How To Keep Chicken Runs
How To Keep Chicken Runs
Nick Willcox tells you everything you need to know to build your very own chicken run, from sizing, to protection, to the number of chickens that you can keep in a pen.
If you're going to keep poultry, you've got to keep them in a pretty secure run, with a suitable shed, and what have you. Ideally, the run should be dug in to stop the foxes getting in, I mean, they will dig down. Ideally, the wash should be at least a foot and a half dug down into the ground.
Also, have a wire net over the top. That pen, there's got a netting net, a fox can jump off from there, chew a hole in the net, then he's in. Whereas a pen like this one that's behind me, has a wire top on it, a lot more secure, a lot less problem with the vermin getting in and killing your chickens.
The pens themselves should be dug over pretty regularly, otherwise, you'll get problems of they tend to compact the ground, you get a lot of polling, it'll get very muddy very quickly, especially if you've got a lot of chickens in your pen or it's a bit overpopulated, they'll pretty soon turn it into a quagmire. You can put gravel down, that's often a good way that'll help with drainage, gravel or sand in the pen will help with drainage. Basically, if you dig the pen over regularly enough, if you've got a problem, this will stop the birds getting too dirty.
There again, if it's a big enough run, that will be no problem at all, there won't be enough chickens to make a problem. Preferably the pen should be situated where it's not south facing and daylight the whole time, they don't like it too hot. Same again, not too exposed, they've got to be able to keep out of the wind.
Protecting the chickens is one thing, if there is a prevailing wind, have a fence up along one side of the pen so the wind does not whip through. One thing birds do not like is getting wet and then getting wind on them, then you will have a problem. The size of pens depends on the quantity of birds you're keeping.
If you're keeping half a dozen hens, then the ideal size should be 12 x 8, 12 x 12, something like that. If the birds are getting too mucky and they're not happy, they're too cramped up, and they're feather picking or anything like that, increase the size of the run and then you'll relieve all the pressure in the pen. Often, give them some high perches in the pen so they can get out of the way if there is a dominant hen or a dominant cock, well they can just hop up out of the way, then they're out of the stress zone, then they can keep to themselves.
That's how to keep chicken runs. .