I ordered an extra tarpaulin for me when I purchased the ones for the West Rise Reptile Zone. I had a mind to re-cover my chicken runs, and as the tarps were an absolute bargain – being slightly discoloured due to storage – I decided they would be perfect for the job. I have improvised with plastic but of course this doesn’t last five minutes as soon as the wind picks up, so I needed something I could effectively strap down and keep secure.
I have used corrugated polycarbonate sheets before now, but even with UV protection they still sag and degrade, and the splits in them render their weatherproofing rather questionable. Chickens hate hate hate being wet and cold, so keeping their feet dry is very important and prevents bumblefoot as well as grubby eggs. I usually get a load of tree surgery waste to mulch their runs, and keeping this dry means they can dustbathe and peck around without all the rain making it smelly and horrible. It also stops their food getting wet, but very few commercially available runs come with any kind of roofing.
The tarp I bought (from eBay) was 5.5m x 2m with eyelets around the perimeter. I used an eyelet kit to make some new holes that wouldn’t rip, and used baler twine to secure them to the wooden struts of the runs.
The water still collects on the top of the runs where the wire dips down, but being flexible it is easy to push up the tarp and allow the water to drain off, although the garden birds enjoy the chance of a bath!
It is quite dark underneath but it makes the birds feel secure with a proper ‘roof’. I will see how it fares over the winter, but I’m hoping it will cope.
It’s quite a struggle to remain positive at this time of year as being on clay soil, the mud becomes rather depressing at times, and part of the reason I am so fond of my call ducks is that they are always so happy when it’s raining!