Keeping chickens as backyard pets is a fun and rewarding hobby that yields many tasty eggs. As is true of all pets, however, your hens will need proper care in order to thrive and live comfortably. Part of this care involves building a chicken run.
Why you need a Chicken Run
A coup provides a safe place for your birds to sleep at night and offers protection from bad weather. Like you, however, chickens get bored if they stay “couped up” in one place for too long. Bored chickens turn on each other and pick fights.
Letting the chickens roam your yard gets them out of the coup but may prove unsafe. Wild dogs, foxes, eagles and other predators can make a quick meal of a bird that isn’t protected. A run gives your chickens a safe space outside of their house where they can stretch their legs without fear of predators.
Designing a Chicken Run
Planning and designing a run before you build it is important. Location is key. It’s best to build your run in an area that provides access to both sun and shade. You’ll also want to offer your brids protection from wind. The structure should allow at least three square feet of space per hen.
What to Construct Your Run From
Hens object to wet feet and dislike puddled coups, so line the base of your run with gravel to promote drainage. You’ll then build a frame for your coup from wood or metal. if you opt for wood, remember to seal it against the elements but buy untreated lumber. Treated lumber contains chemicals that could harm your flock if the birds peck at it.
Once the frame is built, wrap it in heavy-duty chicken wire. It’s best to attach the wire to the inside of the structure so that dogs and other predators can’t work the material loose from the outside. Dig a trench around your coup and bury some of the chicken wire underground, as well, to prevent animals from digging their way into your pets’ enclosure.
For protection from airborne predators, build the roof from metal or wrap it in chicken wire and then install bird netting over the top.
5 Items you need in a Chicken Run
- Every hen enjoys a good dust bath once in a while, so be sure to provide one in your run.
- Your birds will also need a patch of vegetation to forage in. If you can’t get vegetation to grow in your run, add some movable pots with grass and foraging greens growing in it.
- Add a feeder and water station to your run
- Roosting Bar
- Treat balls and toys
Follow these tips and you’ll have a safe and happy flock for many years to come.