After having chickens for a few months, we started to see both the up- and the down-sides of the little creatures:

Upside – they give you tasty eggs (eventually (not that I’m bitter or anything))

Downside – they poop indiscriminately on everything (not that I’m bitter or anything)

 

So put that nifty little lattice “gate” on the entrance to our back porch…

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But it was annoying and didn’t really fit into the decor we wanted, so Lynne had a great idea:

“Why don’t you build a chicken run this weekend?!”

(Thanks Pinterest)

 

After adding some extra time into Lynne’s expectations for building a chicken run, I started researching how in the heck to actually build one of these things.  And can you imagine, there just aren’t a lot of free online schematics for chicken runs; go figure!

The detailed “blue prints” I found were for chicken runs that could be attached to an existing chicken coop, but we wanted something much bigger that we could walk around in and whatnot.  So I figured we could just use these plans that were for a 4′ wide by 4′ high by 8′ wide run and just add a few feet to the dimensions.  The plans had a material list and seemingly good instructions on building and installing the structure, so what could go wrong……..

I started by modifying the material list for an extra 4 feet on each dimension.  I won’t walk you through the details because it’s just silly, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t quite THAT easy.  Eventually I got to my lumber numbers: 17 2×4’s (8′ long) and 12 2×2’s (8′ long), and if you’re keeping track, it is quite a bit more than the schematics call for.  But we are also increasing the size of the structure by 8 fold (schematic = 4x4x8 = 128 cubic feet; man-sized run = 8x8x12 = 768 cubic feet).

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On a quick side note, definitely measure your car before buying nearly thirty pieces of 8 foot long lumber.  Because if you don’t, you will end up driving home with an “enhanced center console” as I like to call it…

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Anyway, I won’t bore you too much with the details of building the chicken run since I pretty much ripped off those plans I showed above, but here are the highlights!

I dug a trench where the base of the run would go because we wanted to bury part of the chicken wire to prevent foxes and whatnot from tunneling under.  Then, after screwing together some 2×4’s and 2×2’s, TAH DAH, we have the first side (that needs to be supported to stand up).

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From there I build the front…

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And the final side…

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And screwed that beast into the side of the shed for extra support!

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Quick note: if you go this route and attach your run to the shed, please take the poured concrete floor / foundation into account; I originally did not, and it caused me quite a bit of heartache having to remeasure a few things 🙂

Alright, so being a couple of thinkers, we decided to put the nesting boxes where the chickens lay eggs outside the chicken wire so we don’t have to go inside the run to get eggs every morning.  We may have out-foxed ourselves on this one, but it’s kind of cool!

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Next, it was time to wrap the whole thing in chicken wire.  And let me tell you: the fewer the cuts you have to make in that chicken wire, the better!  It’s a pain to snip, so I ended up wrapping the wire from one side of the run, over the top, and down the other side.

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(good lookin’ guy)

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And after some more “wrapping”…

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Ok, so…

Confession: I didn’t take any pictures of the door construction because it was pretty painful.  Doors suck.  Period.  If you can’t just buy one, then give yourself plenty of spare room on each side (like half an inch or more) when you make your cuts because making it too tight is really annoying.

Oh, and if you’re building your door, remember that you buried the base of the structure down a little ways, so don’t make your door the same size as the frame.  If you ignore this advice, you will end up digging out the entrance way to the run a few inches so the door actually opens!

And here’s the final product!

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Looks pretty good, huh?!  Grass seed is coming this weekend!  We also added some gravel around the edges the help prevent digging, and put down a bunch of coarse sand in the run for the chickens to enjoy.

I particularly like the lavender bush we just had to plant in the corner in order to give the chickens something fresh to smell… but overall I think it looks pretty good 🙂