Ideas & inspiration

Creating a free run for chickens - 5 important tips


If you want to keep chickens yourself, you cannot keep them in the barn all day. A freewheel is needed. And this in turn should meet some criteria.

Chickens need exercise every day

Eggs from happy chickens or directly from the hen house - a great idea, right? But if the decision is made to keep the chicken in the garden, then not only does a hen house have to be there, but also a free run. Chickens need exercise every day.

The best would of course be a freewheel in the entire garden. If you don't value a picture book garden with perfectly laid out beds and an English lawn, then this is the best solution. This form of husbandry is the most appropriate for the chickens and roughly corresponds to their natural habitat. The chickens themselves look for food and have an enormous amount of exercise, so that fat is almost impossible.

Freewheeling in the entire garden also has disadvantages

But as beautiful as this variant of the animal husbandry is, it also has a major disadvantage. In the evening, the chickens belong in the barn and it is not easy to lure them into the chicken coop so that they often spend the nights outdoors. This makes them easy prey for other animals while they sleep.

Sometimes a freewheel cannot be implemented in the entire garden. For example, not if the property is on a busy road that could be dangerous for the animals. Or if you choose a breed that is not suitable for uncontrolled free-running. In this case, keeping chickens could easily get out of control. This is exactly when a fenced-in freewheel is needed. And this in turn should meet some important points.

Tips for creating a freewheel

➤ Tip 1 - provide two areas as freewheels:

Of course, all chickens need their free range, no matter what breed and what size. However, it is safer to limit free-wheeling by fencing an area next to the chicken coop. Since this area is exposed to heavy loads from scratching and animal excretions every day, you should, if possible, provide two areas for this, which you then make available alternately. Of course, this is only possible if there is a lot of space available.

➤ Tip 2 - offer different substrates:

In a free run, you should always provide the chickens with various surfaces. Gravel or sand soils are not suitable, however, because they quickly become mushy. However, the following substrates are recommended:

➥ lawn:

Lawn is of course the first choice because chickens love the green spaces. However, you then have to put up with the fact that the green will quickly suffer from the stresses. The chickens will usually work the lawn until there is hardly a blade left. In this case, it is ideal if you have a second outlet so that you can change until the first has regenerated.

A good compromise would be laying grass pavers. Grass can sprout freely through the openings in the plates, making it available for the chickens to eat. On the other hand, they cannot scratch in such an area, so that the green is permanently preserved. The disadvantage of this floor covering, however, is that the excretions of the animals can accumulate in the depressions.

➥ concrete:

A concrete base is particularly good to keep clean. However, you can imagine that this flooring is not a pleasure for the chickens. The animals must be able to scratch, which is why you must apply a layer of sand or earth with a height of at least 20 centimeters in this case. You will then have to renew this layer from time to time to ensure hygiene.

➤ Tip 3 - offer sand for scratching and bathing:

Chickens need and love sand for pawing and bathing. If you do not have a sand surface in the entire run, you must set up an area with sand. For the sand bath, you should raise the floor 40 centimeters deep and then fill this pit with a mixture of sand and some charcoal. A roof is needed to prevent the sand from getting wet.

➤ Tip 4 - offer sun and shade places:

The chicken enclosure must have both sunny and shady areas. Chickens like to stay in the sun, but they also have to be able to escape in the shade at any time. It is therefore best to place the sand bath in a sunny corner.

Shrubs and trees are the ideal shade for free-running. These plants also provide some protection for the animals, because even in the wild, chickens hide under them from enemies. Conifers or conifers are ideal. In any case, the plants have to be insensitive and robust, as they love to scratch among them.

Additional tip:

If you plant berry bushes such as raspberries or blackberries, they also serve as a food source for the chickens.

➤ Tip 5 - fence in freewheel:

The freewheel must be fenced all around and also covered with wire mesh. This is the only way to effectively prevent enemies and prevent epidemics. The fence should have a height of at least 180 centimeters so that animals that fly from time to time cannot escape. Since the chickens prefer to scratch everywhere, you also have to dig the fence deep enough.