1. brains

    brains Chirping

    Jul 26, 2013
    Geauga County, Ohio
    After I get my coop constructed I want to attach a run off the front. I would love to be able to move the coop around but a lot of hills and leveling all of the time will not work. If I attach the run it will be over grass which I hear will not last long. What are my options for a base to prevent mud. I live on a lot of rock and get a lot of snow. I was hoping to have a run that was 4-5' high, 4-5' wide and maybe 10' long. Would this be substantial for 4-5 birds?
    Or should I just add on a full height run?
    I am in the process of moving and repurposing an old coop that was on my property. So I can modify some of the openings.
    I am trying to keep cost down because my wife is not really in agreement to this.


  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You’ve set yourself a few challenges. You can pull it off but you’ll need to do some thinking.

    I’m always a proponent of providing more room than you think you need because you are less likely to have to deal with behavioral problems, have more flexibility to handle things, and you just don’t have to work as hard with more room. But, yes, that should be enough room for 4 to 5 chickens. The kind of flexibility I’m talking about is if you ever want a broody to raise chicks with the flock or if you lose a couple of hens and want to replace them, that goes easier with extra room.

    They will wipe out the grass and practically anything else green in the run. How quickly that happens depends on what kind of turf you have, your weather that time of year, and how many chickens in what size run, but it will happen. As for it getting muddy, there are some things you can do to help but if it sets in wet, you may have a real hard time keeping it not muddy. I suggest you read this article on fixing a muddy run. The best time to fix it is when you first build it.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    Two general ideas. First keep as much water out as you can. Have your coop roof where water runs off away from the run, not into it. Don’t put your run where rainwater runoff goes into the run or fix berms and swales to divert rainwater runoff. A roof can help a lot but rain will still blow in from the side.

    If it gets in, allow it to drain out. Don’t put it in a low spot but give the water a place to go. Another way to really help is to have a base of sand. Sand drains real well but it can wash out and the chickens will scratch in it, scratching it out of the run. It will also work its way down into the dirt underneath, so you will occasionally have to replace it. It also helps a lot to put some type of barrier around the bottom of your run to contain the sand. Read the article. It should give you some good ideas.

    As for run height. A chicken can fly over a 5’ high fence if they are properly motivated. I’ve had them do it daily once they learned they could. Right now I have no trouble keeping them contained in a 4’ high electric netting. It’s not the electricity keeping them in, it’s that it is big enough they don’t have the motivation to get out. Another advantage of more space. The motivation may come from a hen trying to escape an amorous rooster or maybe get away in a pecking order fight. Some just seem to like to wander. Many people keep them in a 5’ high fence without problems, but I just don’t know what might motivate your chickens. Each chicken has its own personality and ach flock has its own dynamics. There is a trick to it that might really help you though. Chickens like to perch. If you have a top rail or a post top that looks like a fun place to perch, a chicken will likely fly up there to perch. Who knows what side they’ll hop down on? So if you make the top of your fence wire that does not offer a good place to perch they are a lot less likely to get out.

    If you cover the run, make it tall enough so you can walk under it. Especially don’t leave any hard cross braces across the top low enough you can bang your head. Don’t ask how I know about that one.

    I don’t have any great ideas about how to make a portable coop and run with that coop, especially on uneven ground. You can look at the top under coops and look at the tractors. Maybe you can come up with a good idea there. Many people use tractors and like them. There are a couple of limits if you use them though. You have to commit to moving them really regularly, some people twice a day. How often you need to move it will depend on your circumstances. Do you mind if the grass gets wiped out inside to leave a bare spot when you move it? If that is not a problem, then how quickly does it start to stink? That depends on how crowded it is and how wet your weather is. If it’s wet, that could be every day or two. If you commit to a tractor year around, how is that going to work for you in the winter? Four or five chickens is about the limits on how big you can build a tractor and be able to move it by hand, unless you build it in sections and move individual sections.

    A lot of people use tractors in the summer or for other specialty uses and have a permanent coop for the winter or the main flock.

    As far as costs. Chickens don’t care what it looks like, people do. Chickens really don’t care if you build the coop and run out of junk material laying around or stuff you get off Craigslist or dumpster diving.

    If you build from new material it can get real expensive, but think about what size the material comes in, whether new or recycled. A lot of building materials comes in 4’ or 8’ sections. Fencing rolls come in different lengths. If you take these into consideration you can often go a bit bigger than you originally planned for no more money and with less cutting and waste.

    That’s enough typing and rambling. Hope you get something useful out of this. Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  3. brains

    brains Chirping

    Jul 26, 2013
    Geauga County, Ohio
    Thank you

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