Roofless run

Chickenslol

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Sep 26, 2020
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idk man, no clue
My run doesn’t have a roof, just covered in chicken wire??? Should it??? We’ve had snowstorms before and the snow just makes a roof and piles up itself, I’m hearing now that most chicken runs have a roof, is it really that important? They have a little roofed in area to the side is that enough?
 

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DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
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My Coop
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If you keep chickens in snow country you either need a very large coop (larger than the 4 ft² per bird minimum that's often recommended) or a run with a solid roof constructed to handle the snow load for your area. I went with the later.
IMG_20191203_081415209.jpg

A wet heavy snow on a chicken wire roof will collapse. If the birds are under it when that happens...
 

RojoMarz

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May 21, 2020
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Southern CO...at 8600 ft
My run doesn’t have a roof, just covered in chicken wire??? Should it??? We’ve had snowstorms before and the snow just makes a roof and piles up itself, I’m hearing now that most chicken runs have a roof, is it really that important? They have a little roofed in area to the side is that enough?

Depending upon how much snow you get, how often, along with how much the sun shines...the snow can cause the wire roof to collapse.

Like dobielover, we have a solid roof. Our snow load is way too much for wire, even with the 200+ days of sunshine at our house.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
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Feb 2, 2009
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I’m hearing now that most chicken runs have a roof, is it really that important? They have a little roofed in area to the side is that enough?

Many runs have roofs, many don't. There are different reasons for that. A small run may not be that hard to roof, a big one presents more challenges. Some people build a roof to protect against flying or climbing predators. Wire can work for that.

Some people roof to keep rain out of the run to keep it drier. Wire does not work great for that. Even with a solid roof rain can blow in from the side also. A sloped solid roof can keep the run drier but they can still get wet in a rain, even with just a little wind.

I think you are mainly talking about keeping snow out. When my chickens wake up to a snow-covered world they are not going out in it for a few days. That is not necessarily a big deal if your coop can handle your number of chickens. But if your coop is kind of crowded it could become a problem. Think of the run as a pressure relief valve. If the overcrowding pressure gets too high inside the coop having a run available can relieve that pressure. If pressure does not build up it isn't needed.

There are different strategies to deal with this. Extra clutter in the coop can help, it can give them places to hide under, behind, or over. Over can be really beneficial, I often see my juveniles on the roosts with the adults on the coop floor when I go down to open the pop door and relieve the pressure that way on a normal no-snow day.

Some people are out there shoveling snow so they will come out. Others spread bedding or put pallets or lumber on top of the snow so they will go out. To me that sounds like work but it can be an effective strategy.

Another way is what I think you are after, keep snow out to start with. A lot of people do that, especially with smaller runs. That's not just a solid roof, snow can blow in from the side as well. I like that approach. You do that once, hopefully in good weather, and you are done. 21 Hens makes a good point. If your roof is solid it needs to be strong enough to hold up under snow load. But in an ice storm/freezing rain or certain types of snow a wire fence can pick up a big snow or ice load too. They also need good support. Some people go out and remove the snow to keep it from building up too heavy. I applaud them for having what it takes to do that but man, my bed is awfully warm on nights like that. At the same time, you do what you need to do.

It looks like you built that covered area as a dry place to feed outside. That's a pretty common solution. Will it provide a pressure relief valve for overcrowding if that is a problem? Will snow blow in from the sides. Can they eat without coming outside? Can they get over there if they need to, that may require shoveling or putting something on the snow so they will go over there. I don't know the answer to any of that. Hopefully your coop can handle your flock without any of this being an issue. I like easy solutions. But if you have issues maybe this will give you some ideas on how to manage them.

Good luck!
 

Chickenslol

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Sep 26, 2020
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idk man, no clue
Thanks everyone! I’m getting a HUGE snow here in central Massachusetts so I think I’ll go halfway through the storm and clear out the snow so it doesn’t collapse or maybe I’ll put a tarp there so I can just pull off the snow when it gets too much, we’ll see. Other than that from what I’ve heard the wire keeps out predators well and that’s my number one concern with the run. Usually it forms a pretty solid roof but 14-17 inches is a lot, even with 2x4 supports on the run. They’ve got a large coop already but my 13 week chickens just have a remodeled generator shed so definitely not big enough. I’ll see if they can wait it out overnight and if we don’t lose power I’ll keep their heat lamp and water heater in there. Wish me luck!
 

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
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If the supports you have under the wire will hold up the snow, you can do what I did and cover the wire and supports with heavy duty tarp(s). My run is built from the metal frame that was to be my neighbor's greenhouse. Here in Michigan we can get a lot of heavy, wet snow (though not yet...), and I know I'll be brooming snow down off the tarps.

If your roof is flat, however, that is going to make it more difficult to get the snow off. I can't really tell from the picture.

Good luck! I know the whole East Coast if about to get hammered with a Nor'easter.
 

21hens-incharge

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I advise most (all) people in snow country NOT to put a tarp over the wire run roof. Any snow that could have fallen through won't and once it melts at all it will pool in the low spots....which will be directly above wire.

Think of it like a bowl.

It will be impossible to pull anything off a wire roof run that a tarp is now holding.

Just don't do it.

@Chickenslol your wire is already bowed downward. Now think how bad that would be with a tarp preventing anything falling through and once snow melts it will run to the bowed areas.
 

Chickenslol

Songster
Sep 26, 2020
546
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idk man, no clue
I advise most (all) people in snow country NOT to put a tarp over the wire run roof. Any snow that could have fallen through won't and once it melts at all it will pool in the low spots....which will be directly above wire.

Think of it like a bowl.

It will be impossible to pull anything off a wire roof run that a tarp is now holding.

Just don't do it.

@Chickenslol your wire is already bowed downward. Now think how bad that would be with a tarp preventing anything falling through and once snow melts it will run to the bowed areas.


Well if I pull it off halfway through the snowstorm so it just doesn’t collapse and then not use the tarp for the rest of the time is that ok? Then the rest of the snow will form a roof over the run and it won’t be 14 inches high is what I’m going for
 

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