Building a Predator Proof Chicken Run/Coop

I never knew keeping chickens could cause so much drama. For having tiny brains, they hold a grudge and establish a pecking order that never lets up.

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How are they smart enough to strategize about banishing two lovely hens from the roost, but are dumb enough to wonder too far from the house a and get snatched in broad daylight be predators?

And why do we keep buying chickens? So far, chickens have been a money pit!

Supplies necessary to keep chickens include a run, a house with a roost, store-bought wood chips for younger chickens and later, if you have a carpenter for a father, free wood shavings.

Our homemade mobile chicken run, capable of housing 4-5 hens.
Our homemade mobile chicken run, capable of housing 4-5 hens.

A 50lb bag of chicken feed is about $16. Not to mention the cost of buying the chickens.

Or how about the first chicken house we bought? I REFUSE to toss it. We spent a fortune on that darn thing and I will use it! It turned out to be rather flimsy, but we’ve reinforced and painted it and now it’s finally being used properly. I doubt we will ever pay off that house with eggs though.

Or what about the fact that we can never leave? These birds have to be let out during the day and put in at night! If you leave too many chickens in a small run, they turn cannibalistic on one another. They get the taste of blood and it’s all over.

We bought 10 more chickens this year and hoped that we’d keep them all alive and well.

Not happening so far. We lost one gorgeous 2 month old to a raccoon. Why these raccoons end up cute heroes in movies and stories, I’ll never know. In real life they are vile, vicious blood thirsty wild animals. It was a very ugly death for the chick.

We poured our extra money this Spring into what we call our backyard paradise. This includes a huge veggie garden and what my husband is calling “The Chicken Fortress.”

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The fortress is a 4 X 8 run. It will have a roof, siding, and entrance into the chicken house, which I can access without going into the run.

He put a door on the run so we can get in and out easily to refresh water and hay(which is free).

The posts were put in with concrete, and he is going to bury chicken wire along the outside of the run. This method is easier than digging a trench and burying wire, but just as effective (or so we’ve heard) at keeping predators out.

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You just lay the wire on the ground, going about 36 inches from the run, then cover all of it with dirt.

Final touches on chick moving day.
Final touches on chick moving day.

The raccoon or whatever will try to dig right next to the run and discover the wire. The idea is that it may try to go a few inches out and hit wire again, then giving up the attempt all together.

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Today we put up some siding as the raccoon was able to reach in and get the one poor chicky. Now we keep inspecting for weak spots in the fortress.

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The reinforced house with the chicken fortress run. No siding shown here. But it is done now!

Once the gate to the fortress is opened, the chickens will have access to a 14′ X 14′ run. This is adequate space for up to 12-14 chickens to run around and get sunshine without wanting to hurt each other.

 

Our plan is to keep 2-4 chickens in our mobile run and allow them to roam the yard eating bugs. If we decide to let them all out, we can say adios to grass and every bit of flower beds.

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We are down now to 11 chickens. May you live on Chickens! Be smart and go into your house at night. Lay many eggs and be happy.

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Our grown hens that run around the yard eating bugs. They are fat and happy.

You Might Live in the Country If…

  1. Every man in the nearest Pizza Hut is wearing either a Carhartt coat or jumper and a baseball cap.
  2. The nearest towns are all tiny and every single one of them has a Pizza Hut.
  3. You see six cars drive by while out doing yard work and say “wow, there is a lot of traffic today!”
  4. You and yours husband are too tired from working outside to stay up past 9pm watching a movie.
  5. You stop driving to the store every other day for food and finally plan ahead.
  6. You see more tractors drive by than cars.
  7. You begin to speak with a bit of a twang for instance saying “Ranch” from way up in the back of the nasal passage.
  8. Your car is always covered with dust and when you close the back of the van, it leaves a line of dust on your jeans every single time.
  9. You begin to live in a sweatshirt and pair of leggings because no one is going to come to the door.
  10. Your boy pees anywhere outside, even when company comes over, as a course of habit.
  11. Your kids ask you “where are we going today?” when they see you putting on your make-up.
  12. Your kids ask you “who is coming over today?” when they see you vigorously mopping the kitchen floor and cleaning under the furniture.
  13. You think your friends will love coming out here to spend time, forgetting that you did not like country life your first two years out here.
  14. You spend about 30 hours a week every summer mowing and weeding.
  15. You think standing over a hot stove in the summer while canning produce is FUN.

no starbucks