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Covering the run? Good idea? Bad idea?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by pawsplus, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    So I have a big coop and a 10x10 run, which started life as a dog run. Here is a pic of the coop and part of the run as it's currently set up:


    And a pic of the whole run with the former coop (no longer used):


    The run has a wire top (2x4 welded wire, wired securely on) and I have a tarp over 1/2 of it.

    I'm wondering if I should either cover the whole thing w/ a tarp or, alternatively, make a nice peaked roof for it. Is there a benefit to covering it entirely (other than preventing mud, which would be nice)? Is there a down side?
  2. tim_TX

    tim_TX Songster

    Jun 4, 2008
    Covering the run will help prevent puddles of water/manure, which chickens seem to love to drink from, even though it can lead to some nasty diseases. Covering the run will also help prevent wild birds from spreading disease and parasites to yours. Finally, covering the run will make it harder for raccoons to get a free lunch. I'm a firm believer in covered runs and biosecurity.
  3. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    Downsides are a flat tarp across it will fill up with water and sag to the ground unless adequately braced. Same with snow.

    Also you lose the benefit of allowing your chickens to be out in the sun.

    I'm building a low, temporary roof so the birds have a place to get outdoors yet be out of the snow, but beyond that, the run will remain open.

  4. pawsplus

    pawsplus Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    Yeah, the sun thing was my main concern. The run is under a tree, but in wintertime there are sunpatches where they can hang out.

    I don't think that covering the run will reduce predator risk in my case -- I mean, it's already covered w/ welded wire, and the chickens are locked in the coop at night.

    My tarp does hold water, that's for sure. I have a center pole I put in (4x4) with 2x4 braces going out to the sides, so there's no risk of collapse, though.

    I wonder if I could rig the tarp so it slants from one end to the other? I'm going to put a gutter on the coop roof on the run side anyway b/c rain comes off that metal roof and right into the run. So if I put on the gutter and then slanted the tarp so that it was higher on the coop side and lower at the other side, it would run off there (on the right side). Mmmm. I'll think about that.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Someone on here (actually I think a couple of people here, and I wish I could think of who they are, to give proper credit [​IMG]) built slightly-pitched wood-and-metal-roofing toppers for chainlink runs. IIRC it's like a 2x6-2x4 frame with metal screwed on like you'd do for a normal metal roof, but sits atop the chainlink frame and is clamped on. Not a good idea if large snow load or very high winds are a possibility, but I gather it works well otherwise. It gets you around the main problem of other designs which is ensuring adequate support and pitch without having to essentially build a shed with posts and rafters and all.

    Just something to think about,

  6. pawsplus

    pawsplus Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    Quote:Ooooh. That sounds great. Maybe they'll post here w/ instructions and pix!!
  7. BawkinOnTheBench

    BawkinOnTheBench Songster

    Jun 13, 2008
    Our run was a dog run too, and we covered it to avoid the mud issues. I'm sure glad we did. When the sand just gets damp it excudes a faint wet-chicken odor; I can't imagine what it would be like soaking wet and with all the chicken poop mixing with the mud!

    We used the same pipes you use for the edges of the dog run. We constructed a frame of 3 rafters of those, with a ridgepole at the center; it's braced by a vertical pole on the end of the run that doesn't have the gate, and by another full length pole inside near the gate (the gate didn't have a top pipe to 'frame' it.) We used corrogated green plastice for the roof, and wired it to the rafters with bailing wire. We haven't had any issues with leaks through those small holes.

    There's a picture (not a good one) at the bottom of this page - https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=11869. One thing NOT to do that we did - was build that roof to downslope riight into the chicken coop. That's been our one source of issues - but I think we finally solved it by creating a 'gutter' of tar paper that we slid under the plastic, and that carries the runoff off the lower side away from the coop.
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Songster

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    Cool -- thanks! I've been looking at a few run tops and I think that the clear corrugated plastic might be the ticket. If I make it sloped from the coop down (rather than pitched), that will keep all the water going to one end. I can either gutter that end or dig a trench there and line it w/ gravel to disperse the water. And it's a little easier b/c, since mine already has a pretty secure wire top, I don't have to worry about making the corrogated plastic roof part predator-proof as well.

    I guess this will be my 2009 chicken project. [​IMG]
  9. notsooldmcdonald

    notsooldmcdonald Songster

    Oct 14, 2008
    Lempster, NH
    We used a tarp over 1/2 of the run, and I've liked the 1/2 shade 1/2 sun feature it allows. However, we are DEFINITELY going to make a peaked _clear_ corrugated_ replacement in the spring. We have snow issues, and I think this will help. Also, since we need the shade of the opaque tarp in the summer, I can spray whitewash on the clear plastic.

    Anyway, just my reflection on how covering the run worked for us...may you have excellent luck with yours!

  10. I'm planning on saving up this summer to cover the four runs of my main coop and to cover all of the runs of the coops we're building this summer (one with three runs for three, separate breeds) and another two or three tractors. Originally, I was going to use metal roofing to do the runs because we have 6 or 7 large pieces left over from our house being re-roofed. However, I decided that I may not have enough roofing for all of my coops PLUS the runs. Since it was more important to make all of the roofs match, I am leaning towards doing the large coop (with the four runs) with clear, plastic, corrgated roofing stuff and only doing about 1/2 of each run. The smaller "sniper tower" coop will have fully covered runs as will any potential chicken tractors.

    All of my runs will be reinforced with wooden supports and the roofs will be at a steep angle to help snow & water to slide off...we get A LOT of snow here so I'd hate to have my runs collapse!

    Although they will be considerably smaller than my large coop & thus, cheaper to cover.

    My large coop's runs are: 8 x 16, 16 x 24, 4 x 8 and 4 x 16.

    Oh--here is a pic of the roofing stuff.


    It is transparent--so it keeps out rain/wind but allows sunshine to come through. I may use this stuff with darker stuff like this:

    http://img.hisupplier.com/var/userImages/old/ketelong/ketelong$68124342.jpg at least for shade.

    I'm planning on planting windbreak evergreens as well as some hybrid trees (shade trees) this spring around my coop...so we'll see.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2008

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