How to Build a Chicken Run – Ultimate Guide
It is fairly straight forward to build a chicken run, especially if you have a few DIY knowledge and skills.
There are quite a few chicken coop plans and designs with run that general manufacturers will and still use. Then you get the home made runs as well that can be pretty successful.
How to Build a Chicken Run? You would need something like rabbit wire, but you need to get a good quality one.
If it’s too thin and you live in an area where there are foxes for instance, they can rip it to shreds in no time. If you do have poor quality rabbit wire, get a double layer added to the bottom half of the chicken run.
Remember to staple the places where the wire is joined. You will still need to check for wear and tear as time goes on. Sometimes investing in electric wiring is a good idea to keep foxes and dogs away.
Your chicken wire needs to be at least six inches under the ground and if the soil is not compact, even more, like 9 inches deep.
For the protection of your chickens, your fences need to be at least six feet high. And gates need to be from solid mesh – remember a fox is a like a cat and can climb fences.
Table of Contents
Building a Chicken Run
Generally, we are going to talk about a chicken run between around 3 or 4 meters long, attached to a coop and not around the coop.
You will need to start by drawing the run as to how you imagine it in your mind. Draw close up plans of how you visualize the joints of your chicken run, the doors and wiring and so on.
Then draw up a list of all the pieces you will need to build your chicken run, getting the right sizes of the wood you will need and the thicknesses etc.
Don’t forget hinges, screws, latches, poultry netting, nails, staples, all ready to go out and buy.
A good idea is to even look at old poultry books from the early 20th century. Because these usually have chicken runs and plans that really have stood the sands of time.
Some even have the old-type fold out pages with chicken run plans if you are fine with working in the feet and inches method.
If you can’t find old books, a search on the internet will give you plenty of ideas and plans of more than 10 free chicken run plans to get you on your way.
Why Build a Chicken Run Though?
- First of all, you want your chickens to be protected from the weather, i.e. from wind, sun, rain, and snow. A chicken run with coop will offer the necessary shelter for chickens against the elements.
- They need sufficient sunlight with the chicken run housing open to face the sun. Perhaps about 25% of roofing could be open but as long as the birds can find shelter from rain, snow, winds or heat.
- You need to open up the housing for the birds so that enough fresh air and light gets in. Good housing often is 100% open in the front.
- The correct ventilation needs to be installed where the chickens will roost during the night - you can never have enough ventilation.
- In winter, cool moving air is good, but not fast winds. The cool moving air will draw out the moisture and prevent frost-bite.
- Protection from predators is vital and therefore any gaps in the planning and design should not be larger than 1-inch anywhere. The door of the housing needs to be shut at night to stop predators from invading.
Think About Basic Designing of the Chicken Run
- Consider that one chicken needs one-foot-square for every three-square feet of outside space.
- If you intend going bigger, build the run and coop big enough to handle the growth.
- A minimum of three-square-foot will be required per chicken if the chickens are permanently housed in the coop and can’t get outside (this is not the recommended method).
- For permanent housing, deep bedding consisting of leaves, straw, wood shavings or chips of around 8-inches deep should be used.
- If the coop is not big, make it easily accessible to gather the eggs and to harvest the bedding as well as the droppings.
- If possible, place the chicken house in the shade if you live in a warm climate.
- Chicken food must be kept in metal containers away from rats and mice.
- Don’t forget important things like:
Nesting boxes: these are where the chickens will lay their eggs and should be around a foot-long. Hens will naturally look for a small and dark area to lay their eggs.
Ensure the nest boxes have roofs that are angled so chickens preferably don’t perch on the top, leaving their manure on top.
Bedding can consist of straw, shredded paper or wood shavings.
Perches: chickens need these for roosting/sleeping at night off the ground, because in nature, they would rest on a tree.
Perches should not be metal, but wood and one chicken are estimated to take up around 9-inches of space
Dust boxes: These boxes are filled with dust for the chicken to take dust-baths, keeping them free from mites.
Dust boxes can be around 2-square feet and about 18-inches tall and placed inside the chicken house as you don’t want the dust-bath containers getting wet.
Chickens love their dust bath even in rainy or snowy weather. If you prefer, you can provide them an outdoor shelter on the bare ground for an ongoing outside dust-bath.
How do you make a dust-box?
- You can assemble a box made from plywood, about 2-feet-2-feet, 18-inches high.
- Add in some sifted soil – you could add some wood ashes - one part ash to four parts of sifted soil. You can add in some garden lime too if you need.