The run in winter- is it necessary?


8 Years
Feb 27, 2011
beautiful benzie co. michigan
We are planning our first coop and I have a question about the run. We are planning to incorporate part of the woodshed for the coop. My problem/question is that we get dumpings of snow off the roof that would effectively shut the run off from the coop in times of great snowfall (pretty common here). the coop will be 48 sq. feet, and I only plan on about 6-8 hens. (I do see how that chicken math goes, however). Will the girls be happy to stay inside for a couple months or should we try to come up with something else? I could clear a path outside the run and let them free range for a few hours, as the run will be full of snow even if they could get to it. Any thoughts would be appreciated. BYC people know so much- thanks.
I'm in California - so I know about dealing with heat, but snow issues are not part of my experience. I'm sure someone with more direct knowledge will speak up.

Just wanted to say Welcome to BYC!
It's nice you have such a big coop if you do have to shut them up. My coop is 4x4 and my run 4x10. I have 5 hens. I put plastic all around my run. I feed and water outside and the chickens have only been shut up for a few extremely cold days this winter. They usually only go inside to lay and roost. I'm really happy that my run is covered with a peaked roof but if that isn't an option for you, your coop should be big enough. Hopefully they can get lots of daylight through a window. I do spread used bedding outside and leave the run door open for them on nice weekend days.
I'd try and figure something else out. Even in the coldest part of winter mine like to go outside. If they have to stay indoors for weeks on end you really should provide a lot more square feet per hen in the coop.
Snow is a big pain, for sure. I wouldn't want to keep my birds inside for all that time. They so enjoy being able to get outside and doing their chicken thing. I built a sun room, attached to my coop, out of old windows. I throw straw and pallets in there. This way, even on the worst days, the girls can leave the coop and scratch around a little. I would hate to try and raise chickens without it, in my climate...I also shovel a path for them everyday in their range area. I think it really adds to their quality of life...
If I had to contemplate keeping chickens confined in a coop for weeks or months at a time, I'd build a coop that allows at least 10-15 square feet per bird.
I sure wouldn't try it-- that'd be only 6-8 sq ft per chicken for weeks or months on end. Mine have 15 sq ft apiece, which is more like it, and are *still* real glad to go outdoors when they consider that the weather permits. (The sussexes are total weenies and won't go out if it's windy or real cold, but the others like going out)

I would suggest either greatly expanding your coop size (at least doubling it) OR build a partly-roofed run OR plan on going in there and shovelling out the *run* (not just a path to the coop) when you get big snowfalls.

Good luck, have fun,


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