The Best Purchase We Ever Made

Chicken keeping has become more popular in recent years thanks to self-sufficiency programmes such as River Cottage. I’ve seen a rise in prices for coops and chicken runs, I’ve also seen some shoddy cheap options that won’t last a winter, but, if you shop around or build one yourself, a walk-in chicken enclosure will be the best purchase you ever make. When we bought our first walk-in chicken enclosure it was on the pricey side compared to the cheaper alternatives, but we wanted something that was going to last. Since buying our first we’ve built another enclosure to match the original one, only buying the door section from the same place that our first enclosure came from. The runs have stood up to some very harsh winters, freaky gale-force winds (capable of damaging permanent structures across the UK) and our first was dismantled and put together again during our move from the West Country three years ago. It still stands as strong as it did the first time round.

The enclosures keep the chickens safe from predators when we’re not around to watch them while they roam, the clear plastic sheet roofing (bolted to roof struts to avoid them blowing off) keep the chickens and their feed dry, if the weather is particularly severe (as it is at the moment) I attach tarp to the sides to keep everything water-tight. Our current enclosures are walk-in type constructions, saving me from bending in awkward positions to add feed or water etc – which has really saved my iffy back!

Another 4 inches of snow fell last night, straight on top of what was already on the ground. Thanks to the chicken enclosures the snow isn’t a problem for the chickens, they’re as snug as a bug, knee-high in dry straw and that makes life easier for them and me too.

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10 comments

  1. A good question Karin! We have patio slabs on the floor, deeply covered with a 50/50 mix of wood shaving and chopped barley straw so the hens can scratch around and nasty whiffs are kept to a minimum. I pick up droppings daily anyway, so it’s never a problem. Both enclosures sit partially on a concrete path (so I can gain access to the back etc) while the other sides have brick-blocks all the way round. This prevents predators digging in. The panels have a strong gauge galvanised wire which would be difficult for a predator to chew. We have two German Shepherd dogs roaming around and they have chased a fox off before. If a garden is lacking space then an enclosure could be built coming off a house or garage wall, even a high sturdy fence. The possibilites are endless really.

    Elaine, that’s a shame – I would miss having hens clucking around too.

  2. Patio slabs and concrete should keep them secure. Ours are currently on the patio, which is their Winter quarters and they’ve always been fine there. When they go on the grass we have some strong wire mesh panels that go on the ground. If we don’t have too big a run they might work with an enclosure like yours, but they might not be big enough. I am toying with the idea as we will need to buy more wire mesh for the fence we use anyway and that is quite pricey. There are various things to take into consideration, though.

    Another question, is barley straw better at keeping smells under control than other kinds of straw? I’m not sure what kind of straw we have.

  3. Just in case it’s useful we got our wire mesh from here: http://www.hillsofdevon.co.uk/aviary-mesh.html

    I like barley straw because it’s softer, some of my hens have leg issues (from their previous lives as battery hens) and this works well for them because they tend to lie down more than most hens do. I don’t think it helps to control smells but I find if any kind of straw gets wet then it quickly starts to smell. I tend to go for herb-scented horse bedding in the summer, flies hate the smell!

  4. That all looks nice and neat and tidy (she said going slightly green). Ours have to brave the snow, and they’re not entirely happy about it ;)

  5. I’d love some chickens and a few ducks but sadly don’t have the space and I think a greenhouse would have to come first. I completely agree it is so much better spending that bit extra to get something of better quality that will last. I hate buying something cheaper and then a year later bits are starting to fall off and I wish I’d just spent some more at the time. You must have very happy chickens.

  6. Do you have plans for this enclosure? I need to put an enclosure around my coop. A raccoon was able to squeeze in through a 4-x-6-inch breach in the mesh wiring above the door to the coop and got 3 chickens in 3 nights. I had only 4 chickens, and now poor Lacey is sad and lonely. I’ve been keeping her in the garage at night until I can secure the coop. I won’t get new chickens until I get this fixed. I think I’ve got it secure, but I thought that the night the 3rd chicken was killed. :(

  7. Hi Emily, I’m really sorry to hear you’ve lost chickens to a predator, luckily we don’t have Raccoons to contend with but we keep in mind the Polecat which is able to squeeze through the smallest of gaps. We use galvanised wire with small holes on the frames to prevent anything too big squeezing through (although mice are pretty good at this) and attached roof sheets. I hope you’ve managed to secure your run since posting your comment.

    There is more information on how our runs were built in this post, particularly the comment section where I go into more detail: https://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/chicken-run-diy-in-photos/

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