Now has come the time to move my 6 hens into their permanent home. I have been keeping an eye out for the items I need and have finally collected them all up!
- Shed – Any size, ours is 6ftx8ft from the garden at home.
- Herras fencing – old tatty stuff from the builders, I got 6 panels, but 4 would do.
- Several bags of gravel. Old school folks use smashed glass, but gravel works too.
- Postcrete or Quickset Concrete – One bag for each panel.
- Large cable-ties.
- Small cable-ties.
- Soft netting for the roof – I used pea nets at first, but have now replaced this with game netting.
- Chicken/aviary wire – enough to cover any shed windows and the bottom of the shed.
- A gate/door – I used the one from my current run
First things first was to get our old shed from home down to the plot. Now THAT was a faff. However, when we finally got it there and up, everything is pretty easy from here.
New chicken house
MrT used some of his wonderful man-skills to cut me a rectangular hole in the left-hand wall of the shed with the windows on. This fitted just perfectly between the two vertical supports for the wall of the shed, so that was a success.
I took the perspex out of the roof vent and out of the windows and filled this with aviary wire for ventilation. This means the hens wont cook in summer, but the windows can be put back or covered with fleece in the winter. I just used my staple gun for this, quick and simple.
I also put some aviary wire across the floor to stop the rats from chewing through from underneath, however to be honest this didn’t help much.
Next up i screwed the old wooden ladder i found in the greenhouse to the wall of the shed. I took the sawn ladder out of the current coop and used this as a ramp up to the other longer section of ladder. This would become my hen’s roost perch.
I then covered the floor in dust-free shavings to make everything nice and comfortable for them. It also means that i can just scoop this out and replace it when they have ‘messed’ everywhere.
I moved my laying boxes across into this new shed and “voila!”.
Next up was the run. This was the most time consuming part but was super satisfying when done. Remember I was doing this alone, so if i can do it, anyone can!
First step for the run was to lay out my fencing around the shed in the layout i wanted. I winged this, but here’s a rough plan of what i did. You can do any layout you like!
I dug trenches where i wanted the panels to sit. About a foot and a half deep, and a shovel width. The corners and midway through the long side I dug down much deeper to allow room to concrete them in. This took so long!
I then put my gravel in the trenches, just a few inches deep. Make sure you leave the corners clear though! This is the first step to stop Mr Fox. If (when!) he digs under the fencing, he hits the gravel layer and doesn’t like the feeling of it so gives up. The old school Flatcaps use smashed glass, but in my view the foxes are only hungry and trying to eat, so the last thing I want to do is hurt them and make their life even harder! I just don’t want them eating my chickens!
Now since I was still on my lonesome, the next part was quite a juggling act. I filled up two large buckets with the amount of water recommended on the bag of concrete, and had them on standby. I opened up my bag of postcrete and had that at the ready. These fence panels have one ‘top’ which is level and smooth, and a ‘bottom’ with extended posts which usually fit into concrete bases. I lifted my first panel into place, top up, bottom down, and pushed it into the gravel as far as I could. Now these fence panels are super heavy, super broken, and super sharp, so if you are doing it PLEASE get someone to help you. I am just impatient and stubborn.
Hard digging through weeds!
I then held one corner, and completely left the other corner to do what it wanted. I poured in my postcrete powder, made sure it fully enclosed the end corner of my panel and poured in the water needed as per the packet. I then had about 2 minutes to make sure this corner was plumb and level before everything started to set. I was doing this on a crazily hot day, so everything was pretty hard in about 15 minutes. During this time just keep holding it firm, even if you think it is set it might not be.
Then you’ve got to lift up panel 2 and do the same thing with that panel, but marrying it up to the un-concreted corner of panel 1. Does that make sense? I used large cable-ties to keep the corners together while i concreted them in. This way the corners are concreted next door to each other, leaving no gaps between the two panels. Its just like putting up a fence at home, just without putting the posts and panels in separately.
Work your way around doing this for all of the panels.
Then have a rest. You’ve earned it, and if you haven’t crushed yourself with a Herras panel, you’ve done better than I did!
Next up was to fill in the trenches. I had a bit of gravel left so topped this up in places, but then plonked my soil back over.
A different view
Now how do humans get in to the run? At this point it was pretty dark, so all my hens were in the roost sleeping but just to make sure they were safe i locked them in the coop.
I took the gate off the temporary wooden run, along with the posts the gate was attached to as installed these in Panel 1 of the Herras Fencing. To do this, I basically cut down the Herras panel, cable-tied the gatepost to it for the time being, and the screwed the other gate post in the other side. These cable-ties were industrial ones my mum sourced, but you could always concrete this post in when you do Panel 1. The next day I did bolt the post to the Herras post, but i wasn’t in the mood to be drilling through metal that late in the evening!
Gate is in!
Just a side note here, but if you haven’t read my first chicken run post, the same tip still applies… sink a slab under the gate or lift it slightly, as otherwise it will drag on the floor on every lump and bump!
The next morning I went down to finish off and make sure that everything was still standing. That was the most tense walk down the allotment lane I’ve ever had!
Yay, it made it!! Although now in the daylight i can see just how damaged my second hand panels were. None were straight and they were all a little bit bent, but what is perfect in my life?
The joys of recycling – nothing is perfect!
I removed the old run and let my hens explore.
Then I realised that they have wings and fly.
While Mr PigeonMan returned my escapee chicken, I stretched some netting across the top. This also means that it is compliant should we get another bird-flu scare.
The chickens seem to like it so that’s good!
Sucker for a sob story
I can never say no to a creature in need. Unless its MrT, in which case he can fend for himself.
So when i got tagged in a post about ex-battery hens, I went with a clear mission to get 4. Only 4.
The mistake I made was taking my mother.
We came home with 7.
So now i had 13 chickens.
They had hardly any feathers and didn’t know how to be ‘chickens’. They stood around in the rain without taking shelter. They didn’t know how to scratch, and couldn’t eat food off the floor. They didn’t know what grass was. They didn’t even move for the first hour.
How anyone can keep animals like this i don’t know.
The next day I went in to work and found this!!
Guess what – Its not shredding.
And guess what was in the box – and it isn’t shredding…
This sorry looking hen was bought in by a Director at my work. She and another hen had lived with him for many years, but unfortunately her companion had left her the day before.
So what was his first thought – I know who has chickens!
And thus, I now have 14.
Welcome to Cluckingham Palace Rhianna.