Do your chickens really appreciate a covered run in snow & rain?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by gabbyscritters, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. gabbyscritters

    gabbyscritters Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    fredonia, wi
    For those who have a run that is covered, as in protected from snow and rain, do you think your chickens enjoy it.

    Looking at building a 50' x 10' divided run area and trying to convince hubby that we should cover it, or at least part of it.
    The whole run will be covered with fencing material for safety but I think the chickens would lke to be outside more. They get pretty stir crazy in our long Wisconsin winters.
    One of the run sections will be used mainly for the grow out pens, thier not insulated so not really used in winter anyway.

    I don't know if steel panels or the fiberglass corrigated translusant panels would be better?
    We don't have extreme heat in the summer for needing heavy shade. The fiberglass panels let in alot of light but not sure how they hold up long term?

    Hubby wanted the grass in the runs, I think they will turn into a hard packed dirt run like we have now with regular chicken traffic. At least covered partly it will stay drier but still allow bugs, breeze and sunlight in.

    I have seen some posts where they put tarps on one or two sides to help block wind and keep snow out. Our nasty months last and last.

    Any thoughts?

  2. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Songster

    Feb 18, 2011
    Our chickens went through snow earlier this year and we used a tarp which kept things nice and dry. They pretty much spent the day outside as they would in good weather. We are also covering our new walk in run with a material that lets in water, because we want the air and sunshine. I think we'll just tarp things in winter. I do like the corrugated roofing, but I worried the girls wouldn't get enough sun and heat when they would need it.
  3. jmagill

    jmagill Songster

    Mar 9, 2009
    Western Wyoming
    My run is covered and it needs to be.

    We can have up to 5 feet of snow in the winter and the chickens would be basically stuck inside if the coop without the covered run.
    They spend most of the day outside because the run is covered.
  4. cbohn80

    cbohn80 Songster

    May 2, 2011
    they have corrugated pvc that would be cheaper than fiberglass, i use it on mine, just 8 ft by 4 feet the keep their food dry, add some shade and keep them happy. they hate getting wet so it gives them a spot to look for bugs and get a bit of exercise in bad weather

  5. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Songster

    Apr 20, 2009
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    I have the clear polycarbonate roofing over my run and love it. No muddy slushy run that starts to stink when wet. The hens and their feed are dry and they get plenty of light in winter. My run is under a huge oak tree so gets plenty of shade in summer.

    If you do use it ensure that you pitch is sufficient for snow etc to slide off easily.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Please - cover the run NOW!! Or at least part of it. After spending two winters shoveling out clear patches and tossing down straw and scratch in an attempt to lure my girls outside, we finally covered PART of our big run - just finished about a week ago. And let me tell you, it would have been SO much easier to roof had we done it when we first built. It was such a pain, because we had to work around (and on top of) what was already there, and it was like an obstacle course.
    I've always wrapped tarps around the sides of my run for windbreaks, but the snow would STILL pile up inside of course. However, now I can tarp just the section under cover, so no snow will get in!! [​IMG]
    Because of my hate of shoveling snow out of the run, when I built my bantam coop's run early this spring, I made sure it was roofed!! Convince your DH to cover!!! Your winters will be so much more tolerable for your chickens, and so much easier for you!
  7. emys

    emys Songster

    Nov 19, 2008
    Yes, I covered a 6 by 10 run area for the first time last winter. They spent way more time outside under it than they spent outside without it the previous winters. It was SO much easier to clean as well with it staying dry under there I could rake poop and even take a push broom to the blown snow as needed. I built a pressure treated "sand box" (without a bottom - just built the frame lined it with landscape fabric and filled with sand ) under the roof which was fantastic for drainage and sweeping snow off of.

    Steel roofing will last longer but the clear panels are so cool looking and let in lots of light. I asked the same questions about durability of the clear panels. If you buy the expensive ones, they are rated for 10 years I believe. I did my covered run half and half. My run is oriented with the short ends facing North and South. So, I used half clear panels on the south side of the run and half steel on the north side. This lets in more light when the sun is very low in winter and gives the option of light shade or full shade when sun is very high in summer.

    The clear panels did very well last winter. They even withstood my raking off the roof onto them. Had a couple of dents where large thick ice chunks hit them from 2 stories up, but, since it was not actually below freezing that day I was able to bend them right back out again with no visible marks left.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011

  8. ll

    ll Songster

    yes & yes

    I can agree with his thinking in not wanting to cover fifty feet though

    I would recommend at least a bit over the pop door

    ..and definitely at the least a temporary tarp or temporary panels nearest to the coop for snowfall, just to help with creating their own open snowless path to come out without you having to shovel so much.
    Just a little bit, maybe 3 or 4 feet?
  9. Wise Woman

    Wise Woman Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    The Enchanted Forest
    I am in the same boat you are. We have a large 32' by 24' area for our chickens, but it isn't covered. Last winter was very bad and we spent way too much time shoveling out the pen. The snow was so deep during some of the storms, that it was a foot above their pop door. So we are now in the process of putting up a new coop and it will have an 8' x 8' covered run attached to it. Come winter, I will close it in with either plastic or those clear corrugated greenhouse panels. That run will butt up against my big run, so come winter, they will have some area to be outside. They kept trying to go out last winter, but the snow was so deep, they would have sunk into it and been lost until spring. I know they wanted out because they kept looking out the pop door would all gather out in the path we shoveled and try to spend their day in that. This winter will be different though!

    We are also putting up a new goat house in the big run and putting a covered area onto the front of their house as well and that will come up to where the covered chicken run meets the big run, so they will actually be able to go from their coop to their covered run into the goats covered area in the big run for winter. This will cost some money, but the time and energy it will save us shoveling will be well worth it. We aren't getting any younger so this will be huge for us.

  10. gabbyscritters

    gabbyscritters Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    fredonia, wi
    So glad to hear that your chickens do actually go outside in winter if they can get out of the snow.
    We have a old stone dairy barn which houses our chickens, converted the horse stall area into chicken pens when older daughter went to college and lost interest in horses and younger daughter became poultry crazy.

    We have 3 enclosed and insulated "stall coops" which have our chicken pens in them. They each have a run door to the outside. Building the runs along the barn wall means that we will only need to fence in the front and divder panels as the barn has small add-on building on each end so we don't need to fence the ends.
    So the big hassle is going to be the roof. Hubby says that if I want a solid roof and not just wire he is going to need to put up roof trusses attached to the barn for support.
    I'm thinking that we might just cover the 2 end runs and not the center run as that is one is not insualated and used more as a grow out pen.
    I know it is going to take much longer to build and cost more but in the long run it would make sense, I hope.

    Right now I just want all the chickens to have a chance to get outside. The breeder pens would have to rotate and take turns going out but at least they could get out several times a week and most of the year.

    I'm liking the "clear" fiberglass panels as they would not block light coming into the coop windows.
    Off to go check prices, I know Menards has them on sale this week. [​IMG]

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