Advice for run structure please!

The place to discuss chicken coops and runs.

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bigyetiman
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by bigyetiman »

Glad you are back with us and ready to start building or buying.
We started with the one run and coop, then had the room to add another run at the end with a coop, and just made a door through, handy when you want to introduce new girls slowly.
There is no escape or cure for morehens disease, but on the bright side it's not fatal and only catching off another hen keeper :D :D :D
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bozza
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

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Hi Marigold, Margaid and Bigyetiman! Thank you for your advice and encouragement! The space I have for my run is 21 x 15ft. The 21 ft is the width of the bottom end of my garden I will plan the run to allow for enough space all the way around to enable ‘maintenance’ etc to be done. I plan to get 4 hens I think (until the morehens syndrome sets in!!). Marigold, thank you for your reassurance regarding the Jim Vyse runs. The link you referred to is the right one and if you scroll to the bottom of that page the large enclosed runs with roof on the right are the ones I’ve been looking at. He does bespoke versions as required so in the New year I will measure up more accurately and have a good think about the largest size I can get. I work 30 hrs a week on weekdays so I need my girls to have enough room and things to do to occupy them and allow them their own space whilst I am at work. I plan on spending lots of time in the garden with the girls when I’m not at work allowing them to do their thing as they please while I’m pottering around! I plan on getting a non wooden coop, although I’m as yet undecided on which one yet. I’ve changed my mind several times on this one, so watch this space!

Marigold, I live in Lincolnshire so quite a way away from you but if I decide to have a trip down to Jim Vyse I would love to pop in for coffee!! I think you’d soon be sick of my endless chicken questions though!

Margaid, I’m a chemotherapy nurse so most of my vaguely useful skills involve needles sadly, rather than a drill or a hammer!!

A question for you all...I’ve planned on getting some hybrid POL hens from a lovely place local to me. I’ve been to visit them and picked their brains, and had a good chat. However, I see a lot on social media about rehoming of ex battery hens...is this something you’d recommend to a first timer, or is it better to get an understanding of ’healthy‘, ‘normal’ hens before adopting some of those poor girls? Have any of you rehomed ex batts and what are your experiences if so? Thank you all again. I love this forum!!
bigyetiman
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by bigyetiman »

Glad you are finding us all helpful.
Personally I would go for some "normal" hens first. With ex batts you may have to spend a lot of time getting them used to your type of feeders/feed, going to bed in a coop as they will have been packed in barns, or cages. Perching will be new to them as well. The great outdoors and even sunlight will be scary for them.
You are obviously a hardworking person being a chemo nurse, so the hens from a supplier may be a less taxing option to start. We have not had ex batts, but have taken in rescue chickens from people who hadn't a clue or shouldn't have got them in the first place, and it can be tricky getting them used to your set up.
If you want eggs, the ex batts will be coming to the end of their laying days.
This is just my view someone on here who has had ex batts will give you much better advice on them
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Marigold
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by Marigold »

I can see that a lot of people really enjoy giving a home to exbatts, and there's certainly a feel-good factor about improving their lifestyle and watching them develop. They will be a very placid breed, bred to endure overcrowding without fighting, and have lovely personalities. As BYM says, their best egg laying days will be past, that is why they are being sent for slaughter if not rescued, and they will be more inclined to get painful and fatal illnesses such as prolapse and peritonitis because they have been expected to lay so heavily. Also, they will become inclined to laying eggs with very poor shell quality, or no shell at all. However, those that survive the transfer to a normal life can go on laying for quite a while, and make lovely pets, being very trusting and intelligent. Of course a lot depends on where they've been living and what state they're in when they arrive. Some look almost normal and others will be nearly bald - not so good if being rehomed outdoors in winter conditions.

Unless the rehoming idea really appeals, I would myself agree with BYM about getting 'normal' point of lay hybrids for your first birds, for several reasons. Firstly, you can choose a variety of breeds, with different plumage so you can tell them apart, they look an attractive mixture in the garden, and each will lay a different colour egg, (if you ask the supplier about this when choosing,) varying from fawny-beige, through white, greeny blue, and shades of dark brown. The size and shape of the egg will vary between breeds as well. That means you are able to tell who has laid that day, and diagnose any problems with egg laying in relation to the bird concerned. Exbatts will all lay uniform brown eggs. Also, you will begin to get an idea about what type of hen you like, for when Morehens disease strikes, as it will.

Secondly, you will have both the thrill of 'first eggs' from your teenage, 16-18 week-old pullets, and if you get them a few weeks before they come into lay they will have a chance to settle down, finish growing, and get ready for a good laying season in the Spring, where you will have the advantage of all their best eggs in the first two years. You'll also have a chance to examine the birds before buying, and even more important, to check out conditions at the suppliers where they're kept. If conditions are dirty and crowded and the drinking water is filthy, walk away, get them from somewhere where you won't be importing diseases that may dog your flock for years. It's most probable that hybrids will have been hatched and raised up to about 16 weeks in large-scale commercial units, where they will have been mass vaccinated against chicken diseases, and this has to happen at various intervals every few weeks, like with kids. Home-bred hens from small backyard breeders most probably won't have had this immunisation programme, not that that's necessarily a problem, but as mycoplasma is so prevalent in small domestic flocks, it's best to avoid the chance of it if possible. It's possible that hybrids won't necessarily all turn out to be healthy and long lived - I had one young pullet die overnight in the coop for no known reason in my last batch - although pretty tough, they're not immortal - but at least they're not very expensive, it's not like buying a purebred show quality hen for twice the price or more!
Icemaiden
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by Icemaiden »

Hi Bozza.
I started out with ex-batts, rehomed via the British Hen Welfare Trust, www.bhwt.org.uk . I've never regretted my decision. Ex-batts are friendly, placid, low maintenance and bred to be healthy, not prone to the diseases that can afflict "posh birds".

These days I alternate between getting ex-batts & getting young point-of-lay pure breeds &/or hybrids, so I've experienced all three. With any hybrid you'll get thin shells as they get older. Buying a coop with roll away nest boxes is a great way of future-proofing against hens eating their (& each other's) eggs as the shells get thinner with age. Adding a mineral booster powder to the layers ' pellets will also help both with ex-batts and with older hens.

I've found that ex-batts settle in to their new home faster than young pullets. They've been putting themselves to bed & perching within a few days and of course laying pretty much straight away; it's not unusual to find an egg in the carrying box by the time I've brought them home!

They're also really happy & seem really grateful. To watch them learn to scratch around & to dustbathe is just lovely and their feathers soon grow back to their full glory.

Whatever you decide on, so long as your coop is in a big, fox-resistant run, you won't regret it!! Enjoy!!!
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
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bozza
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

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Ahh, thank you Ice Maiden, BYM and Marigold for your advice and thoughts on the sort of hens to go for as a first timer. My instincts are telling me to go for POL hybrids to start with and I think, as time goes on, and I become more experienced I will give a home to a few ex-batts and keep mixing it up as I go along. I’ve been a bit put off at this early stage by pure breeds. As attracted to them as I am I keep reading that they’re more inclined to become broody and tend to be more highly strung. You may be able to put me right on this with all of your experience? I know that they are nowhere near as productive egg laying wise, which doesn’t bother me that much, but everything I read points first time chicken keepers to hybrids for their first ‘go’. I’d be interested on your thoughts ladies and gents!! I’ve (hopefully) attached a photo of the patch of garden I’ve got planned for my chickens. I’m in the process of finding quotes for someone to supply (and possibly) build my run. Tree stump grinding man is coming this week so that’s one job off the very long list!! Thanks again for all of your advice and interest. Happy New Year to you all. 2020 will definitely be the year of the chicken for me!
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bigyetiman
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by bigyetiman »

That looks a decent space, just waiting for a run and coop.
Start simple and once morehens disease strikes you can go onto more fancy breeds if you wish. Some are more broody then others. Bit like people all different in their own ways and attitudes
Lots of different people on this forum with experience of different breeds to advise you.
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Marigold
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by Marigold »

That’s a fantastic area for a good-sized run and coop, lucky girls. Just remember, nobody ever wished they had made a smaller run, however many birds they end up with.
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bozza
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by bozza »

Hi everyone, another question for you lovely experienced lot...I’m getting quotes for my run from a few companies and am just wondering what size weld mesh you would recommend. I asked one chap for a quote with 1/4 x 1/4 weldmesh and he queried it as he said with that small an aperture, the weldmesh is only 19g and is actually quite weak. Will 1/2 x 1/2 be adequate? And do I need a different gauge for the walls and to line the base? I’m really not wanting to set up a run that will be crawling with rodents but I also want something strong. I’ve found that some weldmesh is galvanised, some is stainless steel. I’m a bit stumped and I would like to be able to confidently ask for quotes with a bit of knowledge. Can anyone help me please?? Thank you so much xx 🐓
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Marigold
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Re: Advice for run structure please!

Post by Marigold »

Hi Bozza. We used 1/2" galvanised mesh in our run, and you can see what it looks like in the pic I posted a day or so ago, see viewtopic.php?f=3&p=70280#p70280. We used the green plastic-coated mesh, because it camouflages better in a garden, and 10 years later the coating is still intact and shows no signs of rust. I mainly chose it because, although the wire it's made of may be thinner than on mesh with wider holes, it's actually extremely effective at excluding rodents, right down to small mice, and also wild birds. This is very important as if any of these pests get in, not only do they eat the food but they can contaminate food and water and spread diseases and infestations. We lined the run floor with mesh as well and fastened it to the sides to make a rodent-proof box, and so far, none have got in and my birds have remained free of infections and parasites.

It's actually pretty strong stuff -it doesn't seem weak at all to me, certainly not compared to chicken wire, which is totally useless for keeping any sort of predators out. If you think about it, the wire may be a bit thinner, but there's more of it in any given area because it goes round a greater number of holes. Also, if you live in an area where there are foxes, it isn't possible for them to chew their way in because they can't get their teeth into the small holes.

Of course what you choose is up to you and you must take professional advice, I'm not trying to persuade you - I can only say I would choose the same stuff again in my situation as it's as good as new after 10 years.
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