Howdy and should I cover my run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jstudy, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. jstudy

    jstudy In the Brooder

    Feb 15, 2007
    Hi all,

    Just decided to get a few chickens (get back to my country roots!) and found this site. [​IMG]
    My wife and I are starting out with 6 EEs which will be ready for the coop in the May timeframe. I've got a good coop design in mind, but I'm still trying to figure out the run. I have a 16x10 area to put the run in (though I'm trying to decide if I should split it so if we increase the flock I can introduce new members slowly).
    While I know what to do for the sides of the run, I'm torn about what to do with the top. The run is on a grassy area that has a very slight slope for drainage. Should I cover the run with a solid surface to prevent the run from getting very wet, or just use wire? Here in Virginia we do not get a lot of snow but we do get some good thunderstorms. If I block the rain the run will stay dry, but then the grass will die off (or will the chickens mow it to nubs anyway?[​IMG]).
    Which way should I go?

  2. mudhen

    mudhen confidently clueless

    Jan 15, 2007
    Shepherdstown, WV
    Welcome jstudy! You have come to the right place for answers. I don't have any other than, yes the chickens will pretty much eliminate the grass.

    My coop is covered with 2x4 wire fence as 'roof' with 1/4 of it covered with that wavy roofing stuff (I found a couple of sheets in my barn) for mostly shade and covering the area where I keep the feed.
    IMHO, yes, you should cover the run with at least wire mesh to keep hawks out.
    Oh, and don't find out the hard way like I did that racoons, possums, and several other varmits climb fences and kill definately cover the run well.

    Anyway, check out all the threads and listen to all the experienced folks out here. I'm just a newbie putting out my two cents worth. [​IMG]

    By the by, whereabouts in VA are you? I'm in the WV Panhandle.[​IMG]
  3. 54Belair

    54Belair In the Brooder

    Jan 11, 2007
    Yes, cover the run.
    put an electric fence on the outside.
    make the run outa 6 foot chain link
    put security lights and timers on them.
    and still expect to loose a few.
    'its not easy haveing chickens
  4. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    With all the horror stories I've heard about coons, possums, COONS, I made my coop an run like Fort Knox. It is covered top to bottom with chain link fencing (even underneath so the buggers can't burrow in). I've covered the entire top of my run with boards on top of the fencing to provide shade in summer and keep rain out in winter.
  5. jstudy

    jstudy In the Brooder

    Feb 15, 2007
    I'm not too worried about losing any to predators. We have quite a healthy population of racoons and fox, even a couple bear. However, my dog (bird dog, but very obediant and knows what birds he's to point [​IMG] ) roams the area, the racoons are fat off what people feed them and litter, and most importantly my neighbor has a large population of free roaming ducks, geese and chickens, why go after my small very secured flock when there's a smorgasboard waiting there. [​IMG]

    Too bad about the grass, I though it would be nice to suplement them with it. I also thought having some rain would help break down the droppings.

    Just out of curiosity, how far will chickens range from their coop? My neighbors look like they don't go more than 50 feet or so, even though there's a wide open field (His guineas will go a quarter mile though!)

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
  6. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    jstudy, Welcome to BYC.

    I cover my pen with steel roofing, for me it keeps predators from getting in, keeps rain and snow out of the run, and also creates shade for my hens.

    We leave our chickens out to free range for grass and bugs and that also helps with less chicken poo in the run to clean up.

    During times the hens have to stay in, we put a bagger on the push mower and dump in the pen for the hens to eat and scratch and play in. When they see me coming with the clippings it's a real joy.

  7. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    I covered my chicken pen that attaches to the coop with chicken wire and partially with some plywood. I have 2 Labrador Retrievers (bird dogs) that I use for hunting so they will protect the chicken coop and their scent alone will make any critter cautious about coming into the area. Last night I closed the pen thinking all my chickens were inside. I woke up this morning and one of my Rhode Island Reds stay with my dogs last night and she was running around the yard with them this morning while all the other chickens were locked up in the pen. The main reason I put a partial top on their pen was if I leave their food down on the ground the dogs will eat it. So when they are done eating I put it on top so only the chickens have access by flying up and having food available to them through out the day. Rain does break down the droppings when I mow I do not use a catcher or bag but mulch it.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
  8. Backyard rancher

    Backyard rancher In the Brooder

    Feb 12, 2007
    Along the same line of covering a coop. I am building mine and am wondering if I need to bury the wire at the bottom of the run or just run 1X6 around the bottom to strengthen the wire..... I have seen it done both ways to keep them safe.....the board will be so much easier
  9. SueNH

    SueNH Songster

    Feb 24, 2007
    With a 16x10 run and 6 or so chickens you will have bare ground in a short time. Cover the run. Raccoons will go after the chickens even if they are well fed. Raccoons consider chicken a gourmet meal. They will even grab through the wire and you find a headless bird in the morning. Racoons also have working thumbs. Something to keep in mind when designing locks.

    When I lived in suburbia I lost more chickens to racoons than anything else.

    My chickens free range during the day but the pen and coop is a small fortress. Wire that goes underground and folds out. Wire over the top. Chainlink around the sides. They are only locked up at night or if I'm gone for an extended period of the day.

    I do cover the run with a tarp. I do have to pull snow off the top occassionally but the boards over the top of the pen are 2x6's so they take a lot of weight.

    My dog has free run but still predators come in. Seems to keep the racoons cautious but the fox will wait hidden and study the dog and my movements and strike when the time is right. I even had a car stop one day and call to me that there was a fox in the bushes about 20 feet behind me watching. I've had birds taken right at my back door.

    Make the pen a fortress and just let them out when your home.
  10. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    I used to cover my runs with chicken wire, but it is so cumbersoms to work with. Now I use the plastic berry netting (1/2 inch if you can find it). It's surprisingly strong. I don't know how big a critter it could actually keep out, but it does keep wild birds out of the feeder area, so I don't have to worry about them spreading disease.

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