Help needed building a chicken run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sstepp, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. sstepp

    sstepp New Egg

    Sep 18, 2009
    Hello group!

    This is my first post here and I'm really hoping I'll get some guidance on building a chicken enclosure/run.

    We have four hens and have build a 4x8 foot enclosure with roost. This worked fine until we decided the girls needed a tad more room to roam. Being new to the whole chicken thing we let them roam the garden area. Wanting to keep the garden, we quickly put a stop to that.

    Our next step was to put up three foot high poultry netting in an adjacent area and that worked great until they figured out it was only three feet high. Being very tired of rounding up the chickens and placing them back in the enclosure multiple times in a day, we are now moving on to a bigger and better run. And we don't want to clip wings.

    This is where I need some help. I'm planning on making the enclosure a tad over six feet high and putting chicken wire on the sides as well as the top. I'm amazed that nowhere I've looked on the net have I found plans for such an enclosure. I'm sure this will seem a simple undertaking to some but for me, I need plans. Or at least some guidelines for making it sturdy and pleasing to the eye as well as functional.

    Any suggestions for building the enclosure? Should I use 2x4 laid flat for the base? Do you think 1x2's would work for the supports?

    Any help is much appreciated. Chances are I'm over-thinking this whole thing, but hey, that's what I do.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. jesskoot

    jesskoot Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 22, 2009
    Central VA
    I am right with you. Also have four chickens and my husband and I have been agonizing over how to build an add-on run. Does it really need to be 6 ft high if there's a screen on top? Our regular coop is very secure; this would only be a "day pen". I let them out in the evenings after work, but that will be ending soon w/the change of seasons. Would love advice from all you experienced chicken lovers!
  3. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    Welcome to both of you. 3' is not high enough as you've found out.....Also, your idea of covering the top wil keep predators out, especially the hawks and owls.....I made a run wit 2x4's for a base frame and sides, enlosed one side with 4x8 plywood and the other sides had a 2' board around the bottom of the sides then hardware cloth and chickenwire over the top. I wanted to keep the run dry so I used PVC roofing sheets. Because I also wanted the run to have light I used opaque whitish PVC. My run is 5' in the front, 4 3/4' in the back so the roof is sloped for water to run off. Have to duck but can walk in to clean. Some have lower coops, that is fine if you can somehow move them (maybe chicken tractor style) or make the roof with hinges so it can be cleaned.
    Check out the 'Coop Design' pages .... link is at the very top of the page, above the banner. Some people use dog kennels and convert them. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  4. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    Yup we got a 10' x 10' x6' dog kennel and made that into a run. Works great! We just lined bottom with hardware cloth, and topped off the roof to secure it against predators.

    Works great!! I have seen more cheap kennels on craigslist lately [​IMG] Wish i had money atm to go get some!
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  5. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2009
    Best thing my husband ever built. It is 8 x 22. Filled it with sand and i can actually walk around inside. I wanted happy chickens. [​IMG] With only 4 chickens your could be smaller of course.

    The end has a nice big pop door so i can let the girls out for a few hours in the evening and then they come back in on their own before dark.

    This shows the inside of the run. We used the galvinzed rabbit fencing so coons could eat thur it and poured concrete around the bottom of the run and coop.
    The sand is great, it offers them sand baths, grit and the rain washes the poo away.

    Its attached to the side of the Coop and has a door for me to get in and out of. Its nice to be able to stand up in the run.

    Dont forget, chicken wire can keep chickens in but preditors can get right thru it.

    I think i will go give my husband another kiss for the coop and run.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2009
  6. redstars

    redstars Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 15, 2009
    south dartmouth ma
    Quote:very nice![​IMG]
  7. TennesseeTruly

    TennesseeTruly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 5, 2009
    Church Hill, TN
    Quote:Absolutely gorgeous!! Your husband did a great job!

  8. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 10, 2007
    Central Virginia
    Goldielocks' run is very similar to some of mine. Only nicer. [​IMG]

    We used landscaping timbers as fenceposts, and have 3 rows of rails, at the bottom, middle, and top. (1X3's would work well for this.) The fenceposts are about 8 feet apart, and the rails are spaced to accomodate whatever wire you put on them. On mine, it's 4 foot high welded wire at the bottom, and 2 foot high chicken wire above that.

    The actual size of the run was designed to accomodate the bird netting that I have as a cover on top. So the run is approximately 12 feet wide, and 24 feet long, with 2 pieces of netting on top. A board runs between the top rails at the point where the netting panels overlap, so they don't droop.

    Hope that was helpful!
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    If you browse peoples' coop design pages you will also see lots of pics of the attached runs, which should give you a good idea of what the options and construction procedures are.

    In general, though, you are either going to be building a fence or a wall-less possibly-roofless shed. Depending how strong you want it to be.

    There is definitely value in having a board (I'd recommend 2x6 or 4x4) near the bottom of the wire fencing to strengthen it, especially if your fenceposts are place further apart rather than closer. BUT, it needn't be directly on the ground, and if it *is* should be pressure treated. Remember to protect the fence from digging predators (dogs, coyotes, foxes, etc etc) either by burying 18"+ deep fence wire, or (my strong preference) creating a 2-4' wide 'apron' of wire mesh that lies flat on the ground along the outside of the run fence. See other threads (or ask [​IMG]) for details on constructing an apron of this sort.

    Use 4x4's (pressure-treated if set into the ground) for the fenceposts; you can use metal t-posts for some line posts if you really insist (although they make some of the engineering more difficult and less-secure) but 4x4s are really by far the best for the corner posts. Run a quality 2x4, or better yet a 2x6, between the tops of the posts to stiffen the top of the fence and to provide something to attach the edges of your top to.

    I would suggest seriously rethinking the chickenwire thing. Hardly any of the chickenwire sold today is strong enough to keep out dogs, coyotes, raccoons, etc -- they are far stronger than you think and many people have had chickenwire ripped or bitten apart and lost chickens. Browse the "Predators and Pests" section of BYC if you don't believe me. Many here recommend hardwarecloth but personally I think it's overkill (ka-ching) unless you are dedicated to creating a 100% weaselproof/ratproof enclosure, which is next to impossible anyway. Heavy gauge galvanized 1x1 welded wire is good for runs, or quality chainlink correctly-installed, or heavy gauge 2x4 mesh. I would not use anything larger mesh than 2x4. Chainlink or 2x4 mesh ought to have a smaller mesh material -- even chickenwire or plastic garden mesh is "okay" if necessary -- added along the bottom 2-3' to prevent reach-through incidents.

    As far as a top, again please rethink the chickenwire unless all you're trying to keep out is hawks in which case it's ok. PLAN FOR SNOW LOAD. No, snow does not all fall harmlessly between the mesh, and yes, it frequently takes out peoples' runs. All it takes is one good wet snow. So make sure you are engineered with sufficient 'rafters' and supports to withstand the biggest wet snow load your area is likely to get.

    Good luck, have fun,

    1 person likes this.
  10. toxo

    toxo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2009
    Gillingham, UK
    First of all I'll say Hi and Welcome even though I've only been here five minutes myself.
    Here's my thinking. I'm new to chickens. I've got three ex-battery hens and am in the middle of building a run for them.
    My considerations are a bit different to most of you cos I'm in the South East UK. We don't get much snow here. My garden is in the middle of lots of other gardens so I'm not unduly worried about foxes and I have two Westies that bark at the slightest noise. We don't have any other predators. Also, I don't know yet where I'm going with the chicken thing (check out the bator I'm building on my BYC page) so I don't want to build anything that's permanent. I don't want feed/water in the coop so need a covered area for that and it needs to be high enough to hang feeders etc. The next thing to consider is the width of the wire. The panels have to be the same width else you'll have nothing to nail to. Finally, the height. With cost and not upsetting the neighbours to consider, I decided to keep it low with everything hinged or removable for cleaning or moving.
    I'll try to clamp what I've done together enough to get a photo. Hang on!


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