The "chunnel" is now 50 feet long and offers a safe run along the back of the garden. This early snow formed a nice crust and offered some shelter from October cold. Later, I covered the first 20 feet of the chunnel with plastic. The chickens love to nap in the covered chunnel during the day and venture out to the uncovered portion for some fresh air and sunshine.
We do not heat the coop. The chickens will develop fuller feathers as they acclimate to the colder temperatures. We did wrap the attached run to block the winter winds. I attached the tarp with small bungee cords that allow me to lower the tarp on sunny days and allow fresh air into the run. It also helps to dry out the sand if it gets wet from any blown in snow.
One Saturday morning in June of 2020 I set out to buy 6 baby chicks and came home 8 baby chicks. How did that happen you might ask. While I was at the store, I called a good friend who has had many years of experience with chickens. I asked her opinion on the two breeds available-Plymouth Barred Rock and Silver Laced Wyandotte. She gave the thumbs up on both and then convinced me to get 4 of each. "Just in case a few die or you get roosters mixed in". Sounded smart to me! So I headed home with 4 of each breed, a waterer, a feeder, and some feed. I was all set to go.
Chicks to Chickens
The Chickens with Their Friends
Our 5x7 coop was designed with a matching attached run. The coop is on the small side for 8 chickens, but we wanted to keep a small footprint so it would not overwhelm our 1/3 acre lot.
Our challenge has been to create a safe space for our chickens to run in a limited space. We live near an orchard in the center of town. Traffic and winged predators are a problem. For these reasons, we have decided not to free range.
The coop sits near the edge of our property in view of our patio area. It backs up to a beautiful row of very tall evergreens and next to a 50’ row of blackberries. Behind the blackberries is a narrow space that is about 3’ wide. This hidden space is the perfect spot for the “chunnel” to connect to the coop run. I found black pvc coated hardware cloth to use on the run and for the chunnel. The black coating makes the wire invisible and the whole chunnel disappears into the landscape. The chickens have plenty of space to hang out and to run through the chunnel. They love it and so do we. I may add another chunnel off the other side of the coop in the future. Below are my notes from the project.
The chunnel under the snow. We will be covering the chunnel with a clear tarp for the winter. This late October snow caught us by surprise. Before the snow melted the chickens enjoyed the snow cover.
Total 50' long x 18" high
Section-3' long x 18" high
3’ sections w/ tubing for support and 12” flange on each side for predator proofing.
My inspiration for this project: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/build-a-chunnel.915854/. The author did a great job of describing her method. Check it out. I made adaptations to suit my needs.
5x7-full height interior
Open sofitts for venting-covered with 1/2 hardware cloth-black pvc coated
2 nesting boxes inside coop with drop down door on the exterior-Nesting box pads
2 2x4 roosting bars
Poop bench below-covered with clear plastic shelving liner for easy clean up
Heated 6 gallon waterer
Sand on floor-construction sand 4-6 inches deep
Black pvc coated 1/2 inch 3' x 100 ' hardware cloth-buried 18" deep on all sides of the coop
Black pvc coated 1/2 inch 3' x 100 ' hardware cloth-buried 18" deep on all sides of the run.