Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chicken Coop and Run Construction

We are fast approaching the 1 year birthday of the Hooligan's (that's the nickname of our chickens).  Originally the Moose and I just wanted a half dozen or so chickens.  But after we got to the farm store, and looked at those fuzzy little fluff balls, we were hooked!  We put twelve of them in our "happy meal" box, and headed home.  After reading other peoples blogs, and websites, we thought we would lose a few  as part of the normal process.  We lost only one along the way, and that was early on.  I would guess a genetic issue, since she didn't make it much past two weeks.  I was absolutely heart broken, and cried almost all day.  Who would have thought?!

We were left at this point scrambling to build on to the coop we originally purchased for just six, so they'd have additional space and we also needed additional nesting boxes.  We wanted them to be as safe as possible from outside forces of nature;  weather and predators.  I think we've done very well with our set up, minus a short period where something was getting in and eating the eggs.  That has since been corrected.  I'll explain further below.

I thought I'd share our chicken run story. I know there are things you'll see that could be done better.  We are not carpenters by trade.  But we've been able to work with a vision, add in a lot of sweat equity, and I think to date our ideas have paid off, as we have not lost another chicken.
We really wanted them to have enough space to run around, hang out in the sun, hide if they felt threatened, and a place to keep out of the rain.  Our greatest fear was predators getting at the Hooligans during the times when we are not around.  Here's what we did;

We started by building the outside frame work to hold the wire fencing.  We started with 6' tall wire fencing for structural reasons, and it was easier to handle then chicken wire.  We then added chicken wire as a roof (keeping out birds of prey, raccoons and opossums).

We also put 3' tall chicken wire around the outside bottom of the run area.  We buried 1' in the ground, so the predators would get discouraged trying to dig underneath. 

You can also see the black contractor material around the bottom outside.  We DON'T like snakes of any kind, size or variety.  I don't ever want to go into the coop and find a snake looking at me from some corner.  It's a recurring nightmare!  Since snakes like to follow along a wall, until they find an opening, we added the black material, and then some old wood posts that were on the property along the outside.  Do you think we went a bit overboard?  Nope, it's worked so far.  We have not found a single snake in their run.  This is Florida people!  We have venomous snakes, yuk!
We started working on their coop and run in late spring, as the temperatures in Florida were rising.  The sun was an issue.  We needed more shade.  Trying to decide what to do, we came across a yard sale, that had the green material they use around tennis courts for privacy.  We scooped up that find.  That's what you see along the entire top.  It allows the light through, helps hold back some of the rain, and gives the Hooligan's extra shade during the hot summer months.  It's also been another deterrent for predators.  They've tried eating through it in a couple of areas, only to find there's chicken wire underneath.

Our last improvement on the run, was the addition of chicken wire on the remaining six foot walls.  We did this after finding teeth marks on eggs, and decided it was either weasels or rats, getting in through the larger openings in the wire fence.  We've had zero issues since.

I know there's room for improvement, but I just wanted to share with you what works for us.  Here's our take;  if you take on the stewardship of having animals of any kind, you are obligated to keep them as safe and secure as possible.  I think we've accomplished that so far.  I can't say nothing will ever happen to them, but we've drastically reduced the odds.     We are rewarded every time we visit the Hooligan's, with eggs and happy chicken chatter.


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one to go overboard protecting my girls. I have not lost one chicken to a predator yet and we are going on three years. Closest I came was when that hawk got my rooster and I got him back by running after it and acting like a crazed fiend. Guess he was more scared of me than hungry. (yes I did blog that story)

  2. Sista, I remember reading your story! I think I read that story before we started building our chicken run area, and there was NO way I would have hawks swooping down on the Hooligans!


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