We had a very unusual sale of our old house. The chickens had to stay! We hated to leave them behind, they really were more pets than anything, but in the end, it was for the best. We did not have a coop at the new place, so this kept them safe and gave us time to build a new coop in due time. We decided that we upsized our property from a zero lot line to 20 acres, we needed to up-sized our home for the “new girls”.
Exercise is Important
At our old house, the girls had free range of our backyard during the day. We had a hill that they loved to climb, so even though it was small, they got lots of exercise. I built a small run so they had shelter in bad weather and they had a coop made from an old playhouse. You can see the old coop here. Our four girls were safe in suburbia.
Now out here in the country (we are nine miles from town) we have a few more predators to worry about. We have also decided to have a few more girls than before, probably around a dozen or so. We want them to be as free range as possible but still be safe. So we compromised on a 700 square foot run. We will probably let them out of the run to play when we are out and about, just not all the time.
We built the run out 1/2″ hardware cloth all around, top and down the sides buried two feet out. This prevents any animals from being able to dig their way into the run. The cloth is 4 feet wide, so we worked with 16 foot long boards. We used cedar posts that had been cut and left on the property from the previous owner.
As you can see from the photos. The roof was our hardest element in the build. The run is on a slope. We just put us a board with a stop for the roll on top and a stop on the bottom to keep it lined up away we went. It goes really smooth with two people. We also found that using a scaffold is helpful.
We cut a hole in the metal barn. This was the hardest thing I had to do. It wasn’t hard to do physically, it was just hard to cut a hole in a good building. But I knew this was the best solution for run/coop setup. We covered the hole with wood, so the girls will not be cut. We decided to go with an automatic door since the barn is a fair distance from the house and we wanted to make sure the girls could get in and out when they wanted. This door is programmable by either time or light sensor. We have it set by sensor. We will write a review of this product once we have the girls set up and we see how it works out.
We left our old feeder with the girls at our old house (condition of our sale was to leave our chickens and coop behind). Since we plan on more than 4 chickens, we also wanted to up- size the size of the feeder. We went with the Grandpa feeder that holds 40 pounds of feed and is supposed to be rat proof. Again, we will review this product as soon as we have some experience with it.
We are also trying out a new system of water for the girls, so stayed tuned for more info on that. We also like to have a place for them to play in the water. We just had a tub of water at our old house, but have upgraded to a kiddie pool. We will let you know if they like it or not.
We have a variety of perches for the girls, including an area, where the dominate girl can reign over everyone else. Can’t wait to meet her!