Does our run need to be predator-proof?


8 Years
May 6, 2011
My husband and father-in-law are finishing up our new chicken coop. It is a custom shed re-tooled by the builder with a ramp in the door. It sets ~3 inches off the ground on blocks. When closed up, the coop is secure. As far as the run is concerned, however, they are planning on using simple chain-link fence with some sort of hanging wire configuration to deter birds. They are not planning on burying any fence to prevent diggers. The chickens will only be out during the day and, as I mentioned, the coop is for sure predator safe when closed up. I am worried about the run. We are building the new coop and run since we lost 4 chickens to predators last summer. All of the attacks happened during the day. One was a fox, one a raptor of some sort and two of the hens just flat out disappeared.

Any advice? Should I just take it on myself and buy some hardware cloth or something once they have the fence up?


Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
10 Years
Nov 22, 2009
Jacksonville, FL - Arligton-
I made mine predator proof.

Otherwise at every sundown you will need to be home to lock up the birds, no movies out, no dinners out, no late parties with friends... because the birds will be in danger if you don't lock them in. If anything gets into the run and into the coop from there you will have trouble getting them in, or they might decide not to go in a night at all at first.

It is so much easier to work with safe from all critters.
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May 14, 2011
DFW - mid cities, Tx
I agree with firetigeris. Even just sitting in the house, it's easy to procrastinate locking the girls in. I made a predator proof run also, but I still lock my girls in the coop and put the feeder in a metal can to discourage critters at night. I added a little run extension to my set-up and it's not completely predator proof yet (I think a dog could get in there if they had enough time) so I only let them out there in nice weather when I'm around. I think I would rather have a smaller predator proof run than a larger risker area.

My "predator resistent extension". It's not as strong and the Hardware cloth is not buried. The top flips up and is secured with rabbit hutch latches. The surgical towel clips were used before I got the rabbit latches (they are old disposable clips and half of them don't work anymore).
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8 Years
May 6, 2011
That is one thing we do not have to worry about. We need to be home every morning and evening regardless or our horses will tear down the fence for their dinner and the barn cats will take over the farm. We have vicious animals.
Between my In-laws (one who is retired) and my husband and I, someone is always home to take care of the animals.

Still, I simply like the idea of a more secure run, even if we don't really need it. What can it hurt? Well, other than the PITA of digging a trench to bury the wire...


8 Years
Mar 14, 2012
Central Texas
I would make it predator resistant, especially if you already know you have a predator problem. I have never seen a raccoon, coyote, bobcat or anything in my yard. But I know they are out there. I buried my fence 4 inches deep 18 inches to 2 foot out. I also wired the top.


Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
It depends on your risk tolerance, how you manage them, and your specific predator situation.

For some of us, the loss of even one chicken would be devastating. Fiord some of us, we accept occasional losses as part of free ranging them. I can't determine your risk tolerance for you, you have to do that.

By locking them up every night in a secure coop, you help yourself tremendously. My philosophy was to build a very secure coop and a predator-resistant run. My run will stop most predators and make it inconvenient for others, but part of the top is open. I've never seen it but a hawk could fly in or a raccoon could come in off the coop roof. I've never lost one in the coop or run to a predator. I do have an apron around it.

I also used 2" x 4" wire around the sides with chicken wire at the bottom 18" or so to keep them from sticking their heads out. It also keeps baby chicks from leaving the run and getting away from Mama's protection. Most predators can't get through that 2" x 4" fence, but snakes, rats, and some members of the weasel family can. Those are real hard to stop anyway, but if you are willing to spend the money, you can build a run that will stop them. In general, the larger the run is, the harder it is to make absolutely predator proof.

I normally lock them up a little after they go to bed, but I have been away from the house until 11:00 at night before I lock them up. I've also missed locking them up at all a few times, usually around the Daylight Saving Time change. It takes a day or two to get my routine reset. I've never lost one doing that, but the risk is certainly there.

I don't know what predators you have where you live in in Minnesota, but I'd think you have about everything most of us have and possibly a few more like maybe badgers or wolverines. I've got snakes, coyotes, dogs, raccoons, bobcats, foxes, skunks, possums, weasels, hawks, and owls. Probably some others. Other than a snake eating eggs in the coop, I have not lost any, even though I sometimes don't lock up until after dark and very rarely (maybe once or twice a year) don't lock the coop at all. Whether or not a predator happens to wander by makes all the difference. I also have a garden and sometimes find evidence of a raccoon in the area. When I do I trap it and get rid of it. Maybe I'm relieving some of the predator pressure when I do that.

Do you absolutely have to have a predator proof run? No, you don't. But if you don't, there is a risk. Are you willing to accept that risk? I can't tell you how big that risk is for you. We all have different situations.

7L Farm

9 Years
Jul 22, 2010
Anderson, Texas
My answer is yes everybody likes to eat chickens.You might think you don't have predators but I'd put my money on you do. My birds are livestock but their my buddy's as well. I would be devastated if I opened the coop door & found dead birds attacked by a predator. I spend countless hours caring for my birds & don't want to loose one. I do take a risk everyday by letting them free range. However, I think the birds stay healthier running around eating bugs & grass plus they need their space & the daily exercise.

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