To run or not to run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by matimeo, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. matimeo

    matimeo Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    I am in the process of building myself a coop. I am shooting for a relatively small footprint, and something that can accommodate up to four chickens. My debate is whether or not I should build a run. Let me explain...

    The coop is about 4' x 3' and stands about 2' off the ground on four posts. My original plan was to attach a run to the side. The chickens will have an enclosed area to run around in. The ground is sloped and I worry that adding a run will make it difficult to set the house down without it being slanted.

    I also am not sure if there is any advantage to having an enclosed run, as it probably wouldn't be predator proof anyway and I'll probably have to close up the coop every night anyway. I had originally envision the chickens being able to sort of let themselves out in the morning, but I don't know if that is safe, and I want it to be mobile, so cement and the like is out of the question. I live in a very suburban area, but there is a large forest park near my home that houses raccoons, coyotes and the like.

    So I'm asking for your experience. Is it worth building a run?
  2. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    If you don't build a run, then you let your chickens out to free range, right? How comfortable are you with the idea that you will over time probably experience some losses to predators?

    Your coop is a tad on the small side for 4 chickens, certainly if you plan to keep them locked in there for any significant amount of daytime. The usual rule of thumb is 4 square feet per chicken indoors, plus 10 square feet per chicken outdoors. And if you can build more, you'll be glad to have it.

    You might consider building a chicken tractor for daytime use: a portable pen that you can move around the yard to give your chickens fresh grass to scratch in. That's what I do. I have bantams, so even roaming cats in our neighborhood are a threat, in addition to hawks. The tractor keeps my chickens safe and in our yard.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I would suggest building a small reasonably predatorproof run. Chances are pretty good that at some point you will discover you DO need to lock your chickens up for a little while -- e.g. there are loose dogs terrorizing the neighborhood, or one of the hens is acting very poorly and you want to be able to observe her, or you need to train them to lay in the nestbox rather than hiding eggs all over the yard for you to find-or-not-find. Etcetera.

    Even if it's real small, it is vastly better (and more useful!!) than nothing. Does not have to be fort knox, just use something better than chickenwire and it will be of definite worth. The problem is, the times when you discover you need a run, you are not going to have time to build one quick [​IMG]

    JMHO, good luck, have fun,

  4. Morgan7782

    Morgan7782 Dense Egg Goo

    Mar 22, 2010
    Sacramento CA
    I have two chicken runs, both of which are not being used at this time. Except to go in and out of, but my girls are rarely locked in the runs (they free range.)

    HOWEVER, I love the idea that I have two runs just in case something should ever happen. If I had to leave suddenly I would feel better about a petsitter just letting them in the runs rather then free around the yard. So I would suggest making a run purely for the sake of using it in an emergancy [​IMG] just my opinion!
  5. matimeo

    matimeo Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    Thanks for the replies. The chickens will have a fenced area about 12' x 8' that the coop will sit inside of. During much of the year they will be free ranging the rest of the yard quite a bit. Just don't know if there is a bit of redundancy in having a fenced area for them and an enclosed run attached to the coop.
  6. sandiatonimarie

    sandiatonimarie Songster

    Nov 30, 2009
    If your coop is inside a fenced area it seems that you already have the beginnings of a run at least. You didn't say what kind of fence. If it's chain link or wood you could dig a narrow trench right next to the fencing, attach two foot or so wide hardware cloth (wire) with a foot of the hardware cloth buried in the ground. That would discourage predators from digging under the fence to get at the chickens. You can also just attach wire to the fence and have half of the wire on the ground all around your fence and then put rocks or mulch or let the grass grow up through it - would do the same thing, discourage digging.

    It's pretty easy to train chickens to go into the coop at night, some of them will even go to the coop on their own at night.

    There are automatic doors for chicken coops that will open or close at sunrise or sunset or whatever time you set them to. That's my next thing to get for my coop, they are on the expensive side for sure but worth it to not have to run out and open or close a door yourself every day.
  7. farmerKEN

    farmerKEN In the Brooder

    May 26, 2009
    Western Mass
    The only reason I have a run is because I have a hawk that comes around often. The run isnt predator proof because they get locked in at night, just hawk proof. The only predators I've had/seen are black bears, skunks, raccoons, and hawks. If it weren't for the hawks I wouldnt have a run at all.

    In my situation I'd just put some bird or deer netting up over the 12x8 fence
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010

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