If you own chickens and are considering a run, then one of the first things to consider is the design. Is a roof required? Does this serve a purpose and is it a necessity? I decided to conduct some research into the topic. I would like to share this with you here today.
So, does a chicken run need a roof? Its is recommended that you put a roof on your chicken run. This will prevent any chance of escape, the entry of predators and also to prevent precipitation and the ground turning to mud. While this topic is open to debate, it is better to edge on the side of caution and either purchase a run with a roof provided, or construct one yourself.
Chicken runs need to be considered and well thought out. Covering, height, space and security are just some of the factors to take into account. Let us now explore them in further detail so that you can build the best environment for your birds as possible.
Chicken runs are an ideal way of allowing your chickens to have as much space as possible to exercise, flap their wings and stretch their legs while being safe from predators.
As the chicken keeper, you can purchase a chicken run, or create one from your own design and materials.
It’s always preferable for a run to have lots of areas of interest for your birds. It gives them plenty of space to roam and exercise in a safe, secure and free way.
If you add treat shakers, perches, stumps and swings to the run you’ll also be providing a lot of extra mental stimulation for your birds. This will keep them happy with plenty of things to do.
When it comes to the roof discussion, and whether it is really required, this question is open to debate.
Some chicken keepers saying yes you need a roof, and others saying you don’t need a roof. This will of course be dependent on the run itself, where you live, where you aim to house the run etc.
It of course depends on a lot of factors. However from experience and research, a roof is the better option out of the two.
Some reasons why you may consider putting a roof on your chicken run is if there are foxes or other predators nearby.
A roof also does a good job of keeping precipitation out, which is essentially water/moisture from the weather (like rain, snow and fog). Eliminating precipitation helps to prevent the ground from turning to mud which can become sloppy and sloppy.
Ultimately, a roof is something you will need to judge for yourself.
Should A Chicken Run Be Covered?
Yes, a chicken run should be covered. While a designated roof is seen as optional, some form of covering is not.
You need to consider that chickens can escape and get up over top. Even if the run is 4-foot high, this is even low enough for them to get over. They can easily get lost if this was to occur.
As already mentioned, you must think about predators. Theres a lot that can cause harm and stress to your birds.
All it takes is for one fox or one bird of prey (like a hawk) to locate your chickens. while they may not attack right away, in time they may return and reduce your flock to a pile of feathers.
Leaving your run uncovered is not worth the risk.
Chickens are hardy birds and can tolerate the chilly winter air quite well; however, rainfall and cold air are a bad combination in regards to the health of your chickens.
They can cause bacteria to grow and proliferate within the run which can lead to disease and illness if left untreated.
For this reason alone, you would be wise to cover your chicken run.
How High Does A Chicken Run Need To Be?
How high a chicken run needs to be, depends on a few considerations. For example, is your run going to be stationary, or do you hope to move it around?
Do you want to be able to walk into the run or not? Where are you looking to place it and will you be nearby at all times?
If it’s going to be stationary and you want to be able to walk into the run to clean it, consider making it 6-foot high or more.
If you are planning on your run being moveable, consider the breed’s rooster height and go one foot taller, just to make it a comfortable height for your chickens, the top should open to make it convenient for you to clean.
What Does A Chicken Run Need?
There are three very basic things that you will need to acquire before you begin the process of building a chicken run:
First things first, you must consider the site where your chicken run will be.
Runs must be 5 to 10 square feet in size, and the more chickens you own, the larger the run will need to be.
The site of the run must be dry, and your run should be high. This is because a low area tends to collect a lot of water and frost, which will make conditions very muddy and messy. Not only will this make it harder for you to clean but it will not bode well for the health of your birds either.
You must think of what materials to use to build the run, or that you should seek out if you are buying one pre-made. It should be built from strong, weatherproof timber or anti-rust metal. The latter is a popular choice because it tends to fare better in all-weather conditions.
If you are building it yourself, you will need to ensure you place a tight durable mesh around the run. This will provide natural ventilation for your chickens and security from predators.
It should have a door, where you can get easy access. A strong lock is also required, where only you can open it from the outside. Be sure to get a lock with a key because it has been known that chickens have stolen from their runs.
You will need to ensure the run is heavy-duty to ensure the run is safe from predators and that the run does not become damaged and your chickens escape.
You will require the walls/fencing to be stronger than standard chicken wire, as it can be easily torn by any animal with bad intentions and sharp-teeth. A material such as a quarter-inch hardware cloth is a good choice for the fencing.
The fence must be well-buried into the ground, it should be 12 inches underground to be precise to prevent predators from digging underneath.
You will need protective strings over the top of the chicken run as well. Otherwise, birds of prey like hawks and other birds including owls will be able to swoop down and have access inside.
A wildlife mesh on top is an excellent deterrent as well.
Taking these factors into account, you can see why the affordable BestPet run is so popular with chicken owners. Its durable, easy to set up, has significant height and even comes with waterproof covers!
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Other Considerations For The Chicken Run
Once you have the basics for a strong, spacious, and secure chicken run, you will find that there are are other considerations regarding its management and optimal keep.
You may want to consider investing in footwear that is used especially for entering the chicken run and don’t wear it anywhere else.
This will help to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria and prevent diseases from spreading to your flock.
You’ll also want to clean the run often and ensure that the chickens have a clean environment. You’ll need to ensure the ground is fresh and pest repellent. Using hemp bedding is ideal here.
It is very absorbent and will soak up droppings waste very easily. When you need to clean the run all you need to do is rake the used and old bedding out and replace it with new. There’s a great cost-effective bulk buy bedding available on Amazon.
This may come as a surprise to you, but the addition of plants and flowers, will not only add to the aesthetic appeal of your chicken run, but it could also serve as an extra protective measure against predators – by blocking the hens from their sight.
Bushes and shrubs also offer some welcoming shade to your birds in the summertime.
There are many benefits of adding a chicken run onto a coop, primarily it keeps your hens safe from predators while allowing them to have exercise, and engage in natural behaviors.
Your chickens will enjoy free-ranging and foraging for food, just like their wild ancestors did.
It also allows them to get plenty of vitamin D from the sunlight, this is essential to the health of your hens. They will have lots of fresh air, which is also good for them.
If you put a roof over the chicken run, it will ensure that conditions inside are dry and clean, which should keep sickness at bay.
Research has shown that hens who can forage outdoors, produce eggs that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta carotene, than hens who spend most of their time indoors.
Having a chicken run in your backyard will require more cleaning and management, but it is so worth it, when you think of the health benefits to your chickens, it will keep them safe from predators, allow them to be themselves, and your reward will be top-quality and nutritious eggs.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.