Chickens need a secure coop to protect them from harsh weather conditions and provide a place to nest, but your feathered friends also need time to stretch their legs and get in some much-needed exercise.
A chicken run is the easiest way to give your birds space to run and forage while safeguarding them from the local fox or the pesky hawk!
I’ve had my fair share of chicken runs and close encounters with predators and that’s why I’m here to break down the best chicken runs based on the size, materials, and design to protect your chickens.
Here’s a quick look at all the chicken runs in our list…
The large-sized walk-in pen is constructed from galvanized metal offering a solid and heavy duty structure that is also rust resistant.
The spacious chicken run is designed for the safety of small animals such as chickens, rabbits, and ducks. It includes small mesh gaps preventing poultry from poking their heads or feet through the mesh.
The affordable metal run is easy to install and comes with a detailed instruction manual. Each part is designed for quick connection helping you save time on installation.
The Bossin outdoor run consists of a PVC-coated chicken wire. The PVC coating protects the wire from sun and moisture damage.
This run is constructed from 1.26 inch diameter steel piping which adds weight and stability to the frame to prevent it from blowing over in high winds.
Designed for durability, the galvanized steel frame will protect against rust with prolonged exposure to outdoor conditions.
The Giantex Metal Chicken Run includes a lockable steel door with a latch and wire strap to protect poultry against predators such as raccoons.
The large run of 10×20 ft can accommodate a wooden chicken coop providing poultry with protection from strong wind and rain and a place for hens to nest.
The snap-in and connect design makes it easy for two people to assemble the structure without the need for hardware tools such as drills.
The spacious poultry cage can be used to house birds and small animals such as rabbits, ducks, and geese.
It can also serve as a greenhouse to grow vegetables and flowers while protecting vegetation from being destroyed by birds and pets.
Best Mobile Chicken Run
The cage is easily reinforced into the ground using the metal pad and two stakes preventing it from toppling in strong wind and rain.
The Magic Union Run includes a lockable door with a latch to keep poultry enclosed and to prevent tough predators such as raccoons and coyotes from reaching them.
The PVC-coated hexagonal fencing provides an added layer of protection against the elements by preventing corrosion.
Top 5 Best Chicken Runs
The Pawhut Metal Cage is our top choice as it offers durability, simple assembly, and spaciousness for chickens. This walk-in coop is maintenance-free as it requires very little upkeep and comes with a single lockable door to keep poultry enclosed.
The beautifully designed and spacious outdoor chicken pen by Pawhut consists of a heavy-duty galvanized metal frame that won’t rust and will last well over a decade.
It includes zinc-coated piping and Oxford hexagonal mesh with a smooth finish to protect poultry and small animals from injuring themselves on the wire.
The Pawhut Metal Cage is our top pick as it meets our requirements of being a secure, durable, and low-maintenance run for poultry. It is best for raising chickens on a small farm or urban yard and it provides enough space for 6-8 chickens. This includes fully grown hens such as Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds.
You can place a small coop of approximately 6 ft in width and 4 ft in height inside the Pawhut Metal Cage for nesting hens. As the cover is not 100% waterproof, adding an extra length of tarp will provide birds with protection against the elements.
It is also a good idea to position the pen where it has some protection against strong wind and ample shade in summer.
- 9 x 18.5 x 6.5 ft
- 1.15 inch mesh gap
- Maintenance free pen
- Includes hardware for assembly
- Thin mesh
- Not predator proof
- Tarp is not waterproof
The Bossin Metal Coop can be erected by one person in around 40 minutes and comes in variable sizes including the 13.1 inch and 6.5 inch lengths, so you can choose the ideal dimensions for your flock and backyard.
Topping our list for providing the best value, the Bossin walk-in coop is not only affordable but also offers a good quality galvanized steel frame so you won’t have to worry about rust. The steel pipe frame is 1.26” in diameter which is thicker than most types of metal frame coops.
Perfectly suited to outdoor use, the large run comes with a UV and water-resistant tarp to provide shade and cover against rain. It can comfortably house 7-8 medium to large-sized chickens ranging from Leghorns to Cochins.
This chicken run includes a single swing door with a secure lock to ensure that birds remain fully enclosed. The coop is relatively easy to install and comes with an instruction manual.
The Bossin Metal Chicken Coop is a sturdy structure and provides great protection against aerial predators but will require reinforcement against larger animals such as foxes, raccoons, and local dogs that may damage the plastic hexagonal mesh.
- Galvanized metal
- 19.7 x 9.8 x 6.4 ft
- 1-2 inch mesh gap
- UV resistant tarp
- Galvanized steel
- Thin plastic mesh
- Zip ties break easily
- Requires predator protection
The Giantex Metal Run is the best chicken coop because it is easy to assemble and provides enough space for 10-12 fully grown chickens including Barred Rocks and Orpingtons. The walk-in run is designed with a lock to keep chickens properly enclosed.
The spacious run wins the category of editor’s choice because it is constructed from steel providing durability and security against small predators such as cats and hawks. For security against larger predators including foxes and coyotes, it is best to reinforce the structure with hardware cloth which is a strong mesh wire.
Giantex’s galvanized steel prevents rust making it ideal for long-term outdoor use. Galvanized steel can last up to 70 years in outdoor conditions.
Available in a variety of sizes, the Giantex Metal Cages provide easy-to-assemble runs for raising backyard chickens. The tough hexagonal mesh wire is covered by a PVC coating for an extra layer of protection against wind, rain, and sunshine.
Because poultry also need protection against sun, snow, and rain, the cage comes with a 210D Oxford Cloth which is a UV and water-resistant tarp. Additional tarp can be secured to the wire frame and mesh if needed.
- 10 x 20 x 6.4 ft
- Galvanized steel
- 1.25 inch mesh gap
- Metal door latch
- Low maintenance
- Brittle zipper ties
- Not predator resistant
- Interlocking pins can cut your hands
The galvanized pen by Ouyessir is easily assembled by two people as the parts of the frame are designed to clip together. This chicken run provides space for poultry to roam and free range while remaining enclosed.
The Magic Union Metal Run is our best choice for movable coops as each of the components fit snugly together to form a securely connected frame. The Magic Union pens are available in different sizes including a flat top design of 121 inches or the spire style of 354 inches.
The Magic Union pen delivers a galvanized structure that is durable and maintenance-free. The sturdy outdoor coop is corrosion resistant and made from a 25 mm metal frame to improve the cage’s stability, especially in windy conditions. Along with the durability of the pen, it is easy to put together.
A plastic or PVC coated mesh is included and must be attached to the frame using zipper or cable ties. To protect birds against large predators such as foxes or even raccoons, the PVC mesh must be reinforced with stronger hardware cloth.
An important part of creating an outdoor space for poultry is ensuring that it is properly covered against the elements. Magic Union achieves this with its strong UV-protected cover to shield chickens against rain and sun. An extra tarp is required to protect birds during heavy downpours and snowfall.
- 10 x 13 x 6.56 ft
- 1.38 inch mesh gap
- Large size
- Quick assembly
- Rust resistant finish
- Short tarp
- Difficult to move
- Requires staking
Best Mobile Chicken Run
The durable chicken run consists of a strong metal frame with a rust-resistant galvanized finish. To protect animals from injuring themselves on the frame, the corners are welded to create smooth edges.
- Galvanized metal
- 1-2 inch mesh gap
- 354 x 118 x 79 inches
- Spacious run
- Easy to install
- Durable metal frame
- Thin chicken wire
- Not predator resistant
- Large gap under door
What is a Chicken Run?
A chicken run is an enclosed area or space allowing birds to forage and roam outside of their traditional coop or henhouse. Runs are also known as cages or pens and consist of fully enclosed metal frames with mesh wiring. These structures are meant to protect free-ranging and roaming chickens from aerial and ground predators.
What is a Chicken Run for?
Chickens are social creatures that love to scratch through the grass and soil for weeds and bugs, providing both a treat and exercise.
Unfortunately, we cannot always supervise our flock to ensure their safety as they forage and dust bath while outside. The run is meant to provide the extra space that they need while outdoors but within the protection of the enclosure. You can still give your chickens enough space to roam but without the risk of attacks by predators.
Poultry runs are also a simple way to let chickens move around and exercise in the yard without reaching your plants, grass, or delicate garden beds.
Poultry can easily destroy lawns and garden beds as they scratch and peck, so keeping them confined can protect these areas. The more space and freedom you can provide your flock, the happier and healthier they will be.
Things to Consider
While affordability is important, always consider value for money. Runs can range from $200 to $500 with large pens that consist of galvanized steel being more expensive than smaller runs.
The enclosure should always be big enough to accommodate the flock while providing them with enough space to freely move around. As a general rule of thumb, chickens need at least 10 square feet of space per bird and roosting bars of 8 inches in length.
As runs will be secured outdoors, it needs to be durable against wind, rain, snow, and sun. Look for galvanized frames with special weather-proof coatings to protect the metal against rust and corrosion.
Look for materials to withstand outdoor conditions including galvanized metal frames and UV-resistant tarps or covers. If you want to protect against predators and the cage consists of plastic coated mesh, you’ll need to reinforce the mesh with hardware cloth to prevent animals from damaging or tearing the mesh from the frame.
The run should come with detailed instructions and the necessary hardware to put it together. Most runs include snap-together frames that can be erected in less than an hour.
What is the Best Material for a Chicken Run?
The best materials for chicken runs include galvanized metal for the frame because it prevents rust. Rust not only looks awful but it corrodes and weakens the frame, eventually causing the structure to fall apart.
The wire or mesh surrounding the run should be strong and sturdy to prevent wild animals such as foxes, raccoons, or coyotes from making their way into the pen.
Hardware cloth is best for predator-proofing coops and runs.
Hardware cloth is a welded mesh with a smaller gauge making it much stronger than regular chicken wire. The ½-inch and ¼-inch gauges are best for securing coops and runs.
To protect birds against snow, rain, and intense heat, a waterproof and UV-resistant tarp that covers at least half of the structure including the sides and roof -should be installed.
A UV-resistant cover or tarp consisting of polyethylene can last for up to 10 years.
The special UV resistance will extend the longevity of covers as they won’t crack or degrade with prolonged sun exposure.
How Big Should a Chicken Run Be?
Runs should provide at least 10 square feet of space per bird; however, large chickens the size of Cochins and Orpingtons require more space to comfortably accommodate them. The more chickens you own, the larger the run should be. Pens such as the Magic Union Run of 354 inches in length are designed to house around 10-12 birds.
Should a Chicken Run be Covered?
Yes, poultry runs should always be covered with a strong tarp to protect birds from exposure to strong wind, rain, snow, and heat. Full-length tarps covering the top and sides will prevent rain and snow from drifting into the run causing wet or damp patches.
Moisture inside a coop is a breeding ground for bacteria and should be avoided with adequate ventilation and coverage.
Runs are also covered with mesh for ventilation while preventing a predator such as a raccoon or a fox from getting to the flock.
Roofing is a necessity for runs because it acts as a barrier against harsh weather conditions.
Does a Chicken Run Need a Solid Roof?
Runs will need roofs because it shields the flock from rain, snow, and even strong wind. The use of a UV-resistant tarpaulin covering the coop from corner to corner will give chickens shade against the soaring heat of summer.
A solid roof must be waterproof and it should be strong enough to prevent snow from falling into the coop or causing the cover to cave under its weight. Sloped roofs are preferred because it allows rainfall and snow to roll off the roof rather than accumulate with the risk of damaging the structure or barrier.
What Do You Put in a Chicken Run Roof?
The best material for a chicken run roof is roof sheeting or a polyethylene tarp that consists of a heavy-duty and waterproof material. Extended-length tarps can also be used to cover the sides of the run which prevents rain and snow from drifting into the roost area and creating cold and moist patches.
Coops and runs should always remain dry as wet bedding can lead to respiratory irritation and foot problems in chickens.
Should I Put Sand in My Chicken Run?
Adding sand to a run is a good idea because chickens enjoy sand bathing. But apart from it being a relaxing activity for them, covering their skin and feathers with sand smothers most types of mites and lice.
In winter, sand is the best choice of material to place on top of wet ground or soil.
Sand will absorb the moisture which is better for chickens feet as constant exposure to dampness increases the risk of skin irritation including bacterial infections.
Do Chickens Get Bored in a Run?
Chickens will only get bored or frustrated on a run when they don’t have adequate space and their basic needs aren’t met. They should have access to food, water, ventilation, and enough room to comfortably move around whether to forage or dust bath.
Chickens that are bored will pull the feathers and chase their coop mates around the enclosure.
Apart from spaciousness, there are accessories that you can add to the run to keep poultry entertained from swings to regular roost bars.
How Do You Make a Chicken Run More Interesting?
A simple way to make chicken runs more interesting is to add accessories such as roosting bars and swings. The perches and swings encourage exercise and it provides the lower-ranking birds with a safe spot to retreat from bullies.
A straw pile is another simple addition to relieve boredom as birds enjoy spending hours scratching through it in search of bugs and grains.
I truly hope that you enjoyed our reviews on chicken runs and that you’re one step closer to finding the perfect enclosure for your flock.
Remember to consider how many chickens you want to confine and how much space the run of interest provides.
Let’s take a quick look at our winning categories for poultry runs…
The best coop is the Pawhut Galvanized Coop and Run offering a low-maintenance enclosure that can house up to eight hens. The run is weather-proof and provides a sturdy frame for the security of poultry and small animals.
The Bossin Run wins the best value category because it is both affordable and durable. The run consists of a galvanized frame that will not corrode when exposed to moisture, frost, and intense heat.
Providing spaciousness, durability, and ease of installation, the Giantex Run is an excellent choice for housing poultry. Available in different sizes, the run is perfectly suited to backyards or small farms.
Spread the Word
Whether two or three chickens or a larger flock, providing them with a safe space to roam and exercise is vital for health and happiness. Chickens need exercise and if they cannot free range under your supervision, then providing them with space in a chicken run is the next best step.
I hope that you have the information that you need to purchase your next chicken run and that you take a moment to share this guide with your fellow chicken hobbyists who are looking for a new run for their feathered friends. You might want to consider adding chicken wires or animal repellents to your run for added safety.