Predator Proof Coop and Run: Will my ideas work?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by shadowfox, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. shadowfox

    shadowfox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2016
    New Mexico
    As I'm planning my coop and run I want to make sure it is predator proof. I have some ideas, but don't know how well they will work, so I'm looking for some input. Feel free to direct me to other threads that are applicable. I'm sure they are out there, I just don't know how exactly to find them, though I have done some looking around. Also, any other advise on building the coop and run would be appreciated.

    First off, the predators that I know about in my area are raccoons, hawks, and we've seen snakes in our yard this summer. There are dogs in the neighborhood, but our back yard is well fenced already. I've heard of bobcats in a neighborhood about a mile or so south of us. Again, my yard is well fenced (6'-7' high), so I don't know that it would be a concern.

    I'm including a couple of pictures that will hopefully aid in my explanations. The first picture is the site where the coop and run will be. The second picture is from my landscaping plan to show the general layout.

    The tree in this pic is the peach tree from the layout. The sour cherry hasn't been planted yet.


    I want to build my coop and use the ground as the floor as it is very sandy and I think it will make overall maintenance easier. The coop will be 8' x 6' with the run extending from two sides (coop being in one corner). To keep predators out of the coop and run from the bottom, I am planning on using a wire apron buried 6 - 12" under the ground and 18 - 24" horizontally. I'll use 1/4" or 1/2" hardware cloth for the fencing. Any reason to with one size over the other? I'll put in a door/gate so I can get in. I know I need to use a raccoon proof lock on the gate. To cover the run, would I be ok using aviary netting or do I need to go heavier duty with hardware cloth again? The brick wall in the picture is only about 4 1/2' high. I will add a couple extra courses of brick to it where the run will be so it will be at least 6' high.

    For the coop, I'll be using 4' siding or OSB for the exterior. I want to have the walls 6' - 7' high with the upper 2 - 3' open and covered with hardware cloth. I'm assuming that if I seal the edges tight enough I won't have to worry about anything getting in. I'll have a door that opens from the coop into the run. I figure that will add a double layer of protection around the doorway to have it open into the run. As I mentioned, I will do a wire apron around the coop at the exterior corner where the run isn't surrounding it. Should I have the apron continue all the way around the coop just as an extra precaution? I'm not planning on pouring any concrete for the coop to be on. I'll secure the apron to the bottom edge of the coop.

    I've read that raising the coop off the ground is ideal for predator protection. Is this really necessary? Honestly, it sounds like it would take a lot more work in building the coop to elevate it.
    biophiliac likes this.
  2. Benevolent Barn

    Benevolent Barn Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 22, 2017
    It sounds like you have a much more predator safe coup, then most actually do. Some people just have electric poultry net surrounding their coup and form a run with it. It is not necessary to elevate the coup. Best of luck.
    biophiliac likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!
    Sounds like you've got a good start on thinking this thru.
    Putting your location in your profile is very helpful, much can depend on climate.

    I'd go all the way around coop with your apron, unless run will be as tight as coop.
    No need to bury it more than a couple inches, if at all, depending on how flat your site is and if you'll need to mow over it.

    1/2" HC is fine, wire is stronger than 1/4".
    It will keep everything except the smallest mice and baby snakes out,
    as long as it's properly attached,
    taut and all edges firmly secured with screws and washers or trim.

    Raised and 'on the ground' coops both have pros and cons.
    Biggest cons for on the ground would be rodent infiltration(which you have covered with apron) and flooding. So think about how rain run off moves around and across your coop site.

    Some basic coop design/build tips.
    Go as big as you can, in my climate it's very nice to do all the chicken tending and supply storing under the same roof. Adding birds takes 'extra' space. Nice to be able to keep part of coop away from birds for storage of feed and supplies. Being able to split coop space with a temporary wall can make adding new birds/chicks much easier.
    Good article on Space:

    Ventilation is very important all year around. The more, and more flexible, the better.
    Large roof over hangs with open eaves, and top hinged windows, ensure weather proof ventilation 24/7/365. Here's a pretty good discussion on ventilation:

    Here's my theory on the 'stack up' aspect to coop design:
    Bottom of pop door is best about 8" above floor so bedding doesn't get dragged out of coop.
    Nice to have bottom of nests about 18" above bedding to allow use of that floor space under them(doesn't count if your nests are mounted on outside of coop).
    Roosts are best about 12" higher than nests so birds won't roost(sleep) in nests and poop in them, if you use poop boards under roosts it will also 'stretch' your floor space.
    Upper venting works best as high as possible above roosts so no strong drafts hit roosts in winter...and hot/moist air and ammonia can rise and exit coop.
    biophiliac likes this.
  4. jeria

    jeria Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2017
    Independence MO
    If you are using nylon or poly aviary netting on top the coons can get through it. Remember coons can climb most anything including steel siding.
  5. Birdinhand

    Birdinhand Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2016
    I took a "fort knox" approach and have had no regrets. I used the heaviest gauge 1/2" hardware cloth I could find, about $250 for a 100ft roll, 48 " wide. I went 2' into the ground at a 45 degree angle away from the coop (that way diggers lose ground as they go down and are less likely to keep digging). I spaced the 4/4 posts at about 46" to center of the post, to leave adequate room for overlap. I framed out the whole coop and run and then enveloped the whole thing with the hardware cloth. when I added an extension run a few years later I went all the way across underneath rather than two feet down and didn't end up using that much more cloth so that is now my preferred method. I use black plastic zip ties to mend the cloth that is under ground and galvanized clamps (not sure what they are called, they are sold for making rabbit pens and such) for anywhere I need to mend the cloth above ground but don't have a beam to nail to. for nails, I used galvanized heavy gauge "U" nails. for the door I made it a very snug fit, no more than 1/2" gaps anywhere around. rats can be just as devastating as coons, so I built to keep out rats, being the lowest common denominator, it took care of all the other hazards. all runs are roofed, because as much as I loved the idea of a more "open and free range" approach, the rain here can quickly turn a run into a putrid biological soup. anyway, don't confuse yourself over the expense, you aren't raising chickens to save money on eggs, you are doing it to have a good experience and the initial investment is the key to a good experience, IMHO. cutting corners leads to headaches down the road.
    biophiliac likes this.
  6. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.

    I am firmly in the raise it camp, as far as backyard chicken coops go. You want to be able to see what is going on under there. You put it flat on the ground, or close to it, rats, mice, and who knows what else, will have a nice hidden base of operations to operate out of to harass your birds. Raise it now, so you won't regret it later.
    biophiliac likes this.
  7. Annemade

    Annemade Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2017
    I have a question about attaching hardware cloth to my run. I will be using washers and screws. How close do I place the screws?
    biophiliac likes this.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I went 6-8".
    Love your screen name is Anne too.
    biophiliac likes this.
  9. jeria

    jeria Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2017
    Independence MO
    LOL Jeri Anne. Dad called me Annie. Also thinking about doing screws and washers but do have some staples as well. May be a combo?? not sure yet.
    biophiliac likes this.
  10. Dahchickenfarmer

    Dahchickenfarmer Just Hatched

    Jun 21, 2017
    You could put the fence for the run under ground about a foot and a roof on top aswell to keep hawks away
    biophiliac likes this.

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