So we are newbies with 12, 4 month old Welsummers. We free range all day long and shut them up in their coop at night. We have a rooster and a large livestock guard dog and so far we have had zero problems with free ranging on our 10 acres. There's almost always someone here as we work opposite shifts so we can stay home with the kids... We had planned on doing a quite large, covered run, however everything took longer and cost more than we thought, and in August we had to take a trip and had no run for them yet. So we had to make a smaller, temporary run for while we were gone and we haven't started permanent run yet. So this is what we have right now - a coop with a small run that is nowhere near sufficient for them should we need to leave for any period of time and the chickens can't free range. We have been crunching the numbers on building our big chicken run (I want them to have lots of room whenever we're not home) but am starting to wonder if it's worth the price considering we don't really leave that often. We're looking at about $400 in materials - at least and a lot of time to construct it. Then I looked at the automatic chicken doors at 150-180 bucks and I began to wonder if we really needed to make the big run at all? Once they get used to the door, even when we are not home, it'll work the same as any other day...where they free range all day and go in at night, right? Am I missing something? I mean I know in the end we would not be here if a predator struck in broad daylight but honestly the way we are doing things right now, it could easily happen when we are home as well as they are free ranging over a rather large area... I just need some insight here. It seems too simple a solution. Thanks!