The Alphapet walk in chicken runs come in a range of sizes that are ideally suited for a small to medium size flock. Whilst I have a large fenced off area for my birds where they can free-range, there was a risk of another bird flu lockdown over the winter months, so I grabbed the chance to try an Alphapet covered chicken run in preparation for the wintertime.
I have always advocated free ranging your hens and giving them as much space as possible. It lowers their stress levels (a big factor for their health), minimises bullying and provides them with an opportunity to exhibit natural behaviours and who doesn’t like to see their hens finding tasty insects and the odd worm!
Unfortunately, we can’t always have our birds free-ranging, they still need to be contained from time to time. For example, during the winter bird flu outbreaks we have seen over the last few years, the UK government has implemented strict biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of the disease from the wild bird population to commercial and domestic poultry. One common measure we’ve seen implemented is the requirement for bird keepers to keep their birds indoors or to implement enhanced biosecurity measures such as covering runs when birds are kept outside. It is times like this I have longed to give my birds the largest covered run I could outside.
With 30 birds requiring housing, I was extremely worried about their welfare during previous lockdowns. My birds were not happy being cooped up indoors after being free ranged across a quarter of an acre. I soon noticed bullying, with some birds not being able to get to their food and water and others pacing up and down.
I had built a large chicken house and incorporated a run, but this is still relatively small, and the birds congregated in the run during the daytime, and it still looked overcrowded. The next spring, I started to look for a larger, covered run, that could give my birds some additional space during the next round of biosecurity measures.
I found prices extremely high for wooden framed chicken runs, and the size was still not as big as I would have liked. Omlet produces a high-quality metal framed chicken run but as you increase the size, it starts to become a significant investment.
I decided to wait, and by chance, a few months later, Nick from Alphapet got in contact with me and we started a conversation about their chicken runs. After browsing their website, I was pleasantly surprised to find some extremely cost-effective, metal-framed, mesh-covered chicken runs that were a generous size.
Having been given a chance to assemble and try out one of these Alphapet walk in chicken runs, I wanted to share my findings in a short write up.
A variety of sizes
The runs come in a total of 10 sizes with different frame pole sizes of 25 or 32mm. The largest run available is 3m by 10m but with the help of Nick at Alphapet, I selected the 4m by 4m run. I felt this was big enough for at least 6-8 medium-sized hens or perhaps a couple more if I could place my chicken coop on blocks, freeing up the space underneath.
There is enough space to add enrichment activities for my hens when cooped up for the winter lockdown. For example, I hang cabbages or greens a little above their head height and place a few bales of straw in their run to give them some jumping exercise. Straw bales also give birds lower down the pecking order a chance to get out of view of bullies. Out of sight, out of mind!
My first impressions were good. So often, assembly instructions let a product down with poor translations or explanation, and then you spend twice as long putting something together! The Alphapet run has very clear, easy to follow instructions and I was soon underway clicking poles together.
As well as labelling and clear instructions, I was pleasantly surprised to find the steel poles were a very high quality that would last a lifetime!
One tip I can share, is to make sure you assemble the frame on flat ground. It doesn’t need to be completely level ground, (mine was on a slight slope), but if the frame is higher in any one corner, it will distort the shape which will make it difficult to slot some of the poles together, or strain them at certain points and make it difficult to add the wire. Flat ground will make a big difference!
The wire mesh provided is coloured (green) so will blend in well with your garden, and is attached to the frame neighbouring pieces of mesh using cable ties.
I found the wire was quite a thin gauge and wouldn’t be strong enough to stop a determined fox. It’s more than adequate to keep your chickens contained, but if you have a fox problem, you will need to consider other measures, such as using a heavy gauge wire around the bottom of the run, or running 2 or 3 electric fence wires around the outside perimeter on insulators.
Once the run was built, I added the optional 4m x 2m roof cover which is held in place with small elastics. This not only helps to keep the rain out, but also provides some protection from the sun. The roof covers are available as an optional extra, in a variety of sizes. If the roof is completely covered then this run becomes suitable to use during an outbreak of bird flu.
The door to the run worked very well. It is made with a high quality steel frame with sturdy hinges and a secure, easy to operate catch.
My only concern is the thickness of the wire provided with the run, but that’s only going to be a problem if there is a risk of foxes. You could easily add additional, thicker wire around the lower part of the run, overlapping the wire provided and leaving a 30cm skirt on the ground to prevent predators from digging underneath at the same time.
Overall, I was very pleased with the Alphapet walk in chicken run. It is sturdy and straightforward to assemble and I feel it is very good value for money and should give many years of service.
I would like the thank the team at Alphapet for sending this run to me to try out and their patience waiting for feedback. Please visit the Alphapet website if you would like to learn more about their range of walk in chicken runs.