Enclosure Questions


May 9, 2015
So i am working on designing a new enclosure have some questions and looking for suggestions as to build it.

First off i say enclosure because where we live we have predators that will walk though in the middle of the day and snag a chicken so we cant let them out during the day to free range so i am building a safe place for them to forage as they see fit. To me a coop is where they roost...

I want to build a 20' by 20' enclosure on the back of an existing dog kennel (free standing building) and use the inside dog runs as a coop and then have the 20x20 out back for them to scrounge.

Now for the questions

1. How many chickens (humanly) be put in a 20' x 20' enclosure. (total of 400 sq ft) and they would probably have another 80 or 90 sq ft in doors.

2. Have 3 different ideas

2.1 one is to buy temporary fencing panels (8 ft x 10 ft) and lego together a cube.
Pros: Fast, easy, expand/customize later
Cons: Expensive ($1000+), not sure it will be strong enough at the bottom against predators

2.2 building a cube out of wood ( 4 x 4 in the corner, 2 x 4 and stringers for a roof, Not sure what to use for wire [chain link. etc)
Pros: Cheaper ($200-300, + wire), half way fast.
Cons: Stretching wire is a pain, Wood rots, and hard to expand/customize later

2.3 Welding 2in x 2in steel to make 10ft x 8 ft panels with expanded metal or some steel wire like remesh welded in.
Pro: Strong, Easy to customize, wont rot, no need to stretch wire
Cons: Moderately expensive ($700-$800), slow to build,

3. I have seen pictures that they use netting on the top to keep out predators out, is that effective, the people that use the netting are they locking up the chickens at night? i would think a coyote would just jump on top and bring out the net?

Thanks in advance
If it were me and had the land, I would go with something smaller mounted on wood skids so you cam move it around. Sooner or later your pin is going to be out of grass. I think welded wire should be cheaper than chain link for the sides I would put chicken wire over the top.
How about cattle panels? Inexpensive, flexible design, and easy to work with. (yep, I can see the eyes rolling and the "here she goes again"!) No matter what you do, you're going to have the problem of the grass in any enclosure disappearing. So if having a chicken tractor and moving it doesn't appeal to you, you're going to have bare ground anyway.

We pounded 8 fence posts into the ground. Then we arched 3 cattle panels between them, wired them together where they met, and covered them with chicken wire to deter overhead predators. (* note - for anyone who might consider this, I recommend attaching the chicken wire BEFORE arching and attaching the cattle panels!) We "sewed" hardware cloth around the bottom 2 feet, folded it outward at the bottom another approximately 2 feet, and secured that apron with landscape fabric staples. We closed the south end with a large piece of welded wire fence, repeating the chicken wire/hardware cloth. It's tall enough to stand in and work comfortably, has withstood wild Wyoming winds (at times in excess of 60mph) and we had no problem with snow-loads at all.


Winter. White vinyl lattice laid over the top, then greenhouse plastic over that to winterize - ala greenhouse. Acting as a spacer, the lattice kept the connecting poky-outies from puncturing the plastic no matter what the weather did. The plastic warmed the run enough that the chickens used it all winter long, spending more time in there than in the coop.

We decided to expand the run this spring. So we just took off the panel on the south end, which came off with the chicken wire and hardware skirt and apron intact. Added two more fence posts and another cattle panel, then put the end back on.

We liked the look of the white vinyl lattice as a fence in front of the run (our setup is visible from the street in town and we wanted it to look nice) and we also liked it on top of the run. So when we took down the plastic for the season we just left the lattice on. Still have to extend the front fence to finish it up. You can see from the contrast on the ground where the grass had grown up through the older section's hardware cloth, making it invisible, although we did have pull it up to overlap the two pieces of HC, so the dirt there is visible. We can mow right up to the edges of the run.
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