Imagine what it would be like to live in a big empty house with no rooms and very little furniture, and you can start to imagine what it is like for chickens in most chicken coops. Next Last ••• More options Who Replied? In the winter months, when the days are shorter and there aren’t as many exciting bugs, weeds and grasses to peck at, chickens can become bored. Cut windows in the coop if there are none, and break up the visual space of the run with barriers and "chicken furniture". Gates should ideally be made from a solid mesh stapled to a sturdy frame. That is why we love the fence netting that you can purchase specifically or chickens. These chickens are out in the field on an acreage. You can cut all of your wood in one go, with many pieces being the same size. If you have already built your coop and run or are retrofitting an existing structure, it can be more challenging to implement design plans that would make enrichment opportunities possible. Neighbors are too close, predators are too numerous, or maybe you just can't convince your chickens to leave your flowerbeds or vegetable garden alone. Place them well out of the reach of your children, chickens or other animals. How to Build a Safe Chicken Run Step # 1. An alternative to hiding treats is to suspend them from the ceiling or supports of the run. This way, you can provide your chickens with the space they need to exercise and utilize enrichment objects. If installed correctly, electric fences are very good at keeping foxes out but on occasions, I’ve seen a run with a fox unable to get out! Larger runs can have an electric fence where foxes are a problem. This is what keeps them warm. When faced with the prospect of having to keep our chickens confined, the first course of action we tend to pursue is to build a chicken tractor, which is a mobile coop that can be periodically moved to a fresh patch of ground. One of the best sources of information on chicken runs has been looking through old poultry text books from the 1900’s onwards. Screws need to be stainless steel so they don’t rust.  It's natural to assume that chickens would want to be free, because that is what we would want. A chicken wire roof is included in all Somerzby chicken coops and some of the Somerzby range, e.g. Why I Recommend Wood Chips for a Muddy Chicken Run. You can put wood chips down inside the run so they can be changed regularly. A roof of chicken wire over the chicken run will prevent chickens escaping. If you’ve read any of my previous posts about winter chicken care, you’ll know that I am a firm believer in NOT adding electricity to the chicken coop. For the run, ducks need 12-20 square feet per duck. Increasingly, chicken owners are giving their birds access to musical instruments like xylophones, toy pianos, and other noise makers. The problem can be that the chickens quickly forage all the green out of their run, and then droppings accumulate on the hard dirt. The down side to this is that they will spoil a small garden over time with their scratching and dust baths, will eat some of your plants and will leave droppings on paths for you to step in! Hiding treats in this network of hidey-holes will encourage them to forage and hunt within the provided spaces--just check them regularly for eggs, since some hens will find them to be an irresistible temptation for a nesting site.Periodically move the objects around to create new spaces for exploring and keep things interesting. These chickens are out in the field on an acreage. Placing a roof over the run is the best way to keep predators from landing or climbing into the chicken run. Access to the outdoors is not critical, but they will require dirt to dust bathe in to maintain their health and hygiene. For whatever reason, chickens love climbing on wood piles. They don’t need running water, electricity or carpets. If it isn’t particularly thick, a determined fox will be able to tear at it to get in. 17. For as long as I can remember before that, my parents used to keep 40 or so hens at the bottom of our garden. Galvanised Fittings on a Chicken Run will last years. Chickens are not very demanding when it comes to houses. This is very useful in a garden or other situation where you want to keep insects down, but don't want the chickens damaging the garden themselves. Utilize the vertical space with networks of roosts and perches for them to navigate. a double layer around the lower half of the fence is best if the wire quality is poor. Written by. As you may know, chickens like to roost wherever possible, especially when it … Connection kits are available to attach the run to most types of Eglu, while other houses can be placed directly inside the poultry run, giving your hens a place to rest, shelter and lay their eggs. A chicken run provides lots of space to roam and also keeps chickens safely enclosed and closer at hand. Step One: Make sure you bury hardware mesh around the perimeter of your run. Here are 4 winter chicken keepers sharing their experiences. As with the branches used as roosts, make sure none of the logs or branches could tip over on top of a chicken and cause them injury. How To Keep Your Chickens Water From Freezing. Chickens love a puzzle! I like to make notes on my drawing as things pop into my head. Instead, I keep the chickens in their run and make sure the run is fox proof using a few simple steps. Some hens love wandering around the yard and their first snow sighting can be quite entertaining. Virtually all of the enrichment opportunities you can provide to your chickens will relate to one of these three drives, and once you understand their basic psychology, you will be able to utilize the tools available to you to keep them fulfilled. As a chicken fence, it is natural, sturdy, and versatile. Create a "chicken garden" to give your confined flock the dietary advantages of freeranging without sacrificing your actual garden. If possible, bury wire netting at least 20cm into the ground to stop predators from digging under the fence and cover the roof of the run over. Step 4: Keep your coop and run clean. I tend to call both ‘the chicken run’. But if your ordinances don’t require you to keep your chickens cooped up, you’ll need to make some decisions about what you feed your chickens and if and when they range. If you live in a particularly wet climate, you will want to provide a sheltered basin of soil and wood ash to meet this need. Here are 4 winter chicken keepers sharing their experiences. May 25, 2020 2,707 32,493 626 Western Washington. Having a muddy run around your chicken coop can have a bad affect on the health of your chickens. If there are no windows, add them, as the fresh air and sunlight are crucial for happy, healthy chickens. Oak Bay: You can keep up to 5 or 10 hens depending on your lot size. Set in places where you know the rodents are moving, usually around the edge of the chicken run or an outbuilding. In most coops, the space is one big open box, and there is no challenge to walk from the door to the roost, or from the roost to the nesting box. Just make sure that every nook and cranny of your chicken "maze" is easily accessible for cleaning, retrieving birds, or repairs and modifications.Some ways you can create a "Maze" for your chickens is to create obstacles that force them to climb, go around, or go under barriers in order to get to specific parts of the coop, like to get outside, or to get to their feed. If your chickens don’t free-range then they most likely have a run or a chicken yard of some sort. In addition to all of the practical things you can do to keep your chickens busy, you can also utilize aesthetic elements to make their space more visually stimulating. Install cone-shaped wire baskets around your coop and fill them with grass, dandelion greens, clover, and other green goodies to simulate the foraging experience for your chickens. Building a chicken run is really straight forward if you have some basic DIY skills and follow some of the guidance I have given above. Turn this into a ‘shopping list’ by working out how long your wood needs to be and what sort of thickness you will need. Netting can also help to deter but it is not always failproof. I recommend it. In order to come up with a sensible sized run, you will need to ask yourself the following: The run is there to contain your chickens but also to protect them from predators. Raising Meat Birds on Pasture . If you already have one and don't have the means to purchase or build a better one, your best option is to build an extended run off of--or even enclosing--the prefab coop. Screws need to be stainless steel so they don’t rust. A run can be an integral part of the coop's design or you can construct one using wire mesh. If you are going to build a chicken run, you will need to spend less money but more time. Chicken tunnels can be arranged to circumvent the garden, preventing weeds and pests from easily entering your domain, or can be designed to go over garden beds when needed to help you clean the plot for new plants. Here are a few tips on how to care for chickens in the winter: 1. You don't want to encourage chickens scratching in the boxes and kicking eggs out! The acreage chicken keepers. If a permanent cop or run is not possible, kindly build a moveable chicken tractor. We’ll go with that. In nature, chickens would have to find their own food, and for many breeds, this instinct is so strong that they will dump their food onto the floor to make it more challenging to eat rather than just eat it out of the feeder. Although this is a convenient option, it doesn’t help to absorb the dirt and manure inside the coop. If you don’t believe me, go to my page on, There are a number of chicken run designs that manufacturers use and a few other ‘home made’ runs that are successful. There is an answer to this though. Breaking up the visual space so that chickens can't see from one end of their run to the other will improve their quality of life. So make sure you have plenty of space for all your chickens to comfortably roost. Two hens for each family member works well for egg production. These areas will need checking regularly for signs of wear and tear. After all, isn't that sort of the point? It may seem counter-intuitive to install items that will startle or concern your chickens, but in moderation, this can actually help them stay alert and sharp, particularly if you plan on letting them free-range again at some point in the future. raising chickens with coop and run. To install it, you only need This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional. Add logs or stumps for the chickens to stand on to get up off the cold, snowy ground. Hide them inside of hollow logs, cinder blocks, or other nooks and crannies--just don't put them in the nesting boxes. Chickens tend to roost close together to keep warm but overcrowding will lead to some very unhappy and unhealthy chooks. On the other hand, put in some walls, furniture, and architectural elements, and your home will be vastly more comfortable. Small chicken runs can protect birds and you can let them out when it’s safe. Most of us get chickens with every intention of letting them free range. Here are my simple, inexpensive suggestions to keep water unfrozen through the winter months - I even have three suggestions that work without the use of electricity. If you are going to keep your chickens in a run for most of the time then as a rule of thumb you should allow around 1 square meter of run space for each bird. These often give chicken house and run plans that have stood the test of time. If you choose to not free-range your chickens then you will need to install a chicken run. Typically there’s a fenced in area outside the house that most folks call the run. Premium Feather Member. This can save you significant time later on if you have thought it through before buying and cutting wood. Wood chips are much better for chickens kept in a run, and not just because they help with drainage. Ensure that weak points such as where wire joins houses is securely stapled. Not only will ample vertical space make it easier for you to access, clean, and modify your coop, it will give you more options for placing enrichment opportunities. They have places to take a dust bath and catch a few rays.) When buying a run, you will need to look at the quality of the wire – small rectangular or square mesh wire is better because foxes can’t get their teeth in to tear at it. DE is valued as a natural deterrent to pests like mites and lice, but it does not discriminate between the harmful bugs you want to kill, and the beneficial creatures you want to keep around, like bees and composting organisms. They will need access to the coop to lay their eggs, and might choose to spend time in the coop on cold or rainy days. Know the height needed for your flock. Every council will definitely allow you to keep chickens, and generally the rules are quite common-sense - pertaining to how many you can keep, coop requirements and chicken maintenance. Also the newspaper, when exposed to moisture, tends to be slippery for chickens. 2. It has worked so well that more than once I have had to remove otherwise wild or feral chickens from it, because they darted in while I was cleaning or feeding the birds there and then refused to leave. A bird’s thick feathers are a natural protective coat, so most breeds are well-equipped for winter. Your coop should have some form of ventilation at high level and some sort of inlet at a lower level. Start by drawing up the run how you see it in your mind. Galvanised fittings will last years so. The cute chicken coop is … Whatever the reason, it can be hard to see their little faces gathering at the gate, waiting to be let out in the morning, knowing that you have to say "no".But if keeping your chickens confined has you feeling like the warden of a tiny chicken prison, take heart--confinement doesn't have to be incarceration. Updated 10/21/19. Probably the most common way to be raising chickens. Leave them there for several days un-baited until the rodents get used to them. This can be just enough to shelter a small area inside of your chicken run giving a patch of dry ground for your chickens to go to. Hollow logs make a great opportunity to hide treats, and logs can periodically be turned over to reveal tasty bugs underneath--much to your chickens' delight! An electric wire running across the top of a 6 foot fence to stop determined foxes. If you decide to use rabbit wire then look for British made, galvanised wire. To help keep the chickens warmer next year, we bought more chicks this spring (yay), because more bodies will generate more heat naturally – both in the coop and in the run. They connect to your electricity supply so you’ll either need power at the coop or be willing to run an extension cable out to it. The sunlight and fresh air that enters through windows will vastly improve their quality of life and make it easier for human caregivers as well. There is nothing I love more than watching my flock chatter and cluck as they make their way around the yard. Plus, collecting eggs is easier because you do not have to search your entire property. Electric fences are not always suitable for every back garden but even in an urban environment where there are people, you can use an electric wire around the top of a fence to stop foxes climbing over. If you have a problem with foxes in your area then this is my recommend and preferred method. So maybe next winter we can keep chickens warm without electricity and the coop heater we bought. Make sure whatever you construct is steady enough not to fall from their placement and potentially injure or kill your chickens. 2. Enjoy! It's completely enclosed. If you confine your chickens to a run, you are quite likely to have a mud problem eventually, unless you live in the desert or on extremely free-draining soil. Chickens can see in color, and are sensitive to movement. To help give them an outlet for this energy, there are several things you can do to fulfill their instinct to forage. Many have fold out pages with the plans on so providing you are happy to work in inches and feet, for a couple of searches on eBay and a few pounds, you can soon have quite a few chicken run plans. Build a basin or bin in your coop that you can fill with loose dirt, grass clippings, leaves, pine shavings, or other material, and scatter scratch grains in it for the chickens to dig for. Whether you keep your chickens exclusively in a coop or offer them a run, they will need access to dry soil to dust bathe in. Roosts can be constructed using normal tree branches that are either affixed to a wire frame or wedged into the available wire of their existing run. You can of course build a small portable run, much like you would buy and the same things apply to this as I’ve mentioned above but often, people that are building a run go for a fixed run in the corner of the garden. Galvanised fittings will last years so it is worth paying for these. General Chicken Keeping Information This section contains general articles about keeping chickens that don’t belong in any other category. However, the rest of the year they have to be put up because we grow a lot of items in garden beds inside our fenced backyard. Each adult full-size chicken needs at least 2 square feet of floor space for shelter and another 3 square feet in outside run space if it isn’t going to be running loose much. Make sure the coop has openings just large enough for your chickens to get in and out, but small enough that goats can’t enter. The chickens will hollow out "wallows" that they will use to dust bathe in, and dustbathing will often be a social event that multiple birds participate in together. Something like this is ideal, placed away from your chicken run. If you do plan on keeping your hens permanently in an enclosed run then you should expect the grass in that area to soon wear thin and turn in to a bit of a quagmire when it rains. If you have a unique way to keep your chickens busy that wasn't mentioned here, please feel free to share it in the comments. Chicken wire = Not good. Roosters are prohibited. How to keep chickens warm in winter: Do not add heat lamps. Learn how your comment data is processed. They are very capable of climbing and jumping. Build a ‘cutting list’ of pieces you will need to build the chicken run. It can increase the chances of your chickens getting bumblefeet and of course bad hygiene which can be easily transferred inside of the coop and that leads to many more problems. I recommend using wood chips all year long. Combine hanging treats with the network of roosts mentioned earlier for double the fun. This will make life vastly easier on you, and happier for your chickens. Lauren Arcuri is a freelance writer and an experienced small farmer. While chickens are quite creative when it comes to keeping themselves entertained - free-ranging is their forte! Other times, an enclosed run in a small suburban yard is the only way to keep chickens safe and contained so they don't run into traffic or make themselves the target of neighborhood dogs. Depending on your location, this decision might already be made for you—many local ordinances don’t allow backyard chickens to range outside of an enclosed run in a coop. X Research source You can also give chickens corn, halved grapes, or cabbage as a treat, but avoid feeding them these treats more than several times a week as it's less healthy than chicken feed. As the plants grow within reach, your chickens will be able to nip them off through the wire, but they won't be able to scratch them up and leave the earth bare. Keep the panels off the ground so they don’t rot, a brick base on a small strip foundation is perfect but I’ve seen people use rectangular posts on their side and (better) old railway sleepers buried in the ground. Or carpets interested and engaged in their small living area entertained with these run. For the run keeping chickens in a run a wet chicken run is connected to the chicken run is to them. 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