Our Cochins hens love to fly!
The open chicken run is now covered with deer netting to keep the girls in.
When I look out the kitchen or dining room window to check on our hens, inevitably I find them out of their pen scratching in the mulch around our oak trees or heading across the yard to heaven knows where. These girls are always on the move.
Not only do I worry about stray dogs as day-time predator (or even our own Lab Sassy forgetting her lessons.) An avid gardener, I have nicely mulched garden beds that need protecting too. So I really want to keep the girls in their pen areas.
Sassy is being trained to “leave it.”
Our chickens have a series of three “pastures” each with a mix of leaves, grass and weeds to wander around in of their own free will so they really are not hurting for places to scratch and peck. They have shade and sun and a covered coop so no matter the weather they can be contained and protected.
But they also have a kind of wanderlust and like to fly over our 4 ft. tall chicken wire fence for evidently what they think are “greener pastures!”
Stage two of the covered chicken run project. Our Cochins are in the lower right hand corner of this photo.
After months of rounding up and collecting birds five, seven or nine times a day I began to think about covering the open run permanently or clipping their wings. I made the decision early on to not clip their wings because I do want them to be able to fly away in case a predator should come to dinner.
Instead I scoured the Internet and then Pinterest for low-cost covered coop and run ideas until I found one that incorporated metal greenhouse hoops as a frame covered with netting. Bingo!
It turns out that we already have 7 metal greenhouse hoops stacked behind our pole barn that we purchased from a garden club a few years ago for just a $20.00 donation. At that time I had hoped we might build a small hoop-house here. But there was always so many projects waiting that this greenhouse just never got built.
There was my answer…using the greenhouse hoops as a frame for a covered chicken run.
An east facing shows the block with the hoops inserted into the holes.
This was really simple to achieve. We bought 10 cement blocks, each one weighing 36 lbs., at just about $1.00 each and inserted the hoops into them. We plan to add pea gravel to help to hold the hoops in the block but they already seems to be quite sturdy to me.
Initially we thought we would use bird netting as the cover but then we had a tip on a shade cloth from a local garden center. Unfortunately that shade cloth was too large for our hoops so it was back to plan A; Using deer netting secured to the hoops using plastic tie wraps.
Our hoops are 8 ft. in length from pole end to pole end.
Our Covered Run Is:
- 18 ft. length
- 14 ft. 2” width
- Hoops are 86” tall
100 ft. long.
Today Gene used a $20.00 bag of deer netting and cut and fit the netting around the hoops using tie wraps to connect the netting to the metal hoops. Covering the three gates was a bit trickier to figure out but eventually he just cut panels and weighted them with a repurposed wooden and metal poles that I will lift and open when I go in and out of the gate.
Less than one days work and only $50.00 in cost. What a happy day this is!
Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna