What is a Chicken Pen?
A chicken pen, also known as a chicken run, is pretty much an enclosed area, usually a yard or lawn, where your chickens are able to run loose and feed off of the worms, bugs and minerals on the dirt. It is usually enclosed within high chicken wire or tall fences to keep predators away, and sometimes more often than not, a chicken run is attached to the chicken coop so that the chickens can easily come in and out of their coop at will.
Why build a Chicken Pen?
Chickens need fresh air and lots of sunshine. Please take note that chickens need between 12-14 hours of daylight for your hens to lay healthy eggs on a regular basis. Hence it is not a wise move to keep your backyard chickens locked up in a chicken coop all the time. This is where building a chicken pen comes into play. With a chicken run or chicken pen, your flock of chickens will be able to roam freely throughout your backyard and not only absorb the plentiful daylight they require, but they'll get their fair share of exercise too. If your chicken run is built correctly, it should protect the flock from predators without hampering their free range abilities. Keeping chickens in a chicken coop with easy access to a constrained yet free ranged chicken pen is the best way to ensure your chickens will grow up to be happy and healthy. You see, only when you let your chicken flock loose in a chicken pen is when they will use their instincts to scratch and dig up the soil in hopes to find their daily intake of worms and other minerals found in the earth. A chicken run will also give them the space they require to properly mate, bathe in the dirt, and (if you have a few roosters in your flock) engage in small time chicken fights which goes for some great entertainment for your enjoyment!
Rules of a Chicken Pen
Before engaging in the construction of a chicken pen, you must first consider what types of chickens
you will be keeping because it can affect your chicken run designs.
If you feel that you will be raising chickens that are heavy and large and have a low probability of flying away, then your chicken pen design will be simple and you will do with just some wooden posts and some chicken wire or fencing.
On the other hand, if the size of your chicken flock varies and most of your smaller chickens have a tendency to fly over fences, then you will need to design and construct a chicken pen with either a closed in wired or netted roof or build your pen with really high fences. That is ofcourse if you don't mind taking the risk of watching your pet chickens fly over to your neighbors house.
Something else to keep in mind before hand are your local laws of chicken keeping. If you live in a rural area or county, raising chickens in your backyard will probably not be a problem. However if you plan on raising your chicken flock on an urban area, then you better check with your municipality and inquire as to what the local laws about keeping chickens in your backyards are. Some laws allow for a reasonable amount of backyard chickens while other laws completely forbid the idea of keeping chickens. So be sure to get all your ducks in a row, or in this case, chickens in a row before you build your chicken pen.
The next step before building your chicken pen is to choose a location that not only will accomodate you,
after all you are building the chicken pen in your backyard, but will accomodate the chickens.
It would be best if you construct a chicken run that has easy access to the chicken coop, that way all
you have to do is open the chicken house whenever you want to let loose your flock and they can easily
come and go as they please. As darkenss falls, chickens know where they sleep and they will all follow
each other inside the coop when they feel its time to settle in. When choosing the area for building
the chicken pen in, be aware of predators near by. You do not want to build a chicken pen in an area
near predators. This may not be as dissmisable as you may think for even in residential areas, stray
cats roam free at night and during the day they have been known to climb fences and prey on helpless
chicken flocks. For those living in the country, you must also be aware of foxes, hawks and other large
chicken eating predators that will hunt your flock over night. So make sure you read over the rules of a
chicken pen and keep a keen eye for predators in your area before letting your chickens free in their pen.
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