To continue from part 1 and recap a little. My wife and I have 3 sons who are pretty good for the most part… They need to stay active so we take them on trips to give them outdoor experiences and also simply tire them out.
Meredith and I have learned to schedule activities during school breaks. If they sit at home its just a matter of time before a scuffle breaks out. As you can see below, even when they are outside they tend to go after one another like brothers do.
Back to the chicken run. I decided to build a run that will be approximately 16 ft by 8 ft. It will hold the coop pictured in our previous post and allow our hens to have space once they are let out in the morning. I hear your questions. “Why this size and do you plan to not let your chickens free range?” Yes to free ranging! But only when we are home which is not as often as we would like with our three boys in school and sports activities. So I wanted the chickens to have plenty of space that was protected once we let them out of the coop in the mornings. That leads into a next question, “why put a coop inside a semi-large chicken run?” I am not sure how important this is but I have heard and read that it is best to keep new chickens (ours will be full grown) in a coop for more than a week straight before letting them out to free range. I figured it would just take a little more time and lumber to build a run this size rather than one 5 x 8 or smaller.
While we waited for the right timing to get our chickens I had the benefit of reading about other people’s backyard chicken experiences. Reading accounts about how others wished they had built more protection from predators such as raccoons, possums and hawks I decided to build a chicken run that was secure a large enough that they could roam around inside. Reading others backyard chicken vs predators stories reminded me of my childhood experiences with our chicken coop. My dad and I dealt with weasels, rats, and other predators who were always trying to get into our farm coop.
Security needed to be our first priority. We have a hawk in the area that is difficult to get on camera. Our friend, Joey, lives less than a mile away and has lost several of his hens to hawks so I knew they could find our flock and had already experienced success in eating chickens. Our neighbors stopped by the other night and we enjoyed an evening on the patio. One of the things we discussed was a funny story about how possums had set up camp in their yard and annoyed their golden retriever. I had not seen a possum myself but made a note that this chicken run’s fence would have to withstand digging and clawing.
Plus we have a high energy two year old German Shepherd who is not aggressive but always looking to play or chase. I saw Greta as the first threat to our chickens. Speaking of hawks she watches our yard like one, which can be good to fend away predators. Greta is so smart and curious, I know she couldn’t resist playing with our chickens if she had the chance.
At a backyard chicken event I was speaking with Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily about Greta and shared with me how she trained her dogs. I looked up an article she wrote about this and it encouraged me that I could work with Greta regarding our backyard chickens.
Where do I put this chicken run in our backyard was my first question that needed answering. We had an invisible fence installed and intentionally left a portion of the yard off limits to Greta. I just had to decide where in that area to build this run.
There are several trees in the back corner of our yard so I was left with the choice of putting the coop in the open and near the front or near the large trees. I chose a spot about two thirds of the way down. There is a beautiful magnolia tree just on the other side of our fence in the neighbor’s yard that should provide shelter from wind and driving rain or sleet.
To keep this series concise and your reading time down we are going to break here. Check back in a couple days for our next post in this series about breaking ground and starting with the dreaded post hole digging! Thanks for reading along!