Our number one goal, other than adding a large garden to our new homestead, was to have rotational chicken runs around the garden to reduce feeding costs.
Rotational chicken runs can greatly help to reduce feeding costs because you can let an area rest and grow to have more weeds and bugs. Then when you open up that area to your chickens they have lots of fresh food and you have happier free-ranging chickens! Oh, and you get stronger, better eggs too.
When planning rotational chicken runs it’s easier to design the coop close to the garden.
Unless you have a chicken tractor, it’s better to have all your runs close to the chicken coop and have different access ways to reach each run. It also helps to have the runs close to the garden if you want to include that area like we did. You can let them into the garden for any early spring or fall/winter clean up when it’s needed. This is a huge benefit if you accidentally let the weeds in your garden go out of control!
Ideas for Chicken Run Designs Around a Garden
Chicken moat design from Mother Earth News
Chickens in the garden from Mother Earth News
Chicken coop & garden from Backwoods Home
Rotational runs around the chicken coop from Dummies.com
Our Chicken Run Design
The design below is what we came up with after carefully pondering over where to put our garden and chicken coop. It took us a couple of months to decide! Having moved to a new homestead we still had to observe the sun patterns and winter. We used to live on a mountainside and moving to the open mountain valley has made it WAY hotter with an increased need for shade because there are so few trees. There were a few cherry trees at the back with an old outbuilding to create shade so we decided that would make the perfect main chicken run. The fruit trees also meant they can clean up the fallen fruit & bugs that feed on the old fruit too.
Our chicken run #1 is attached to the chicken coop itself.
Not only did we want to create shade with a roof, we also wanted the chickens to be able to go outside during our long winters that get lots of snow. This means they’ll have an outdoor area even in the colder months. The pic below is the chicken coop unfinished- we still have cedar shingles to put on plus the other roof on the covered run, I’ll update it when it’s complete.
Chicken run #2 has a few fruit trees (cherry) that offers a lot of shade and is closest to the coop.
The chicken run #3 is around the side of our garden, sort of like a chicken ‘moat’.
Our 4th chicken run is inside the garden, where they won’t be until we can protect crops or use covered tunnels over the beds in the fall months and they can scratch up the leftover weeds and bugs.
The goal is to eventually have a permaculture fruit tree guild on the other side of the chicken coop for a potential chicken run #5 too.
Rotational chicken runs around your garden can definitely help to reduce feeding costs and creates a great permaculture chicken garden set up. It’s truly a delight to see our chickens roaming close to the garden.