run heights....

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by medlgr, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. medlgr

    medlgr In the Brooder

    Oct 18, 2014
    Hey folks.
    I'm new to this chicken keeping lark, so new that mine are still on order. I've repurposed a shed and built a run for my birds but someone made a passing comment that the run looked a bit low....
    It's 2ft tall at its lowest, because it's built on a slope an 3 ft as it comes out the coup. Is this enough room?
    My idea is that they will be able to free range around the garden as much as possible but obviously not when we're not around.
    The coup is 5ft x 6ft and 7ft high.
    Run is 12ft x 6ft and between 2-3ft high

    Plan is its to suit 4 chickens. If i have to build bigger I will, but any tips/pointers are appreciated.
    Of you guys think that's enough space that's dandy too.

    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  2. N F C

    N F C booooo!

    Dec 12, 2013
    I would make it taller if possible. Something to consider, will you be able to clean the run without being able to stand up in it? Also, chickens like to stretch their wings and sometimes that involves some low level flying for a short distance. Will your run accommodate that type of activity?
  3. medlgr

    medlgr In the Brooder

    Oct 18, 2014
    It's a removable top for cleaning out etc so access wouldnt be an issue. The run is under a willow Tree so can get a full 6ft height that we would like. Il get the lumber today and raise it up. It's all good fun and I enjoy diy so not to much of am issue.
    Thanks for the reply.

  4. N F C

    N F C booooo!

    Dec 12, 2013
    Be nice to get an update soon (or even better, a picture). You'll hear people say often around here, you can never build too large as the more space your birds have the happier they will be. Have fun with the project!
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    And the easier it is when chicken math kicks in, lol.
  6. N F C

    N F C booooo!

    Dec 12, 2013
    Shhh, I didn't want to scare medlgr! LOL
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Bigger! Taller!! If you are very short, six feet tall will be fine. If anyone you might have involved with you birds is taller, they won't be happy crouching down in the run. Mary
  8. gawildlife

    gawildlife Chirping

    Nov 3, 2014
    Hampton, GA
    Even the biggest dual breeds can clear a six foot fence if so motivated. Light breeds can sail into the tree tops along with the bantams. Now that said given a large enough run and most breeds are quite content to only fly up to the roost. Some breeds however just like to fence hop if given the chance. I recommend having a top on your run always. It keeps them in and airborne predators out. If you have a top make it high enough to walk under for the required maintenance.
  9. yellowchicks

    yellowchicks Chirping

    Jun 27, 2014
    My Coop
    x2 on all the advises here. Never knew chickens need a 3 dimensional activity space until I seen them fly, so the short answer is to make the run height at least 6" to a foot higher than your height.

    I believe that a good chicken run design is just as important as a good coop design. Just to share with you my wishlist for the run design for our 4 chickens:

    1) Has to be at least be 6 ft high so a person can stand up inside.
    2) Has to have a clear and slope roof to shield the elements, such as rain, snow, falling leaves, acorns, pine cones, and predators.
    3) Has to have 1/2" hardware cloth on all 5 other sides including the bottom, completely predator-proof.
    4) Provides 10 sf of floor space per chicken outside the coop.
    5) Has to have a person size door for access and cleaning.
    6) Has to have room for a roosting bar, feeder and water.
    7) Easy to clean and maintain.
    8) Chickens can go in and out between the coop and the run themselves.

    Lessons learned as a newbie:

    1) My run is sloped from 6 ft in the front to 5 ft in the back across a 4 ft width. It was done purposely that way so the back side is level with neighbor's 5 ft high fence, so not to intrude their views. The roof slope worked out great, but the roof height not so much. Half of the run is too low for a normal person to stand straight without crouching or banging his/her head from time to time. We constantly wish that there is a just bit more headroom, like 12" more. So make the run taller than you to save your back and your neck, at least 6 ft high if possible.

    2) The clear roof was great! It provides plenty of natural light, kept the bedding dry and much easier to clean. It also shield the chickens from getting wet or having too much sun, greatly expands their activity area during inclement weather. Without a roof, hawks circling above could easily snatch a chicken or two as well. If you don't want a roof in the run, put the hardware cloth on the top if possible, give the chickens a secured place to roam when not free ranging. The hawks are faster than the human and the chickens running.

    3) Everyone has recommended using 1/2" hardware cloth, not the chicken wires or any other wire mesh for the run, as well as for all the openings in the coop. The hardware cloth was expensive! It was especially difficult to attach onto our galvanized steel tubing which was the frame of the light-weight run, so there was a lot of resistant on why the hardware cloth was necessary, why 1/2" opening not a larger, why do we need it on the ground? There is no predator in our densely populated suburban neighborhood to be so paranoid. Eventually, our whole family hunkered down on weekend, put on our work gloves, and use wire strips to hand tie all the 1/2" hardware cloth on to the run. We did that to the entire bottom of the run and the coop, too.

    Thank goodness, all that hard work paid off! There were immediate evidences that animals were digging around, created fist-size tunnels daylight into the bottom of the run. If it weren't for the 1/2" hardware cloth on the bottom, something (raccoon, fox, chipmunk, squirrel, snake, rat, deer) would have gotten inside the run to our chickens or their feed. We never knew there were so many "night-lives" until our edible pets were outside, everyone loves chickens.

    4) Our initial plan was to build a 4' x 4' footprint run. We changed it to 4' x 6' the last minute after reading the BYC forums. Combining the 4' x 6' run with the 4' x 4' space beneath the coop, we barely met the minimum 10 sf of activity floor space per chicken in the run. Well, who came up with this rule of thumb? Why would it matter? We wondered. After observing our 4 chickens in action for a couple months now, I dare say that this was indeed the minimum space needed if the chickens are not free-range. They need certain personal space horizontally and vertically without getting onto each other's nerves and start fighting. When we go inside the run to clean, feed or play with the chickens, a person needs room to maneuver also. The more room you can provide, the better.

    5) An access door in the run was a life-saver. Ours is 2 ft wide by 6 ft high. We wanted the door at where that it won't interfere with coop ramp, easy to reach to the feeder and water supply, and we can reach in with a rake to get to all corners to clean. Of course, there were more debates on whether the door should open inwards or outwards? From the right or the left? Is the opening wide enough if we have to bring in a bucket or a rake? How do we prevent the chickens from follow us out? How do we prevent the bedding materials getting blown out into the yard? Will a person accidentally get locked inside the run? It is helpful to think through all these logistical questions by standing in the yard to visualize your preference and habits, plan it out accordingly.

    6) Our coop is very small (4' x 4'), so we would like our chickens to only sleep and nest inside the coop, and hang out in the run for some fresh air as much as possible. We put a roosting bar in the run, and all their food, water and treats out there, too, so they don't make a mess inside the coop. This definite helped keeping the coop clean at all time, and the chickens are always active throughout the day outside. We made a large PVC feeder and a water system that can contain a week of food supply and several weeks of water. I prefer to give them fresh feed daily but can set up the feeder so they have multiple days of supplies when we are away.

    7) As a newbie, I had envisioned a nice size tractor-type of run cage sitting on a pristine lawn with happy chickens "free range" inside, plucking out weeds, feeding on worms, a picture of healthy lawn and healthy chickens. NOT! Chickens loves to scratch, dig, roll in the dirt and kick up a dust storm. They will checkerboard your lawn, eat your plants, kick out all the bedding material, and poop whenever wherever. Keeping the run at one designated spot in the yard to "let them have it" is the best way on a small lot. We secured two rows of the landscape edgings on the bottom perimeter of the run to contain the bedding material, put a inch of top soil (not garden soil with fertilizer) and an inch of pine shaving as a start to pad the hardware cloth on the ground, then just keep adding pine shaving every 2 weeks from the coop, stir it up daily to keep the deep litter method in the run. It made our lives so much easier!

    8) By fully secure the run to be predator-proof, we can leave the coop door inside the run open 24/7, saving the headache of needing a timer door control or waking up early to let the chickens out of the coop. The entire setup becomes very "automated" and low maintenance. Happy chickens, happy owners.

    The bottom line is that, the smaller the space, the harder the planning and design; too large of a run space is harder to keep sheltered. A well-integrated and well-thought out run and coop can save you a lot of headaches down the line.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
    2 people like this.
  10. ECBW

    ECBW Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    My run is 3' high with removable top (welded fabric) for human access. I also have a convertable tin sheet panel for rain and snow. As you raise your top to 6', unless it is already hard top, you might want to consider how you would keep rain and snow out of the run.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014

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