New to chickens. Starter coop and predators - questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Lunabee, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. Lunabee

    Lunabee In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2015
    West Coast
    Hi, I am new here and love your site.

    I am looking at either building a coop or buying one:

    I have rats, racoons, possums, cats, my own dog. I was told and read to put hardware wire under the run - how do they get to the dirt then? A friend said to put sod in... I am in a city and backyard. I really dont want something to get in.. so I want to be prepared and try to prevent it first.

    So with that list of predators and who knows what else how should I go about making sure hte bottom is secure - hardware wire 1/4 is the best but how do they get to peck and scratch. Do I cover it with a board and put dirt on it? Do I have to dig into the ground to keep things out still? For a city we have a lot of racoons and skunks. I will screw the top lid down or latch it somehow very well.

    I was going to use a nipple pvc pipe water system and a standard feed bucket. Even growing them vegies and such. Any suggestions? Or is it best my father build us one?

    I plan on having at least one silkie and maybe a bantham or two. No more than 4 max. I need to be able to get into it as well as I have medical issues that are physical. I like the tamer birds and want to know can I keep a silkie with a bantham. Right now they are all raised with each other from the person I am obtaining them from.

    If building is better can someone direct me to a good design?

    Thank you,
    This site is the most informative!
  2. Darceyhs

    Darceyhs In the Brooder

    Feb 24, 2014
    Have a cage that has wire on the bottom and is fully predator proof and then have a run for during the day when you go to work etc with no wire at the bottom or top just high walls and wire dug into the ground. Lock them in the cage at night. Maybe visit if you have more questions.
  3. SunkenRoadFarms

    SunkenRoadFarms Chirping

    Sep 11, 2014
    I highly recommend building your own coop. The prefabs sold on sites like Amazon will maybe last a season, and you'll find yourself putting more money into it than if you built your own with quality materials.

    As for the wire, you don't need a wire bottom in the run. Sides and roof (if you don't have a roofed run) yes. You can bury it in a trench or run an apron at least 12 inches out. Both will deter digging predators.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Lunabee

    Lunabee In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2015
    West Coast
    Thanks for your advice. Digging into the ground here is very hard to do as its clay but will attempt it when I figure out what I want in my coop as I will have it built. Will look at the coops here.
  5. SkyWorld

    SkyWorld Chirping

    Mar 5, 2014
    Building your own is probably the best way to go as SunkenRoadFarm says. I too live in the city limits and are allowed to have 6 hens, no Roosters. I took apart my sofa, used the kitchen cabinets, bookcase, rejected scrap wood and concert blocks and what ever I thought would help to make a chicken home safe. If you make you run large enough you can bury the wire fencing 1 foot and line it with bricks. Your right about the hard clay soil. What will be important is keeping the hawks from swooping in so I cover the top part of my run with the cheaper chicken wire.
    It's not the prettiest, but it has been holding up well and when I am not home they are safe from the elements that want to eat them. The other thing you should think about is good ventilation. I live in NCalif. and in the summer the birds get hot real easy. Shady place under some trees would be good place to put your coop if you can do it safely. Have fun and I wish you the best in your new chicken life. I am very happy to have my girls.[​IMG]
  6. PapaChaz

    PapaChaz Crowing

    May 25, 2010
    NW Georgia
    you're definitely better off building your own coop and run or having your father build it. the 'starter' coops you see advertised are just that, and as someone already said, most likely won't last at all.

    LOL at a newbie here advising to go somewhere else for advice, my advice is use the search box up there and the 'learning center' button....

    as for digging in the ground, you really don't have to dig in, you can lay hardware cloth or even poultry cloth (chicken wire) flat on the ground like a border around the outside of the coop and run, stake it down with landscape cloth staples. Make it at least 2 feet wide, the wider the better. anything that wanted to dig in, would have to tunnel in from farther away and would make them more apt to give up, though if they try digging in and run into some kind of wire barrier they'll give up quicker.

    good luck and keep us posted on what you decide to do!
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There is some disagreement on how wide it actually needs to be, but an apron is the easiest way to prevent digging predators from getting in. MyPetChicken sells something with only a 12” wide apron, but I certainly agree that does not look very wide. I’m not suggesting you buy this, certainly not 150’, but just using the picture to show what I’m talking about. I made mine 18” wide. 24” would be good too.

    You have to attach it well to the bottom of your run. If your run bottom is wire, you might be able to use J-Clips, hog rings, or weave a strip of wire through it. You can’t have holes between the apron and your run that a predator can squeeze through. If the bottom of your run is wood, maybe use screws with fender washers or strips of wood over the wire and screw that on, the screws clamped down tight and going through a hole in the wire. This strip of wood is my preferred method but lots of people use the fender washers and screws. I use wood about ½” to ¾” thick and drill pilot holes for the screws to keep from splitting the wood.

    You don’t have to bury it but you might need to lay something on top until the grass grows through it to hold it down. Many people remove the top 2” of dirt, which really means the turf, put in the fence, and put the turf back. That holds it down flat, makes it more attractive, and keeps it away from a weed eater or lawn mower. This is a whole lot easier than digging a deep trench and burying wire straight down, especially in rocky soil.

    The idea is not that the animal has to dig further to get in. The idea is that the animal goes up to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and does not know to back up. It is effective.
    1 person likes this.
  8. Might I suggest a dog run for your "run" (you may still add hardware cloth or chicken wire on the bottom if you worry about something digging in), followed by a "roof" of PVC pipe and hardware cloth to keep the hawks and owls out...and then use a dog house (igloo, whatever) as your actual coop for your bantams and silkies.

    No digging in the ground to plant posts, no prefab coops that do, unfortunately, tend to have a relatively short life and fall apart fairly easily. The igloo dog houses are quite sturdy.

    We've used dog runs for all our coop runs; I like the ones from our local Lowes as they can be set up as a 10x10 run or a 15x5 run. We also attach 3 foot hardware cloth around the perimeter to keep critters from reaching in.

    I am at work right now but I can attach pictures of some of ours when I get home if that would help.

  9. Here are some examples of dog runs for "chicken runs"

  10. Lunabee

    Lunabee In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2015
    West Coast
    Thank you for the information and images. I will spend some time pricing and working on a coop plan. The pet run idea is interesting. Thank you again to everyone.

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