After setting up our first chicken run we found a few issues that made looking after the girls a little more difficult than we anticipated. Since then we have made a few changes but this has been the biggest yet. We wanted to give the chickens a bit more space in their coop / run. (The fox proof part of the run where we can feel comfortable leaving them for longer periods of time).
Related read – 10 top tips for first time backyard chicken owners
Overcoming chicken run issues
The first issues I found was the original coop was very low down, only 100cm tall. So getting into the damn thing to change the water and top up the food was very awkward and meant almost crawling, then having to lift a heavy tub of food to hang it from the ceiling.
Secondly, as we let the chickens in and out every day to use the extended, none fox proof run we had to get up at first light to let them out. As a sleep lover this wasn’t great for me but I always felt bad leaving them in that tiny run for too long.
So the solution was to extend the run and make it spacious and tall enough for me to just walk in, but of course, it has to be simple and sturdy.
Building the enclosure
As I had saved a load of scrap wood from when I took down my rotting shed I had a reasonable amount of wood to get the job started. This however quickly ran out and I ended up popping over to B&Q for some top ups. I had a rough idea in my head how I wanted to extend the run so I quickly measured up and just got cracking making the frames and strengthening them with the corner supports. I purchased some wire mesh from eBay (much cheaper then B&Q) and fixed this to the frame with a staple gun. The wire mesh was all 900mm wide so I just had to make sure the frames were all the same width.
I made each piece separate for each side of the run to make it easier moving around the garden and fixing it together. This meant using more wood but I didn’t mind. Once I had all the pieces finished I had to prepare the ground and put some fox proofing in place before the building could begin. I dug more trenches around the area for the run and sunk in some paving slabs, deep enough to prevent Mr fox digging under and into the run/coop area. Then I covered the ground with sand and stamped it down to level it all out.
One thing I did before fitting all the pieces together was screw a thin piece of wood to the bottom of each panel. This was to prevent the panel frames rotting, as they all sit on the sand base.
Finally I fitted all the panels together and screwed in the corrugated polycarbonate roofing. To tidy things up a bit I used some left over feathered fence panelling to cover some of the sides of the run to give the chickens a little protection from the weather. As a little treat I fitted some wood perches and used the kids old sand pit as a dust bath and sat back to see the chickens explore their new home.
All in all I would say this little project cost me no more than £60 as I managed to use reclaimed wood, screws and anything else I could find lying around the house and garden.
Try it yourself
If you’d like to try this yourself and want any more detail or advise please leave a comment or drop me an email.
If you like the idea of keeping chickens yourself, have a read of our first time experiences on my other article. It’s super easy and if you like eggs it’s a no brainer.
Try some of my other chicken related articles:
- The dos and don’ts of keeping backyard chickens
- 10 top tips for first time backyard chicken owners
- How to build your first backyard chicken coop and run
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