Need run suggestions... I goofed.

Robin Davie

8 Years
Mar 1, 2011
We had planned to build a coop in the next month or two and then buy 8 to 10 chicks in March or April. But, my FIL surprised us with a box of 24 chicks last Friday! They are in our living room now so I quickly drew up plans for the coop and my wonderful husband framed in my coop just like I wanted it. It is 8x10 and about 18 inches off of the ground with a roof that slopes from 6ft. down to about 4ft. We buried the posts about 2 feet in the ground and have it all framed and ready for the roof now.
Only I designed it with the run on the West side (the high side of the coop).
There is a large oak tree to the North side of where I had hoped to put the run so I can't extend the run that way. I could extend the run to the South but it will be 10 feet from our back door then.
I considered just attaching the run to the East (shorter side) of the coop but then there would be a small oak that we would have to remove and 8 feet beyond that an electric pole. I could kick myself right now.

If we continue with the current layout our chickens will have a 1 1/2 foot wide strip of morning sun on each side of the shade created by the coop and whatever they could get from the window in the coop.
We can deal with them being 10 feet from the back door if we have to... We really want to give them what would be best for them. How many square feet of morning sun should I have for 24 chickens?
You may be over thinking this. I'm from Michigan and I think chickens are better suited to the cold weather than the warm weather. This to me means the more shade the better. Come winter the leaves fall and they will get a bit more sun, but in the summer they enjoy that shade. I'm not sure where you are from, but I think what I have said will hold true most any where. Will they get to free range too? If so then there is another chance for them to soak up some sun.
Don't sweat it! A chicken run doesn't absolutely have to have any part of it in direct sunlight. If your summers are hot, you'll really be grateful of the shade in your run, because as the other commenter noted, chickens can handle cold far better than heat (they come with down jackets that they can't remove in the summer).

I hope you won't mind me pointing out something else for you to consider. 24 chickens in a 8 x 10 coop seems a bit crowded to me. Usually it's recommended that you not go below a stocking density of 4 square feet per chicken inside the coop, plus a minimum of 10 square feet per chicken outdoors in the run. More room than this is preferable, but these are decent minimums to work with, I think. Go below these minimums and you're much more likely to see pecking/cannibalism problems as well as having a lot more work for you to keep the area clean enough for health and odor management.
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I had 24 chicks in the house waiting for the coop and run to be built. I feel your pain.

FIL was captivated by those chicks in the feed store wasn't he? Sorry. But you can't really blame him...I mean you Can and it is understandable... but.. laugh and tell your eventual grand kids all about it.

We have a run on two sides of our coop. one side, the south side is under a huge tree. They need the shade even in the winter months here, we have it covered with nursery shade cloth-they get put in the coop at night so we have not had an intruder yet, - and we blow the collected leaves off with a leaf blower.
Could you put the run all the way around the coop? It would not be the best area for the money, but sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

(oh and by the way, bury a wire skirting around the coop. That will prevent the hens from getting under and hatching out chicks, and also keep critters from having an opportunity to gnaw all night to get in.)
Uh, you don't actually need ANY morning sun. It is real desirable to have SOME sun at SOME point in the day, but you seem to be fine with that. If you get hot summers, you'll need to arrange some shade on that W side, but overall, it is really TOTALLY not an issue

The only possible issue you may need to deal with is that having the popdoor on the W side of the coop is going to make the prevailing wind blow right in the popdoor all winter (in most parts of the US anyhow). If it is possible to put a little bump-out so you can have the popdoor be on the SOUTH side (near the SW corner) that would be ideal, but if you can't, there are certainly any number of ways to create a windbreak or 'foyer' to reduce the amount of cold winds blowing directly into the coop. So it is for sure not a dealbreaker, just something you may need to make some modifications to cope with.

Good luck, have fun,

Welcome to the forum!
Glad you joined us!

I agree that the amount of morning sun versus evening sun is not the issue. I think they would be perfectly happy with a coop and run in the cool comfortable shade of a woodland all day long, though that may cause predator issues. Depending on where you are, providing afternoon shade could be an issue. There are ways to manage that.

Trees in the run don't bother me too much, but there are some things to watch for. Does the tree provide a route in for predators. I'm thinking more raccoons and bobcats than owls or hawks. It is not that hard for many predators to climb one tree, jump from limb to limb, and come down the trunk. Another concern is low limbs. Chickens like to perch and roost. If the tree has limbs within reach, a chicken might fly up there to perch and fly down outside the run. Trust me. They do not know enough to get back in the same way. Another possible problem with this is that they like to roost in high locations. They may decide to roost in the tree instead of in the coop where you can safely lock them up at night.

When choosing your location for the run, I'd suggest you look at the lay of the land. Make a special effort to put it where it will stay dry. You do not want the run to be wet. If one area drains better than others, see if you can fit it there. To me, drainage is of highest priority.

Lots of things to consider, I know. Chickens are adaptable. As long as you give them food, water, shelter, predator protection, and space, they will do great. You can probably make most of these work. Good luck and again
Thank you so much for the advice! I was under the impression that if they didn't get enough morning sun they wouldn't lay any eggs. If I put the run where I was originally thinking then the big tree will be just close enough to provide some shade and we do plan to enclose the top of the run so predators shouldn't be a big problem (I hope). I really like the netting idea for the top! Would raccoons get onto it and try to tear through the net?
We live in East Texas so we do get pretty hot summers so good shade would be appreciated. I feel so much better. I was afraid that I had really messed things up! I will try to post some pictures when we get it finished!
Laying is triggered by the length of the day, but just being outdoors or even just having a light on indoors works, the hens don't have to be in direct sun. Access to sunlight does help chickens synthesize Vitamin D, but laying rations are supplemented with this anyway.

Raccoons can indeed get through netting, but they're usually not out in the daytime. What some people do is use netting on top of their runs but lock their chickens inside a secure coop at night.

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