The kennel and the grounds
The kennel is attached to pole barn which is 40 X 30 with two sections. One side is being used for storage and the other is for the beagles. There are presently 8 runs which are 4X8 and one 8X12 and two 8X20's. I have used pea gravel as the base for the runs and it has worked very well. All the urine drains through it and cleaning the droppings is a snap. I am not a big fan of above ground pens, although I'm sure the upkeep would be less. In my opinion the dogs don't get enough room to streach out and I feel it is hard on their feet if they are left on it for an extended lenght of time. I know of quite a few people who keep all their dogs in these but for me I prefer using runs instead. If you are going to go with pea gravel or need to rebuild the base go with a trucking company that has trucks with a pea shooter mounted on it. This type of truck can shoot the gravel up to 40 feet or more and makes short work of putting it in each run. In the past I used to get a tri-ax load of gravel dumped and then wheelbarrow it to each area but it sure was a lot of time and effort that didn't outweigh the extra cost of having it shot in. In my area a full load of gravel delivered and shot in cost around $300.00 compared to around $200.00 to just have it dumped. If you don't need a full load I would suggest going ahead and having a full load brought and the portion that isn't needed imediatly can be put in a pile for later use. The base will need to be rebuilt about every 2 or 3 years so you might as well save on trucking cost and go for the full load the first time.
I use 5 foot welded wire for the runs and bury it around 6 to 8 inches below the surface. Quite a few beagles will dig and at this depth they will never get down far enough to enter another pen. Most beagles won't jump a 5 foot fence but I have one who will leap to the top and pull himself over. To solve this problem I installed a wire top over his pen. If you have some that will just climb a fench I came up with a solution that has worked very well. Get yourself some of that plastic drainage pipe like is used to drain fields and slice it down the middle and mount it over the top of the fence. Any dog that tries to climb the fench won't be able to get over the tile at the top. When I first built the kennel I didn't have an exercise area so if I let any of them out just to strech their legs they would be gone for hours. I have 23 acres but keeping them all rounded up was a chore. Now I have enclosed the yard in front of the barn and when it's cleaning time or just a nice day I can let them all out to run around and get some exercise and not have to go rounding them all up.
In the summer months it can get very hot with the runs right next to a galvinized barn so covering the runs is a must. I have tried using those cheap blue tarps but they hardley will last one season and if there is any strong wind they tend to rip and tear. Last year I ran across an old swimming pool cover that was huge. I attached it at the gutter boards by nailing 1x2's through it and then streaching it to the front of the runs and doing the same there. This gives the dogs much needed shade and will help to keep the base dry. The cover is now in it's second year of use and is holding up very well. Hopefully this summer I will install a steel roof over all of it and be done with putting up the tarp each spring. During the winter months if we have any snow cleaning the pens becomes an all day job which I would rather not have to deal with.
Covered the length of the runs this year and it has worked out great. I used 6x6x10 treated post and galvinized roofing to top it off. This project turned out to be a bit more expensive then I thought it would be but it sure was worth it. The roof runs 40' and ended up costing right at $900.00 with the lumber, conrete, roofing and the small stuff like nails, screws, wood stain, and lighting. Hopefully this year I can continue it around the other side as well.
The interior of the kennel has a run of boxes the length of the barn with two boxes at the end. Each box is 2x4 with two seperate sections inside of each one. They are divided into two sections of 2x2, one side for food and the other side for bedding. The top of each 4 foot box has it's own lid wich makes for easy cleaning of the bedding and feeding. The best bedding that I have found is cedar shavings which is available from Wal-Mart for $5.00 for 2 cubic feet. The cedar is resistant to fleas and other pest and it helps to keep that dog smell down. I have tried using straw and hay but it is either full of bugs or breaks down into dirt in a few weeks. The cedar is almost as cheap to buy and I feel it is more conveinant to use. Even with using cedar you will still have to battle fleas and ticks during the warmer months. The best solution that I have found for fleas is Sevin dust. Sevin can be bought at any store which has a garden center and only cost around $3.00 for enough to last for several seasons. The dust should be sprinkled into the cedar and each dog dusted weekly. Since I have started using Sevin I havn't had a flea problem at all. For ticks I still havn't found any easy solution, Sevin helps but after running in wet weeds the dust will be removed and the small amount that is in their bedding will not kill them. Flea dip is the only way that I have found to control them if you run your dogs year round. Dipping must be done after each outing to the field or once every two weeks. Two years ago I had a concrete floor poured in the kennel, before it had a dirt floor, and it was well worth the cost. It has helped keep the inside cleaner and is less attractive to pest. There are many types of dog food bowls on the market and one could spend a fortune trying to find one that holds up and will stay clean. I use paint buckets that are sold at hardware stores for around $2.00. They hold about one gallon and come with a handle attached to it. The handle has proved to be the best part, they can be hung from the side of the box and will stay off the floor and don't get knocked over. Most of my dogs will try and cover their food with their bedding if the food container is left on the floor. With the pails hung from a hook this problem was taken care of. As the picture shows on the entry side of each box a 8" hole was cut and hardware cloth was attached over it. During the hot summer months this allows air to move through the box. An exhaust fan has been installed in the rear wall to help exhaust the heat and pull air though the wire covered holes. You can get a fan with a thermostat attached to it for $40.00 and it will kick on and off as the heat builds up during the day and will shut off as the temperature drops.
I have a fair amount of ground to start pups and run rabbits on. We own 23 acres and I have permission to run dogs on the neiboring farms. The barn sits about half way down my drive, which is almost a 1/4 mile long. In front of the barn there is about 6 acres which is planted in walnut tress and over grown pastures. Between the barn and the house is a about 3 or 4 acres which is also walnuts and weed strips. Behind the house there is another 4 acres or so which is overgrown with weeds and clover. There is a small 6 acre pond which runs the length of my property and can make for some intersesting runs when a rabbit takes to running along the shore line. Over the years I have tried to improve the habitat for the rabbits with brush piles and downed trees. The walnut trees were planted nine years ago as an investment, I doubt that I will ever see the timber from them but my daughter might. I have cut six foot paths through the fields to watch and follow the dogs. I like having open areas where a rabbit will run, it will show you in a hurry a dog that races on strong scent and over runs the line. Atlot of people don't care for having "feed strips" due to preditors but as long as I give the rabbits good habitat and they continue to thrive I'll let the hawks and owls have their share. This photo is about nine years old so the fields look much different now, the tress are around 12 to 20 feet tall.
Running dogs on a nice winter day after a light snow is one of lifes greatest pleasures!
Running in the summer can be good also.