Custom Chicken Coop Run in 5 Easy Steps

There’s something undeniably rewarding about building a custom chicken coop run. Not only does it provide a safe and healthy environment for the chickens, but it also offers the opportunity to create a unique space that’s truly yours.

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Basics of a Chicken Coop Run

At its core, a chicken coop run is a designated, enclosed area that allows your chickens to roam, forage, and bask in the sun while remaining protected from predators. It’s an integral part of any chicken coop, contributing to the health and happiness of your flock.

Going custom has its perks. By creating your chicken coop run, you’re not just ensuring that it fits your specific needs and preferences, but also adding a personal touch that pre-fabricated runs often lack. Moreover, a DIY project gives you the flexibility to adapt and evolve the coop run design over time.

Essential Factors to Consider

When crafting your chicken coop run, it is critical to consider some fundamental aspects that will significantly influence your flock’s health and well-being. Delving deeper into these essential factors will give you a more comprehensive understanding of what building a custom chicken coop run truly entails.

Space Requirements

One of the most critical considerations when designing your chicken coop run is space. The amount of room your chickens have to roam and forage directly impacts their happiness, health, and egg production. The general rule of thumb for outdoor run space is to allocate at least 10 square feet per chicken. However, if you have the room, erring on the side of extra space is always a good idea.

In a larger space, chickens can establish their pecking order, comfortably forage, and express their natural behaviors without getting in each other’s way. If the run is too cramped, it can lead to aggression, feather pecking, and a host of health issues, which is something you’d certainly want to avoid.

Location and Orientation

The placement and orientation of your coop run are also vitally important. Chickens need both sun and shade throughout the day. Position the run so that it gets a good amount of sunlight, as this is beneficial for their health and mood. It helps them to produce vitamin D, which is essential for egg production.

At the same time, ensure that your run offers plenty of shaded areas where your chickens can escape the heat on hot days. Overheating can lead to serious health problems for your flock, so a balance between sun and shade is critical.

Also, consider the direction of the prevailing winds in your area and try to position your run in a way that it is shielded from harsh wind, which can be particularly chilling in the winter. Lastly, avoid areas prone to flooding. Chickens dislike wet conditions, and excessive moisture can lead to diseases and discomfort for your flock.

Materials and Durability

When it comes to building a chicken coop run, durability is key. You’re creating a safe space for your flock, and the materials you choose should reflect that priority. Select sturdy, predator-proof materials that will stand up to the test of time (and curious critters).

For the run’s framing, treated wood is a great choice due to its durability and resistance to rot. For the enclosure, hardware cloth is typically preferred over chicken wire as it’s much more robust and harder for predators to penetrate.

As for the roofing, your choice will largely depend on your local weather conditions. If your area frequently experiences heavy rain or snow, a solid roof made from corrugated metal or asphalt shingles could be a good choice. In milder climates, a net or wire roof could suffice to protect against airborne predators.

chicken coop run

Selecting durable materials for your coop run might be costly initially, but it minimizes maintenance, protects from predators and weather, and ensures long-term chicken safety and comfort.

Building Your Chicken Coop Run

Having laid a solid foundation of understanding, we’re now ready to delve deeper into the exciting journey of constructing our custom chicken coop run. In the following sections, we’ll navigate through each step of the process, from the initial planning stages to the final finishing touches, transforming our vision into a tangible reality that both we and our chickens can enjoy.

1. Designing Your Chicken Coop Run

Designing your chicken coop run is an exciting phase where you can visualize your perfect setup. Begin with a rough sketch, keeping in mind the size of your flock, the available space in your yard, and any special features you want to include. Aim for at least 10 square feet of run space per chicken, select a location that balances sunlight and shade, and considers features like dust baths and perches that chickens enjoy.

Further, consider the landscape of your yard, ensuring the run isn’t in a flood-prone area or exposed to harsh winds. Incorporate elements like shrubs or small structures for cover, especially if you have a mixed flock. This initial design phase is an opportunity for creativity, marrying chicken needs with your aesthetic preferences, and a well-planned design will facilitate a smoother construction process.

2. Gathering the Required Materials

Once your design is finalized, it’s time to compile all the materials needed to turn your plan into a reality. The specific materials you’ll need can vary depending on the design and features of your chicken coop run. However, there are some fundamental supplies that you’ll likely need regardless of the specific design.

Firstly, treated wood is the go-to choice for the frame due to its strength and resistance to decay. Depending on your design, you might need different sizes and lengths, so be sure to check your blueprint. For the enclosure, hardware cloth is typically more reliable and durable than chicken wire, making it a worthwhile investment.

As for the roofing, the material you choose will largely depend on the weather conditions in your area. Corrugated metal or asphalt shingles are great for areas with heavy rain or snow, while a net or wire roof can be adequate for milder climates. Also, remember to gather all the necessary hardware, such as screws and nails, and make sure you have the right tools for the job, including a saw, hammer, drill, and wire cutters. Gather everything in advance to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted construction process.

3. Building the Framework

Constructing the framework is the first step in the physical creation of your chicken coop run. This part of the process is vital as it sets the foundation for everything else and directly affects the strength and durability of your run.

Start by cutting your treated wood to the appropriate lengths according to your design. Once done, begin assembling the pieces to form the base, the walls, and the roof structure of the run. Ensure that the joints are secure and the entire structure is solid. It should be strong enough to withstand harsh weather conditions and robust enough to prevent any predators from getting in.

Keep in mind the dimensions of your design during the construction process. The structure should be tall enough for you to walk in comfortably if you plan to clean the run or interact with your chickens regularly. Moreover, remember to incorporate the doors or gates into your framework at this stage. They should be wide enough for easy access but secure enough to keep unwanted critters out. After building the framework, you’re ready to proceed with the next steps, like installing the hardware cloth and roofing.

4. Installing the Flooring and Roofing

For the flooring, consider using hardware cloth. Although some chicken owners prefer to leave the floor of their run natural or covered with grass, using hardware cloth can provide an extra layer of security against digging predators such as foxes or raccoons. This type of flooring should be buried a few inches into the ground all around the perimeter of the run to prevent these predators from burrowing underneath.

The roof of your run serves multiple purposes: it provides shade, protects your chickens from predators like hawks, and keeps the run dry during inclement weather. Depending on your local climate, you may opt for a solid roof made of corrugated metal or asphalt shingles, or a wire or net roofing might suffice in milder conditions. Regardless of the material, ensure it is securely attached to the framework to provide effective protection. After installing both the flooring and the roofing, your chicken coop run is nearly complete.

5. Adding the Finishing Touches

After constructing the primary structure, it’s time to bring your chicken coop run to life with those finishing touches. This final stage allows you to make your coop truly functional and tailored to the needs of your flock.

Begin by installing the entry points. Create a large door or gate for your own access. This door should be big enough for you to enter comfortably for cleaning, maintenance, or interacting with your chickens. Besides, also ensure there’s a smaller chicken-sized entrance for your flock to move in and out of the run freely. Both these entry points should be equipped with secure latches to prevent predators from gaining access.

Now, think back to the extra features you wished to incorporate in your design. If you planned for dust baths, now’s the time to add them. You can create a simple dust bath using a large, shallow container filled with a mixture of dirt and diatomaceous earth.

Consider installing perches where chickens can roost and observe their surroundings, making sure they’re placed at various heights to accommodate the pecking order. You could also introduce some toys or treat dispensers to keep your flock entertained.

Lastly, ensure there’s a reliable source of fresh water and a feeder within the run. These essentials should be placed off the ground to keep them clean and to discourage pests.

Caring for Your Chicken Coop Run

Based on my personal experience, I’ve learned that regular cleaning is absolutely vital. Chickens can be messy, and a clean coop run not only helps to keep them healthy but also makes the environment more pleasant for them. I’ve made it a habit to rake out old bedding and droppings every few days and replace them with fresh bedding.

In addition to cleanliness, monitoring the integrity of the coop run structure is important. Regularly check for any signs of wear and tear or potential weak points that predators could exploit. Any damage to the hardware cloth, wood, or roofing should be repaired promptly. I’ve learned this the hard way when, a few years back, I didn’t notice a small hole in the run’s enclosure, and a raccoon managed to get in. Luckily, no chickens were harmed, but it was a wake-up call to be more diligent in my inspections.

Lastly, don’t forget about the food and water supplies. Chickens need constant access to fresh water, and their feed should be replenished regularly. In my coop run, I’ve installed a hanging waterer and feeder, which I refill every morning. This routine not only ensures that my flock has what they need, but it also gives me a chance to observe the chickens and notice if any seem unwell or if there are any unusual happenings in the coop.

In sum, caring for your chicken coop run involves regular maintenance, constant vigilance, and prompt action at the first sign of trouble. It’s an ongoing task, but one that rewards you with the joy of having a happy, healthy flock.

Common Problems and Solutions

Predators are one of the biggest threats to backyard chickens. Signs of predator presence might include unusual chicken behavior, missing birds, or evidence of attempted digging under the run fence. If you see these signs, it’s crucial to reassess your security measures. Perhaps you need to reinforce the fencing, secure the coop door more firmly, or even consider a guardian animal like a dog or a goose.

Illness can also spread quickly in a chicken flock. Be observant for symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal droppings, or decreased egg production. If you notice a chicken showing signs of illness, it’s usually best to isolate them from the rest of the flock while you determine the cause. Consult a vet if necessary and ensure the rest of your flock stays healthy.

Another common issue involves conflicts within your flock, often related to the pecking order. If you notice that a particular chicken is being bullied or ostracized, it might be necessary to intervene. This could involve separating the aggressive bird, providing more resources to limit competition, or creating additional hiding places in the coop run.

Finally, bad weather can cause problems in your coop run. Ensure your design is robust enough to handle the weather in your area. If a particularly harsh storm is predicted, you might want to move your flock to a more secure location temporarily.

By keeping a watchful eye and acting quickly, many common issues can be dealt with before they become severe problems. Remember, when it comes to the welfare of your flock, prevention is always better than cure.


How big should a chicken coop run be? As a general guideline, each chicken should have at least 10 square feet of space in the coop run. However, more space is always better.

What materials are best for a chicken coop run? Durable, predator-proof materials like treated wood and hardware cloth are excellent choices for a chicken coop run.

Can I alter my coop run design after construction? Absolutely! A significant benefit of building a custom coop run is the flexibility to modify and adapt the design over time.

How often should I clean my chicken coop run? While this can depend on the size of your flock and the weather conditions, as a rule of thumb, weekly cleanings are beneficial.

What are some common problems I might face with my chicken coop run? Predators, weather damage, and illness among your flock can pose challenges. Regular checks and maintenance can help address these issues promptly.

Kate King

Kate King

My experiences in sustainable living aim to contribute positively to our environment and community. This shared wisdom fosters respect and love for nature, emphasizing our place in the broader ecological framework.

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