If you don’t have space and your chickens are cooped up in small coop, or even if you need some help gardening, we propose an unusual solution.
A chicken tunnel! It’s very easy to do, your chickens will have extra space to run around, you can move it around your yard, and you’ll have an extra helping hand in the garden, which is always welcome.
- Fencing stakes
- Galvanized hardware cloth
- U-shaped metal or wire supports (optional)
- Metal or wooden panel (optional)
- Wire cutter
Map the route for your chicken tunnel while taking into consideration the specifications of your back yard. The easiest way to do it is to let it run along the fence, starting from the coop.
Get the hard wire, and bend it so it will make a little more than half a circle. Then place your hardware along the established route using the fencing stakes to secure it to the ground for long-term use.
Attach it to the opening of your coop so that your chickens can have access to the tunnel. Make sure that when you put it next to the chicken coop, it’s bigger than the door.
If you want, you can insert a metal or wooden panel at the entrance of the tunnel that can slide up and down. This will allow you to control the access to the tunnel.
One end of the tunnel should stay opened, and the other end will be closed to prevent the chickens from running away.
- Your chickens can run around without making a mess of your yard or your garden.
- Chickens make wonderful garden keepers as they eat weeds and pesky bugs.
- The chickens can dig and peck to prepare the soil for planting seeds.
- They fertilize the soil.
- You don’t have to supervise them or worry about predators.
- You can move it around your yard depending on your needs.
- The chickens are really cute, especially when they run around in the tunnel.
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You can also move them from bed to bed to mulch and prepare…just toss in a strawbale and they’ll scratch it into mulch in no time, then move them over to another place and start all over. The mulched bad can start with potatoes, just stick them under the mulch and off they’ll grow.
Yes ma’am…lol, this is truly a great idea But the size of the
“Squares in the fencing” would be better if it were smaller as Too many snakes can inter the 2×4 inch fence squares. I’d look at the rabbit cage squares, then compare prices and find as small a fence hole where the “Price Break” occurs! The possibilities are endless and I’d run a couple
runs without mixing the type of Birds. This IS way cool &
your comment has my mind running now…lol, peace
I would use chicken wire for the tunnels. The kind for baby chicks has small openings that wouldn’t let in any snakes big enough to eat your chickens. Little green ones could get in but your chickens would be more likely to eat them than get eaten by them!
Chicken wire won’t support itself -use the larger wire and wrap with chicken wire -cost increase though.
Your not building it to keep all predators out, just hawks, perhaps to deter dogs, and to expand their living space creatively for those of us that have county ordinances and neighbors to deal with.
My tunnels protect my yard from damage from scratching and chicken poop everywhere. I lock my girls up while I’m at work and the tunnels give them access routes to different ‘temporary yards’. I also love them to protect my vegetable garden during the summer since no amount of fencing keeps them off the tomatoes.
I have about 80-100+ feet of tunnels for them at any given time. I used 14 gauge 2″x4″ welded wire fence in both 4′ and 6 ‘ lengths. Except for some tunnel corners and ends, I cut the rolls into 4’ pieces and let the natural bend to the wire form 80% of the tunnel. I zip tie the length together to make it easy to move them. And thanks to the hens, they stay weed free.
We used to do that when I was a kid. But we made mazes. We did it to get them back into the coop. We made a large one around all of the chickens then gradually shrank it down until they had to go into the coop. Chasing chickens didn’t work for us.
Wow, what fun this idea is! Adaptable, easy, and solves a lot of chicken issues, like being able to regulate whether you just need them to eat the bugs in an area, or want them to clear the ground for planting, too. I love that they can share the same basic area with freedom to run for both the dogs and the chickens, without worrying about raccoons or foxes getting to them too easily! Thanks for this great inspiration.
I have used chick wire for my tunnel cover, with pvc pipe slipped over pieces of rebar pounded every 4-6 feet into the soil and bent into a arch then slipped over another piece of rebar opposite the first one, to support the tunnel shape. Otherwise, if you have dogs, cts, or wildlife, -even eagles or hawks with access to your garden, they hunting animals will jump onto the chick wire fencing and kill the chickens right through the wire. Been there, done that,
Hi Grama, Is it possible to post or email me a photo of what you are describing with the PVC pipe (is it flexible or rigid PVC pipe) and rebar? Thanks! Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org
Great article except that if I’m seeing clearly, there is a photo of the wire being formed into a tunnel shape that includes a floor or bottom which was not mentioned, but is an option and actually a good idea for people who plan to move the tunnel often. The tunnel can be moved and then secured with garden stakes or basically a length of thick wire, re-bar, etc. Or another idea would be a short length of PVC pipe with a hole drilled through it near the top. Then the builder can attach the wire to the pipe with wire, metal rings, and/or even some small carabiners.
Let me mention that hardware cloth comes in 1/4″ squares and is often labelled as cage wire. Get yourself a crimping tool and some “J-clips” or bands and you can use the same method to build a tunnel as to make cages for rabbits, birds and small pets. You can also get by with a spool of wire, wire cutters and some small pliers to thread, wrap and tighten the wire. I made bird cages with just these few items.
Personally I like the idea (As mentioned in the article) of creating a frame from light wood or PVC because I think it would be easier to apply the wire to the frame and it would be sturdier and prevent being easily deformed by clumsy humans, curious dogs/cats or hungry predators. If the ends of the tunnel have a frame then they can be matched up and secured as one wishes… like a giant size “habitrail”, but for chickens.
Do you mean flexible PVC pipes or the rigid kind?
Frank, with a ‘bottom’ to the tunnel you have defeated the main use for the chicken tunnel!
The chickens cannot dig through the bottom so the soil will not get the proper cultivation and the chickens won’t get the grubs either.
I miss having chickens!
Thanks for the article. I’ve been contemplating making my chicken tunnels out of pallets (free) overlayed with welded wire.
I would cut the pallets down the middle and then nail them back together to format an equilateral triangle shape with an open bottom, so the chick’s could do their thing.
I could then bolt each section together, with wood slats and screws, to create more structural strength and protection from predators.
I’ve had chickens for about a year now and they’ve pretty well annihilated the spiders, scorpions, mice and small snakes out here on my rural colorado property. Chickens are a safe and much more efficient alternative to insecticides.
I really like the idea of the pallets since I have access to them. Is there anyway you can send me pictures of your setup and what kind of wire you used?
I’m using what I have. 4×4 welded field fencing 48″ wide lined with reused chicken wire. My tunnel is just about 8′ long. Used zip ties because of one weaker hand from surgery. It leads from the pen to the enclosed area under my 8’x8′ porch. Just extra room to roam. They come back in for food or roosting time. The pen shared by chickens and ducks divided is an old 10’x20′ metal frame with a thick material that tied on for a waterproof cover. I made a reclaimed wood frame and covered the outside with 4×4 welded wire field fencing thats strong enough to keep out dogs. The inside a row of hardware cloth ( RABBIT CAGE WIRE) and above that inside is chicken wire. The south end is enclosed the same as the sides. The north end is a pallet wall with a wooden door. The peak area is just chicken wire. There is chicken wire attached around the bottom and covered with a bit of dirt to discourage digging.
Lots of wood staples and zip ties. The frame was put together with construction wood screws. Power screw driver. Electric cut off saw did quick work of old nails the weak hand can’t pull these days. Last I added where a tree branch with lots of limbs and an old broom and mop handles for roosting. A 6 seat nesting box is below a long open front wooden box I made where the chickens huddle together when its cold. Its off the ground a couple of feet on a simple frame. It faces east. Storns usually travel through west to east. And there is that roof over it all. The ducks have a big wooden crate with straw in it. They either sleep along the front of it or go in if its cold. My rabbits are in cages in a 6×10 chainlink dog run. There is an open front wood shelter over and around the rabbits inside the dog run. It sits up against my porch and a metal gate is there from the dog run to the chicken enclosure. I go through the gate to feed and water them all. That open space it creates holds containers of food and in warm weather there are 35 gallon containers to replentish waterers from. Ducks have a small pond thats cleaned and filled every two days or daily in hot weather. They prefer to drink and swim there. Sometimes they drink from a big chicken waterer. I added 6 young ducks this fall and 26 almost grown chicken. Looks like 6 roosters that will soon be chicken dinners. I have 2 hens, 5 almost grown young ones and 3 pretty roosters that have free run of the place. I may try catching the youngsters to add to the main flock. They are vulnerable to dogs. Coyotes don’t often come in too close. Hawks are always near.
Fun caring for them all. I love the sounds the half grown chicks make right now. Busy work but rewarding for this great grandma. I may make more tunnel runs next fall to set out in the garden. Too many projects going with all the new birds.
please could tell me more the chicken runs
Very great idea! Thanks for sharing.
We are building a Chunnel and positioning it over our leach field, since in Southwest it’s really the only place we have substantial growth. We will make the arc from cattle guard and cover with hardware cloth with a 2” apron so rattlers can’t get to them.
How tall did you make the tunnel?