Free range vs run


Aug 18, 2019
My Silkies have the option of both, run and range. I have never lost one to a predator. I allow them to come and go as they please with the run door open through the day. Even my Silkie mumma with newly hatched chicks takes them out to range. They never go far though, maybe 100m from the door. I have a ratio of 2 cockerels/roos to 3 or 4 pullets/hens. The boys are great to keep an eye out for the ladies when ranging. I have to mow the grass in the run because they are mostly out ranging eating that grass! Lucky I have some more chick mowers on the way soon to help me with my chores! :lol:


Apr 27, 2020
We do 100% run, 6ft chain link with hardware cloth wired onto it top to bottom- and the entire enclosure is covered in netting. Around here the predators are quite bold. I had a hawk dive on a momma hen and her little babies with me standing no more than 10 feet away from them within days of moving our chickens to this property. Had it not been for the tightly secured net- death would have been certain. That hawk one tried diving 3 more times (bounced off the net each time). I haven't had any weasel issues that I know about, but we tried hard to make it hard to get in. Anywhere there was a low spot that left a gap, we dug pig panels wrapped in hardware cloth down into the low spot, then wired it to the fence.

The coop is also beefed up in the security department. There's hardware cloth between the siding and the walls of the coop, floor to ceiling- along with over both sides of the windows - under the floor - and the ceiling has framed hardware cloth panels both for predator resistance and to keep the chickens out of the rafters and away from wiring.

The tall posts (3 feet into the ground) hold the net up throughout the run, as does the rain shelter so walking around is easy enough- no net scraping the top of the head (a mistake I made at the last property).
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The inside ceiling:

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Inside coop windows (construction was still underway). There's hardware cloth behind the walls and under the floor. There's even hardware cloth under the ridge vent.
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Thats an amazing design! If I were to do a run this would I would aim for. I've thought about for winter doing what you did above it, sense the preds around here get much more bold come winter time. Becuase we do have a fenced in area inside our already fenced yard.


Aug 19, 2013
Hey all,
I just wanted opinions on how you keep your chickens, I free range mine but was wondering what your opinions were on it. I had an accident with a weasle/mink yesterday and I'm weighing my options if I should turn to a run rather than free range. What are your thoughts?
I free range and put away at night occasionally a hawk or coyote will sneak in the yard and take one.


Apr 15, 2018
I used to free range, but then a coyote discovered my property . . .

I live right next to a state park, and so I have bears, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, possum, hawks, and other critters that pass through. I've discovered that my yard is a common "through-way" for animals going from the deep woods to a creek that runs by my property. I set up a wildlife camera near their coop and caught 3 different foxes, two raccoons, and a possum passing through.

I converted an old horse run-in into a big run. It's sort of an L-shape with tall ceilings. Because I feel bad about how much time they spend inside, they have a lot of enrichment (ladders, "sentinel" walkways, a swing, floating boxes attached to the walls, etc). When the weather is nice I sit in a chair near their run and work while they free range (usually about an hour at a time).

My flock is relatively small (about 14 birds), so losing a bird is a major event for me. (And I'm a big sensitive softy and my chickies are definitely more pets than livestock).

Dragonfly Farm

In the Brooder
Aug 11, 2020
Hey all,
I just wanted opinions on how you keep your chickens, I free range mine but was wondering what your opinions were on it. I had an accident with a weasle/mink yesterday and I'm weighing my options if I should turn to a run rather than free range. What are your thoughts?
Hi-my ladies have always been free rangers and never lost one but we are on a new property and have a new batch of 6 Buff Orps. They are about 6 months old now. Last week when they were out, a hawk came by. One hen was bloodied-her comb was torn about a quarter of the way off. She and three friends got safely into their house, 2 were missing. We finally found those two, safe, and got them home. No more free ranging...we were ALL too traumatised!


Mar 23, 2018
I've decided to keep mine restricted to the (movable) run. I have only 3 chickens, but my yard is small and there are neighbors on all sides. I worry my hens will wander into neighbors yard, which is behind a screen of tall grasses, and then I won't be able to see them or get them to come back to our yard. I don't think my neighbors will appreciate them pooping and digging up their gardens.

Also, we have many raccoons and skunks in the neighborhood; and sometimes hawks. I figure mine 'free range' within the safe confines of the run, which we move around as needed so they always have fresh 'range' to graze and explore.
My first thought: to make a run weasel-proof is quite difficult. And if the weasel can get in but the chickens cannot get out, they are even more vulnerable. It might make the difference between losing one chicken at a time if they free range, as compared with losing several or all of them at once if a weasel gets into the run.

I don't know what is best, but do at least think about what it takes to make a run weasel-proof before you spend money and effort building one.

(It's relatively easy to make a run that keeps chickens in, and keeping dogs out is not much harder, but weasels can climb, dig, and squeeze through small openings.)
My chicken coop is Weasel proof, Rat proof, Racoon proof, Coyote proof, etc. (Except mice proof) My run is made of thick Hard Wire on all sides including the floor it was originally made to keep Large Parrots with strong beaks. Converted Aviary into a Chicken coop.
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Sep 18, 2010
Cypress, TX
I have both? My chickens have a coop and run that is fenced and electrified and covered. Then, there are pop doors on several sides to open them up to various pens/fields. Depending on the day/forage/seeds planted or predators, I'll lock them up from various exits.


In the Brooder
Oct 23, 2020
Pikeville, Tennessee
I have a very secure coop and run area, however I do let them free roam when I am home only from daylight to around 3 to 4 pm. I also have 3 yappy dogs who alert me even when there are deer in the yard. We live in the woods of TN, we have it all. Bears, a Mountain Lion, Bobcats, racoons and others. I worry most about my mini coop which is attached to the big coop that I keep juvenile birds in until they are big and old enough to get in the big coop. I have seen scratches on that coop from something that wanted in. I am going to try and post 3 photos. I will post and see what comes up.



In the Brooder
Oct 15, 2020
I let all mine run free, I have livestock guardian dogs , they have made the difference for my little stinkers, the biggest issue is the chicks, who I like to put out in the day with their parents in the sun. There are roadrunners who come and prey on them, even through the cages. I have one chick who is minus a wing because of it, but I fall back to quality of life, I myself would prefer a shorter life of freedom, than a longer one in a I let all of my pets live that way.


May 29, 2019
@Quiggy, you asked how I get mine into the coops? Bribery!! Mine LOVE scratch and I open the garbage can where I store it, yell, "Chick, chick," and run toward their coops with a scratch-filled scoop in hand. The way to my chickens' hearts is truly through their stomachs as they dash into the coops for the treat.
Bacon! Mine will always go in when I have bacon🙄😂

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