After setting up our initial chicken run, we encountered several unexpected challenges in taking care of our chickens. Despite making a few modifications along the way, we’ve now faced our most significant challenge yet. Our primary goal was to provide our chickens with a more spacious and secure coop and run, where they could stay protected from foxes and allow us to leave them unattended for longer durations. This fox-proof section of the run is crucial to ensure their safety and our peace of mind.
Over the past few years, our journey with chickens has been filled with valuable insights, and the run extension is just one of the many improvements we’ve implemented. As we reflect on our experiences, we’ve compiled a couple of articles highlighting some of the key lessons we’ve learned. These articles aim to offer you a head start on your own chicken ownership, so you can benefit from our knowledge and make the most of your poultry venture.
- The Dos And Don’ts Of Keeping Backyard Chickens
- 10 Essential Tips for New Chicken Owners: A Comprehensive Guide
- How To Setup Your first Backyard Chicken Coop And Run
Table of Contents
Overcoming chicken run issues
When I first set up the chicken run, I encountered a couple of significant issues. The original coop was frustratingly low, standing only 100cm tall. This meant accessing it for tasks like changing water and refilling food became an uncomfortable and almost crawling endeavor. Hanging a heavy tub of food from the ceiling was quite cumbersome.
The second challenge arose from the daily routine of letting the chickens in and out of the non-fox proof extended run, it has to be simple and sturdy. This required us to rise at first light, disrupting my preference for sleep. Moreover, I felt guilty leaving the chickens confined in the tiny run for extended periods.
To overcome these obstacles, we devised a solution to extend and revamp the run. Our primary goal was to create a spacious and taller enclosure, allowing for easy and comfortable access. However, we understood that simplicity and sturdiness were crucial factors to ensure the project’s success.
By addressing these issues and improving the design of the chicken run, we aimed to enhance convenience, comfort and the overall well-being of our feathered friends. The revised setup would grant us the freedom to care for our chickens without undue physical strain and offer them a safer, more comfortable living space.
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.
Building a Basic Chicken Run: A Step-by-Step Guide
A chicken run is an essential outdoor enclosure that provides a safe and secure space for your chickens to roam, exercise, and enjoy fresh air. Building a chicken run doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and with a little planning and effort, you can create a comfortable and protective environment for your feathered friends.
- Wood timber (25x50mm)
- Chicken wire or hardware cloth
- Nails, screws and staple gun with staples
- Wire cutters
- Gate latch or lock
- Roofing material (for weather protection)
Ensure you also have access to a suitable drill and driver to secure screws in the timber.
Step 1: Choose a Location
Select a suitable location for the chicken run. It should be close to the chicken coop for easy access, well-drained to avoid puddles, and preferably in an area with some natural shade.
Step 2: Measure and Mark the Area
Measure the dimensions of the chicken run based on the number of chickens you have and the space needed per bird (about 10 square feet per chicken is recommended). Use stakes or chalk to mark the corners of the enclosure.
Step 3: Install the Posts
Place the wooden posts at each corner of the marked area. If you want a taller enclosure, use longer posts to accommodate the height. Cut and secure the wooden timbers together to form panels around the edge of your marked area. Ensure the rear walls are shorter than the front to allow for rain runoff.
Step 4: Attach the Chicken Wire
Attach the chicken wire or hardware cloth to the posts using a staple gun. Ensure there are no gaps or loose edges where predators could potentially enter. Consider burying the bottom edge of the wire a few inches underground to prevent digging predators from accessing the run. Alternatively you can dig in some patio slabs like I have done.
Step 5: Construct a Roof
If you want to protect your chickens from rain or direct sunlight, consider adding a roof to the run. You can use roofing material like corrugated plastic or metal sheets. Make sure the roof slopes slightly to allow rainwater runoff. I screwed the corrugated polycarbonate roofing to the frame. To tidy things up a bit I used some leftover featheredge fence panelling to cover some of the sides of the run to give the chickens a little protection from the weather.
Step 6: Install a Secure Gate
Create an entryway to the chicken run with a gate. Use chicken wire or hardware cloth for the gate, and attach it securely with hinges. Install a gate latch or lock to prevent any accidental openings.
Step 7: Add Bedding and Enrichment
Cover the ground inside the chicken run with straw, wood shavings, or sand to provide a comfortable surface for your chickens to walk and scratch. Consider adding some enriching elements like perches, logs, or hanging toys to keep your chickens entertained.
By following these simple steps, you can build a basic chicken run that will keep your feathered friends safe, healthy, and happy. Remember to regularly inspect and maintain the run to ensure it remains secure and predator-proof. With your new chicken run, your flock will have a wonderful space to explore and enjoy the great outdoors while staying protected.
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.
Below you can I’ve added a dust bath made from an old sandpit the kids no longer used.
Here, I’ve made some perches from branches and a walkway made from some spare lawn edging.
Below you can see I’ve created an external access door to let the chicken roam around some additional space we created at the back of the garden.
The importance of making a chicken run secure
Ensuring the security of your chicken run is of paramount importance when it comes to raising a healthy and thriving flock. A secure chicken run provides numerous benefits that not only safeguard your chickens but also promote your peace of mind as a poultry owner.
- Protection from Predators: One of the primary reasons for building a secure chicken run is to protect your feathered friends from potential predators. Whether it’s foxes, raccoons, birds of prey, or other creatures, predators pose a constant threat to free-ranging chickens. A well-constructed and properly maintained chicken run with sturdy fencing and predator-proofing measures acts as a barrier, keeping predators at bay and ensuring the safety of your flock.
- Preventing Disease Transmission: A secure chicken run helps minimize the risk of disease transmission among your chickens. When chickens are confined to a protected area, their exposure to wild birds, rodents, and other carriers of diseases is significantly reduced. This containment can be especially vital during disease outbreaks or when introducing new birds to the flock, as it allows for better control and observation.
- Managing Feeding and Nutrition: A chicken run enables you to manage your chickens’ diet more effectively. By restricting their access to certain areas, you can control their foraging and prevent them from consuming potentially harmful plants or substances. Additionally, a secure run ensures that your chickens don’t venture into your garden, where they might damage crops or ingest pesticides.
- Reducing Stress and Behavioral Issues: A secure and spacious chicken run provides ample room for your chickens to move about, engage in natural behaviors like scratching and dust-bathing, and establish a pecking order without overcrowding. Reduced stress levels can lead to healthier and happier chickens, minimizing the likelihood of behavioral issues like feather-pecking or aggressive behavior.
- Allowing Freedom with Limited Supervision: With a secure chicken run, you can give your chickens some freedom while still maintaining a level of control and supervision. This is especially beneficial when you can’t be present to monitor them continuously. The peace of mind that comes from knowing your chickens are safe and protected allows you to leave them unattended for longer periods, which can be particularly helpful during vacations or busy days.
The security of your chicken run is a critical aspect of responsible chicken keeping. By creating a well-designed, predator-proof enclosure, you provide your chickens with a safe and healthy environment to thrive in. A secure chicken run not only protects your flock from potential dangers but also allows you to better manage their nutrition, behavior, and overall well-being, fostering a happy and productive flock of feathered friends.
Further chicken run extensions
Take a look at our extended version of the chicken run. This section has allowed us to provide more secure space for our chickens to roam around. They seem so much happier when they have more space and more things to play with.
I’ve used the same construction methods for the side walls and roofing but this time I decided to raise the floor using sme old fence support posts.
Hopefully this article has provided some useful guidance and some ideas for your chicken run creation. It’s a simple enough construction method and you can get a little creative with your designs. Here are a couple more designs for inspiration.
Try some of my other chicken related articles: