Building a chicken run in your backyard can be fun and a way to save money in these days of escalating food prices. With as little as five laying hens, you can produce 30-35 natural, fresh eggs for your family and friends. Building a chicken run can be as inexpensive as a couple hundred dollars.
Before you start building your chicken run, decide how many birds you want to raise. If you live in the city limits, check with your local municipal authorities to see if you can raise chickens and how many you can keep. Believe it or not, some cities still ban chicken raising! I'm sure this will change soon, as there's a growing trend of people trying to become independent of the current food system.
Once you've determined the quantity of hens you need to house, it's time to find a set of plans for building a chicken run. A wide variety of designs are available, so you need to find the one that fits your needs best. I personally like the all-in-one coops. By that I mean a chicken coop connected to an outdoor run. I prefer is design because it keeps your flock in one place and protects them from potential predatory threats. You'd be surprised how many raccoons live in or near your city not to mention a stray dog or two!
When selecting a size, keep in mind chickens need an average of 5-10 square feet of space to be comfortable and healthy. Even with 5 hens, that's only 50 square feet, maximum – about half the size of an average backyard storage shed.
The next step is to find the best location for building a chicken run in your backyard. Chickens produce two possibly annoying side-effects. Noise and odors. Even though hens are much quieter than roosters (you know – cock-a-doodle-doo at 5 am!) They still "cluck" a lot. The other one is odors. In spite of keeping you coop squeaky-clean, there will be some odors. Even though these odors are not intolerable, they can still cause a cranky neighbor to be more cranky!
Place your chicken run as far away as possible from your adjacent neighbors outdoor living area as possible. You may even want to visit your neighbors and let them know you're building a chicken run. Just informing them ahead of time can go a long way toward avoiding problems. You could even "bribe" them with free eggs to smooth things out more!
Now you're ready to actually start building your chicken run! The first task is to find out from your city if a building permit is required when building a chicken run. If it's under 200 square feet, you're probably okay, but it does not hurt to check.
Another tip to keep in mind is to honor the time restraints for construction in your neighborhood. By this I mean do not start hammering away at 6 am on Saturday morning, or work until 10 pm on a school night. Again check your city ordinances for allowable work times.
Do not make already unhappy neighbors more unhappy by annoying them while building a chicken run.