Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

The place to discuss chicken coops and runs.

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PageMossFarm
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Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by PageMossFarm »

Hi everyone! I’m looking to buy a coop with attached run for 3 - 4 hens, I have seen 3 that I like but would like some advise if possible please?!
Is it important to have a run that you can walk in to?
Should the run have a solid roof or mesh with a rain cover?
How much vertical space do hens need in a run?
The hens will have access at times to roam the back garden but will be secure in the run during the day if not. The runs on all 3 are between 36’sq and 41’sq. Many thanks!!!
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Marigold
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by Marigold »

Hi PageMossFarm and welcome to the Forum - and to the wonderful world of keeping chickens.

There are quite a few threads in the section on runs and equipment which address your questions in detail - we love talking about runs and coops and have a lot of hard-won experience between us, so I suggest a good browse. But basically they will all conclude that the setup you suggest will be far too small for 3-4 hens, especially as you will be keeping them in there for much of the time, and very probably nearly all the time in the short, dark, wet days of winter. Chickens need a minimum of 2 sq. metres of floor run space per bird, and this is even more important in relatively small runs where there is less space in total for them to move around, and where a higher proportion of floor space will be taken up by the feeder, drinker and dustbath. There are a lot of coop+run combos on the market, mainly imported and far too small for the number of birds they claim to accommodate, both in the run and inside the coop. You’re welcome to post links to the ones you’re looking at for us to see, so people can advise. It’s really important to get this right, so your first experiences with chickens are good ones. Your best bet, for 4 hens, is to get a freestanding coop within a fixed run of at least 8 sq. metres floor space - more is good - nobody ever complains about their run being too big for the birds! Hens like social distancing more than we do.
They also poo a LOT, and in an undersized run this gets messy even if you poo pick daily. For this reason, and so that you can get in and walk around comfortably, yes you’re right, you will need a run with a high enough roof to walk into and move around. Otherwise, you won’t be able to catch your hens when you need to, or get easily to equipment to clean and refill it. Your query about vertical space applies to you, not the hens!
A roof of some sort is very desirable, especially in winter as heavy rain will make the run floor muddy and messy for both you and the birds.
I expect others will be happy to welcome you, and to help with things I’ve missed out. Looking forward to hearing how you get on - you’re so sensible to think about what’s needed before actually getting going on your project. Good luck and please keep in touch!
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PageMossFarm
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by PageMossFarm »

Good morning Marigold,

Thank you for the prompt and in depth reply! Very eye opening.
These are the links to the two I found:

https://thechickenhousecompany.co.uk/co ... coop-cc058

https://www.chickencoopsdirect.com/suss ... -large-run

I must admit I though they looked a bit small.
I think I’ll go for a coop and then a big run, I’ve seen some metal structures that look like marquee frames with mesh sides and roofs which look nice and spacious.

Many thanks again!
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by Marigold »

I don’t think you’d be happy with the first one. The run is tiny and my eyebrows were raised at the bit which said ‘Its the Perfect Chicken coop for someone who wants a bit more space, with good height, around 5 1/2ft in the middle most people can either stand up or nearly stand upright inside.’ Also the roof is felt on top of some kind of wood base, a perfect haven for red mite between the layers. The wood is likely to be cheap imported stuff which will warp and leak over the first winter. Many people have been taken in by these advertisements and have ended up burning their coops in disgust.

The second one is better made and a better design, but again, being made of wood it’s going to be much more likely to retain redmite in all its nooks and crannies, and as,of it will need treatment every year with preservative. During the drying time for the preservative you would have to house your hens elsewhere, which is a problem. This one, again, shares the same problem as all coops attached to runs in that it’s too small for the number of hens it can accommodate. This firm is a bit more honest about this when it says the hens should be let out to grass when possible and for people who have plenty of free range grazing available all year it would be OK. But for most of us with smaller gardens who keep our birds in the run most of the time you might find it too small.

You haven’t mentioned plastic coops. There’s a lot on here about the pros and cons of these for you to research if interested. To my mind, it would be a plastic coop every time, having had a Green Frog for nearly ten years with no redmite, easy to clean, easy to move around, waterproof, no need for chemical preservatives etc. There are also some posts about seoarate runs, and posts from people who have erected their own to fit the space available.
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PageMossFarm
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by PageMossFarm »

Well after a little bit of looking around I have found these, a coop and a run...
What do you think?

https://www.greenfrogdesigns.co.uk/chic ... se-medium/

https://thechickenhousecompany.co.uk/pr ... x-3m-cc010
OR...
https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 2619160205

Any feedback is greatly appreciated!!!

Many thanks
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Marigold
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by Marigold »

That’s better!
I’d totally agree on recommending the GF, except that I’ve got the Lodge version which is raised above the ground - hens can get under it and it’s easier on your back when bending down to get inside. Or maybe you could put it up on blocks or even make a frame for it to sit on. That one will never wear out or need any maintenance apart from occasional washing and a few replacement split pins after a year or so. If you decide hens are not for you, or move house, it dismantles easily and fits in a car boot. Good ventilation, and plenty of room inside for 4-5 hens.

The runs look good too. I would get the second one with a spare cover, to go over the whole roof. You may also need some kind of screening round the sides to provide shade and shelter from wind and driving rain. ideally there would be gutters to take the rain down and stop,it blowing in under the edges. What are you going to do under the base? Paving slabs are good, with Aubiose bedding on top, but if you use Aubiose or similar you may need 6” boards round the sides to keep it in.
How exciting!
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by PageMossFarm »

I do like the raised coop but I don’t think my funds will stretch that far.
With regards to the base, I was just going to put it on my grass in my garden?! Paving is definitely too much for my budget I think.
I think I may have underestimated the set up costs! :?
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by Marigold »

Yes the setup costs are high, unfortunately - there’s no getting away with that - but with chickens the purchase price for the pullets and running costs are low compared with many other pets and of course you will get eggs as a contribution to the weekly food budget. Not that these will in any way put you in profit, but they’re very satisfying and taste quite different from shop eggs and you know where they came from, and how well the birds have been kept.

The grass on the floor might last a week, maybe..... In a small enclosed space, chickens are very destructive to grass. In winter, without a roof, it would become very muddy as they dig a lot, and the rain will blow in under the sides in some areas anyway,, A good low-cost way to provide a base is to cover the area with permeable weed proof membrane, well pegged down round the edges with the plastic pegs you can get for the purpose, and then put a layer of Aubiose on top. This will prevent them digging up the earth and mixing soil with the bedding, and it makes a nice warm comfortable surface. If you poo pick daily it will all stay sweet smelling and won’t get too messy. Ideally you might consider lining the base with 1/2” weld mesh under the membrane, and fixing this about 20-30 cms up round the sides of the run to exclude rats and prevent foxes digging in underneath.

P.S. Thank you for your post in the Welcome section. Nice to know you’re called Gareth!
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PageMossFarm
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by PageMossFarm »

After a few days of investigation I have decided to get the Green Frog Lodge - Medium Coop and have a go at building a 12’ x 12’ run from scratch... Could be interesting :lol:
Wish me luck!!! :-)07
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Re: Newbie - Chicken coop and run advice please?!

Post by Marigold »

Good choice - and good luck! This recent thread might be interesting if you haven't already seen it.
viewtopic.php?f=124&t=11013
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