Large chicken run ideas

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Nathanya, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. Nathanya

    Nathanya Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am looking to build a completely new run for my chicken coop. I previously just had a fenced in area and i lost all my chickens to predators because they are a big problem around my house. I was looking to build a large run made completely out of a wooden frame atleast 40ft by 40ft. I was wondering if anybody has a any tips on how to build one or has any pictures of their own large run?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It might help if we knew which predators were causing you the problem and how you lost your chickens. What did your old fence look like? How pretty does your fence need to be? For some people in some circumstances, pretty is a very important part of the criteria. There are different techniques for different problems.

    For non-flying predators, an electric fence is probably your best solution if you can provide the electricity. You don't have to cover the run that way, and with a run that size, covering it is going to be a bit of a challenge and probably quite expensive. Any top you put on it will sag so you will need some intermediate supports. If you live where you can get ice or snow, you may have real problems supporting the snow load, even with a wire top. A wet snow or freezing rain will stick and weigh it down. Whether or not you cover it will make a huge difference in what you build.

    I don't know why you have limited it to a "frame" fence and I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that. Are you planning on using any wire or is it totally made out of wood? I don't know enough about what you want to do to offer any specific recommendations. I will throw out a few comments that might or might not help.

    I use the philosophy of locking them in a predator-proof coop at night and keeping them in a predator resistant run during the day. I used to free range but had too many problems with people dropping dogs off in the country so the people out here can shoot them. They can cause problems before we shoot them though. Since I’ve adopted the predator resistant run (actually electric netting) I have not had any losses.

    If you do not put a top on it and you put a top rail on the fence, chickens may fly to the top rail just to perch. They enjoy perching. When they hop down, there is no telling which side they will hop down on. And once they get out, they don’t know enough to get back in. If the top of the fence is wire so they don’t see a good place to perch, they generally won’t fly out.

    However, if they are motivated, they have no problem flying out of a 5 foot high fence. I had some hens learn to leave the run when I was using a 5’ high fence. They were trying to get away from an amorous rooster. If properly motivated, they can get out of a very high fence. With a big run like you are talking about, you should be OK. A risk is if you integrate chickens, they may be motivated by trying to get away from the bullies. I occasionally have that with my 4’ high electric netting.

    I personally don’t like putting any more wood touching the ground than I have to, even treated wood. It will eventually rot. That is just personal preference.

    I have seen animals like possums and groundhogs just run under a fence if there is a tiny opening between the ground and the bottom of the fence. You’d be amazed at how little room they need. I'm sure raccoons, foxes, and coyotes can do the same. I like an apron around the run to stop that as well as stopping digging predators. Take a section of wire about 18” to 24” wide, lay it horizontal on the ground and attach it to the bottom of your fence. It stops them from just pushing under the fence and if one decides to dig, they hit the wire and don’t know to back up. You don’t really have to bury it at all but it makes it easier to weed eat if you take the sod off, put down the fencing, then put the sod back.

    I don’t know of any of this will help. Good luck!
     
  3. Nathanya

    Nathanya Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok thanks for all the information you really did open up a lot of ideas. The fence I am going to build is going to need to keep out coyotes,raccons and foxes. I was going to make a whole wooden pen just a wooden frame with fencin around it and it is going to be so feet tall. I was think of making the whole pen only 30',30' so that I can build supports on the top to put chicken wire.
     
  4. Gofygure

    Gofygure Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I'm cheap. I scavenge used dog kennels (10' x 10' x 6') off of Craigslist and just link them up with the existing run when it's time for an expansion. The base is surrounded by rocks and the wire method suggested by Ridgerunner, and the top is covered in deer netting. Then at night the coop gets locked up good and tight. Haven't lost one in it yet, but then I rarely get predators so close to the house, especially in broad daylight.

    For your situation, my primary concern would be the support for the top. A 40x40 roof, even of sturdy wire, is going to start sagging without beams or pipes running across. Long and narrow is easier to manage than a square. I think I know what kind of run you are talking about, and they can be very beautiful and efficient if constructed properly.
     
  5. sshoreland

    sshoreland Out Of The Brooder

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    We built frames 6ft tall 6 wide out of 2x2 treated wood with a center support and stretched chicken wire over it using a staple gun and air compressor, we attached the frames together with screws and some t-posts for strength. Then we ran thin cable across and length and stretched bird netting over that and zip tied it together and onto the frame
     
  6. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would recommend an electrified poultry net/fence. I have one from Premier, and it has worked great for me. If you go with a regular fence, you still have to either dig a trench and bury the bottom of the fence, or lay out some kind of fence/apron all the way around the fence. Otherwise, a fox or some other predator will just dig under and in. You would have to dig post holes or drive in fence stakes. With the poultry fence, all you have to do is step the fence spikes into the ground and move on. It's very easy and quick to install. You can go with solar or house current to power up the fence.
    Jack
     
  7. Nathanya

    Nathanya Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ya I was considering buying an electric fence however it isn't very tall unless I only put it only the bottom and then chicken wire above that. I am really hopping to be able to build a frame atleast 30',30'. I was think of just wrapping chicken wire 6ft tall around the whole thing and thn along the whole top and bottom I would put 1x6 boards between each 4x4 post along tr top and bottom or extra support and to attach the wire too.
     
  8. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had mine set up since Apr. I had 1 bird out of 19 go over the first day the fence was up. I clipped one of her wings and have not had any problems since. They are out there all day, everyday, and are totally content in there. Best thing, NO losses. I had/have a fox problem around here. Plus the occasional wandering dog. I seen a dog nose up to the fence once, he turned and ran howling from it, and didn't even look back till he was over 100 yards away. A hungry predator will tear through chicken wire easily, get something heavier. If you are going with some kind of a regular fence, give some thought to running a hot wire all the way around, about 6" off the ground.
    Jack
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  9. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    If your trying to keep out coyote you will need a substantial wire or as said use hot wire.
     
  10. Nathanya

    Nathanya Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK I will definitely consider putting electric fence around bottom portion of the pen however, i am not that worried about coyotes i am more worried about smaller predators like foxes and raccoons.
     

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