DIY DIVA
DIY diva

Building a Chicken Run: Part Two

April 13, 2017 | 12 Comments | Uncategorized
DIY diva

Let me just start out by saying this: all the animals on the farm are alive and well.

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Whew.

And, after 3 straight weekends of bleeding from the hands (thank you chicken wire) I now have a fully enclosed run (plus bonus room!) for the chickens to hang out in when I’m not around.

Well, almost fully enclosed.

I was feeling pretty good about how the run was coming along the last time I posted about it, and my mom was going to come up for an evening later in the week to help “finish it up.” (I was fully convinced at that point that I was just a few hours away from having the run complete because thirteen years of writing about my projects on this website has taught me nothing.)

Good news: There was wine!

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Bad news: We did not get it done. (We did get the hardware cloth on the “roof” though, and that part would have been very difficult to do without my mom and the wine.)

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But the weekend was just a few short days away, so I redoubled my efforts to keep the chickens from escaping the barn while I was at work (spoiler alert: none of them worked) and then spent another full-day working on the run on Saturday.

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Building and hanging that door took so much patience and beer.

It was a long couple of days, but by the end of it, I had a fully enclosed run, complete with chicken jungle gym.

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I built these platform steps instead of a typical chicken ramp, because most of my nugs refuse to use the ramps in the coop and just fly up and down from the roosts instead. Here’s a video of the chickens checking it out for the first time (and by “checking it out” I mean “would only deign to place one foot gingerly upon its surface”… because chickens.)

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I also secured a few branches for natural roosts, and my mom added a few mirrors she thought the chickens would like. I was skeptical that they’d use them, and the next thing I know this guinea was totally checking herself out!

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Mom’s are always right.

Anyway, the run itself was done, but even with the inside coop accessible (9×9), the 12×8 run still seemed too small for my nine chickens. So, fast-forward a week, I decided to build a bonus room for the coop to give them more access to grass (and another area to explore.)

I was leaving for a 3 day trip on Sunday afternoon so I was highly motivated to build the largest space possible, in the quickest/easiest way. I decided on a large rectangle 16′ long, 3′ tall, and 4′ wide (which meant fewer cuts on the hardware cloth.)

Here’s one of the side panels in progress. I stapled the hardware cloth to 4 2x4x8’s, then attached the cross braces. The 12″ overhang on the hardware cloth is to prevent anything digging under the run.

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If I had to do this over again I would definitely use pocket screws to attach everything. This seemed faster at the time but was kind of a pain in the ass. (Not nearly as much of a pain as lying in donkey shit attempting to staple hardware cloth to the top of this though…)

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Yeah, farm life is always this fun you guys.

My mom usually avoids the power tools around here, but I convinced her to use the pneumatic nailers while I was cutting boards this time…

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And also go catch the chickens when the ran across the street.

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Chicken-catching Level: Expert. (I love this pic.)

Back to the run though, I thought there was no possible way it would take me more than an afternoon to build this very large box with some hardware cloth attached to it.

Again, wrong.

After a full day of work Saturday, I got up bright and early Sunday to slap some temporary boards on the unfinished side of the “bonus room”, and create a tunnel between this section and the coop. It’s the most slapped up, hacked together thing I’ve ever done, but I only had 3 hours until I had to jump into my car and drive to Chicago.

My ego isn’t quite ready to show you what a hack job I did on those parts, so, in the meantime, check the whole thing out from a prettier angle.

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The bonus room added another 64 square feet of space to the outdoor run, and the chickens were confined to the coop and run for 2.5 days without an issue.

I did hang a few apples and heads of cabbage to help keep them entertained though…

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There’s still a lot of clean-up work to do on the run plus some landscaping to make it look pretty, and I’ve got one more fun addition planned at some point this spring (hint: chicken maze, anyone?) I really don’t like locking my free-range flock up, but for now I can leave for work or go out of town for a few days at a time without worrying that something will come by and get them, and that counts for something.

Plus the donkeys are thrilled because they think I spent all that time building them a new scratching post…

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Don’t worry donks… I’ve got some fun things planned for you guys too. (Donkey maze, anyone?)

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    Comments

  • Tallulah P


    I love your posts and have recently started sharing them with a friend in New Zealand. She has Guinea fowl, and has been building a Keen Manor. I hope she gets some inspiration from your work.

    I built a similar run as you for my cats. I got tired of finding them dead on the road. The enclosure gave them fresh air and sunshine, and saved oodles on vet bills.

    We do what we must to save our fur and feather friends.

  • Anne


    Hack and slash is fine for chickens ;-)

    Gonna put a solid roof on there for sun, rain and snow protection?

    Continuing our comments from CR Part One:
    Yes, the mesh is what’s vulnerable.
    1/2″ HC will grab damn near every flake of snow.
    Sheathing and shingles or roll… or corrugated plastic panels….and maybe a roof rake.

    • Kit


      I’m not going to put a solid roof on it, the chickens can go inside (and prefer to be in there) for weather protection… they spend all winter just hanging out in the barn even when they had the opportunity to free range. I’m planning to have some plants out there and want rain and sun to get through!

      Those are sistered 2×4’s on the roof (so 4×4 in effect) and there are 2×2 cross braces underneath every 2-3 feet. Snow load certainly isn’t going to collapse the structure of the roof, but may rip the hardware cloth off… it’s actually 1/4″ and will definitely catch the snow! I would have preferred 1/2″ because the gauge of the wire is a bit thicker, but this is what I had available. It’s possible the snow will pull the wire out but it’s pretty well secured with the cross braces, and if it does I’ll replace with 1/2″ mesh.

  • Jack Conway


    Nice to just get away…Once I got the acreage, my son said “you should get chickens dad – fresh eggs and all” me; “you should get a vehicle that gets better gas milage to make the daily 50 mile round trip after you make the 50 mi. daily round trip for your work, to feed and water them when I’m gone…because everyone needs a little time away; and..well..I’m retired now ;-)… last I heard of it. The chickens have protected room to roam, feed n water…very functional and awesome!
    Chicken maize….their so confused with the mirrors and thinking the flock is dbl it’s size they’ll never make it through, it would a maize me if they made it thru Kit but would be a hoot to sit and watch them try after a pint or two
    :-)

  • Molly R Frisinger


    This is sooo much more room than any of the backyard chickens in my neighborhood get. I always feel bad for them living in an area smaller than my dining room table.

  • Stacy


    Always love reading your posts! Brilliant Chicken run! Have you ever thought of adding Ducks?

  • Reenie


    Great job Kit. Wine in a wagon ~ I love it. And that is a great pic of your Mom.

  • Patti


    You’re such a great farmer. That’s all I’ve got LOL

  • Chaucea


    Build a moveable chicken coop for ‘em! :)

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-tractors-mobile-chicken-coop-designs

    • Kit


      Yeah, I totally see the appeal of these… chickens are good little lawnmowers. They do get fresh grass every day in a chicken tractor, but they’re still all crammed into a small little space (and nothing to explore but low grass). I think if I had just 3-4 chickens it might work, but I would have to build 3 of these things just to feel comfortable with the amount of space each chicken has, (and then move the chickens between the moveable coop and real coop every day… I’d be full time catching chickens! ;) lol) A lot of the designs for these things are super cool though!

  • Linda K.


    Lovely playrooms for the Nugs! I foresee predators (raccoon families)on the roof of the bonus room AND the outdoor run possibly caving in/tearing the mesh and getting to the Nugs anyway – night or day.

    (After I put a spring closer on the door….)I’d add a hip- or elbow-level crossbar on the door so when I get halfway in with my hands full, my butt doesn’t go through the screen! Cheerio.

  • Nine Dark Moons


    Love it! well done. LOVE the guinea checking herself out in the mirror. Your mom is smart.

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