This part of our chicken mission has been particularly time consuming – not just the building parts but the research too. For someone who loathes googling, it spiralled into information overload FAST. So here are my top guidelines and considerations for installing your own chicken run (I have saved you many hours 💁♀️)
If you’re thinking about putting your chickens on an allotment like us, the National Allotment Association has some guidelines which ensure the chickens are taken care of properly. They refer you to the RSPCA guidelines which you can access here.
Room to groove
Firstly, you’ll want to give your girls as much room as possible. Not only will it make your ladies happier, but a happy Chicken is a laying chicken. So whether you’re in it for hugs or eggs you’ll win either way. The general guideline is 1 metre square per chicken in the run (about 0.27sq metres in the coop).
You will need to somewhat booby trap your run to protect your girls from predators. We’re mainly concerned with rats, so we’ve used 13mm chicken wire and we’re going to put paving around the edge of our run to make burrowing more difficult. We’re also putting good quality galvanised mesh across the bottom so rats can’t dig up and in. Finally, we’re getting a solar powered security light to deter rats and other predators.
Blame it on the weatherman
Our site is particularly exposed, so our girls are going to need a few ‘hangouts’ so they can keep their feathers neat and tidy. Make sure your ladies have shade and cover from the wind, rain and sunshine. As an extra measure, we’ll be using ground anchors to stop the run from flying away so the girls don’t end up in Oz.
To roof or not to roof
We’ve included and removed a roof from our plans over and over. Having talked to many seasoned chicken owners, there are 3 main benefits to roofing: Keeping out diseases carried by other birds, protection from the elements and preventing escape. Our final decision is to net the roof all the time and have a tarpaulin for bad weather.
It’s taking us several weeks to get our whole run built and I can’t wait to get my girls in and introduce you to them. Even with our good sized run (10sqm) we are planning to build an extension so that the girls can free-range with supervision. So the next project is in the diary already! But to be honest, they’ll probably be roaming our house by Christmas…