Chicken run questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Fshenkin94, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Fshenkin94

    Fshenkin94 New Egg

    Mar 7, 2016
    Just getting into raising chickens and have a few questions.

    1. How important is it to have the fencing for the run dug into the ground if the chickens will always be in the coop at night? Other than hawks do we have to worry about other predators digging under the fencing during the day?

    2. We'll have 12 -14 chickens. Planning on making the run about 10x12 or 12x12. Are that many chickens going to turn that area into in mud/dirt pile in no time? Should I come up with some way to make the run movable? Of course, that means not burying the fending in the ground.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    #1 - I guess it depends on your yard/property set up. Our coop and run aren't visible from our house so we have it built like Ft Knox. We live in a rural area with fox, raccoon, opossum, weasels, stray dogs, and hawk. We buried hardware cloth. If you have a fenced, suburban yard and plan to lock them in every night, probably isn't necessary. You can also put an apron of hardware cloth around the perimeter.

    #2 - I would go with the 12 x 12 run. Larger is always better. We have 6 chickens with a 8 x 16 run. We don't free range so they are confined to that area 24/7. I would only consider adding maybe 2 or 3 to that space. The ground will be bare in about a week. We use the Deep Litter Method, it keeps the run from getting muddy and stinky. There is a lot of information on this forum on how to get started. If you do a search on Deep Litter Method, a wealth of information will come up.
  3. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Our ground was far too rocky and hard to even consider digging under and placing hardware cloth. So what we did was run hardware cloth up about 2 feet as a skirt on the lower portion of our run, then we folded it outward at the bottom and ran it about another 2 feet out. We pinned it down with landscape fabric staples. We did plan to cover it with rock, but we procrastinated. Lo and behold, the grass grew right through it and you can't even see it! But it sure does the job!

    Our English Setter, Molly, who was very accustomed to the chicks being kept where they were, went nuts when they were turned out into the run for the first time. She paced the full length of the run over and over again, then tried to dig under it. She came away with a broken and bloody toenail for her trouble. She shot the chickens a dirty look over her shoulder as she limped over for a little sympathy and never bothered them again, even when they were free in the yard. She must have blamed then for her discomfort. This is the system we've had in place for a couple of years now, and it hasn't failed us yet.

    As for what to put in the run, we used pine shavings for a long time, but found that they just don't break down like we thought they would. So now there's some pine shavings, but mostly whatever we have on hand - garden trimmings, dry leaves (we bag them during the fall and set them aside to add periodically) grass clippings, a bit of straw now and again.....whatever is handy. In the summer our run is covered with landscape fabric for shade because air will circulate right through it. And it does a pretty good job of repelling rain as well. You wouldn't think so with it being permeable, but if you've ever put that stuff down around plants and then watered it, you've probably noticed that the water puddles on it, runs down along any creases until it finds the opening where your plant is, and any that stays on the surface of the fabric takes its sweet time soaking through. With the fabric shaped in an arch like it is on our run, it simply runs off. We used metal lath with predrilled holes, attached the fabric to it with twist ties, and we can roll it up and down like window shades!

    Landscape fabric "window shades". The lattice we just added because our setup is visible from 2 sides of the street and we live in town. Didn't want to have an eyesore in the yard.

    If you look carefully you can see the hardware cloth skirt going partway up the run, then extended out at the ground.
  4. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    I used sections of chainlink fencing for my apron and also just laid it down on the ground, wired it to the run and staked the corners. Within one summer it was completely gone and i can even walk barefoot where it is laid and not feel any of it. The ground/grass just swallowed it up and you never know it's there till you come out one morning and see where something did try to dig in and just dug up the fence without being able to get through it.

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