Keeping chickens is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK. A good chicken farmer, of course, takes proper care of their birds and provides shelter for them throughout the year. In order to prepare a coop for winter, a windshield made of acrylic sheet is indispensable. This is better than working with covers and foil, and it can also be made 100 per cent wind and watertight. In this blog, we give all the tips and explanations you need to make a windshield/winter screen for a chicken run.
Solid acrylic for years of use
As the basic material for the windshield, we choose a cast acrylic sheet. This type of acrylic is stronger and easier to work than extruded acrylic. We recommend a minimum sheet thickness of 4 millimetres, with this sheet thickness the material has sufficient strength and is resistant to the pecking of beaks. Is your plastic chicken coop sited in a garden or alongside a footpath? If so, choose a sheet thickness of more than 6 millimetres because of the extra strength this provides. Acrylic is 30 times more impact-resistant than glass and can, therefore, withstand the impact of a football if it goes off course.
When determining the size of the acrylic sheet, we use the three-centimetre rule: the sheet is around 3 centimetres larger than the chicken wire. If the mesh surface is 50 by 70 centimetres, for example, you order a sheet of 56 x 76 centimetres. The sheet thus has a large overlap. In our webshop you will find a wide range of crystal clear acrylic and we will saw this for you free of charge. Make sure you choose the cast version, not the budget variant.
Fitting the windshield on the run: choose a removable attachment
We advise you to mount the windshield flexibly, making it easy to disassemble when required. In the summer months, the windshield can easily cause temperatures in the chicken run to rise, something we naturally want to prevent. To make assembly and disassembly easy, use wood screws with double thread. These have both wood thread and metric thread. One part is screwed into the wood of the run, and on the other part, you turn a wingnut. A wing nut can be loosened without tools.
Drill mounting holes in the acrylic sheet
The drill holes for assembly are 15 millimetres from the edge of the acrylic. The holes come at the corners and in the middle of the long side. That means a total of 6 drill holes. With larger lengths (from 60 centimetres) drill more holes in the long side, preferably every 30 centimetres. Acrylic is easy to drill, provided you prepare properly. The acrylic sheet is supplied with a protective film on both sides. On the front, stick a strip of masking tape, on which you mark the boreholes. Then you lay the sheet on a surface in which the drill can ‘run out’, for example, a wooden board. Using a 6-millimetre HSS drill bit (metal drill) and a hand drill, drill the holes. Do not apply too much pressure and let the drill do the work.
Completely weather tight assembly
A good tip is to apply foam tape between the resin and the acrylic sheet. This ensures a windproof, watertight seal along the edges. Stick the tape along the edges of the acrylic sheet (remove the protective film from the sheet first). If there are a lot of irregularities in the wood of the chicken coop (for example, through gauze and staples on the outside), stick a double layer of foam tape. Next, hold the acrylic sheet in front of the chicken coop so that it sits nice and evenly over the mesh. Now mark the drill holes on the wood, and screw the double-threaded screws into the wood at the marked points.
Next, the acrylic sheet can be mounted on the chicken coop. Secure the sheet using wing nuts and wide washers (also called bodywork rings). Do not overtighten the nuts, otherwise, the sheet may break. For maintaining the windscreens, have a look at our blogs about acrylic maintenance and polishing. Hours of fun!