So you’ve got your coop, and you’ve confirmed it’s got everything a chicken would need. But what’s about the chicken run?
What’s a chicken run and why do you need to have one?
Ideally, most of us would like to free our flock: that is, to allow them to move freely on our property. Yet our individual situations mean that this is not always possible.
We don’t all have the time to sit our chickens down and make sure they don’t get any harm because they’re safe. Predators, noise, neighbors who don’t want them in their gardens-and their potential to kill our own plants-may all mean that our chickens will somehow be enclosed.
Yet happy chickens want to be out there. Their normal activity is searching round between grass, or leaves for bugs, or lying with wings spread out to the light, or digging a dust bath under their favorite tree.
Which is where the chicken run is coming in. Chicken run is essentially an enclosed space where your flock can ride safely. And, of course, the more outdoor space you can offer them, the happier they will be.
Where big should a chicken run be?
You’ll see different statistics in different locations for this, but the right absolute minimum space for a chicken enclosed in a chicken run is one square meter per egg. You should allow a little less for small breeds like the Silkie; you can allow more for larger breeds.
That’s a bare minimum, though. Chickens who don’t have enough space are likely to get bored and/or violent, so activity that you really don’t want, such as abuse, feather-picking and egg-eating, is much more likely.
Allowing birds to have enough space to engage in their instinctive behavior decreases the risk of the disease is a problem.
Can you use your garden as a chicken run?
It’s also possible to have chickens in your little garden or backyard. Only make sure you’re not overdoing the numbers. It’s always tempting to buy more hens, but keep your flock size suited for the room you’ve got.
Bear in mind, too, that hens are sociable animals. We don’t want to be on their own. The optimal number is three hens in a small garden. You have a business and, if one dies suddenly, you still have each other before you can add another to the flock.
So even though you have a little more space, keep your hens satisfied by keeping the number at three and giving them more space, rather than increasing the number.
A smart way to make use of space in a smaller location is to have an elevated coop like this one, which has a run location both below and to the side.
How safe does your chicken run have to be?
Foxes, coyotes, pigs, raccoons, mice, pine martens, or any other member of the Weasel family, birds of prey, all predators have various ways to get you on the run, and hence your coop. Because if this happens, your chickens become someone else’s dinner right away.
Here’s what chicken runs need to be as healthy as we can get it:
- Fencing is at least 6 feet tall. Foxes are permitted to climb. Chickens are permitted to ride.
- Fencing that’s buried at least 18 “deep. Animals like digging, rats like burrowing.
- An ‘L’ shaped fencing skirt to avoid animals from coming anywhere near the bottom of the fence.
- Strong, chain-link wrestling. Chicken wire isn’t solid enough.
- A fence distance as low as possible. Rats and the Weasel family are able to squeeze into the smallest of gaps.
- Cover the top of the run-make it hard for the birds of prey to swoop.
- Padlocks on bars or frames. Raccoons have incredibly strong claws that can open latches in a moment.
Keeping the chicken run clean.
It would go without saying that chickens kept enclosed ought to keep their surroundings clean. Not doing so is going to attract vermin and disease. Bird flu is believed to have originated from a dirty climate.
In the case of large grassy areas or flocks using the tractor process, this is not so much a concern as drops never stack up. And sand on the ride is quickly kept clean by scooping drops out with something like a kitty litter scoop every day.
Other coverings in smaller runs need to be kept as clear of drops as possible. Pick up the worst every day, and clean up the cover every month. If the run has a rough foundation like asphalt, using a good washer and a strong disinfectant. Start using a chemical sanitizer for plants.
Managing chicken run during winter
Winter is seeing the rainy weather. Snow, rain, fog, a lot of it. You intend to run until you start building. If you’ve got a herd, trying to push the run-unless it’s a really small one-will be a lot more difficult.
- If the area is especially vulnerable to water accumulation, position a run on a slope-or dig one out. If that is not feasible, install a simple drainage device to eliminate the water.
- Using the paving slabs as a foundation, with one of the overlays on top. It has the advantage of stopping tunneling rodents. The slabs would need to be washed off on a regular basis, but are quickly sluiced off.
- The best substance to put on top of a wet run is either sand or chopped grass. Each can absorb at least some of the water, but be careful with the straw to avoid anything that stays damp for more than a day.
- When all else fails, build a walkway with some pallets. This provides a respite from the damp-the birds may hop off and have a forage and go back and dry.
- Never leave your chickens with nothing but mud to stand within. This is asking for trouble.
Managing chicken run in the summer
It’s a lot easier for chickens to stay warm than to keep cool. Temperature exhaustion can be a killer. And there needs to be provided on your way to keep the flock cool during the summer months.
- Placing a run under a big tree is a perfect solution if it is feasible. If it’s not a choice right now, plant some fruit trees that have the dual benefit of giving shade once they’ve grown, and providing the flock with its own fruit supply once they’re old enough.
- Hanging a large tarpaulin across the corner of the coop offers some much-needed shade below.
- Climbing plants on the fence will provide shade, but mine will never get far until the chickens eat them. Plant on the outside of the road, otherwise the roots would be dug before they have a chance to establish themselves.
- Make sure you’ve got plenty of water, frozen snacks, and other ways to stay cool.
Where to buy Chickens in Akwa Ibom State
Since chicken is the only meat that has no negative health conditions, you can always use it to prepare any local and continental dishes of your choice. In Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, you can buy chickens from sofreshchikens.
Uyo, The Akwa Ibom State capital:
Number 215 Udo Umana Street opposite Akpan Andem Market, Uyo
Oron, Akwa Ibom State:
Number 27 Market Square by Aba Street, Oron, Akwa Ibom State
Eket, Akwa Ibom State:
3 park road, opposite Chinese market, Eket.