Open pen approach and predator safety

PippinChicken

Songster
Oct 28, 2017
164
110
121
I'm planning some new breeding pens and would love to hear from people who have done an open run/coop combo sort of approach like these examples from online. I can see definite benefits to it, but the idea of not having them locked up in a solid box at night concerns me.

Have you had pens like this? What did you like and dislike? How did you make it as predator proof as possible without a full secure coop portion? What advice would you give to someone considering this style?
7fea7beeff9715002ec845092f22b9ff.jpg
77abbcc3c6c8d279608487ace9ef61dc.jpg
 

Tamdog

Songster
Apr 23, 2020
423
1,528
196
Mine are open. But I live in a relatively warm area. The place they sleep is at the back of a barn- the other three sides are completely " Open" but it is a Pen inside a pen- For instance if you were to put some wire and a cage for them to roost in - inside that pen in your photo. Mine has been like that for decades and only once did something break in and we fixed the area we felt like was weak. Make sure the ground has wire buried near the edges and get good secure locks for the doors,. I read on another post it would not hurt to make sure that they do not have a roosting spot on the edge where a raccoon can get his hand in and grab one,.I would double up the wire in areas that are not double by using hardwire cloth wire.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
6,310
12,114
596
USA
... the idea of not having them locked up in a solid box at night concerns me....

A large dog can go through 1/2" plywood. Or rip through hardware cloth. If large dogs are a problem, I would rather trust the wire fencing in those photos.

What predators do you have to worry about? The coops you show would be fine against hawks, owls, dogs, cats, and would keep a raccoon from getting in.

Raccoons might reach through the wire--but you could add hardware cloth on the outermost ends, and maybe on the doors. A solid roof over the roosts can keep raccoons from reaching in their either.

You might want something to make sure predators cannot dig in: wire apron, electric fence, solid bottom--I suppose you could pour concrete floors in them all if you were really concerned.

If you have weasels or ferrets or snakes, I agree they might go through the holes of that wire fencing. Hardware cloth over the welded wire for all outer panels (ends, fronts, tops) would solve that.

Those pens have great ventilation, and plent of natural light: I really admire that about them. I also like that they are large enough to walk inside, which makes tending and cleaning easier.

Climate makes a big difference. What might be great in Florida would be unsuitable for winter in Alaska. But those pens would certainly provide shelter from rain, and shade from sun, so in some climates they would be fine. (And tarps over a few sides in the winter would be enough in some other climates.)

Overall, I like those pens quite well.
 

PippinChicken

Songster
Oct 28, 2017
164
110
121
A large dog can go through 1/2" plywood. Or rip through hardware cloth. If large dogs are a problem, I would rather trust the wire fencing in those photos.

What predators do you have to worry about? The coops you show would be fine against hawks, owls, dogs, cats, and would keep a raccoon from getting in.

Raccoons might reach through the wire--but you could add hardware cloth on the outermost ends, and maybe on the doors. A solid roof over the roosts can keep raccoons from reaching in their either.

You might want something to make sure predators cannot dig in: wire apron, electric fence, solid bottom--I suppose you could pour concrete floors in them all if you were really concerned.

If you have weasels or ferrets or snakes, I agree they might go through the holes of that wire fencing. Hardware cloth over the welded wire for all outer panels (ends, fronts, tops) would solve that.

Those pens have great ventilation, and plent of natural light: I really admire that about them. I also like that they are large enough to walk inside, which makes tending and cleaning easier.

Climate makes a big difference. What might be great in Florida would be unsuitable for winter in Alaska. But those pens would certainly provide shelter from rain, and shade from sun, so in some climates they would be fine. (And tarps over a few sides in the winter would be enough in some other climates.)

Overall, I like those pens quite well.

Thank you so much for the thoughtful response!

Our most prevalent predators are hawks, owls, raccoons, feral cats, the occasional bobcat, skunks, opossum, and neighbor dogs who have been uninterested in the chickens so far. Coyotes, fox, and weasels are also possible given our region, but we've never seen any on the property.

Our plan has been to do hardware cloth over the whole run. If we go this route of having no separate coop then I imagine we would lay down hardware cloth all across the ground, too...

Our climate is pretty mild. Cool, damp, and rainy most of the year. Rarely below freezing and pretty sheltered from wind by surrounding forest. The increased ventilation is one of the big draws of this design. Cool and damp is prime conditions for mildew, so it would help to not add darkness and stagnant air to the equation. We also use sand and while it does wonders for keeping the ground dry and making cleanup a breeze, it does get dusty.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
6,310
12,114
596
USA
Our most prevalent predators are hawks, owls, raccoons, feral cats, the occasional bobcat, skunks, opossum, and neighbor dogs who have been uninterested in the chickens so far. Coyotes, fox, and weasels are also possible given our region, but we've never seen any on the property.

Wow, that is quite the list!

If we go this route of having no separate coop then I imagine we would lay down hardware cloth all across the ground, too...

I'm not sure how fast hardware cloth rusts out underground.
Heavier-gauge wire fencing might last longer. Even if it has 2" by 4" holes, it will keep out most of the predators you name--they might be able to reach through, but not put their whole body through.
 

David61

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
692
1,514
196
Mississippi Gulf Coast
About what I have now. Covered run with roost box on one end. But I shut the door at night.
 

Attachments

  • SSPX1008.JPG
    SSPX1008.JPG
    424.4 KB · Views: 5
  • SSPX1009.JPG
    SSPX1009.JPG
    450.1 KB · Views: 5
  • v.jpg
    v.jpg
    29.4 KB · Views: 5
  • vvv.jpg
    vvv.jpg
    34.9 KB · Views: 4
  • vvvvv.jpg
    vvvvv.jpg
    34.8 KB · Views: 4

PippinChicken

Songster
Oct 28, 2017
164
110
121
Wow, that is quite the list!



I'm not sure how fast hardware cloth rusts out underground.
Heavier-gauge wire fencing might last longer. Even if it has 2" by 4" holes, it will keep out most of the predators you name--they might be able to reach through, but not put their whole body through.

We've actually only lost two chickens ever to predators! It was the same incident, a pair of young juveniles absolutely ripped apart in the middle of the day. I suspect the feral cat because of how much I've seen it lurking. But yeah... there's an abundance of wildlife around. I'm just glad the coyotes and foxes don't seem interested in our area.

That's a good point about rusting, hadn't thought about that. And very true that the ground layer doesn't necessarily have to be as small, just small enough to block full bodies of whatever digging predators are around...
 

David61

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
692
1,514
196
Mississippi Gulf Coast
We've actually only lost two chickens ever to predators! It was the same incident, a pair of young juveniles absolutely ripped apart in the middle of the day. I suspect the feral cat because of how much I've seen it lurking. But yeah... there's an abundance of wildlife around. I'm just glad the coyotes and foxes don't seem interested in our area.

That's a good point about rusting, hadn't thought about that. And very true that the ground layer doesn't necessarily have to be as small, just small enough to block full bodies of whatever digging predators are around...
I wanted the 1/2 HC to stop the small vermin but we have night time coyotes and foxes. So I doubled down HC down and out with chain link skirt buried.
SSPX0993.JPG
SSPX1001.JPG
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom