1 ft into the ground. The roof covering will be 2x4 welded wire. I got the kennel free and its 12x12. To answer your other question I feel you need to have at least 10sq ft per bird outside run, currently I have about 25 sqft per bird but that will be going down once the 18 new girls get outside.
  10. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    My ideal? Not a run at all.
    Instead a paddock, broken into quadrants with 200-400 sq ft/bird.
    This area would be covered in tri-sections with ladino cover, kentucky grass and amaranth and sunflower stands where the birds live for one season, one section to lay in nitrogenous rejuvenating legumes, and one in garden cultivation.

    The perimter of the paddock would be grown in grapes/berries and tall fruiting shrubs. The entire area itself would be fenced with electric wire and farm fence.

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