Need advice on constructing a predator proof run fast!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jjthink, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    Jan 17, 2007
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    Hi - Long sad story but a roo I had adopted out in November is being decimated by young hens at his new home so the people want me to take him back by tomorrow, along with a friendly hen so he has company. I no longer have chickens and when I did I cared for them at a location different than where I am now. My current location has no run. It does have an emergency coop (used in snowstorms when the other wasn't sufficient) in an outbuilding so that part I've got covered.

    Things have changed since I had chickens - I can no longer be home much at all (new job takes me away and my mom is very ill and I'm at the hospital hours away most of the time) - so this is all pretty much a nightmare because I believe in giving exemplary care. Never expected that I would have chickens at this time. The only thing I can think of to do if no great home is imminently forthcoming for them (I am in NJ), is to try to construct some kind of run so that when I can't be home they can go outside and then go to bed at dusk without a predator issue if I'm not there to shut them in.

    This is a residential neighborhood where chickens aren't even allowed so I have to try to make this thing look pleasant and for all the world like a garden area.

    The double doors to the outbuilding are about 8 feet high (how on earth will I make something 8 feet high attractive in a residential neighborhood I don't know) and 6 feet wide - the width of the building that the doors are centered in is about 20 feet. I will need to be able to get the doors open for other business and these doors propped open maybe a foot would also be their way in and out of the run when I can't be home. Located inside that building is a smaller building - the coop.

    What type of fencing is sound, what method of securing in the ground is sound, and what type of covering is sound?. Frozen ground here and no time and so I am afraid I am in a panic. Main predators are likely to be wandering dogs and also raccoons. Fox, coyore less likely because residential but not out of the question. And there are hawks, but if covered run, then okay I presume. Lots of trees and shrubs around for cover but not in the immediate area of where the run would be because how do I cover if I include a tree in there?

    I would be ever so grateful for any help/advice asap and for any photos that illustrate good possibilities. Thank you.
    JJ
     
  2. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    Wow! What a situation! One option would be to put in a pop hole (small chicken door) on the side of the building out of the way, or maybe behind it, and put a covered chain-link dog run on the outside. This would allow the chickens free access into the building/coop without having to leave the doors open. If you leave the big doors open, first there is no way to keep preditors out without having to completely cover the big doors, and then the run would be in the way and you'd not have access to your building. Now if your inner building/coop is up against a wall then you could make the pop hole directly into it. With the dog run outside, all you'd need to do would be to put chicken wire up a couple of feet then bring it down and out a foot or so, kinda L shaped, and throw dirt or gravel over it so dogs, etc, couldn't dig under. This would be fast and secure. Then the only problem you'd have would be when the roo crows in a neighborhood where they're not allowed. But, if the neighbors don't complain you won't have a problem.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  3. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    You are so nice to respond. I was neglectful in not mentioning that the building is virtually all solid stone (c. 1850) and so there is almost no other place to put entrance/exit tho there is a window to either side of the doors with wood siding beneath, then beyond each window and all around the other 3 sides it's solid stone. I could put a pop hole just to the side of the door beneath the window leaving the big doors unaffected (I would have to shed a tear over the mural of chickens and other beings I once painted on the inside as it would have a cut out!). That would make life a whole lot easier with regard to getting in and out of the big doors tho I am mystifed what to do about the window (would hate to block it) unless I have a very low ceilinged enclosure, lower than the window, thus lower than a picket fence - getting in there to clean would be so difficult.
    Chain link won't go over in my neck of the woods, so to speak, so I need something more aesthetic. As well as guidance about what to cover the run with.
    Thank you, thank you, for helping me try to think this through!
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  4. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    Is there anyway you can get a small dog crate and stuff BJ and his friend in it until you can think of something else? I know that you'd love to freerange them, but unless you can be there, it's not a wise thing...
     
  5. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    So you don't have any restrictions in modifying your building? I'm thinking historical building restrictions. Would it be possible for you to post some pictures? Of the inside as well as the outside? It's kinda hard to see what you see without pics. How high is the bottom of the window from the ground? You could still use the dog kennel (which I mention because you are so concerned about preditors and it is really strong)and put white lattice on the outside (which you'll probably want to do with any fence because of aesthetics). Or if you don't mind sinking posts you could use 2x4's and 2"x4" welded wire and build a fenced enclosure. You'll still want to toe out some chicken wire at the bottom, though, to prevent digging. And put the run low enough not to block the window. It won't matter with the run. And how far is the inside building you're using as a coop from the window? If it's not, say, 100' away you could make a wire enclosure on the inside from the pop hole to the coop. hth.

    Another thought. You're just talking about 2 birds, or a few more later, why not build a wire coop on the inside next to the window? All they need inside is a next box, a roost, bedding, and feed. You might want to keep water on the outside so the bedding doesn't get wet. If you're there at least a couple times a day to let them out. This is assuming you will lock them up at night in case a preditor were to get into your preditor proof run. Hey, it happens. For this I would use hardware cloth as mice or rats might like your nice comfy building too. As long as your birds have shelter from rain and wind and preditors, they don't need a strong wood coop.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  6. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks for noodling this through with me! Let's see, I do need to refresh myself on the photo thing and then I can post photos.

    As to doing anything inside the building, thank goodness I'm covered there because there is a coop within the building and it's okay if they hang out in the rest of the building too, though it's not particularly great chicken habitat - it's essentially used as a garage, has tons of stuff and is very cold. The coop within the garage, however, is nice, maybe 6 x4x 8 feet high, insulated and with electric for heat lamps and light when needed. Just filled it with fresh wood shavings. Yesterday I took four 8 foot 4x4's and make a square area just outside the coop on the garage floor and filled that with wood shavings (like a sandbox but with wood shavings instead of sand) so that when they come out of the small coop to stretch they have an area that isn't just cold cement. It make smoving around in there very difficult as the building is not very big - essentially the size of a 2 car garage.

    This will provide for them indoors but then there's the outdoor dilemma (they will very quickly go insane inside) since I need a setup that allows them to go outside and get back in on the many days I can't be home by dusk. So I know I need to cut a hole in the big doors or in the siding just underneath the window to give them a way in and out (something that can be covered/shut during extreme cold when they must be in). They can walk right out of the coop door, and several feet across the garage floor and out that pop hole, no problem.
    Then I need to have an safe outdoor enclosure affiliated with that pop hole so that nobody univited can do the same in reverse.

    So maybe one of my main questions is this - what types of metal "fencing" are sound enough (when you say chicken wire I picture that flexible octagonal metal stuff - is that okay? strong enough? raccoon proof?) - and should the same stuff be used to cover the enclosure? Important to prevent digging under - that will be a challenge as the ground is difficult to work here in terms of trying to sink anything in below the surface but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Toeing out the wire (I'm picturing and "L") and then maybe putting weight on the toed out portion might be an alternative to trying to get the fencing into the ground? .
    None of this is aided by the fact that we are supposed to get a foot of snow in a couple of days!!!.

    In theory I'm supposed to pick the chickens up today - the people are away though and hopefully marked the hen that they think has bonded most with him. Otherwise I just won't know which one it is and won't be able to follow through on this - unfortunately I haven't been able to observe who he has bonded with since I have tried not to be in the way too much - it would be sad to bring the wrong one, leaving behind his best buddy. This is weighing on me as this whole business is going to be enough of a stressor as it is..
     
  7. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    Sounds like you're doing great so far! And since you're only talking about 2 chickens, though three would be better for his sake, they will be fine in what you have already prepared for at least a few weeks. You have a warm safe lite place for them so they'll be fine for now. The reason I say 2 hens for him, if you can, is because if anything happened to the one girl, your roo would be all alone and would likely pine himself to death. But if there was a second to keep him from being totally alone, he'd recover better. Then get another hen to bring the count up to 2 again.

    Anyway, back to your project. [​IMG]

    Now that you've got the most important part, the coop, under control, back to the run. I still think you should put the pop hole under the window so the run will not interfere with using the door. Since you are going to cover the run, it doesn't need to be very tall. I imagine the bottom of your window would be 3-4' from the ground. You could make your run that tall. Just to the bottom of the window. You still haven't mentioned if you can sink posts for the corners, if you don't you'll have to make a complete framework probably from 2x4's to attach the wire to. DON'T use chicken wire. It is the thin octogonal wire you mentioned and only keeps birds in, it does not keep preditors out. I think 1"x2" welded wire would be the best because it is very strong and coon's, etc, cannot reach through it to grab a chicken. Or you could use the 2x4" welded wire and put the chicken wire up 2' or so to prevent reaching in. And you could use the chicken wire to toe out to prevent digging. You don't have to bury the toed out wire, just set things on top of it. Maybe gravel or rocks, depending on your situation. You should also use the welded wire to put on top of your run since your fence won't be very high. If your run is only 3' tall a critter, cat, dog, whatever, could easily jump on top so, depending on how big you make your run, you might want a short post or support in the center to support some weight.

    I wouldn't worry about aesthetics just yet. Get the run finished and see how it looks. If you think it's not pretty enough, slap some white lattice over the sides. You'd be surprised what a difference it'll make. hth
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2007
  8. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    Becky, how can I thank you enough for the time you are spending helping me - THANK YOU! You have been so helpful.

    I recommended strongly that the roo have 2 hens, both for his sake in case one dies and for the hens sake, as she will miss her long term girlfriends when she is scooped up possibly later today never to see them again. That request has been denied. It is heartbreaking because I feel really bad for the hen that will lose her friends and also because I know how sad this roo got when his hen friend died back in November when I had just the two of them in my care. He almost died of his sadness (wouldn't eat, drink, move) and so then I went on a mad hunt for a good home for him since the property where I was caring for them was owned by someone else and they didn't want more chickens. And my place didn't have the facilities, nor is it legal....I knew he wouldn't make it all alone so gave him up to what I thought was going to be a wonderful forever home. If I bring in a second hen from a completely different source I have no idea what will happen - that could be big trouble if they reject her?

    Thanks ever so much for the recommendations about the right kind of wire - that helps a lot.
    Sinking posts in - good question - not sure yet - the area in front of the doors and windows is cement. I am pondering whether there is a way to have some kind of protected passageway from the pop hole down along the building to its edge to clear the cement pad and then have a run off to the side of the building in an area that is dirt and where posts can be sunk.. It will be pretty weird looking but all in all maybe better looking than blocking the front of the building, which is quite nice. That protected passageway will sit on cement so I'm not sure yet what could keep it in place.

    I want to do my best for my feathered friends and yet I should be at the hospital with my mom - this timing is really bad.
     
  9. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    [​IMG] Maybe it's time to stop and regroup. I can tell this is turning into, probably has been, a very stressful situation for you. As you have been willing in the past to find your dear roo a good forever home, maybe you should do so again. You have a good coop to keep him and his lady in for a while. Perhaps you should advertise in the Buy~Sell~Trade~Giveaway section of this forum, as well as the ezboard BackyardChicken forum, and find another home. There are many BYC'ers in your part of the world. You could probably find someone who would take him just for the shipping or maybe even someone within an hour or two driving distance. Then you could give the hen back to your friend and your roo would have his own harem in a much more chicken friendly atmosphere. If you choose to do this, please post a pic and you'll get more interest. If you chose not to, but to keep your precious roo, post again and we'll work on your run. There are many things you can do. Build a wire tunnel from the pop hole to the run at the side of the building for one. I know you want what's best for your feathered friend so let me know. I'll be watching for you.

    I hope your mother's problems are not too serious and she'll be back to her self soon.
     
  10. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks Becky......we'll see how this whole thing evolves. I did post about this sweet roo in the places you mentioned just to keep all avenues in play. In all likelihood, he'll be coming back to me though within a day or so so I have to try to get ready. An outdoor enclosure will take a lot longer than that to build, unfortunately! Not helping too much that it's snowing right now an dthe ground is frozen solid :|
     

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