Coop with two open runs

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by brennamae, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. brennamae

    brennamae Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2012
    Hey all --

    My partner and I are new to designing chicken coops (aren't we all, the first time around?) and I am thinking about building one with dual access to two different runs... so that every other year I can exchange which run the chickens are in, and then plant my garden in the one they used last year! Seems like it'll be a decent way to keep the ground fertilized... Has anyone done something like this? Ideas for design?

    Cheers!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I wish we had done that... or at least have an easy way to let them into the garden without herding them, when the garden is spent. Unless the area is really huge, they will have it down to the dirt way before a year, but it's a great idea to have them in the garden area off season, to keep the bugs eaten as well as to fertilize.
     
  3. loanwizard

    loanwizard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Not a bad idea. How close is the coop to the gardens? I would run a hoop or tunnel from the coop doors to the garden runs. That would be a lot easier to switch.
     
  4. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It seems like a great idea to me. :) Even if you decide to not plant your garden there you can always alternate runs and give the grass a chance to recover. We have a set-up like that and it is very convenient.

    They will destroy the old garden in no time, but you can throw in a ton of leaves in the fall and let them work on that all winter, too. We hauled some great looking soil/compost/manure out of the runs yesterday to spread on the garden. [​IMG] I've never thought of turning that into a garden - it would save some hauling work.
     
  5. brennamae

    brennamae Out Of The Brooder

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    We are thinking about pretty large runs. I like the idea of having more then the "needed" space per chicken. and the larger I want the garden, the larger the coop will have to be! :) so hopefully we won't run into them pecking the grass down to nothing... I do like the idea of having a tunnel system...

    We stayed at a place that just had their compost in the chicken run, so they always had fun pecking through that...!
     
  6. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    You need to read "The Small Scale Poultry Flock" by Harvey Ussery as well as "Free Range Chicken Gardens" by Jessi Bloom. Both of these are great for someone who looks at chickens as garden partners. Probably the main thing I want chickens for is to help in the garden.

    Ussery is probably the most useful of the two. He is all about having the chickens do the garden work for you and he built a big run around his compost heap and it has worked well for him. I'm working on building my run that way too. He also talked about using several other poultry species and the advantages and disadvantages of each species for the gardener.

    Bloom's book is total eye candy. I love it. It is more about having the chickens in a landscaped yard. She does talk about using them for composting too, but not in the depth that Ussery does.

    Good luck!
    Sarah
     
  7. brennamae

    brennamae Out Of The Brooder

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    Very cool! Thanks for the book suggestions - I should head out to the library soon, anyway - see if they have them!
     
  8. Jaxon4141

    Jaxon4141 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last year I designed a run and coop set up just for my garden. I have a large garden that has 15 4'x50' beds. I wanted to use chickens to reduce fallow and finished beds for me. I made a modular system of runs that can be put together to cover two of my beds. Each set up has it's own coop and 45' of run. Each piece of run is 5'x5'x2' high and weigh about 45 lb. each. They are small enough for one person to move by themselves, but when put together give me 250 sq. ft. of run and coop area. I move them about once a week as five chicken can reduce that much area to dirt in that amount of time. Each piece of run cost me under $5 to build. The coops are a little harder to put together, but nothing that a semi-handy person couldn't put together. So in all 500 sq. ft of coverage cost me $400. I have small 1'x1'x1 1/2' units that I can put between the run segments if I need to curve around an area. I have to say that having chicken work a bed over before I want to use it has dramatically reduce the amount of hoeing I have to do. Plus I like watching my tireless worker getting a garden bed ready for me and I'm still able to garden with having chicken reduce the whole garden. I live in an area where there is a bar that serves chickens and they put the scraps out for raccoons to eat for the enjoyment of their patrons watch. So I have lots of raccoon in the area that love chickens. They come around the coop and run every night, but none have gotten into the set up so far. I think after a year of this I can say that this set up is reliably predator proof. One other plus is that when I move them I have no coop or runs to clean up and the chickens have new pasture to work on. There are plenty of photos on my default album if you would like to look and see if it gives you any ideas for your chicken tunnels.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/gallery/album/view/id/6169273/user_id/122612
     
  9. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jaxon - I LOVE your chicken tunnels. I'm trying to come up with ideas about how to do something similar. I'm planning on having raised beds, so it will be a little trickier, but I think I could have the covered coop area (with a floor in it, so I can move the "workers" from bed to bed in it) down on the ground at the end of the raised bed and have it connect like you do to the tunnels bottomless tunnels that would cover the raised beds. My beds will probably be 4' x 8' Any other tips from your experience?
     
  10. Jaxon4141

    Jaxon4141 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Five foot fencing would span your beds OK. You would need to make them taller than the ones I made to accommodate the raised so the chickens had enough head height. Making the run 10' is just a matter of connecting two units together leaving out the middle end pieces. The only problem I see is that two unit together come close to 90 lb, but I'd be happy to brain storm with you to figure this out.
     

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