Do Chickens Really Need a Run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Cyprus, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. Yes

    24 vote(s)
  2. No

    5 vote(s)
  1. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

    Jan 19, 2018
    SE Wisconsin
    My Coop
    Runs provide access to the outdoors for chickens in confinement, but are they really necessary?
    I understand that if a chicken is free range they may not need a run. That's not the focus of my question. I am wondering about chickens who do not free range, who are captive 24/7.
    Assuming that a coop meets adequate ventilation and square footage.
    I've kept large fowl birds always with a run and adequate coop. I've never, ever given my bantams (now deceased) runs. Not even my breeding pens. What would be the considerations for going without a run? Would certain breeds not be advisable for this method? Is it detrimental to the health of the birds?
    If toys are added, or flock blocks or other distractions, maybe the birds won't get too bored. Would a rooster overbreed hens in confinement?
    With us approaching spring, and coop plans on the horizon, I feel this is an important topic to cover. All insight is welcome, participation is encouraged.
    Some examples of coops with and without runs.
    Chicken Run.jpg

    A good read on the subject:

    This discussion is not meant to be about critiquing me, it is meant to be an informative discussion for all readers.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
  2. backyard pigeons

    backyard pigeons Crowing

    Oct 18, 2018
    Good qeustion. I mean back 50 years it was practically unheard of to have a run. And they may or may not have free ranged during the day. I do feel it's good for health, but if proper ventilation and space is met, it's double without one. My pigeons don't have a run. And they are fine.
  3. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

    Jul 23, 2018
    Apalachin, NY
    My Coop
    I'm sure the birds could survive in a coop without a run.
    And you could survive locked in your bathroom as long as someone brought you food. I don't think you'd be too happy not getting out in the fresh air and sunshine and feeling the earth beneath your feet, but you'd survive. Maybe even have fun playing with the shampoo bottles! :D
  4. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

    Jan 19, 2018
    SE Wisconsin
    My Coop
    Well yes, a bird can live in a coop with no run for sure :D Mine did for over a year before I rearranged how they were kept. I'm hoping we get a lot of good community discussion on this topic because I'm sure there's more to it than meets the surface.
  5. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Crowing

    Oct 20, 2014
    Ask the battery hens ... ?
  6. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    What have you got against your bantams then?
  7. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

    Nov 12, 2017
    Western Ohio
    Battery hens are kept in small cages. OP is talking about a coop, which is generally much larger.
  8. N F C

    N F C is it nap time yet?

    Dec 12, 2013
    I can't free range due to the number of predators around here so I provide a run. I think it's healthy for the flock to be able to get outside and stretch their wings, soak up some sunshine, scratch in the dirt, break up coop boredom, etc.

    No matter how large a coop is, I believe the chickens still need to be able to go outside for the benefits afforded them. If I were to relate run vs. no run to myself, no matter how large of a house I live in, I enjoy and benefit from being outside.
  9. Callender Girl

    Callender Girl Crowing

    Sep 18, 2018
    North Central Iowa
    The coop in my avatar is home to a Wyandotte and two bantams. It did not come with a run, but there are plans for one in the spring. The girls can live successfully in terms of space, roosts and nesting boxes, and there is ventilation.

    But I feel guilty if I don't at least let them out into a nearby run daily so they can revel in whatever sunshine we have and dig into the dirt for baths (Iowa is having quite unseasonably warm temps right now -- into the high 40s).

    They sometimes do some free-ranging with my other birds, but there are some safety issues with my tiny bantams -- one of which has a bum leg -- and my very assertive rooster.

    Maybe it's more about me than about the chickens, but I think they NEED to experience the outdoors, as we all do.
  10. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

    Nov 12, 2017
    Western Ohio
    Over the summer visited relatives in E. WA. One of their friends had 5 acres, some large livestock, and chickens. They had built a decent size building (30x40?) where there were two or three separate indoor confinement areas for flocks with a pop door to a rectangular run for each. High desert in this area, so ground is sandy, dry dirt...nothing green. In the winter, they just close off the pop door and chickens confined inside 24/7. But, seemed pretty roomy, good ceiling height, solid walls between flocks, but HWC on side facing human access corridor/supply area. Owner indicated it worked really well. Previously, they had owned a large ranch with large animals along with chickens in similar set-up (run for summer/coop only in winter) before retiring to a smaller acreage.

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