Chicken Run and Chicken Coop Inspiration


After Foxmaggeddon 2018 (when a fox took out five of our chickens over two separate days last year), we realized we can’t free range our chickens anymore. It was one thing when we were losing two or three over months to hawks, but now that the big time predators have discovered us, it’s time to build a safe pen for our chickens.

Our coop is inside our barn, so our new chicken run will have to be a lean-to style against the side of the barn, along this wall:

Now, exciting news is we’re getting additional chicks next week. Less exciting news is that due to snow and frozen ground we haven’t even been able to get started on this run. Also, we are not thrilled by the idea of DIY’ing this bad boy. It’s just really not fun to wrestle with hardware cloth. It sounds so nice and soft (cloth!) but it’s actually super intense wire that is extremely difficult to unroll, staple and make even. It’s the most predator-proof option to cover a chicken run with, though.

Also, for purposes of chicken protection, we’ll need to dig around the perimeter of the thing and bury the wire down so that any digging raccoon, fox or coyote won’t be able to get in. However, we also don’t want to spend a lot of money because the barn foundation needs work, we may convert the barn to a woodshop and move the chickens out altogether, basically a bunch of things may happen that will make this a temporary home for the birds.

So, it’s all a big pain. We want something that may be temporary, but that isn’t an eyesore. That fits in with the barn, but that isn’t too pricey. To that end I’ve been searching for inspiration of things that have just enough interest for me to find attractive, but that aren’t a chicken palace, like this gorgeousness by designer Bunny Williams:


Sorry, chickens, no chicken castle for you.

First off, I have to say that pretty much every photo of a chicken coop and run is hilarious to me. Where is all the poop??? I mean, I’m a regular cleaner of our coop, and it remains poop free for zero seconds, because as I’m cleaning the chickens are pooping. Maybe people Photoshop out the poop? That sounds much more appealing than actually cleaning it up, so probably. For the same reason I chase chickens off the outdoor furniture, rather than taking cute photos like my cover image. Do you know how hard it is to get chicken poop off wicker??? But I digress …

Here is a nice option. Simple, clean, practical, just like our barn itself (haha, just kidding our barn has never been clean):


I could see this same type of framing in a lean-to style, for sure.

Here’s another simple white chicken run, with a little bit more visual interest and structural support with cross pieces:


I do know the red color of the barn’s doors and posts, so I could certainly paint the run beams to match, which would be a nice touch. OR I could paint them black so they ‘vanish’ a little more. All I know is that I will NOT be painting ANYTHING white. The folks with that beautiful DIY coop above painted the floors white in their coop. I mean, I know myself well enough to know that there is no way that would work for me, because I’m not chipping chicken poop off a floor to make it look pristine in their own coop. No way, no how.

Okay, NOW we’re talking:


I love this chicken run. Simple, rustic, but those cross pieces add some visual interest and structure. This is also easy to adapt to a lean-to attached style. Like this coop, we don’t need a solid roof on ours. Because it will sit in a spot where there is at least some shade at all hours of the day we’re not worried about exposure.

Here’s another idea I love:


The roof beams have a ‘pergola’ look that is really wonderful. Interest, but not overboard. I don’t know that this exact thing would work for us given the look of our barn, but I think it’s exactly the kind of unique touch that isn’t too pricey but makes a structure look beautiful. And the plantings around it? Yes, please.

This sweet little leaning guy is a greenhouse:


BUT it could totally work as a chicken run. We have approximately 20 old window frames with busted up glass that are otherwise going to be hauled to the hazardous waste when I get my act together that we could repurpose here. My main hesitation is that I have no idea how old these are, and there’s a lot of chippy paint on them. If that’s lead paint (which let’s be honest at least some of it likely is, hence why I would have to take it to ‘hazardous waste drop off day’ at the dump), the last thing I want is my chickens nibbling lead paint chips. Which of course they would do, because they are dumb as rocks. I could repaint and poly these windows to seal everything up tight so that there’s no flaking, but the fact of the matter is they’d still be out in the elements, aging away, and probably flaking again. Ugh, I think I just talked myself out of this one.

A great-looking simple chicken run:


I really, really like the look of this coop. Simple construction, practical, clean – it’s really humming my tune. This is the kind of thing that doesn’t require a killer materials and labor budget, but ticks the ‘good looking’ box.

Ugh, a lot to consider for something so simple, just with regard to looks! Don’t even get me started on potential drainage problems …