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If u could redesign your chicken area again from scratch wwyd?

(36 Posts)
arfur Sat 01-Feb-14 10:45:32

Am lucky enough to be building a house and therefore (eventually) a new home for my 7 ex-bats. We have had chooks for just over 2 years and love them dearly so want to take the opportunity to plan out a practical and enjoyable space for them. They currently live in a converted (by dh) Wendy house so they have quite a large indoor area where their food and water is. They have a pretty large (roughly 6x8 metre) outdoor area which has a little bit of shelter from the rain but not 100% waterproof iykwim. It is currently a swamp, there are a few paving slabs and the sheltered bit which gives them a bit of respite from the mud but not much. They also get let out in the rest of the smallish garden regularly and seem happy enough, lay well etc. My main questions are eglu or wooden house for them (dh wants wood as he likes to build stuff and is good at it) and what to do for outdoor space. We will have a lot more room so do I give them a smallish space and move them around periodically or give them a huge space with a slabbed area or rubber/wood chips? Also he who shall not be named will be much more of an issue so advice there would be appreciated. All suggestions welcome TIA

arfur Sun 02-Feb-14 12:14:59


Pixel Sun 02-Feb-14 18:58:15

Don't be sad! I'm just jealous because I'd love to be able to start from scratch with our run but as dh slaved over it there is no way of suggesting it without hurting his feelings wink.
I would definitely have a better roof and think about the flooring/drainage much more if I had the chance. It's a stinky swamp atm but can't sort out until it stops raining so much.

Pixel Sun 02-Feb-14 18:59:21

Oh and I'd go for the big run, then you can put in lots of lovely perches and things for them smile.

arfur Sun 02-Feb-14 20:19:22

Thanks Pixel! The area where we'll put them is semi-wood like so they'll have lots of tree stumps etc to climb on - I know they'll love it just don't want them to trash it in five minutes and then well be in the same boat as we are here! Both neighbours either side have dogs so I'm hoping they might deter you know who but I think well have to replace the fence at the bottom as the other side is dense woodland/forest, although in fairness the neighbours have mentioned deer as problem visitors in the gardens but not you know who's!

Cybercat Sun 02-Feb-14 20:25:34

We are desperate to move house and one of my priorities is a big garden for a walk in chicken run. Ive been trawling the WIR threads on the Omlet and Backyard chicken forums. I know I want a roof on mine and the ability to cover the side in winter (tarps which can be rolled up/down) like a blind.

I have an eglu and think its great. Im a first time chicken owner so terrified of red mite and I find the eglu really easy to keep clean. Ive seen people make their own plastic hen houses using small garden storage containers and cat flaps as a cheaper option.

Id be interested to know if anyone has used the rubber chips Ive seen advertised (havent googled any reviews yet).

thereinmadnesslies Sun 02-Feb-14 21:05:54

We had a wooden coop for two years and we've just replaced it with an omlet cube. The cube is a million times better. Our ex batts came with red mite which infested the wooden house and despite constant cleaning and chemicals it never went away. The hens are happier in the cube, laying more and I can clean the cube in 10mins not the 30mins it took before. I'm spending much less on bedding. The eggs are cleaner because they now perch at night rather than sleep in the nest box. I would totally recommend a plastic coop over a wooden one.

arfur Mon 03-Feb-14 09:32:27

I think the cube would save me a fortune in bedding and also time in cleaning out, the only thing that puts me off is that we have an automatic pop hole on our wooden house with a daylight sensor to let them out in the morning so I get one precious lie-in per week. Don't think there's any way it could work on the cube <selfish>

thereinmadnesslies Mon 03-Feb-14 09:54:22

I bet it's possible to get something like that for the cube.

We leave the pop hole open, touch wood our garden is pretty secure.

Cybercat Mon 03-Feb-14 13:12:14

I used to close the eglu at night but I dont anymore. It hasnt been that cold so I let the ladies get them selves up in the morning. Our run is currently on the patio and the whole thing weighs loads. Ive weighted the skirts down with planters full of stones so Im confident it is secure. When I used to shut them in at night they'd be bashing at the door to get out by the morning!

Eggwhisk Mon 03-Feb-14 13:31:18

Thanks for this thread, my chicken run really needs a revamp and I've got some good ideas. I love the idea of the roll up blinds for the sides, it's like a bog at the moment with all this rain, we have a tarp on the roof but it's a bit useless so will need to get a better roof. I'm also going go try and plant some shrubs to make the space a bit more interesting for them. What does everyone put on the floor of their run?

OodlesofOodles Mon 03-Feb-14 13:32:17

Watching this with interest as we are planning a bigger area on our allotment. I want more hens too

MoreBeta Mon 03-Feb-14 13:40:02

Two major problems we had with our inherited chickens and chicken run were rats and mud.

Security from rats was dealt with by killing all the rats and removing anything they could live under. Piles of bricks, sheds, paving slabs, etc. I also buried chicken wire quite under the ground to stop them digging under the fence of the run.

I then dealt with the mud issue. The mud was a problem because our LL who owned the chickens kept them in a smallish earth floored run for several years and it was just not nice.

I designed an outer run that very large made out of 2m high wide gauge netting that went round a small clump of trees. It kept them from digging up the whole garden but was moveable and really unobtrusive as the netting was coated in green plastic. I could lock them in the inner run and in their coop at night so they would not be attacked by foxes.

They really enjoyed being under the trees in hot sun or rain, making dust baths and just being able to scratch about. I think hens naturally live in forests and they seemed to enjoy coming out - but if allowed in the rest of the garden they did tear up the plants and poo on the patio near our kitchen so we had to still have some control.

tumteetum Mon 03-Feb-14 13:41:17

also watching with interest for ideas as we need to redesign our area. Our wooden coop is on its last legs and I'm looking at an Arkus plastic coop. Will also need new run

OodlesofOodles Mon 03-Feb-14 13:47:35

Morebeta do you mean you buried chicken wire under floor of the run or just round the edge?
Our allotment is near a steam and I worry about rats but so far have seen mice and cats but no rats.

MoreBeta Mon 03-Feb-14 14:37:50

Oodles - I had a wooden fence around the inner run and it had gaps under. The rats used to walk under the fence, go in the coop and eat the food before walking back to their home under the adjacent pile of bricks and garden shed.

What I did was dig a trench about 30 cm deep around the outside of the fence, nail chicken wire on the bottom of the fence hanging down into the trench, filled in the trench with soil and then jammed bricks on top of that soil and trapping the wire under the gap in the fence to stop them chewing the wire. A rat can eat through chicken wire.

The trick with rats is remove shelter and access to food and they will go somewhere else.

arfur Mon 03-Feb-14 14:44:22

Hmm interesting about leaving the door open, I did wonder about that. So if I had the cube and a decent sized run they could come and go as they please and then I could let them out into some of the garden when I choose as we will probably fence off a large area for them to use when we are about. We currently have a rat, but it won't last long as dh is pretty good with his air rifle wink

OodlesofOodles Mon 03-Feb-14 14:46:38


tumteetum Mon 03-Feb-14 17:06:00

We also leave door to coop open all the time giving them access to an enclosed run. We then let them out into a large fenced off area of the garden (although they are pretty good at jumping up on this and roaming the rest of the garden)

Cybercat Mon 03-Feb-14 18:21:30

I bring the feeder and water thing in every night too but it's easy when you only have three!

Pixel Mon 03-Feb-14 18:34:58

We've had our hens for nearly two years and have only recently seen any evidence of rats. We've bought a bait box which has hopefully done the trick. I didn't really want to poison them as it seems so cruel but couldn't have a snappy trap because there are lots of cats around and didn't want a humane trap as then I would have a live rat to dispose of!
We did have a tarpaulin that we could roll down like a blind last year but to be honest even when it was tied down it still made an annoying noise flapping about in the wind. We gave in and filled in one side with tongue and groove which has been a good move with all this rain and wind we've had. If we can only fix the roof I think we will be ok.

stealthsquiggle Mon 03-Feb-14 18:39:39

If I were building from scratch I would definitely lay chicken wire under the run floor to keep rats out. In fact we plan to take up the (loose laid brick now undermined by rats) floor of the run this summer and put wire underneath, put the bricks back, and then pea shingle. They don't spend a lot of time in there normally but are at the moment as we had a fox attack for the first time in 6 years. Surviving chickens are not happy, and I can't wait to be able to let them out again.

MoreBeta Mon 03-Feb-14 20:10:29

Pixel - air pistol I steh best way to deal with a rat in a humane cage trap. Shoot it in the trap.

I had snappy traps too but chained them down with a peg to stop them running off with them.

The trick was not so much the traps but closing what was effectively a nice rat restaurant and hotel complex my LL had built for them.

Pixel Tue 04-Feb-14 20:11:08

Oh I can thank our next door neighbours for the nice rat hotel, they've covered their entire garden in wooden decking. I know we have the chooks but we take in all the food at night and since all the neighbours around us (including wooden decking people) put food out for the birds I'm not going to feel responsible for the rat problem!

arfur Fri 07-Feb-14 11:30:45

Now just 6 ex-bats sad RIP Vera sad

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