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An Easy and Affordable Poultry Pen

11/25/2008 9:35:59 AM

Tags: homestead, poultry

This exercise pen is simple and practical. It’s inexpensive and easy to build, even without power tools. Although I call it an exercise pen, it could have all sorts of uses with minor modifications. I built this pen to keep ducklings on the lawn during the day, but put the ducks in a building at night.

duck pen
  TROY GRIEPENTROG

I used all 2-by-4 untreated pine. The premise is simple: make the pen 8-feet-by-4-feet so a minimal number of cuts will be necessary. It’s 2-feet high so cutting the chicken wire is also easy (assuming you buy or have a 2-foot roll of wire).

Materials List

  • 10 8-foot 2-by-4s
  • 40’ of 24-inch chicken wire
  • 2 hinges (not absolutely necessary)
  • Staples for attaching the chicken wire
  • 2.5” or 2.75” #8 or #10 screws

Some variation in materials is acceptable. Remember, this is a practical and quick project, so use what you have or use what you like. 2-by-3 lumber would work. Bigger screws are a little stronger, but this pen isn’t necessarily predator proof.

Putting It Together

Start by cutting six 2-by-4s in half. If you want to account for the width of the saw blade, it’s a good idea, but not critical. Take two of the 4-foot sections and cut them in half again. You should now have four 8-foot pieces, 10 four-foot pieces and four 2-foot pieces.

Make a rectangle out of two 4-foot pieces and two 8-foot pieces, but be sure to put the 4-foot pieces between the 8-foot pieces; that is, you’ll drill holes all the way through the 8-foot pieces where you’re going to attach them and the screws will anchor in the ends of the 4-foot pieces. After you’ve secured the corners with at least two screws each, make another rectangle the same way.

Next, attach the 2-foot corner “posts.” It’s a good idea to put screws through both the 8-foot pieces and 4-foot pieces that you’re attaching to the posts. It will make the entire structure stronger. You should now have the basic frame for the pen. If you don’t want to mess with putting a top on the pen, simply staple chicken wire all the way around it and you’re done. But if you want to keep cats or wild birds from getting in the top, read on.

duck run top
  TROY GRIEPENTROG

Topping it Off

Attach three of the 4-foot pieces of lumber to the top rectangle. Place them 2-feet apart on center so that the chicken wire will reach across the span without much overlap.

I added a “door” to the top of the pen. Of the four sections created in the top by the separating 2-by-4s, I put mine in the second section. Putting the door in an end section would probably be better because the birds always run to one end when you’re trying to catch them. But if you put the door in an end section, you have to account for the corner posts, which complicates the project.

To build the door, make another rectangle, this time using the 4-foot sections for the long sides. You should have a 4’ piece of lumber left over at this point. Cut two 20.25-inch pieces from that to make the door. You’ll want it to fit somewhat loosely so that you can open and close it. Attach it with hinges. I made rough handles with the left over ends of the 2-by-4s.

Cover the door and the top with chicken wire and you’re done. The pen isn’t terribly heavy, so it’s easy to tip it up to get the birds out.

If you want better predator protection, heavier wire attached more securely should improve your chances of success. You might also want to add something to the top to provide some shade for your birds.

duck run ducks
  TROY GRIEPENTROG
  Ducklings enjoy spending time on the lawn on a sunny spring day.


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Post a comment below.

 

Helen Goodwin
5/30/2012 7:20:24 PM
Put some hot wire around and those dogs, and other critters will quit bothering your chickens/ducks.

Matthew Jenne
9/25/2011 1:39:05 AM
I have pens similar to this that I use as grower pens for my chickens and turkeys. I did a few things differently though. I used 1/4" hardware cloth, like others here have recommended, and I put 1/4" luan, 3/8" or 1/2" plywood on at least half of the top so the chicks could get some shade and protection from the rain. These pens have worked great for me for the past few years, at least 'till last month. I had something (wild dogs I think) rip the end of the pen open and killed half of my flock. Thanks for sharing though.

Lee
12/24/2010 7:25:27 PM
I've made a pen similar to this using 2x2's. 8 feet long by 2 feet high and stapling rabbit cage wire that I purchased at Lowes in a roll of 25 feet, 2 feet high. The bottom of each panel is a 2x3. Each panel also has 2 supports of 2x2's equal distance apart to keep the frame rigid. By making multiple panels at same dimensions, I now have an 8x8 square pen connected at corners with removeable bolts and covered on top with these wire panels secured with removeable bolts. The top panels I normally open, I leave the nuts off the bolts so one end acts as a hinge as its opened. In 4 years of using this, I have not had any loses from predators - (they tried and that was their last attempt). I have killed too many possums to remember how many. They were trying to find a way in or they worked their way under my portable chicken building and got stuck. I made the chicken building floor out of smaller wire and framed it with 2x2. I put a canvas tarp over the top to keep out rain and snow and drape it over the side of the pen that gets the most wind in the winter. In nicer weather the tarps come off or they're out free ranging. Hope this helps someone.

Richard Dean
11/3/2010 10:45:41 AM
well as for the dogs attacking chickens . i put up a fenced off area where chickens can roam , but i also bought a roll of that electric chicken fence its a 50ft roll and i just put it up around the chickens and when dumb docs go for the chickens they get a nice zap to wake there butts up . and i have weimaraners a for other critters i would doubble the wall put carpenter mesh up on both sides of wood then i also would walk the fence line around house and put out moth balls and bleach where you see critters coming into yard and during summer i would grow marrygolds mice rats coons and dam possums dont like them

Jeanne Enders
8/4/2009 2:52:22 PM
So sorry you lost two sets of chickens. That must have been devastating. My father, husband and I built the "playhouse chicken coop" one sees on the Internet. Just google that phrase to find it. Plans did cost $35 and the coop itself was not inexpensive to build but we do know we now have a very safe place for our chickens. Using hardware cloth is an excellent idea but you do need to either run the cloth about a foot underground, or in your case where the dog knows how good those chickens taste, you may also need to create a way to keep them separate. You likely have other predators in your area (raccoons? coyotes? hawks?). In our case, we walk our dog in order to exercise him but do not allow him in the backyard near the coop. In any case, it was a large investment to build our "Fort Knox" but the rewards of having such a safe chicken environment have been great! The run shown here is great for the daytime when there is a fence between the dog and your "girls".

Mandi Campbell
7/17/2009 3:20:11 PM
We got chickens for the first time early this spring. We built a portable chicken tractor that has a coop and some outside space, but it is all enclosed with chicken wire. Our dog tore through the wire and killed the chickens. We then re-vamped the tractor and instead of the chicken wire we used hardware cloth with 1/4 squares. It is pretty sturdy stuff. We got new chickins. When we wore at work our dog again tore through the hardware cloth and killed the chickens. We are sad and frustrated. Any ideas of how to keep the dog and the chickens??? We are really needing some help here.

Salmon Cabin
4/13/2009 3:14:01 PM
Thanks for a great how-to. I made this last weekend with my kids and wrote about it on my blog: http://www.salmoncabin.com/2009/04/chicken-run.html

Peggy Kilgore_1
3/3/2009 5:04:14 PM
A friend referred me to this site, and I love it. I want to build a Chicken Coop,, but not really sure how, BUT, I bet YOU will tell me. Thanks, Peggy Gulf Coast, Alabama

Torri
2/14/2009 12:23:02 PM
If someone wanted to provide shade they could easily staple a rectangle of canvas over one of the openings at the top instead of chicken wire.

Mary Droessler
2/13/2009 4:07:51 PM
I have stopped using "chicken wire" since possums and other predators can simply spread it open to snatch chicks. I use hardware cloth exclusively now which no baby chick can get in and no predator can touch. Mary in Wake Forest NC

hazel Watson_2
2/12/2009 6:37:56 AM
this looks like something I can actually do. Thank you! I also need to build an actual house for poultry for full nighttime protection.







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