# How long should the run be?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by urban-chick-mom, Aug 17, 2011.

1. ### urban-chick-momIn the Brooder

97
2
41
Apr 27, 2011
Gig Harbor, WA
I have 3 chickens and they free range during the day. I let them out around noon and they go back in around 6 pm. I am wondering how long their enclosed run should be for the times they can't free range when we go on vacations. Thanks for any suggestions!

2. ### RidgerunnerFree Ranging

21,580
5,761
556
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
As big as you can afford. It sounds like you want it to be really predator proof and that can get real expensive if you build a big run. So temper it with common sense.

There are rules of thumb that the minimum space required is 4 square feet per chicken in the coop and 10 square feet per chicken in the run. This is real general and is intended to cover a lot of different people in a lot of different situations. I'd be kind of nervous about going this small in your case since you only have three chickens under normal situations, but since you let then free range a bunch and this is only for a vacation scenario, that may not be too bad. Let me try to explain.

Assume a chicken occupies 1 square foot and you supply 10 square feet per chicken. If you have 3 chickens and supply 30 square feet, the chickens occupies 3 square foot and have 27 square feet to explore. If you have 10 chickens and supply 100 square feet, they occupy 10 square feet and have 90 sqaure feet available to explore. So the 10 chickens in 100 square feet are probably going to be happier than the 3 in 30.

Most building material comes in 4' or 8' dimensions. Wire for a run is different, but you will probably be using some wood. If you are planning on covering it, I would not go any wider than 8'. Spanning a wider area gets pretty expensive and can require some heavier lumber for supports. You need to consider snow load, which can get pretty heavy.

Another consideration is that if you build it "small", you will probably have to manage the poop more. If you can get it big enough (and "big enough" varies a lot by climate), you don't have to rake it or really do anything. But I sort of envision you basically buiding a fairly small covered run totally boxed in for predators. And I think you may be in the wet part of Washington. Your best bet may be to build something reasonably small and fill the ground with sand so it will drain better and you can more easily rake the poop up if necessary.

With three hens, you can probably get by with a 4' x 8' run, especially if they will not be spending a lot of time in there, but if you can make it bigger, I think you and the chickens will be happier.

3. ### urban-chick-momIn the Brooder

97
2
41
Apr 27, 2011
Gig Harbor, WA
Thanks Ridgerunner! That was a lot of very good information! I will take everything into account and make it as big as I can. Or I should say my husband will make it as big as he can! I think it will have to be 4ft by 8 ft due to the space where we have the coop.