1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Is a run recommended for free range chickens?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Holmes' Homestead, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. Holmes' Homestead

    Holmes' Homestead Out Of The Brooder

    30
    0
    22
    Dec 14, 2010
    Schuylerville NY
    I am still doing some research before building the coop, but I was wondering if a run is necessary if the chickens will free range? I live in upstate NY where we can get a lot of snow at times, so I was thinking it may be a good idea to at least have a covered area off the coop where they can hang out instead of inside all the time. I plan on clearing some of the snow around the coop, but it may be nice to have a covered, not enclosed, area for them to range as well.

    Any thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated!
     
  2. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    If you are going to let them free range ALL the time, you need to take into account the predators in your area. If you are comfortable leaving them loose all the time then you don't need a run. I reccommend having one though, just 'cause ya never know...
     
  3. cleoandtheo

    cleoandtheo Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think it's a good idea to have a run. Our girls generally free range in our yard, but it's nice for them to have a safe place to go without having to be inside the coop. Like when we are having certain guests over, or when we have some work going on in the yard (and don't want to worry about them wandering out & down the street....) Also, the girls don't generally mind the rain, but when we had some heavy winds, I felt they were safer in the run than the yard, but still had more space and the fresh air of the run, versus the coop.
     
  4. MikeyLikesIt

    MikeyLikesIt Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    22
    Oct 27, 2010
    I agree with the good advice above.

    My chickens free range most days but there are days when I will not be there to lock them up at night. I built a covered run for them on those days... They have access to plenty of water and feed in the run and If I'm going be out of town for a few days, I'll toss some corn and peanuts etc. in the leaf litter and that keeps them busy scratching. I also bag leaves in the fall and i'll dump a few bags in the run and the chickens love to scratch them into powder. I kept them in there for five days last week without any problems but they were happy to finaly get out.

    I still lose one occasionally to predators so I hatch a batch of replacements now and then.

    Free range is great, but, if you travel or work I would recommend some type of secure run also.

    Mikey
     
  5. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

    259
    1
    111
    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    Agreed with the others. It is nice to have a run for when you're on vacation, won't be home to lock them up at night, etc. I let my chickens free range every day all day- except when I'm on vacation and they stay locked up. I have a raised coop and the run is not very big- only about 8x3 (you can see it on my BYC page), half of that being under the coop. But it's big enough to stick them in there when I have to be away.
     
  6. Holmes' Homestead

    Holmes' Homestead Out Of The Brooder

    30
    0
    22
    Dec 14, 2010
    Schuylerville NY
    Thanks to everyone for the advise. It looks like I have something else to build then, this it turning into exhausting work. I'm enjoying it, but I've had a tough time finding coop plans that are big enough. It looks like I'm going to adjust some plans I've found and work with that. I work from home, so even though I won't be watching them all day, I will still be around. I'm sure it's in one of the books I have and I haven't quite come to that point yet, but how high does one suggest having the run?
     
  7. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    It's nice if you want to have someone come over or have work done in the yard. Chickens just won't stay away when you are doing something! lol I'm used to mowing with the chickens ranging, but I kinda doubt the a/c repair guy needs/wants their company [​IMG]

    The run only has to be as high as you want it to be. Chickens do fine in 2ft tall tractor pens. However, those are portable so to move them you generally don't have to crawl inside them. A fixed run is somewhat easier if you can walk around inside it to clean it or put down shavings or to catch a wayward bird, etc. [​IMG]
     
  8. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

    259
    1
    111
    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    Mine's only about two feet high. It just extends out from underneath the coop. It wasn't too hard to build onto the coop. I actually built the two pieces (coop and run) separately and attached them when I put them in place.
     
  9. MikeyLikesIt

    MikeyLikesIt Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    22
    Oct 27, 2010
    Holmes' Homestead :

    Thanks to everyone for the advise. It looks like I have something else to build then, this it turning into exhausting work. I'm enjoying it, but I've had a tough time finding coop plans that are big enough. It looks like I'm going to adjust some plans I've found and work with that. I work from home, so even though I won't be watching them all day, I will still be around. I'm sure it's in one of the books I have and I haven't quite come to that point yet, but how high does one suggest having the run?

    I had my chickens inclosed with a electric net fence and a portable coop for a while and the chickens stayed in the inclosure...but, that didn't keep them secure from owls and hawks. After I lost several to an owl, I decided to convert an old barn into a chicken run. I removed the tin from three sides and replaced it with wire and permanently attached my 'portable coop'. There is no door on my coop so the chickens are free to come and go as they please. I have a door on the run itself that I open when I let them out to free range. I've been using 'deep litter' (subject for another thread) in my coop and run since then with great success.

    If you plan to leave your chickens in a run then I would also suggest some sort of cover to protect them form arial attack. In fact, I would rather have them free range were they can at least have a chance of escape. I like the tin cover on my run because they and the run are protected from the elements, but tin is not nessesary. Some sort of netting would be fine.

    Chickens can be "exhausting" but they can and do provide a good deal of pleasure (and food)...especially when you finaly set up a system that works for you and your birds.
    Build your coop and some form of run, then change it...then change it again...and in a year or so you'll have it the way you want..........NOT! [​IMG]

    Just enjoy the process...and your chickens.

    Mikey​
     
  10. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    We free run our chickens most of the time. BUT they do have a run. We keep them in the run when we have to leave for the day, just to be sure they are safe.

    Our coop has a big overhang, which I call the chicken porch. It is nice that they can get out a bit in the winter. We get 5+ feet of snow and snow from October to April here.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by