Tweaking the New Covered Chicken Run

Funny chickie babies 4 FBcollage jpeg

Our Cochin/Phoenix mix chickens teenagers say, “Welcome to the Coop. Come and sit a while!”

So far our new covered run has been a roaring success for chickens and their human keepers alike.  I no longer have to supervise the chickens for several hours every day and the chickens absolutely love their freedom as well, a definite win-win!

Tarp roof

I know the plastic covered run doesn’t photograph well yet, but it is efficient and warm.

This shelter has worked well in protecting them from the gusty winds, deep snow and hungry predators – all in one. The beauty of this is not in the real estate itself ….the beauty is in its flexibility and in the management.

Coop roof close USE

Here is the roof truss stage, before the tarp was added. You get an accurate idea of its true size.

Each morning when I take the chickens their breakfast, I open up the chicken door. This door open out from the coop into the run. When I go out to check on them in a couple of hours, they are usually out in the covered run and pecking around. More often than not, because the ground is frozen and hard they are hanging out in the dusting area under their coop, scratching in the dirt and sand found there. From time to time I dig up the soil under the coop and add some sand from their sand pile to assist in this effort.

Blue sky tarp in landscpae USE

Here you can see the clear plastic that covers the windiest sides of our property; north and west.

Even though the ground in the main run area is frozen solid, I suspect that the soil under the coop is kept unfrozen due to **chicken produced heat.**

Sunshine in corner

The corner of the run with the newly established, roost bar. Belly up the bar girls!

 This extra heat likely comes from the chickens themselves; plus the lightbulb in the coop and the composting that is taking place in their sand based litter. I’ve read that the temperature in the coop itself runs about 10 degree warmed than the outside temperature due to the factors mentioned above. Pretty cool natural heater huh!

Food corner USE

The sunny corner before the perch was added. A sunny corner keep the run feeling like a greenhouse.

Whatever it is that is keeping the under-the-coop area from becoming  just another block of ice, it makes me happy because this gives the chickens a place to dust even during the coldest months and dirt to peck around in. There is just something about dirt for chickens…the just adore it in any shape or form!

Under coop dustng area with plastic USE

This is the chickens dusting area under the coop. Three sides are blocked off with plastic to make it draft free.

All of this; the run, the sunshine, the roost bar, the large area to scratch around  makes for much happier and less-bored chickens in my opinion.

Outside North door w plastic

North door and panel covered in construction grade plastic.

Gene began by using 2 X 4’s to make roof trusses, then crafted individual removable frames and finally added plastic to the frames using a staple gun. We are currently using a tarp on top for a temporary “roof.” We hope to add permanent corrugated plastic PVC roofing panels in the spring.

Latches on door

One of two critter proof latches per door to keep our chickens safely inside and the coons outside.

This week we tweaked the run by adding a low wooden perch in the corner for the chickens to jump up on if the ground is cold. We chose the often sunny corner so they can also snooze in the sunshine if they want to. I really like the fact they can get off of the cold ground when desired.

We measured the height of the perch in their coop and duplicated that same height that is already familiar to them. Why reinvent the wheel, right? They found their new perch in less than one hour from the time of its installation….who thought a chicken could be so smart!

Heated dog bowl

The new heated water bowl. Now if they just realized it was there and taught themselves to use it!

We also added a heated dog bowl as well. This has relieved me of the chore of hourly checks to break open the ice in the red and white plastic waterer too. Whew, that has that made a difference in my day as well as theirs!

When the chickens are happy and the chicken momma is happy too!

Small House Chicken Keeper, Donna

 

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