Most of the chicken runs that you can buy to fit onto a coop (or that are built into a coop) are rather small in my opinion. Otherwise, access to any exposed dirt will suffice. Build a basin or bin in your coop that you can fill with loose dirt, grass clippings, leaves, pine shavings, or other material, and scatter scratch grains in it for the chickens to dig for. Plant tasty greens like lettuce, spinach, turnips, clover, or anything else your chickens like to eat. This is very important – Chickens can withstand the cold and are kept in temperatures as low as -20 in countries such as Canada, however, they need a dry, draft free house to sleep in that is well ventilated. But when the birds get free-range time to pasture outside of the run, one of the following forms of fencing is recommended. If your chickens don’t free-range then they most likely have a run or a chicken yard of some sort. I recommend using wood chips all year long. Start by keeping chicken feed in a hanging feeder inside their coop. Raising chickens in winter can be a lot of fun. You should protect your chickens by creating a run, or an enclosure, connected to their coop. Make sure whatever you construct is steady enough not to fall from their placement and potentially injure or kill your chickens. They also use reasonable mesh wire which you often don’t find on runs this cheap. Chicken Gardens. Allowing them to engage in this natural, healthy behavior will not only make them happier, but will help prevent infestation of external parasites. The problem can be that the chickens quickly forage all the green out of their run, and then droppings accumulate on the hard dirt. This will prevent fowl getting out and wild birds and predators getting in. What space do they need? Plus, collecting eggs is easier because you do not have to search your entire property. The ideal chicken run is high enough to keep your chickens inside and secure enough to keep any predators out. Every day, be sure the chickens are safely locked into their coop from nightfall until morning. Pieces of bread, vegetables, dried mealworms, or scratch grains all make excellent goodies for your chickens to seek out. L. Holloway is an experienced keeper of chickens and other fowl who has spent nearly a decade educating others on their habits and care. The most successful confinement coop I have implemented actually has no access at all to the outdoors, but is open to the fresh air on three sides and has a long bank of windows on one wall. When faced with the prospect of having to keep our chickens confined, the first course of action we tend to pursue is to build a chicken tractor, which is a mobile coop that can be periodically moved to a fresh patch of ground. While chickens are quite creative when it comes to keeping themselves entertained - free-ranging is their forte! If your property already has an amply-sized coop and run, then it will require very little modification to make it suitable for confinement chicken keeping. The acreage chicken keepers. Freedom is very important to us as human beings, but the truth is, chickens are not people. Having brightly-colored flower pots, shiny mirrors, or spinning pinwheels in or around their run will give them something visually to figure out. Hide them inside of hollow logs, cinder blocks, or other nooks and crannies--just don't put them in the nesting boxes. You don't want to encourage chickens scratching in the boxes and kicking eggs out! May 25, 2020 2,707 32,493 626 Western Washington. Chickens need a safe place to spend their days. Is this going to be an issue? It sounds OK, but it’s always hard to tell with foxes. How many chickens will I have? Hollow logs make a great opportunity to hide treats, and logs can periodically be turned over to reveal tasty bugs underneath--much to your chickens' delight! To help give them an outlet for this energy, there are several things you can do to fulfill their instinct to forage. It is difficult to say when a chicken run becomes a ‘fenced off area’ (see my page on, Keeping Chickens: A Beginners Guide © 2020, The Protection of Animals Act and Chickens, Ten Questions to Answer Before Keeping Chickens. Chickens peck each other out of boredom. Chicken wire is more for keeping your chickens in than keeping predators out. Screws need to be stainless steel so they don’t rust. At night, after your chickens have gone to bed, go around the coop and run hiding treats. Place them well out of the reach of your children, chickens or other animals. Know the height needed for your flock. A head of cabbage or lettuce makes fine "Chicken tetherball", while suet holders are perfect for tucking greens, fruits, and veggies. The run needs to be secure – keeping the fox and other predators out whilst keeping the chickens in. The acreage chicken keepers. Rats are cautious creatures and won't go near something new and unknown. Hi, everyone! Why I Recommend Wood Chips for a Muddy Chicken Run. If there are no windows, add them, as the fresh air and sunlight are crucial for happy, healthy chickens. That is why we love the fence netting that you can purchase specifically or chickens. Many people start with raising chickens in a coop lined with newspaper on its floor. Once you have produced enough panels, you can screw them together making a large run that’s easy to assemble. There is nothing I love more than watching my flock chatter and cluck as they make their way around the yard. Roosts can be constructed using normal tree branches that are either affixed to a wire frame or wedged into the available wire of their existing run. Although my chickens are cold hardy breeds and would come out in the snow I felt that less snow in the run would be better. You may not be planning on keeping your chickens confined, but it is always ideal to be prepared, and it certainly won't hurt anything to have a really appealing coop for them to come home to, even if they do free range. Install cone-shaped wire baskets around your coop and fill them with grass, dandelion greens, clover, and other green goodies to simulate the foraging experience for your chickens. Another method of building a large chicken run is to build some ‘chicken run panels’. Electric fencing comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes—and budgets. Having a muddy run around your chicken coop can have a bad affect on the health of your chickens. It doesn't have to be too complex--just something that prevents them from mindlessly walking from point A to point B. (Our hens have lots of outdoor time. All you need to keep chickens in your garden is a coop or hen house and an enclosed run. This will help defend against predators such as chicken hawks as well as keep wild birds from mingling with your chickens (although, not their poop, so there can still be some transmission of diseases from wild birds to chickens even in the best of situations). While chicken tractors are very useful from a dietary perspective, they don't do much to alleviate the boredom of being confined, and you will likely find that your chickens still want to escape their enclosure whenever given the opportunity. Chickens raising ducklings can be a slightly different story than the other way around. And bored chickens are … Many ordinances require that chickens must be raised in confinement for hygienic purposes. As I've mentioned before, breaking up the visual space helps stimulate your chickens' thought process, but by adding things like empty barrels, shelves. So maybe next winter we can keep chickens warm without electricity and the coop heater we bought. If you live in a particularly wet climate, you will want to provide a sheltered basin of soil and wood ash to meet this need. As the plants grow within reach, your chickens will be able to nip them off through the wire, but they won't be able to scratch them up and leave the earth bare. 1. Although this is a convenient option, it doesn’t help to absorb the dirt and manure inside the coop. However, the rest of the year they have to be put up because we grow a lot of items in garden beds inside our fenced backyard. 9 Ways to Keep Your Birds Active: You must provide your chickens with adequate space for maximum health. This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional. We’ll go with that. Here, I am going to call the ‘chicken run’ an enclosure that could be 3 to 4 meters long, usually attached to the coop, rather than being ‘around’ the coop and is often covered over. Chickens are social creatures, and generally do better in small- to medium-sized flocks; The chicken coop should open up to a run and/or a “chicken field” that provides at least 10 square feet of space per chicken. Inside the coop, scattering scratch grains in the bedding material will encourage the chickens to dig through it. Here are my simple, inexpensive suggestions to keep water unfrozen through the winter months - I even have three suggestions that work without the use of electricity. It's natural to assume that chickens would want to be free, because that is what we would want. We have a number of different chicken runs and I have used several designs over the years but every time I visit a friend who has lost chickens to the fox, they say the same things, either “I didn’t want to spend….” or “I didn’t have the time to…” and “the fox got in through here…”. These chickens are out in the field on an acreage. 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