Is a run necessary, strictly speaking?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bigchiefhoho, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. bigchiefhoho

    bigchiefhoho In the Brooder

    Mar 5, 2012
    Well, we're just about done building the coop for my 2-week-old chicks, and now my husband wants to know what I want him to do for a run. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if we really need a run. My backyard is about a quarter acre, and the whole thing is fenced with 6-foot wooden fencing - no gaps at all. I've been letting the chicks out daily to run around the yard (I'm out with them most of the time, and when I'm not I can see them easily from the window), and I can't see why I couldn't just let the adult chickens out in the yard and just shut them in the coop at night. I really like the idea of them having a whole big yard to run around in rather than being confined in a little dusty run, and it would certainly save us a lot of work and money in building it. My only real fear would be the two stray cats that occasionally come through our yard, but I don't know if a run would really keep the hens totally safe from them either. What do you think?
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Strictly speaking you do need a run. Even if that run is a fenced in 1/4 acre it's still a containment area. We're working on encircling our yard with a 6 ft fence too. You can expect a loss now and then due to hawks but I think the entire yard for free ranging makes them happier, healthier and more productive so worth an occasional loss. You'll probably need to skirt the bottom of your privacy fence with some sort of close knit fencing to keep them in. Chickens are serious escape artist. In my area the worse times to keep them contained is spring and late fall when there forage is depleted, summer is relatively easy though still working on our fence. Being early spring here we can only let them out for the last few hours of the day.
  3. Carols Clucks

    Carols Clucks Songster

    Oct 13, 2010
    Right now we do not have a run either, but I do plan on adding one in the next couple of months. Mostly so that should we have a problem with a fence or need to open gates for equipment or repairs or just to keep them out of the weather (going to put a plastic cover on ours)

    But they have been fine for the past year with out a run. But we have them in a fenced area so that they do not have house/upper yard access just so you can go in and out with out chickens following you in the house and so we can have something landscaped with other than dirt and chicken dust bath holes.
  4. kimmypie

    kimmypie Songster

    Sep 1, 2010
    You may also want them contained if you have a garden or other plants you don't want them messing with.
  5. Haunted Chicken

    Haunted Chicken Songster

    Jun 2, 2011
    I enjoy having a run for those times when we wont be home to lock them up until after dark. I can ring the treat bell and they will run into the run so I can lock them in. They can then go into the coop when they want. And I can relax while we are away, knowing they are safe and yet not locked up in the coop while it's still nice out.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Do you absolutely need a run. No. Many people don’t have one and do OK. The reason I would suggest a run is for flexibility. If you have a problem, you have more options in how you can handle it. You don’t have to keep them locked in a run until they turn it to dust. You can always just let them go into the yard even if you have a run. But it is there if you need it.

    I suggest you think of the bad days, not just the good. You mention I'm out with them most of the time, and when I'm not I can see them easily from the window. Do you never go grocery shopping or take a vacation? Will you be there all day every day? Even as enclosed as your yard is, what would you do if you developed a predator problem?

    There are days I leave mine locked in the run for a while. I may be marking them, treating them for mites, or maybe it has something to do with integrating new birds. Different reasons. I find the ability to leave them locked in a run very convenient. I could get by without one, but I’m sometimes glad I have one.
  7. mikecnorthwest

    mikecnorthwest Songster

    Mar 27, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    My Coop
    Letting them roam the backyard is fine. It's really personal choice based on whether or not you can deal with the chicken poop or plants/soil torn up.
  8. Cargo

    Cargo Songster

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    A predator resistant run is great to have when you go away on trips. Then you can leave the coop door open into the run and not have to worry about them.
  9. DCasper

    DCasper Songster

    Jan 13, 2012
    Benton, KY
    I live in the country, but there are a lot of dogs that cross my property. This makes it necessary for me to have a run. Lately I have seen a Bald Eagle claiming my property as part of his territory, this means I will have to cover my run now. But, it is all worth it.
  10. bigchiefhoho

    bigchiefhoho In the Brooder

    Mar 5, 2012
    Thanks for all the advice, everybody. I think we're probably going to go with a compromise. We'll let them roam the yard most of the time, but we'll also have a small-ish covered run that they can go in when no one can be home.

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