When it comes to raising backyard chickens, one of the most critical components to consider is ensuring they have a safe and secure environment, hence the need for a well-constructed chicken run. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about chicken run construction tips, providing you a step-by-step guide to creating an optimal space for your feathered friends.
Understanding Your Flock’s Needs
Each chicken in your flock requires ample space to roam, forage, and generally be a happy hen. As a general rule, you should provide at least 10 square feet per bird in an outdoor run. Overcrowding can lead to stress, disease, and a pecking order gone mad.
There are many breeds of chickens. Some are quite docile while others are active, flighty and independent. The components of your run should reflect the attributes of your flock. You’ll want cover for your shy birds, and a roof to keep your flyers contained.
Assessing Your Predators
Before you begin construction, you should be aware of the common predators in your area. Foxes, raccoons, and hawks, oh my! Each predator has its unique strategies, digging under, climbing or flying over, or smashing through and your run needs to be ready to thwart them all.
Choosing the Right Location for Your Chicken Run
The location of your chicken run plays a significant role in your flock’s overall health and happiness. Look for an area that offers a mix of sunlight and shade, is close to your water and feed sources, and allows easy access for your daily cleaning and maintenance.
Shade can be natural from trees and bushes or manufactured by providing a roof made of wood or a tarp. Be creative. It’s your run.
Materials You’ll Need for Construction
Choosing the proper fencing is crucial. Wire mesh or hardware cloth are top choices, providing a balance between cost and durability. Remember, the fencing needs to keep your chickens in and the predators out.
Doubling up on fencing covers all the bases. A standard 2×4 inch fence with chicken wire reinforcement will keep out large and small invaders while providing extra strength to your critter barrier.
Posts and Framing
Hardwood is recommended for posts and framing, ensuring longevity against the elements. When setting your posts, ensure they’re stable and adequately spaced for the size of your run.
Whether you opt for an open or closed roof depends on your predator risk and weather patterns. Netting, metal, and even polycarbonate panels can be suitable choices.
Constructing Your Chicken Run: Step-by-Step Guide
Setting the Perimeter
Begin by marking the area for your run. Once measured, start installing your posts. Ensuring they’re level and secure is vital at this stage – think of it as the backbone of your chicken run construction. A four-foot level can be a friend at this step.
Attaching the Fencing
When attaching the fencing, make sure to dig deep enough to bury the bottom of the fence to deter any would-be diggers. Six inches should be enough. Secure it to your posts using heavy-duty staples or ties.
A solid floor (photo above) is another option to help keep diggers out of your run.
Adding the Roof
Whether you’re adding netting, panels, or leaving it open, ensure your roof is secure and provides adequate protection for your flock.
Keep in mind that you will be spending some time in the run doing chores and maintenance, so make sure your roof is high enough for you to be comfortable while moving around.
Additional Features for an Optimal Chicken Run
Don’t forget to make your chicken run a home. Adding perches, dust bath areas, and even a chicken tunnel or “chunnel” can enhance your chickens’ environment.
Regular Maintenance and Inspections
Once your run is up, the work isn’t over. Regular cleaning, inspections for signs of predators or damage, and adjustments for seasonal changes are all part of maintaining a safe and healthy chicken run.
Creating a safe, secure, and enriching chicken run is one of the most rewarding aspects of backyard poultry rearing. And remember, every chicken run is unique – just like your flock! So, put on those work boots, and let’s put these tips to good use.