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please help...need to build chicken run fast and cheap!

 
Vadim Fedorovsky
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Hi all. I have two rhode island reds. The neighbor has finally complained that I need to keep them off his lawn. So, no more free ranging for nadine and angela...

As the subject line states, I need a fast and cheap solution as I am on a tight budget and they are getting pretty pissed since they're used to being formerly free range ALL day.

I am open to any and all ideas.

Thanks permies!
 
Vadim Fedorovsky
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Just to clarify: I have a coop. What I need to construct is a place for them to graze all day but not get out and wander into the neighbor's lawn.
 
Andrew Parker
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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I made a 4'x4' coop and a 4'x8' run using Mittleider's pvc pipe greenhouse designs, resized for 4' rolls of chicken wire. That was 10 years ago and they have held up pretty well. If you are interested, I could measure them and post a parts list.
 
Mark Chadwick
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Location: Cranbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
chicken forest garden urban
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Can you get a trampoline or swing set? Draped with poly bird netting these make useful temporary quartes.
 
Zach Muller
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Depending on how cheap you are talking, the free section on craigslist is a good place to find leads on useful trash items, pallets, crates, raw materials and maybe some items that you would not normally consider.
 
Vadim Fedorovsky
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Andrew Parker wrote:I made a 4'x4' coop and a 4'x8' run using Mittleider's pvc pipe greenhouse designs, resized for 4' rolls of chicken wire. That was 10 years ago and they have held up pretty well. If you are interested, I could measure them and post a parts list.


Yes please! That would be very helpful!
 
Alder Burns
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The poultry netting idea deserves more thinking. Any netting will do. I dumpstered a stout net that was either a fishing net or was from a golf or baseball practice place and have used it for ten years! I can take it down and move it in a day....less if I set it up with portability in mind. You don't need a stout frame....just pound in some stakes, or if you're in the woods, cut off saplings, and put jars or cans over the ends so the net won't tear. Drape the net over these, so the edges drag the ground, and weight down with logs, rocks, whatever. Leave one section loose with a board on it to gain access and you're done....unless you want to tweak it further for more convenience.
A tom turkey, or a predator, can tear through the thin net sold for bird deterrence.....so for longer use I'd look for something stouter. The thing I have seems to be completely sun-proof....
 
jack spirko
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Because I can't put a stake in the ground due to rocks I made movable fence with these, http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/ok-brand-handy-panel-8-ft-l-x-50-in-h

I then attached plastic netting (chicken fencing) to them with tie wraps. I use removable tie wraps to hold them together. I have 13 chicks in one with 7 panels right now, using a dog kennel as a coop until they are big enough to not be beaten up by the main flock.

4 will give you an 8x8 movable small paddock, dragging them is easy, they only weigh 14 pounds a piece. Once you have them in a square they are freestanding. I have 5 more panels to build which will give me a 96 foot fence, attached to some of my chain link I can go 150 feet at a time of fence. I plan to build a movable coop and this way I can have a large flock in my main poultry house. They are given a 1/10 acre run for the first part of the day then free ranged on an acre for the late part of the day. The other flock can be moved around for the work they can do.

This system is really flexible but electro net is hard to beat, you can also just use this, http://www.premier1supplies.com/fencing.php?mode=detail&fence_id=143

For two birds it should work just fine, really easy to move and not that expensive. If they fly out, clip the wings, it doesn't really harm them at all. It is like cutting your toe nails.
 
Vadim Fedorovsky
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Thanks for all the help, everyone! I am taking it all in and deciding what to do.

Keep the ideas coming
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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I made my coop and run out of rigid pvc pipe. I didn't get a picture of the run today, but here are some parts and measurements:

I used 1/2" pvc pipe and fittings

For each frame:

2- 45 degree elbow fittings

2- T fittings

2- 90 degree elbow fittings

The arch formed by the two 45 degree fittings uses a piece of tubing about 50" long

Straight pieces should be cut to give you a frame that is 48" wide overall. It will vary depending on the fitting manufacturer

I made my coop and run 48" tall, but you could make yours shorter or taller. The T fittings form a crossbar somewhere near the middle of the vertical distance, or you probably could eliminate it entirely, if you are making it under 24" in height.

Frames are tied together, 48" apart, using 5- 1" X 2" furring strips (purlins) and metal pipe brackets, two at the base on either side, one in the middle along the top, and two just under the 45 degree fittings at the base of the arch. I drilled the pipe brackets in the middle to screw them into the pipe. This keeps them from sliding out of position.

I cut pieces of a 48" roll of chicken wire to fit. It is then stapled the wire to the purlins and wove them onto the pipes with copper wire.

It is light-weight but strong. For the coop, I took a branch, about 2" in diameter, and fixed it diagonally between two frames at the level of the cross bar, to make a perch for the five hens that used it. I just anchored it to the ground with landscaping staples and covered it in a few layers of black plastic. Once the staples rust, they are very difficult to pull up and if you put them in at cross angles it makes the whole thing very difficult to move. After seven years a racoon got through the plastic at the opening and killed one of my hens, I finally made a wooden door that fit in the panel under the cross bar.

I will attempt to post some photos of the run in the next day or so. Look up "Mittleider greenhouse" to get an idea of the design.

I chose to build in this way because I did not want to spend a lot of money on the birds, and I didn't. It was very cost effective and they have stood up to time and abuse. The only repair I made was to replace a frame on the coop after I dropped a long 12" steel C-beam on it. They are strong, but not that strong.

The one thing I never got around to doing was to recover the coop with sign board. I am down to one ten-year-old post-menopausal hen, so I won't be investing in more infrastructure unless I decide to start another flock after she goes. Those five hens kept my 1/4 acre backyard free of most weeds, which was mainly why I got them. I don't like herbicides and I burned out two string trimmers trying to keep things civilized. They also ate mice and voles and almost any bug they could catch. They even kept the boxelder bugs down by eating the really tiny ones (nymphs), before they got big and nasty tasting. I found them once eating the eyes out of a big racoon buck that had electrocuted itself on the pole transformer and dropped into the yard. I wouldn't want to fall asleep, faint or die around a flock of chickens.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Currently I have my chickens, three hens, in a run made of free pallets, with a couple of spots backed by hardware cloth where they could squeeze through the boards, and topped with some deer netting. Choose pallets with closely spaced boards and you would not need the hardware cloth at all. The deer netting over top is very inexpensive.

I tied the pallets together with rope I had around. I won't claim it is either pretty or easy to move, but it was exceptionally inexpensive, pretty darn quick to put together, and works well enough for now. I consider it an interim solution to the problem.
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Deer netting is a good option. I used a 4' x 100' roll to make a garden fence to keep my hens out. I used 5' wooden garden stakes, fence staples, synthetic twine, zip-ties and ground staples. I cut two 100' lengths of twine. I stapled one end of one piece of twine firmly to the top of a stake, then the end of the second piece of twine 4' lower. Repeat the process with the other ends to another stake. Next, staple the twine loosely to as many intermediate stakes as you feel you need. Next, put the stakes up to surround the area you will be keeping your hens out of or in, then zip-tie the deer netting every 4" to 6", stapling the ends tightly to the endposts. Use ground staples every few feet or so to fix the lower length of twine snuggly against the ground to keep the birds, and other things, from pushing under the fence.

A fence like this should be adequate for heavier breeds. My Rhode Island Reds were only a "flight" risk for the first few weeks. After that, they never went very high. A neighbor has some lighter hybrids and they went all over the neighborhood. Since you already have a coop, a semi-movable fence might be a good way of controlling where your hens roam.
 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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I turned what was once a small garden into our chicken run a few years back, and did it pretty cheaply. It's held up for about 3 years with no problems so far. I wanted to be overly careful about security against predators, but depending on your situation, you might not have to be as careful. Also, all my materials came from the orange big box hardware store. I also made it expandable, and added a section each year for the last 2 years.

The materials I used are:

4'-height welded wire fence stuff with 2"x4" holes
zip ties, lots of zip ties
4' rebar
some of those green t-post thingies
some 2x4s and 2x3s for the gate (fancy)
staple gun
smallish size PVC and connectors

so basically, it's sort of like the hoophouse someone else described above. The original fence for the garden was buried something like 18" below ground, and I used those green fence stake things and zip ties to give it some support. here's a picture of the old garden circa 2010.



When I started to convert it to a chicken run, I bought some rebar and slammed it into the ground with a mallet right up against the fence stakes, and zip-tied them together. Then I slid pieces of PVC over the ends of the rebar, connected them at the top with a + connector, and added a spine piece of PVC. I forgot if the PVC I bought came in 10 or 12' lengths, but whichever it is, that's what I used, and cut them in half. I think the ribs are just under 4' apart down the length of the run, so I could overlap the top pieces a bit. Here's what it looked like when I started the first few ribs:



and another view:



after the ribs were connected, I started to roll the fencing out over the top. Every seam was connected with zip ties, and the pvc joints were connected with PVC-joining goop.

I was even able to obtain some fence material when the neighbor's barn fell down and he threw everything out from it. with just 2 chickens, you could probably get away with just one of these sections (a rib on each end, and one in the middle. something like 8') we had 6 chickens the first year with that amount of space. of course, more is better, but you can always add on later.

Here's a picture dump of the design that I just took:







The last picture is my gate. the upright posts are 2x4s nailed together to make cheap 4x4s. the gate door itself is made of 2x3's to be cheaper and lighter. a couple of hinges and other hardware. hope this helps. sorry for the million pictures!
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
Posts: 514
Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Finally, after recharging the battery, taking a picture, loading a photo editor, editing the photo, loading an ftp client on my laptop, and moving the photo to my isp user folder ...this is the run:



One correction to the earlier description, the purlin at the base of the arch is above the 45 degree elbow, not below.
 
Jose Madeira
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I believe you prefer having your chicken free.
What separates you from your neighbour?
Do they need to "take off" and "fly" to the neighbour's yard?
Have you considered just cutting feathers of the wings? I mean, not entirely, half... they wouldn't take off.
If you don't have problems with flying predators...
(It doesn't hurt them and it's the cheaper solution I can think of).
 
Paul Cereghino
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We've used sticks of re-bar pounded into the ground using a 1/2 galvanized pipe capped at one end as a stake pounder... corners have rebar braces at an angle, attached with zip-ties (or old bits of wire if you are on that kind of budget). The fun part is getting the pipe-pounder off the rebar once you have it at the depth you want... zing... up in the air the pipe is flung. We have used deer fence, however any of the other materials described above could work. Re-bar comes out of the ground more easily and are cheaper than t-stakes. We use rebar for a wide variety of temporary uses. The texture makes it a superior climbing structure for vines. It seems like it might have the least embedded energy for a metal product, and 10' sticks are very reusable and easy to store. You could also use rebar as a foundation, with bamboo over the top.



 
Vadim Fedorovsky
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Thanks for the all the help, everyone! We ended up using some old greenhouse parts and wood to build a nice run for them. The ladies were loving it today!

 
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