Coop almost ready...missing some touches

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LisaMarie81, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. LisaMarie81

    LisaMarie81 Chirping

    May 8, 2018
    "The Jog", Massachusetts
    Hi there! Fairly new to this forum. Posted once already a couple weeks back freaking out about our new hens (as this is a new endeavor for us). I got a lot of great advice - the best being to just "relax and calm down". LOL.
    Our hens are 4wks now and still in a very extended "condo-plex" as we call it in our house. That said, as all of you know - they are getting bigger, and messier, and well...get them out of my house.

    Our coop is built and I have brought them out there on many warm days, but they are still too little to be out all the time as our nights are still a bit cool and they are too young I know.
    Couple of questions though before we put them in there permanently.
    Our current predators are: Hawks, Bald Eagles, Foxes, Bears, Owls, and the occasional fisher cat. The fox and owls are regulars (in fact may live in our back yard somewhere).
    We are planning on skirting the coop, but I was told I need to skirt it AND go down (bury it) at the end of the skirting. Is this what most owners do? skirt and dig? Digging down for us will be a bit of a challenge as we have a sprinkler system that is only 6" deep in our yard. I want our little hens safe though so if burying AND skirting are the way to go - we'll do it. There is only 1 sprinkler head behind the coop so we could possibly try to chase down what direction it goes in to assure we won't hit it when burying.
    Also, on the skirting - I've seen some folks just let grass grow through it and when an predator digs they won't realize it's there. Has anyone planted plants? bushes? flowers? that are a deterrent? Or put something else down on the skirting? I'm an avid gardener so would love to plant something around the coop, but want it safe for the girls if they can get their little beaks through to it.
    Thanks all! I'm sure I'll be here a lot now as I learn.
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Free Ranging

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    I think skirting and burying is overkill, so I'd pick one or the other. I find skirting to be far less labor intensive but still effective (plus I have tree roots running all over under my run location) so I skirted my run.

    If you have decent grass growth in the area you're skirting it'll grow through the mesh and completely hide it in a couple of weeks. Don't worry, the mesh will still do the job, you just don't see it and you can safely walk on it and mow over it too as long as it's pinned down correctly.

    For your gardening idea, what I did was put a raised garden bed behind the run. It's partially overlapping the skirt there. I'll redo it next year and make it deeper so I can get better plant growth, but the last 2 years I've been growing sugar snap peas there and trellising them up the run. The chickens freely pick at the lower leaves so you'll want to block off access to it until it gets going (you can zip tie or pin down some extra hardware cloth to the fence), but after that the pea plants withstand the chickens fairly well.
    LisaMarie81 likes this.
  3. Chad Oftedal

    Chad Oftedal Songster

    Dec 29, 2017
    Woodinville, WA
    My Coop
    Other than aesthetics for some folks, there isn't a benefit to burying it. You want to have it securely attached to the outside of your run, at or near ground level. From there, you want to extend it out away from the run to whatever distance you can easily manage. The common recommendation is usually 18 to 24" using galvanized 1"x2" fencing, 14 gauge or so. To keep it down in contact with the ground, you can buy garden staples off of Amazon (they're basically a u-shaped long staple that you can hammer into the ground. It'll help keep the fence in place while grass grows up through it. In my case, I don't get enough sun in the area that my run is in to grow grass, so I just covered my barrier fence with a light layer of dirt.

    As far as planting or putting stuff up against the run, what you're doing is giving the digging critter an advantage. What the digger will do is first start digging right up next to the run - less to dig for them to get in. If they hit the barrier fence, they'll back up a bit and try again. This is where the distance out that you can go will help. OK, so if you put decorations or rocks or other items up against the run, you're pushing the digger's starting point back and giving them a head start on finding the far edge of your barrier. You want them to hit the barrier every time they try and back up. Ideally, they just give up because it's too much to dig and no longer interests them for the effort.
    LisaMarie81 likes this.
  4. Flock In Texas

    Flock In Texas Songster

    Aug 7, 2016
    You could dig down 3" and have the skirt go out horizontal. An animal won't think to go out a foot from the wall to start digging under a coop, especially if the skirt is buried 3" below the ground.
    LisaMarie81 likes this.

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