Run help

gmomfarms

Chirping
6 Years
Mar 21, 2013
75
6
91
SW Virginia
We live on 30 acres and are beginning our homesteading. Having added a large garden and an orchard, we are starting to add animals. The first critters, for me to learn with, are chicks. We bought chicks in early March from TS. This is my coop, which is located in the orchard area, near the garden. I would love to free range the chickens that I keep for layers, but we have a very heavy hawk population, skunks, opossums, raccoons, and coyotes. The coop is tight, so I am not worried about nighttime, which reduces the skunk, opossum and raccoon problem. I want a decent run for the layers. So far, as a temporary measure, I have strung a 50' roll of 48" garden fence on pound in metal stakes and draped plastic poultry netting over the top. I have a surplus of metal roofing from building our home that can be utilized to cover part of the run. How much area do I need for 6 or 7 adult birds and any suggestions on how to do a run that ideally would be tall enough for me to not have to duck walk inside would be appreciated.
 

yyz0yyz0

Songster
8 Years
May 2, 2012
616
112
184
3-4 ft seems more like a coop requirment, I've seen 10sq ft per bird for run spacing as more common on here.
 
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Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
33,103
65,281
1,392
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
How is your orchard and garden set up?

I have a setup so that my chickens can get into my vegetable garden in early spring and late fall. It would be harder to let them into your orchard unless you have dwarf trees and so could net the top.

Anyway, the bigger your run the better, so I would say you should set up the run so that it will be easy to make it larger later on.

As for design ideas, look through all of the coop pages on this site.....oodles of ideas!
 

gmomfarms

Chirping
6 Years
Mar 21, 2013
75
6
91
SW Virginia

This is an approximate area map. Each circle is a tree and only the two in the lower right corner have any size now, they are 4 year old peaches. None of the trees are dwarf. The current run is a single 50' roll of garden fence. The compost bin is about to be disassembled and reduced to two bins right on the edge of the garden. The entire area is fenced with electric fence to keep the dogs, ours and neighbors, and the deer out of the area. The coop door is on the north side (bottom of map), the nesting box lid is on the west edge, but I'm not opposed to having the coop in the middle of the run if there is a gate and it is high enough to walk inside.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
33,103
65,281
1,392
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
Ooh... I would be so tempted so that the chicken run went up against the garden fence.

In my setup the coop is in the middle of a run complex that shares a fence with my orchard and another with my vegetable garden. Now, my orchard didn't really work out (sniff and sigh) my elevation is just a bit too high, and I have a couple of apple trees that are still alive, but I have had them now long enough that it is very clear that they will never grow much and will never bear fruit (well, maybe one apple five years from now). The chickens would eat apple leaves, so I just put tiny fences around the trees, and that worked. My orchard and vegetable garden both have dog and moose proof fencing. I put netting over the top of both to keep out raptors. I LOVE the fact that I can let my chickens into my garden. I used to have a crop of weeds up before it was warm enough to put out seedlings, and it was a great deal of work to clean up the beds. No longer! The chickens clean it up beautifully for me, and even make the beds nice and fluffy from their scratching.

Things to watch out for.....

1. The much cheaper and easier to instal fishnet does have some drawbacks. I have the plastic one over my garden, and it is light enough that I was able to staple it to the wood fence that surrounds the garden and not have any support posts in the middle. I think my garden is, at a guess, 24 or 30 feet square. I did have a raptor dive right through the same net over my chicken runs, and kill some chickens, but I think because the garden has more cover, I haven't had that problem there (yet).

2. Those chicken necks stretch lots farther than you think they would! If the chickens can get their head through the fence they can reach pretty far in to eat the produce, and I tend to use my garden fence to support peas etc. I have plastic corrugated paneling up against the fence that supports my peas, it helps to reduce wind and make things warmer (which I need) and also keeps those chicken heads at bay.

3. Even though this has worked wonderfully well for me, I only have raptors (tons) and dogs to worry about. Well, supposedly weasels and bears, but neither of them have found my coop.

But I also love having the chickens right on the other side of the fence, I toss them slugs when I find them, and lots of the weeds, so even if you don't want to go through the extra trouble of setting up the garden so they can use it as a run during garden clean up time, it is nice to share a fence with them to make tossing them treats easier. It makes weeding a super happy time for me. Anything that makes weeding fun is SO VERY GOOD!
 

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