Project chicken run

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Rattus
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Project chicken run

Post by Rattus » Sun May 21, 2017 11:22 pm

Hi knowledgeable chicken keepers!

After deciding a year ago that I wanted to keep chickens I'm finally starting to make a chicken run.
I have done a lot of research on here and the associated website, as well as other websites and I'm finally happy that what I have planned will be right for me and my chickens. Any suggestions or advice will be gratefully received.

I was originally going to get an Omlet Eglu and walk in run but came to the conclusion that what with a child in nursery I couldn't really afford to spend that sort of money so looked into alternatives. Next I settled on one of those wooden coop and run combos that seemed really affordable, but when I plotted it out on the ground it seemed really tiny for the 4 hens it was supposed to house. So back to the drawing board again and decided that the best option was to get a good quality plastic coop and build my own fully enclosed run. I have mostly settled on a Solway house. I would prefer a Green Frog but just a bit too expensive.

I've spent weeks designing the run because my DIY knowledge was less than my chicken knowledge. I didn't know what size of wood was needed, what type of screws, let alone how I was going to make a roof. I now know what a purlin and a coach screw are!

The area allocated to the chickens is approx 2.4m x 3.6m which gives an area of over 8sq m so adequate for 4 hens. Hopefully they will be let out in the garden for some time most days when someone is home. I have never seen a fox where I live but assume one would soon appear once it knew chickens were here. Therfore I am making the run as fox proof as I can. Also during the bird flu outbreak over the winter I was in a higher risk area so having a roofed run just seems like a good idea. Hopefully keep the whole enclosure cleaner too.

We inherited a lot of paving slabs with with house so thought I would put these to good use. I have dug these end on into the ground to make a sort of perimeter wall and more slabs laid flat around the edge onto which the frame of the run will sit. They form a path around the edge of the run and also keep any wood off the soil to minimise rotting. A fox would have a pretty hard time digging into the run I hope. The vertical slabs will also help keep any wood chip etc contained within the run. The vertical slabs will sit within the run. Hopefully the photo is clearer than my description!
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Groundwork for run
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I am going put in a weed proof membrane next to keep the mud at bay. Also I need to finish paving along the front edge. It doesn't look like much at the moment but this has taken many days of back breaking labour! The area was an overgrown raspberry patch a few months ago.

Yesterday my dad came over to help with constructing the panels for the sides of the run. In truth he actually did most of the sawing and screwing and I was assistant and project manager. The panels are constructed out of 50x50mm timbers so they are pretty sturdy. They are either 3 or 6ft wide, based on the width of the weld mesh I've purchased. I thought the less wire cutting the better. Amazingly we got all the panels built in one day - big thanks to husband who kept kids entertained all day.
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Wood frames for panels
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Today I have been painting the panels with Cuprinol Garden Shades 'Seagrass'. Husband declared he did not want an ugly shack in the garden so hopefully this will help it to look pretty. I thought I would get all the painting done today but only got just over half done. Who would have thought it would take longer to paint than construct! Hopefully will get some more painting done in the week.
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Pretty painting, hopefully
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Next weekend I shall attach the weld mesh. I've a 30m roll of 1/2 × 1/2 inch by 36 inch mesh from Hills of Devon. I suspect this will be a pretty time consuming task too.

I shall keep you up to date with my progress.
Kathryn
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chrismahon
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by chrismahon » Mon May 22, 2017 6:48 am

Shaping up nicely Rattus. Attaching mesh can be done quickly with an electric staple gun (Tackwise 140EL), but be aware that the zinc on the little staples is quite thin and the staples rust away in a few years- I would advise hammering in larger staples every 15cm for extra security.
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Marigold
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by Marigold » Mon May 22, 2017 8:15 am

That all looks absolutely brilliant, Kathryn. What an enormous amount of work you've put in already - but well worth it, to get it right first time, before the hens arrive. The small sized mesh is really good, will keep out wild birds and rodents, and is more resistant to foxes than bigger sizes as they can't get their teeth into it.
What roofing material are you going to use? Fix a gutter along the down side to prevent rain blowing in under the edge and making the run wet. What bedding on the floor? Good to lay membrane under the bedding - I've had it under Aubiose for 8 years now in my run and it hasn't worn out yet. Keeps the bedding clean of earth and makes poo picking much easier. You do need to fix it down well at the sides - I used lots of tent pegs (cheapest on eBay) and if you can machine hem the cut sides to a generous fit before laying it, this will prevent fraying. You should be able to get it wide enough to go across in one piece, and fold under any spare, no need to cut it.
Chickens need shade and windbreaks as well - the ideal conditions for them are 'woodland edge' with some direct sunshine but shade as well. I've fixed willow fencing rolls round the exposed sides of my run, using cable ties through the mesh and staples into the framework. This gives dappled shade and lets air through, whilst giving wind and rain protection, strengthens the framework as the willow stems are very strong, and also makes an attractive camouflage background for the run. The willow starts off quite dark but gets golden brown after a few months.
They will also like a long perch along the side where they can see what's going on - mine spend ages happily sitting up there and chatting companionably, but I can never get a pic of them because as soon as they see me they jump down and rush to the door in the hope of treats!
Minorcafan
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by Minorcafan » Mon May 22, 2017 4:50 pm

Just be careful that your OH doesn't move his stuff into it! I have found that my birds like a perch too so they can survey all that happens round their run
Rattus
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by Rattus » Wed May 31, 2017 11:28 pm

Thanks for your encouragement and advice. Progress has been pretty slow. In the end it took 3 days to give the wooden panels 2 coats of paint. I have managed to put down the weed proof membrane though. Unfortunately I don't have access to a sewing machine so I couldn't hem the edges so I folded them over and taped them down with strong tape.

I've decided to use bolts to join the panels together so it would make sense to drill the holes for these before attaching on the mesh.

The roof is going to be covered in green coroline with a pitch of about 10 degrees. I've made the height of the right-hand panels about 45cm higher than the rest and the trusses are 50x50mm timbers placed 45cm apart. The purlins will also be placed 45cm apart according to the info sheets about the coroline. I am slightly worried that using coroline will make it a bit too dark in the run. I know the chickens will like it fairly shady but it might be too dark to properly see if there's any mites in the house when I'm cleaning it. There's a tall hedge at the back and a small plum tree on the left-hand side though direct sunlight will come in from the front so maybe there's nothing to worry about. I did think I could put in a panel or two of the clear corrugated stuff but it doesn't appear to come in the same sizes, either length or width-wise which makes it a bit more awkward to fit in.
I was wondering whether I would need a gutter or not. Hoped I wouldn't but it's probably a good idea especially as the prevailing wind would blow rain into the run and not away from it.

With regards to the floor of the run I had originally decided to use hard wood chip but now I am thinking more towards Aubiose. I think I can get it locally so wouldn't have too pay for delivery, unlike with wood chip. How many bales would I need to cover 8sq m to a depth of about 4-6 inches and how often would it need replacing if I poo-picked every day?

I should have some wood left over to make a perch across a corner of the run and will look into some sort of screening against the wind.

I'm keen to get on with it all but unfortunately I have a 12 hr shift at work on Saturday so half the weekend's gone already.
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dinosaw
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by dinosaw » Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:11 pm

My advice would be to go to 30cm spacing for the purlins with Coraline, I know they recommend 45cm (which is fine with Onduline which is 15% thicker) but from working with both materials a fair bit I think it's pushing it with Coraline. It will hardly cost you more with this size of construction as battens are dirt cheap. Gutter will reduce splash back into the run and stop the ground becoming as saturated in wet weather, I have done without them before but the run is better with one. If you are using aubiose as your run material then remember to fit kickboards around the base of the run so you don't wind up with as much of it outside as inside. 3-4 bales of aubiose should be about right for what you want and you would replace it about every 6 months or so, ideally just after worming.
Rattus
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by Rattus » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:18 pm

Thanks for that info dinosaw. Just what I needed to know. I would have been very annoyed to have gone to all this effort to roof my run for it to end up sagging. More purlins is no big deal and probably still cheaper than spending out more on using Onduline rather than Coroline.
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dinosaw
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by dinosaw » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:13 am

One more tip Rattus, which you may know already. If you need to cut any of the sheets to size make sure that you give your saw a generous spaying of WD40 otherwise the bitumen will stick to the teeth, ruin your saw and make it really hard going cutting through. You will need to do that on every sheet you cut.
Rattus
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by Rattus » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:05 pm

Have made lots of progress over the weekend. I finished off fixing on the weld mesh to the panels, This was a very tedious job and my fingers were pretty sore from trying to make sure it was pulled taught. We drilled holes in the panels and then fixed them together in situ with hex bolts. It was very satisfying to find that they fitted together perfectly around the vertical slabs I'd dug into the ground. We the door hung too. A Suffolk latch is fixed at the top of the door so it could be closed from the inside as well as from the outside. A bolt was also fitted at the base of the door for extra security though I may regret this - whilst I was inside the run admiring my handiwork my 3 year old decided it would be very funny to lock mummy in! Obviously the next job is the roof.
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Walls and door
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I'm feeling fairly confident that nothing is going to be able to get in the run. My husband jokes that if the whole chicken thing doesn't work out we could have a tiger instead! I found out the other day though that a fox got some chickens just up the road, so I don't think I'm going over the top.
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Marigold
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Re: Project chicken run

Post by Marigold » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:40 am

That's a beautiful job, Kathryn. Really well-made, and attractive to look at, as well. All you need now are some chickens - and a roof, of course!
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