So this project (like most of my projects) has taken longer than expected! Not gonna lie, in my head it was a case of nailing a few bits of wood together and shoving some chickens in there… yes, I am naive. So here’s an update of what it really takes to get chickens up and ‘flapping’.
You can buy runs in various sizes and in various materials, but in order to make the most of our space we built one ourselves. Honestly in ended up costing about the same but took a lot longer! That said, I want our girls to have as much space as possible.
The main challenge continues to be fox/rat proofing. Our plan was to put galvanised mesh underneath the whole run (so nothing could dig up and under) but this became impossible to get hold of during lockdown. Instead, we’ve buried an outward 2 ft lip of chicken wire around the whole run. We’ve been advised this should stop the foxes digging in. Our plan is to add an inward lip of 13mm galvanised mesh inside the run when it’s back in stock. Hopefully that will prevent any pesky rats getting in as well.
I’m happy to say that this bad boy has FINALLY been built. It was surprisingly easy to put together (e.g. Nick and I didn’t discuss divorce whilst putting it up) and only took an hour! It does however need painting to protect it from wind and weather using animal safe paint. This is a job I could’ve done without, but I am excited to spruce it up.
The other job I didn’t initially factor in is that we have had to build a stand, legs and ladder for the coop. Leaving it on the ground means you’ll probably get rats nesting under it and my girls aren’t going to like that. This job is actually fairly straight forward but still delays things!
Picking your chicken
Ok…I’ve been back and forth on this one but luckily there are some great websites and poultry breeders out there to help you. We always said that we wanted pets first, eggs second… Not gonna lie, we’ve gone for full style-over-substance and have 6 fluffy Silkie chickens pre-ordered for June. This breed make amazing pets – cuddly, docile and full of character. They lay about 3-5 eggs per week during the light seasons and they’re surprisingly hardy.
Initially we were going to supplement our flock with 2 Orpington’s but again I can’t seem to get hold of any during the lockdown chicken frenzy so I had to rethink. My dilemma was finding good layers, happy in a run with a temperament to compliment our sweet silkies (silkies were a non-negotiable). Honestly I struggled to identify anything suitable so…
In the end we said, “let’s just get more Silkies”. The more I read about them the more happy I am with the decision and as soon as you mention Silkies to chicken owners they all flip out about how great they are!
The list goes on…
Unfortunately that’s not the last of it. Our Silkies are going to need more protection from the elements on our exposed plot so we’ll be experimenting with shelter. Plus we’ll need to build them a hair salon (dust bath) to keep them looking fancy!
Another job is building a run extension so they can have more room when we’re up there to hang out. This means building a low level fence with some chicken wire.
Finally I want to prepare myself a first aid kit for them in case of minor problems like sore looking feet or mites etc.
As mentioned just a little more involved than I was expecting but I’m loving it. It’s all worth it to keep my girls happy, safe and laying!