Run bedding and security questions...

IHeartEggs

Hatching
9 Years
Jun 14, 2010
2
0
7
Southern Ohio
I'm planning for a 12'x20' permanent run with attached coop for half a dozen hens and a rooster. Due to a major vegetable and herb garden and lots of wild hungry chicken eaters close by, free ranging is not an option at this point. I may come up with a small totally wired tractor run later that can be moved to various "new" spots for day trips.
Our soil is rocky and sandy (river bottom) and the run location is shaded during the summer. Vegetation is sparse already. What, if anything, should I put down on the ground in the run to make the ladies more comfortable? I've thought about straw or shavings. Suggestions?

We have a few snakes around as well. Big black snakes, and the occasional copperhead and moccasin. My plan is to apron with buried hardware cloth all the way around the run. How far up the sides do I need to go with hardware cloth to keep the snakes out? Or is a snake-proof run impossible? I killed a copperhead a few years ago right above my dad's sliding glass patio door.

Sorry if this is old territory. I didn't see anything addressing these two issues. TIA.
 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
67
283
Wisconsin
For a bare run, I like having sand in it. It drains well, keeps the run drier and is easier to rake clean. All of that keeps the run from getting stinky.

I don't have a problem with snakes here, so I don't know what to advise you on that. Hardware cloth is good, but aren't snakes great climbers? All hardware cloth would work, but would be expensive. Does electric fencing work to keep snakes from climbing a fence?
 

patandchickens

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
12,520
257
341
Ontario, Canada
On the one hand: copperheads do not climb significantly, but your 'big black snakes' may well be black rat snakes which can climb excellently well to any height.

On the other hand: none of the above is generally a danger to chickens, just young chicks and (potentially) your egg supply. Personally I would not worry about it until/unless I started having a problem.

You ought to have hardwarecloth up to at least 2' above the ground just to avoid OTHER sorts of problems, and that should pretty well keep any copperheads out just in case you are extra worried about them.

See my 'fix a muddy run' page (link in .sig below) for some discussion of different stuff to use in your run. Me, I mostly just chuck in (nontoxic) weedings from the gardens


Good luck, have fun,

Pat
 

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