Is a closed run necessary?

Madimae

Hatching
Jul 15, 2020
3
0
7
Hi -

I'm a new chicken keeper (my girls just started laying two days ago, and I am over the moon!) and am deciding how to set up my girls for next year. Right now I'm using a cheap pre-fab coop from Tractor Supply Company, which I always intended to toss after a year or two to build something more permanent and suited to my needs. I could really use advice about whether or not to build a closed run in addition to a coop. My main concern is being able to leave the chickens for longer periods of time - e.g. 3 days, a week, etc. I wouldn't plan to leave them for more than 4 days without a checkup from a friend or neighbor checking up on them, so I wonder if building an enclosed run is necessary.
Here's some info about my setup:
  • I live in a city which requires 4 square feet of coop space per bird.
  • Right now my girls go in the coop only to sleep and free range in the rest of my yard during the day. My backyard is surrounded in chain link. I clip 1 wing on each bird, but they can still get on the chain link. C'est la vie.
  • For Christmas, my roommate is building me a chicken door that detects the sun's rays and automatically opens at dawn and closes at dusk. This would mean my presence is not necessary for the girls to get in/out and access their food, water, and raspberry bushes (their favorite place to hang out).
With all that in mind, could I get away with just building a coop and letting my girls free range? Other than having some run space rooved in order to protect them from snow, am I missing anything critical about the benefits of a run? I know that predators must be kept in mind, but the only predator my girls have encountered has been a near-escape with a hawk while I was working from home, and I've seen a couple cats around after night. Nothing has ever been caught when I set my live trap. What would you advise, oh lovely fellow chicken keepers?
 

LizzzyJo

Crowing
Dec 14, 2018
1,739
4,484
307
The Great Black Swamp, Ohio
If there is a way that you could string up hawk prevention fishing line over the yard, then you may be better off. The hawks will find them.

Also, when it comes to leaving them for a few days you do need to have a run or have food and water in the coop.

But, water in the coop in winter means electric and water vapor which leads to dead birds.

Those electric door openers (especially solar ones) fail all the time and you would basically be trapping them in or out. Possibly with no food or water. Also, in the summer coops can become ovens during the day.

I would suggest at least a very small tightly fenced area as a tiny run for when you plan to leave them for a day.

Edit to say that even a light dusting of snow shuts off solar panels.
 

hayley3

Crowing
14 Years
Aug 16, 2007
2,072
1,956
446
Southern Indiana
Hi -

I'm a new chicken keeper (my girls just started laying two days ago, and I am over the moon!) and am deciding how to set up my girls for next year. Right now I'm using a cheap pre-fab coop from Tractor Supply Company, which I always intended to toss after a year or two to build something more permanent and suited to my needs. I could really use advice about whether or not to build a closed run in addition to a coop. My main concern is being able to leave the chickens for longer periods of time - e.g. 3 days, a week, etc. I wouldn't plan to leave them for more than 4 days without a checkup from a friend or neighbor checking up on them, so I wonder if building an enclosed run is necessary.
Here's some info about my setup:
  • I live in a city which requires 4 square feet of coop space per bird.
  • Right now my girls go in the coop only to sleep and free range in the rest of my yard during the day. My backyard is surrounded in chain link. I clip 1 wing on each bird, but they can still get on the chain link. C'est la vie.
  • For Christmas, my roommate is building me a chicken door that detects the sun's rays and automatically opens at dawn and closes at dusk. This would mean my presence is not necessary for the girls to get in/out and access their food, water, and raspberry bushes (their favorite place to hang out).
With all that in mind, could I get away with just building a coop and letting my girls free range? Other than having some run space rooved in order to protect them from snow, am I missing anything critical about the benefits of a run? I know that predators must be kept in mind, but the only predator my girls have encountered has been a near-escape with a hawk while I was working from home, and I've seen a couple cats around after night. Nothing has ever been caught when I set my live trap. What would you advise, oh lovely fellow chicken keepers?
My chickens were massacred while I was gone and they were left in a 30x40 barn. Whatever it was went into the barn and chased them out.
I now will no longer leave them out even if I just run to the store.
You will be so happy if you make a closed run for them.
A closed run will protect them from whatever comes around when you are not there to protect them. Also it will be easier for neighbors to care for them, if you are away.

You should clip both wings if they are still flying over the fence.
I had to do that on one chicken because she was a very light bird. Now she has stopped flying over and I know her wings have grown back and she could if she wanted, but she hasn't since.
 

David61

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
791
1,762
206
Mississippi Gulf Coast
I have hawks hunting my yard daily for squirrels and eyeballing the ladies. A netted run is the only way I can leave them unattended .
 

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K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
3,371
9,030
487
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
My Coop
You don't know what predators you have until they demolish your flock. Just because you haven't seen them doesn't mean they aren't there, waiting for an opportunity.

Even if you somehow had zero predators though, I would still advise against leaving your chickens for days without anybody checking on them at least once a day. Chickens are very good at getting into trouble. They can get stuck somewhere and die of dehydration (especially in the summer) or they can cannibalize each other. I will never forget the story I read on here about this one chicken that got stuck in the opening of a cinderblock, and the rest of the flock, seeing a helpless victim, pecked the bird to death (when they saw blood at the first pecks, they went nuts and actually ate half the victim's body). Chickens are monsters and they are stupid (sorry... I love them to death but they are). You can come back to death even without predators being involved. Chickens need to be checked on.
 

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