I ask advice for a coop design...or more like a chicken fortress!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Cheery Cluck, Nov 14, 2009.

  1. Cheery Cluck

    Cheery Cluck Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 13, 2009
    Santa Fe County
    Over the years I have had the worst luck with predators getting into my coop and nabbing all my chickens. So now I'm building a chicken run and coop closer to the house just so I can hear if anything is happening. It seems in other designs I have tried everything to keep the girls safe and well but just this week a bobcat dug under the wire of the coop and got into the coop and killed them. We also have lots of trouble with raccoons getting in the coop from above even with the wire overhead. So with all this in mind, anyone have any ideas of a coop and run design that is practically impenetrable? Pics could be helpful too! Thanks!
     
  2. Overeasyplz

    Overeasyplz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2009
    Leesburg
    We converted an old goat house when I was a kid..Raccoons kept getting in and killing all the birds. We went throught the whole coop and covered every vent with 1X2" woven heavy wire, then ran electric fence around the perimiter. If I recall they did not get in there again.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    To deter digging predators, either bury wire fencing 18" or more deep at the base of the run fence, attaching it securely to the base of the run fence so no gap can be made there; or run an 'apron' of wire fencing horizontally on the ground (or just under the surface of the ground), from the base of the fence out to 2-4' away (in your case I would go all the way out to 4'!), again affixing very securely to the base of the fence. This needs to be heavy-gauge galvanized wire, no larger than 2x4" mesh. If you do an apron on the surface of the ground, pin it securely to the ground using tent pegs or heavy rocks/pavers/concrete-rubble/whatever (and preferably turn the far edge downwards).

    To keep things from coming in the top, a well-built roof is the most effective but also least-easy/least-cheap option. If you do build a roof, build it RIGHT, not in a half-*ssed way. If you are not going to do a roof, heavy gauge galvanized wire mesh on a STRONG wood frame with lots of 'rafter' type crossbraces will work well too. If baby possums and baby raccoons are an issue, or snakes, then you want 1x1" mesh; otherwise 2x4" mesh can be ok.

    Make sure that everything is strongly and tightly built, with no 'oh, they won't notice this part' gaps or wibbly bits or insecure attachments.

    It is a real good idea to ensure that the bottom 2-3' of your run fence (also the top, if your run is less than 4' high) has 1/2" mesh on it, ideally hardwarecloth but 1/2" chickenwire (hard to find - the usual stuff is 1") or even 1/2" plastic garden netting are somewhat better than nothing. This will prevent reach-through problems, where a chicken sticks its head out thru the fence and gets injured or grabbed, or a raccoon reaches in to grab a handful of a nearby chicken. You might think the latter would not happen, but it is actually a fairly frequent way of people losing chickens.

    If you are having predator problems, btw, DON'T USE CHICKENWIRE at all, for anything. It is jsut not strong enough these days. Some flimsy square-mesh welded wire and chainlink fencing are also on the market. It is really worth saving your pennies, or forgoing cable or cell phone service for a while, or stopping eating out or buying new clotehs for a few months if necessary, to build a GOOD STOUT run and predatorproof coop. And of course lock them into the coop every evening at dusk, without fail.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. Mr. Peepers

    Mr. Peepers Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 7, 2009
    If you have a serious predator problem, electric fence or wire should be part of the solution. An electric wire around the base of the coop and the run will deter diggers, and a wire at the top will prevent climbers. Even more wires are better. A good coop/run sized fence energizer like the Gallagher Wrangler goes for about $70. Ground rods, insulators and wire will run you another $25. Cheap insurance. A raccoon hit my electric wire last night, and I could hear the little varmint scream 100 yards away and through closed windows. I don't think he'll be back.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I would strongly advise thinking of electric as the 'cherry on top', the extra insurance, NOT the main mode of protection. Because no electric fencing is 100% reliable -- whether it is plug-in, battery or solar, it WILL fail sometimes, for a variety of reasons, and predators are often verrrry quick to notice.

    It can indeed be a useful *addition* to an otherwise pretty stout and predatorproof system, of course.

    Pat
     
  6. captainmoose

    captainmoose Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 5, 2009
    SE PA
    I have always had success with wire buried 18-24in down and 2ft out on the apron. If you want something that is impenetrable you can dig a footer like they do when they build a house down below the frost line, and pour concrete. But that would cost a lot, wire is cheaper. As far as the top goes, build a good frame and secure strong wire or hardware cloth. I am securing a 20x20 run this weekend, if the weather cooperates will take pictures and post.
     
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We've had good luck so far and we are in a predator-rich zone. Hens are in before dusk (heading there shortly) and not out until well after sunrise. The run is easy to check, the only thing I would change, if I had had a digger trying to get in is to improve the hardware cloth skirting. I've heard of people flooring the area under the run with more hardware cloth attached to the upper part with hog nose rings, then filling in the earth over it. A lot of work, but effective. We paid attention to the top, too, and created a template to fortify the space where the roof joists hang on the cross beam and meet the corrugated roofing. We might get invaded at some point ( hoping not) but we have fortified to the best of our ability at this time. Oh and we have locks on both sides of the pop door, we felt it worthwhile to make a double door, too. In the coop we have a concrete floor, which is a huge comfort.

    I'm so sorry about your losses, you must be extremely frustrated.

    See below, the link to the run...

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    Last edited: Nov 14, 2009
  8. TedsFarms

    TedsFarms Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 25, 2008
    coyotes, wild dogs and the occassional owl are my biggest issue in this area. The electric fence proved beneficial for my coop. Even keeps the ground squirrels away. The roof is fully covered in chicken wire to keep my birds in and the bad birds out.
     

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