So overwhelmed over getting started with coop and run. Can someone help just narrow a few things dow

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by linneamae, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. linneamae

    linneamae In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2013
    Central Minnesota
    My husband and I have wanted to get 3-5 chickens for 4 years now but our kids were so young we weren't quite ready to take it on. I would really like it to happen this year, but now that I've started researching I'm just so overwhelmed. I'm a very thorough person and I hate 'experimenting' I want to get as close to right as possible the first time. I'll give our situation and hopefully someone can help us at least narrow down what we should and shouldn't start looking at.

    We live in rural Minnesota on 10 wooded acres. As far as predators go, you name it we've got it. Racoons, foxes, coyotes, wolves, bobcats...I don't know about aerial predators, I can't figure if the heavy tree cover would be worse or better for that.
    When we bought the property there was already an area about 20X30 that is surrounded by 5 ft chainlink and has wide gate for entrance. I think they said they kept a few goats in there. It's just sitting there useless and I keep thinking that it could be useful for chickens somehow but there's no way I can cover it.

    If we put a coop in there, would they just fly out? Or in the case of a predator would they be able to just run into the coop to safety? Or would smaller predators be able to just get in the way the chickens do? I'm assuming so. I could just lock them in there at night but not sure how that would work if we are going to be away from home for an overnight.

    I also thought about having a smaller, predator proof coop/run contained within the chain link. I could keep them in that when we're not around and let them run around in the less secure chain link during the daytime perhaps?

    Last question would be, if I do the above, should I get a mobile coop/run? Is it reasonable to think that I could roll it out of the chain link into other parts of the yard, open the whole thing up and let them run around free range while we're working out there supervising? Or should I just not worry about getting a mobile one and just 'let them out' of the chain link area when I am able to watch them?

    The last thing is, the chain link area is about 50 yards from the house, on the opposite side of our pole shed, so most of it you can't even see from our main living area. Part of me wonders if I should just forget about the chainlink and build a small coop and run closer to the house for convenience, but I just really wanted them to have a lot of room during the day when we're home but not necessarily outside to watch them free range...

    I know some of these questions sound silly as I imagine this is pretty basic stuff, but I just can't wrap my brain around all of it and don't know what to expect. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. 3forfree

    3forfree Songster

    Mar 17, 2010
    essexville, michigan
    scroll up to the top of this page and click on the word coop. there are lots of ideas for any size coop you can think of. There is netting you can buy to put over that big fenced in area you have to keep critters out. Look at what others have done and see if you can adapt it to what you have.
  3. Baymule

    Baymule Songster

    Jul 1, 2010
    Northeast Texas
    If you use the chain link, hog ring hardware cloth to it, at least 2-3 feet up. A raccoon can reach through the chain link or even chicken wire, grab a chicken and kill/eat it. Or you might consider building a hoop coop or hoop run.

    I just built a 12'x8' hoop run onto my coop. it was easy to build and it is strong and sturdy. I also put a wire apron on the ground that extends 2' out all the way around my coop and run to keep predators from digging in.
  4. t/m

    t/m Songster

    [​IMG] and [​IMG] !! I don't have the answers but I do know you will get lots of great advice!
  5. thefishery

    thefishery Songster

    Oct 19, 2009
    I don't think you would need a mobile coop in the chain link so you can move it out in the yard area for the chickens to be out. If you're going to be out there with them I see no reason they would need a coop in the area, they can always go back to the coop if they need to, within the fence.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    We keep chickens in so many different conditions and climates, with different flock make-ups, having different goals and risk tolerances, and using different management techniques that there is no one right answer to anything that covers each of us. And you are dealing with living animals, both the chickens and the predators. Living animals don’t come with guarantees. It’s impossible to accurately predict what any one individual will do in a situation. And there is often a huge difference in what can possibly happen and what will 100% absolutely without fail happen each and every time.

    Many predators can either jump over or climb a 5’ chain-linked fence. Many are more active at night but practically any can and occasionally will hunt during the day, especially if it has hungry kids to feed. A 5’ chain link fence is a deterrent but certainly not a true barrier. A chicken can easily fly over a 5’ high fence, but many of us keep them contained in shorter fencing. I’ve had hens learn to escape from a 5’ high fence, probably trying to get away from an amorous rooster when they were trapped in a corner. I regularly keep chickens contained in 4’ high electric netting. It covers a much bigger space so they don’t get trapped in corners nearly as much. Another thing about chickens and fencing. If the top is a rail or something solid they can perch on, they will often fly up there to perch. There is no telling which side they might decide to hop down on. You don’t want a solid perch-like rail on top of the fence. It needs to be wire so they can’t perch.

    There are some things you can do to make that 20’ x 30’ area more predator resistant. It’s going to be hard to make it really predator proof. You can put an apron around the outside. Lay maybe 18” to 24” of hardware cloth or welded wire horizontal on the ground and attach it to the bottom of the chain link. Hog rings would work well for that or just weave some wire through it. You don’t have to bury it but it’s probably best to remove about 2” of turf and put that back on top to help hold it down and keep it out of the way of lawn mowers and weed whackers. The idea is that a digging predator goes up next to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and does not know to back up. It’s actually pretty effective.

    Electricity is a great deterrent. If you can out an electric wire around that area you will stop everything from climbing in. Most things that can jump in will probably sniff the fence first. If they get shocked, they leave.

    Something I did to stop those hens from flying out of the run. I took 2”x4” welded wire and attached it to the top of my fencing so I had about 2’ of welded wire sticking up over the top of the fence. I attached the bottom of this extension maybe 12” below the top of the existing fence and again attached it at the very top of the existing fence. The stiffness of the wire keeps it vertical. Another advantage is if a predator tries climbing the fence, that wire bends over toward them to impede their progress. They can still climb in over my coop but that’s at least high enough to discourage chickens from flying out.

    You can cover the run but consider snow and ice load. Many predators can rip through most netting and light wire but that would help with flying predators. Hawks can and do take chickens, but that’s one thing where what can happen may not. I’m fully aware that people lose chickens to hawks, but I don’t have a cover over a large area in that electric netting and have hawks all over the place. I have yet to lose one to a hawk. It helps for them to have places to hide from overhead predators, bushes, buildings, someone just put up an old TV antenna. Light wire or weak netting will probably keep hawks out but it won’t stop raccoons or bobcats. You would need to support it to keep it high enough that you can walk under it. Maybe by putting a few tall posts and stretching a cable through the middle of the 20’ width? That would stop chickens from flying out to.

    My predator management philosophy is to keep them in a predator resistant area during the day and lock them up in a secure coop at night. It has its risks but this works for me.

    I’d suggest you don’t build a coop or coop and secure run inside the chain link if you have room outside. If you electrify that chain link, well, think how you would do that. But I’d suggest you consider building the coop or coop and secure run adjacent to the chain link with a connection so you can give them more area to roam in that is at least predator resistant.

    I agree you don’t want or need a mobile coop. There are things you can do, such as a chicken tractor, but those things take a commitment to move them regularly and are usually a pain to move. You can do about anything if you are willing to work hard enough and commit the time. A mobile run where you carry the chickens out to it and back to the coop at night can get them some grazing. You can do about anything you want to do but that sounds like a lot of work. And it could be really hard to make what I’d consider a mobile coop that is moved in and out of the run daily truly predator proof.

    I don’t know your risk tolerances or how much time you are willing to commit on a daily basis to moving a tractor or mobile coop around. I don’t know what arrangements you could make when you are on vacation to have someone cover for you while you are gone. Think of how you will do things when the ground is frozen and is covered with snow. I personally like to keep it as simple as possible.

    Hope you get something useful out of this. Good luck!!!
    1 person likes this.
  7. Jay134

    Jay134 Hatching

    Feb 9, 2013
    As for getting a rolling coop, depending on where you get it from, it mostly likely will fall apart. The ones you build are much better then the ones that you buy! Your best bet is just securing the top of the run you have already!
    Good Luck!
  8. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
  9. cknkids

    cknkids Chirping

    Jun 27, 2012
    Camarillo, CA
    I like the idea of building the predator proof coop and run adjacent to the chain link yard or closer to the house. With only a few hens and small kids they'll probaly become pets. Think about access for letting them in and out daily and what to do when your away. It was a shock last summer when I realized I needed to get someone to put the chickens away for us to spend the day and evening at the county fair. We have since completed a predator proof (as much as possible) coop and run in our yard. we live in a typical suberbin track home on about 1/4 acer. When were home to put them in at night we let then roam the yard. I can see something similar working for you using the 20x 30 chain link fenced yard if you make it predator resistant.

    Do consider chicken math, we love our 4 and are only zoned for 5, yet my kids both desperately want to get silkies and I'd like more color diversity. We built our coop on an existing concrete pad and it ended up big enough for about 7, using the 4 sq ft Hen House, 10 sq ft in the run. We leave the pop door open so they can go out in the run when the sun comes up. We let them out of the run when it' convenient and it's nice not to feel pressured to get up before we want. This might change if we found that predators were trying to get in. Have fun and enjoy.[​IMG]
  10. linneamae

    linneamae In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2013
    Central Minnesota
    Thanks for all the responses.

    I think I'm going to go ahead and just build the coop and run closer to the house, and forget about the chainlink fence. We'll just let the chickens out when we're outside and leave them in the coop/run when we're not. Later on we could always build a small shelter in the fenced in area and put them in there sometimes too.

    I know someone mentioned the mobile ones are junk...if anyone wants to weigh in on that or give an opinion I'd appreciate it. Meantime I'm going to research that topic in the forums.

    Again, thank you so much for the detailed responses. Perspective is priceless at this juncture.

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