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Do I Need A Run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cicknmama, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. cicknmama

    cicknmama Songster

    Sep 23, 2014
    Hardin, Montana
    Hello, I am in the process of building an 8x10 coop. I currently have 7 hens and 8 chicks in the brooder. My flock has about a 1/2 acre of fenced yard and can also free range in the summer. My question is: with that much room, is a run necessary? I live in Montana and winters can be harsh, but for those very cold days they would stay inside the coop. Would a run or some kind of covering be helpful just for protection from sun/rain/snow? Opinions please?
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging 7 Years

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    They may get a little cabin fever with a heavy snow cover on the ground and having to stay in for weeks or months at a time. Another option is to spread straw over the snow to give them something to walk on outside.
    I like a covered area in front of the chicken door so they have a dry space to come out to.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member 5 Years

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    A secure covered run might be good in case you have a predator issue and need to keep them confined for a while...and it would help in the winter, but keep in mind the snow load on any roof, strength and keeping it accessible in case it needs to be kept cleared off.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  4. PapaChaz

    PapaChaz Crowing

    May 25, 2010
    NW Georgia
    ^^ what he said^^

    you will lose a free range chicken occasionally. without some kind of protection from predators they're pretty easy pickings. Fenced yard might keep out the dog/coyote type predator, but not raccoons, cats or birds of prey. a covered run would give you that piece of mind they're protected
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    A run adds flexibility in how you manage them. Aart mentioned potential predator problems. If a hen starts laying in a nest outside the coop a potential way to retrain her to lay in the coop is lock them all in the coop and run for a week or two. If your coop is big enough you could just lock them in there, but it often is not. If the chicken start leaving your ½ acre you might want to keep them at home. Chickens can destroy a garden and they love to scratch in mulch around bedded plants. Maybe you are going to entertain and don’t want the chickens roaming around. If you spread fertilizer or spray weed or grass killer or use some type of pesticide, you may not want chickens roaming in that for a while. If you are going to be gone on vacation for a while, you may want them contained instead of roaming free.

    Is a run necessary for everyone? No, but it adds flexibility in how you manage them.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    I'm still trying to figure out your second sentence. You have 7 hens and 8 chicks in the brooder? How old are the hens and how long have they been there? What's the age span between them? How have they been toward the little ones in a confined space or are you lucky enough to have a super large area to use as a brooder? Inquiring minds.....

    I agree with every post on here about having a run and for all of the reasons the posters mentioned. Free ranging is great but there isn't much forage or insect life under the snow in the dead of winter anyway. They'll still want to get out during the day, but it won't be for all of the succulent goodies they can find. With a run you can toss goodies on the floor in there and it will go a long way toward easing boredom and keeping the litter scratched up well. The daylight hours are short so if they have a place to extend their time out of the coop that's a good thing.

    I have had no problem with super high winds or snow load on top of my run. We just used cattle panels, steel fence posts, chicken wire over the panels for overhead predator protection and a skirt of hardware cloth along the bottom 2 feet and out 2 feet as an apron. A run doesn't have to be elaborate or fancy - it's just a place to extend the confines of a coop while letting enjoy the sunshine and breezes ruffling their feathers. We covered ours in plastic and the chickens were out in it every single day, only going into the coop to lay or to snoop and see what I was doing!

  7. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Free Ranging 7 Years

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Ridgerunner's advice is very sound. Remember if predators find your flock, they will likely return until they have finished off the easy pickings. Being able to confine them in a safe area for a week or two will often discourage predators. And there are ALWAYS more predators out there.
  8. cicknmama

    cicknmama Songster

    Sep 23, 2014
    Hardin, Montana
    My older hens are of varying age. Some have slowed down with their egg laying so I am introducing new pullets. My brooder is in the house at this time because I don't have a garage and my storage shed has no power. I have 1/2 acre chicken yard and they can free range outside of that in the good weather. As far as predators go, I have only seen the occasional Golden Eagle. We have not racoons, foxes, coyotes...etc. They stay in the hills and mountains. The cats I know will get to the young birds if given the opportunity so I will only allow them in the yard when I can supervise. My plan is to put them in a divided yard and separate coop until they are old enough to blend with the older hens. But it does sound reasonable to have a run. I have one now attached to my small coop and it has come in handy for all those reasons. Just wondered if since they will have a much bigger coop if the run was necessary. Thanks for all the input everyone.
  9. PapaChaz

    PapaChaz Crowing

    May 25, 2010
    NW Georgia
    great post right here
  10. Chicken Cabins

    Chicken Cabins In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2015
    NE Texas
    I have a 8x10 coop. I let mine free range.The run comes in handy if I worm the chickens. They seem to drink the dog water. Also when I spray the yard, I keep them up for a few days.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015

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