How do I turn this space into a wonderful run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by achiever, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. achiever

    achiever Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 9, 2012
    Hello all- I am a new chick owner and I am already obsessed! I picked up 6 Easter Eggers last week and I want to get a few Barred Rocks and RIR's. So here are my questions.... If I were to get the BR and RIR's on 4-19 will there be a problem introducing the two little groups?

    I also would love some expert advice on what to do with my run. It was a pen that my dogs used to poop in that is surrounded on three sides with 4 board horse fence. The fourth side is a stone wall (no cement) with a fence on top. There is an area by the gate that floods during heavy rain but the rest is on a slight slope and drains well. I am getting a coop from the feed store that I was going to put inside of the run and it has a solar panel on the top for the light. The other option is to put the coop on the outside of the run but with the chicken door pushed right up to the fence so there is a pass through. My reasoning for that is since there is a solar panel I don't want to block the sun with a roof over the run. I also think that the kids could get the eggs without having to go through a gate and then I wont stress about dogs getting in and chickens getting out. Should there be a roof over the run which is grass now? The chickens will not really be allowed in my main yard bc we have a very open field yard and birds are always circling. The run is 27'x37'. What would be the cost for enclosing and covering this area (we are not handy enough to do it ourselves)? I want it to look nice!

    I am sure that there are mice, moles and possible garter snakes living in and around that wall and I was wondering if I should be worried about them. Will a garter snake bother a chicken? Should there be hardware cloth between the wall and the run? We have never seen any other animals in our yard probably because of the dogs. Our garden has never been touched by any animals (knock on wood) and it is not fenced in at all, so will the chickens attract predators or are they relatively safe?

    What would you do with my run to make it a chicken palace?
    [​IMG]

    Thanks!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You should be able to mix chicks of different ages without a problem, as long as they are all 4 weeks old or less. A light in the coop is convenient for people, and some use one on a timer to extend egg laying in the winter, but it's not a necessity, and the chickens should sleep in the dark at night, as a general rule.

    Dogs are one of the most common of chicken predators -- including owners' dogs. They love to "play" with chickens -- which usually involves shaking them and breaking their neck or otherwise killing them. Everything loves chicken -- getting chickens will attract every predator in your area. The safest thing to use is 1/4" hardware cloth or wire mesh, at least along the lowest 1' or so of the fence, and it is not cheap. If you want to keep costs down, I'd suggest checking local stores for what sort of fencing is available. Many people use welded wire. Around here, it is not a problem to hire someone to do work like installing or fortifying your fence; there are plenty of handy folks around who are out of work or interested in making a little extra money. Here, you can get names and even recommendations at local hardware or farm supply stores. That fence does not look high enough to keep chickens in. Mine go over their 6' fence when they really want to, which fortunately is not often. Don't forget an apron of some sort to prevent predators from digging in.

    While ordinary chicken wire only keeps chickens out, there is a type of fencing that looks like chicken wire but is made of heavy gauge galvanized wire. We happened to find a bunch of it on clearance and it works well. It does have 1" holes, which will not stop a raccoon from reaching through and killing a chicken, though, which is the reason for the 1/4" mesh along the bottom.

    Covering a run keeps them safer from birds of prey such as larger hawks, owls and eagles, all of which will take a grown chicken. Some cover, some don't. We have all those birds in this area, but evidently there is enough prey for them that they don't bother the grown chickens; I do think a hawk got some of my chicks once. We have smaller hawks close by, even watching the chickens at times, but they have not attacked that I've seen. Our chicken yard is too large to cover, but there are large plants growing in it which the chickens use for cover or shade. You could consider covering one area of yours, too.

    Mice and rats will eat feed but generally not bother chickens, nor will garter snakes. Actually, chickens will eat a mouse or a garter snake if they get a chance. Larger snakes are more likely to get your eggs than harm your birds.

    I like your idea of setting the coop on the outside of the fence, mostly to protect them from dogs slipping in the chicken yard.

    Good luck!
     
  3. achiever

    achiever Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for all of that information! So I don't need to worry about raccoons climbing over the top? Also I was just reading another post and it occurred to me that the chickens will be locked up at night. Do I not really need to worry too much about predators other than birds during the day?
     
  4. 3forfree

    3forfree Chillin' With My Peeps

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    what a nice setup of chickens. I would cover the wood fence with some 2x4 wire fence, and put the coop on stilts inside. As for netting maybe you could put a 4x4 post in the middle of the run and drape some bird fence over it and secure it to the top of the wood fence. Just my .02
     
  5. achiever

    achiever Out Of The Brooder

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    What about rain? I have heard that a lot of people like a solid roof to cut down on smell. Would I not need to worry about that bc it is such a big space and I dont have many chickens?
     
  6. lilchick

    lilchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would not worry about any type of top for your pen if you are raising standard sized chickens. If it were my pen, which is quite attractive by the way, I would place coop in the middle and landscape the lot.

    Plant shade and or fruit trees and several shrubs for the chickens to lounge and hide under. Coons rarely come out in daytime and yes they can easily scale the fencing at night. To keep the chickens from slipping thru the boards I would just use chicken wire stapled on the inside along the bottom 24 or 36 inches. The trouble with wooden fences is if a chicken can see the top they will fly up to it. Some clip just one wing to deter that.

    Secure the fencing to keep critters, (dogs, coyotes, foxes etc.) out during the day and lock the chickens up every night. Good luck!
     
  7. Stormy Autumn

    Stormy Autumn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You don't need to worry about raccoons unless you're leaving them in the run overnight. If they get locked up in the coop at night and the coop is raccoon-proof, that's good enough. You just have to worry about daytime predators with the run. Some people like to cover their runs just to keep hawks out (this could even be a wire covering; it wouldn't have to be solid), and others just risk it and leave the roof open. I have two medium-sized ducks, and they HAVE gotten into fights with a hawk on multiple occasions because I give them free reign of the yard during the day. I would agree with lilchick that chicken wire is good enough for the sides. If you're worried about your dogs (or neighborhood dogs) attacking the chickens, I would also recommend burying some wire just below the dirt on the outside of the fence. That way if anyone tries to dig in, they'll hit the wire. But then again, a lot of dogs are fence climbers anyway...

    My ducks have also been locked in their house all night with a HUGE garter snake. He slipped in during the day to get out of the rain. They were scared out of their wits, but he didn't hurt them at all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  8. achiever

    achiever Out Of The Brooder

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    Lilchick- I love the idea of fruit trees to cover the area. I can get 5 ft fruit trees right now but will they protect the chicks this summer since they are still small trees? Will a hawk land in the tree and then take a chicken? Do the trees need to cover the area completely? Is there a fruit tree that is better then the others? Maybe this would be better asked someplace else but since my dogs have used this as a run is there a problem with planting edible trees there? What about a structure that would hold grapes? How long would that take to grow?

    I am so happy to have found this site!

    Thanks
     
  9. achiever

    achiever Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 9, 2012
    I have visited a few chicken setups at some farms nearby and they were not very secure at all and the farmers were not too worried. One of them that I talked to said that they only worry about hawks during the day and that is really only in winter. Both of the farms had more narrow runs then what I have so my question is what will a hawk fly into and what will they pass by? Could I landscape with bushes and a tree to keep the chicks safe or is a net roof my only option?
     
  10. Stormy Autumn

    Stormy Autumn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There is actually a very active hawk conversation in the predators section: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/627762/hawks
    If you look on page 12, there's a really interesting solution that you might want to try. Someone zigzagged a fishing wire grid over their run to deter hawks, and they say it's working.
     

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