Chicken runs are an extremely important component of having a chicken coop, and are not to be confused with the chicken coop itself! They are a separate (but most often attached) area for your chickens to have free range, while still being contained and safe from predators.
Chicken runs are typically made from a wire fencing material and can be held in place with wood or metal poles or feet.
They are usually attached to the chicken coop so when the coop door opens in the morning, they can choose to stay inside the or go out into the world beyond the chicken coop (most prefer to go beyond chicken coops, that I can tell you).
Who should have a chicken run?
I have been a chicken owner for many, many years in several different locations.
Even while writing this I have my rooster crowing just under my window with chickens clucking lol. Needless to say, I love having chickens, and so does my whole family.
We like to free range our chickens, which means we give them the entire yard to run around in with the choice of going back into their open chicken run and chicken coop when they want to for shelter, or to eat and drink.
There are several reasons why we still have a chicken run regardless of having free ranging birds, and here is why:
- The chickens have a place to go to if they see a predator (our run has a roof so they are quite safe in it, even with the door open)
- I always throw my table scraps right into the run so it is contained (and I can keep the run closed while the chickens eat these scraps so my dog doesn't get in there and eat them!)
- I can choose to keep them in the run during certain times of the year, for example, in the spring when I am planting seeds or when I don't want them attacking my garden (I lost an entire crop of sweet corn one year without a run!).
*Backyard chickens love gardens, they love to dig up freshly planted seeds and eat the harvest before we can get to it! So I keep them in for a few weeks during planting and peak harvest time in my garden before releasing them again (even with a garden fence, chickens will still get in there! )
- I have an automatic chicken door so before I even go out in the morning, the door lets my chickens out into their run where they are safe. This way they get to be outside right when the day starts and not have to wait for me to open the doors
These of course are my own personal reasons for owning free ranging chickens and yet still having a chicken pen or run in our yard. Maybe you can relate?
Alternatively, you can move your chicken run around your yard, sort of like a tractor coop, and move it around from grazing area to grazing area while keeping them safe.
That is always an option as well! May be a bit more work, but by doing this you can rest easy knowing your birds are safe, as well as your garden (fence or no fence)!
What size of chicken run to get
There is much debate about this topic. The rule of thumb tends to be ten square feet of space per chicken. I like to always have a large run for my flock to give them plenty of room. I tend to agree with the more space the better, plus... chicken math. You always end up with more chickens somehow.
I love to give my girls enough space on the days where I keep them in the run, plus, I think it is also important to be able to walk in the chicken run as well, so finding one that is tall (maybe with a door) is optimal.
Walk-in chicken runs
If you like the idea of a walk in chicken run as well, look for one that has a door on it so you know it is tall enough for you to get in.
I like to go right into the run to throw the table scraps around for them, and also if I need to inspect a chicken for something, you can easily corner them in the run and pick them up if they aren't accustomed to being handled.
I would never get a chicken run that I could not walk in. Again, this is a personal point of view and you do you. But in this list, I am only sharing runs with walk-in capabilities.
Predator proof chicken run
The absolute most important aspect of a chicken run is that it is predator proof. This means that:
- The wire gap size is made for a chicken coop and is not too big that a predator can go through it
- The wire is a sturdy material, preferably a steel or a coated metal that won't bend or break easily
- The chickens are not able to find a way out of the wire (they will if there is a spot where the wires have bended in a way where they can try to squeeze through, they will)
- The top has a cover on it to protect chickens from birds of prey or climbing predators
One more aspect to consider, is that there are predators who can dig their way into a coop. It is up to us, as chicken keepers, to keep chickens safe in their coop and run.
Predators and how they will try to get in the chicken run
Coyotes and foxes will see your chicken run and think about how to get in. These smart animals tend to be diggers, and try to burrow their way in to feast. There are a number of, let's call them predatory diggers, out there.
To negate this digging, and if your chicken run is going to be stationary and permanently attached to your coop, you may want to consider laying some hardware cloth on the ground and then cover that will some straw or whatever you want on the floor of your run.
Do you need to protect the ground in your run?
We personally don't lay down any wire or hardware cloth on the ground, as we like to throw our kitchen scraps in their run and this would make it hard for the hens to scratch (and dust bathe) with a cover on the ground, but there are a lot of chicken owners who do. It's up to you.
If you want something a bit less labor intensive and less inhibiting to the nature of the chickens (like a ground wire cover), but want to add security to your chicken coop, you could always add a chicken coop camera to monitor your chicken coop and chicken run.
These are really great because at keeping the flock safe as they can alert you on your phone of there is something near the chicken coop that isn't a person. Plus, they are super easy to install and take up no room.
Here is an article we wrote about chicken coop cameras, feel free to bookmark it for later reading:
What to look for when buying a chicken run
It can take a lot of time and planning to DIY a chicken run, just about the same amount of time building your own chicken coop! Totally not impossible to do, but you can just as easily purchase a chicken run and have it set up right away as well (you either spend your time or your money, right?)
The runs I am sharing with you are easy to set up models; this was some of the criteria in the list choice here, and what we recommend looking for:
They main thing to look for is quality materials. Find one that won't fall over or lose support. High quality materials are key here. If it is a cheaper price and seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Again, we are highly suggesting purchasing a model that has people-sized doors on it so you can walk in if necessary, and not have to be hunched over. These models are typically 6.5 feet tall with peaked or flat roofs.
A roof or cover
You can purchase an open air run or a run with a roof. We would personally suggest finding one with roofing built in, as there is so much aerial threat for chickens, and those hawks and eagles are smart and could sail right into your chicken run and feast. You want a run that will truly keep your backyard chickens safe, and we are only sharing runs with roofs in this list today.
When looking at a roof, it can be solid (this would help avoid any bird flu that is happening in your area and would be a good shelter), or it can be a chicken wire or wired roof, which will be perfect for keeping predators out (flying predators and climbing ones such as raccoons or even a smart cat) to keep your hens safe.
If you choose to have an open air chicken run, you can always put some plywood across the top of the run, or a tarp if you want to provide them with some shelter, but the chicken runs we are listing will all have roofing capabilities built in.
We personally have a wired roof as part of our run, but we keep their chicken coop door open and let our backyard chickens go into their attached chicken coop if they need shelter from rain or snowfall. Sometimes in the middle of summer, we will throw a large tarp onto it to give them some sun protection.
Now that we have covered what to look for in a chicken run and why you may want to consider purchasing one, let's look at the best chicken runs you can get for a great price.
Again, the chicken run models we are listing include the following features:
- Easy to assemble
- Walk-in models with doors
- Have roofs and roof cover options
- Made from quality materials
Here are out top choices for chicken runs.
1. The Betterhood Chicken Run Models
This is a highly rated chicken run that is made from metal, has a walk-through door, offers a partially covered area and is secure.
It comes in 4 size choices (L x W x H):
- 6.6' x 10' x 6.5'
- 13' x 10' x 6.5'
- 19.5' x 10' x 6.5'
- 13' x 10' x 6.5' (this is a model with a section of flat roof)
- The door dimensions on each are 1.5' W x 5.5' H
This is a heavy duty coop run that is made to keep your backyard chickens safe. The frame is galvanized steel to resist rust and the canopy is made with 240D Oxford cloth, made to stand up to rain, mud and snow. Plus, installation is easy with this model.
Real chicken run review of this product:
This chicken run has some great and insightful reviews, here's one:
We put it together and for two old people it wasn't that difficult. We are happy with the function of the run.
We recommend checking this predator proof chicken run out.
2. The Polar Aurora Chicken Run
Here is another chicken run with a similar design, featuring a walk-through door with a partially covered roof.
You do get a few more options with this chicken run though; here, you can choose the gap size in your cage. Your choices are:
- 1" diameter
- 1.26" diameter
From there, you have several different size and shape options to go through, which is really nice. There are almost 20 to choose from, which means you will likely get close to the exact size you want.
The roofing options are plentiful as well as you can get a dome shaped roof, an A-frame type of roof, and other roofing options with doors and covered areas. You will definitely want to see the options.
Set up of these chicken runs is relatively easy; the company boasts simple instructions that will give you a quick assembly time of 20-30 minutes.
Real chicken run review of this product:
This run has over 1500 great reviews, including this one:
What they purchased: The chicken run with a 1" Diameter Size: 19.68’ L×9.84’ W× 6.4’ H
As someone a little tool-shy, I was nervous about building this. Honestly, though, with two of us working on it, we had very few problems, and I'm impressed by the strength and design of this enclosure. The instructions aren't super thorough but the building steps are easy enough to undo and redo if you get something wrong, as I did a few times, and the finished product is very sturdy and works well. I would recommend to anyone else inexperienced to avoid my mistakes by looking at the poles to establish where the drill holes are at every step (it's not mentioned in the instructions). The one page that both my (tool-experienced) husband and I struggled a bit with was the building of the door -- it would have been helpful if the instructions for that were broken down into multiple steps so you could see it in process. But with a little trial and error we got this, and with hardware cloth on the bottom (covered with soil and straw), I expect it will protect all of our poultry from all predators. Definitely worth the price.
3. The PawHut Metal Chicken Coop Run
Here is another well-designed chicken coop run that includes a walk through door and a shaded area within the run as well.
The chain link wall features steel wires and a sturdy galvanized steel frame that's resistant to wear and rust. The metal has a powder-coated finish that ensures protection against the elements.
The gap size in the Oxford coat chain is .75", and you can grab this chicken run in the following sizes (L x W x H):
- 6' x 9' x 6.5'
- 12' x 9' x 6.5'
- 18.5' x 9' x 6.5'
- 24' x 9 ' 6.5'
*There are more sizes available with different roof lines, and there is a great comparison chart on this listing showing the differences for each chicken run by this company, how many chickens it is ideally good for as well as the pipe diameter you get for which design (click it to see more):
This is a company that addresses all of your questions right in their product listing. They show you up close the wire mesh, the pipe diameter, the lock, their spring button clip as well as the feet:
Their installation notes say that it will take two hours for two people to install it together. It is also important to note that the cover for a portion of the roof comes as a double layer that is waterproof and is uv protective, it is not just some flimsy piece of material added on.
Real chicken run review of this product:
Here is one of the reviews from a verified buyer on Amazon, and their real thoughts on this chicken run:
What they purchased: The chicken run sized 9' W x 12' D x 6.5' H
Purchased and assembled this coop almost exactly two years ago. It has held up well. Assembly was fairly straightforward. We move it every few months or more often and it has held up well. There are no visible rust or other spots or issues. We live in central Iowa so lots of rain and snow. The only downside was the tarp. But, that should be considered a disposable piece anyway and is a cheap and easy replacement. We are on our 3rd or 4th one now. We did put smaller wire around the base once we saw the racoon on our game camera reaching inside for a snack.
4. Carmyra Chicken Coop Run with Cover
This is a chicken run that won't rust on you. The steel is coated with zinc and features rust-resistant, anti-corrosion and anti-fading agents. The wire mesh is hexagonal and is PVC coated making it a solid structure.
This comes with a waterproof cover that fits perfectly over the run. It provides protection from the sun, rain and snow and provides a nice shaded area. You can create a really great outdoor space for your hens with this.
The setup of this chicken run is ideal, claiming to be able to be set up in minutes, and it also comes with a 1 year warranty.
This chicken coop run comes in 4 sizes (L x W x H):
- 6.56' x 9.8 x 6.56'
- 9.8' x 13.1' x 6.56'
- 9.8' x 19.7' x 6.56'
- 9.8' x 26.2' x 6.56'
Unlike the other chicken runs we mentioned with sizing choices, this chicken coop run increases in size both in length and in width as you go up.
It begins with a 6.56' length, and from there remains at a 9.8' in length, where the width continue to increase in size.
5. Ouyessir Chicken Coop Run | Flat and Spire Roofing Choices
The roofing lines are as such:
- Flat: The roofing line comes up toi the door frame, and follows the horizontal line of the door frame all along the top of the roof, creating a flat top
Spired: The roofing line continues past the door frame and meets in the middle in an A frame type of shape, and the peak continues to the end of the run
The spire roofing comes in the following sizes (L x W x H):
- 10' x 6.6' x 6.56'
- 10' x 13' x 6.56'
- 10' x 20' x 6.56'
- 10' x 25.6' x 6.56'
The flat roofing come in the following sizes (L x W x H):
- 10' x 6.5' x 6.36'
- 10' x 13' x 6.36'
- 10' x 20' x 6.36'
- 10' x 26' x 6.36'
It's important to note that the sizes are nearly identical, but the roofing line comes down by .2" to accommodate for the missing peak.
Why would you want a flat vs. a peaked roof?
This is purely a personal choice. Here is what I can add as a chicken owner though; where we are, we can get a lot of wet snow in the winter.
If you have flat roofing that is covered or partially covered, either with the cover that comes with it or your own, you will have a hard time getting the snow off which can really weigh the cover and run down.
A roof helps with all of the elements
If you are somewhere that can get very hot during the summer months, it would be easy to throw a cover, tarp or a solid piece of plywood on top of the roofing of your run to provide your backyard chickens with an extra cool, shaded space in their outdoor house, that is, if your roofing doesn't already come with a cover.
It is important to make sure your chickens don't overheat in the summer, keep them cool and make sure there is always fresh water. You can also hang chicken accessories and toys for your chickens from the roofing of your run that you can put frozen vegetables in to help them stay cool!.
You will know chickens are starting to overheat when they hold their wings out from their body slightly. Be sure to watch as the sun moves around the run to see how much shaded area they have.
This is all food for thought, I don't think you will go wrong in either roofing design, it's also a matter of preference in terms the look of it as well.
No matter which design you choose, you will have a complete chicken run for your chicken coop that you can be proud of.
All of the coops from this brand are sturdy and will do a great job of keeping your chickens, hens and any other animals safe inside. They have a lockable door design, a durable metal footing bottom for the ground, PVC-coated hexagonal wire mesh and a spring button clip to tie your waterproof and weatherproof roofing on.
Chicken Runs | In summary
We hope we helped you make a great choice for your chicken run! It is so important to create a space for your birds (or smaller animals) that they can be safe in and have fun in with their chicken coop accessories, as well as having one that is easy to assemble for you and goes well with your chicken coop.
Adding some extra space or some predator proof outdoor space is just going to give you happier and healthier chickens, and that always means more proficient egg laying.
You can also use one of these complete chicken run kits to graze different areas in your backyard! Carefully, with another person or two, move the run around from area to area every few weeks or so to protect your grass or backyard space and to give your hens a fun new area for digging and foraging.
Chickens find so many nutritious things on the ground in your backyard, it is really good for them to have room to do what is natural while still being safe from raccoons, foxes and other predators. This is a great way to help predator proof your chicken run.
Also, be sure to do some "chicken math" before you decide to buy.
You have X number of backyard chickens now, you may want to purchase a run thinking down the road in case you end up with more backyard chickens. Like I said, do the chicken math (if you know, you know). More space = more happy chickens.
Please remember that you chickens must have access to food and water if your run is not attached to the chicken coop or their house where the food may be.
You can find yourself an automatic chicken feeder that keeps rats away, as well as a great automatic watering system for chickens if you do plan on moving the run around your yard and you don't want to keep refilling their reservoir.
And go ahead and throw chicken treats or scratch in there as well! Your chickens will love you for it.
Here are some other chicken-related articles you may be interested in:
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