Most chicken breeds love to explore their surroundings while foraging for food. But this can prove difficult with all the land and aerial predators lurking around.
Luckily, there’s an effective way to keep your chicken safe while allowing them to run around outdoors. You just need to build a chicken run.
A chicken run is an enclosed area usually attached to the chicken coop. It’s a crucial aspect of chicken care since it encourages your birds’ instinct to free range and forage for food. It also provides them with enough space to exercise and bask in sunlight (Vitamin D) and air.
Additionally, it creates a safe space for your girls to sleep and nest in and stay protected against weather elements and predators.
Whether you want to renovate or build a new chicken run, here are 20 unique and innovative chicken run ideas you can try. From budget-friendly options to DIY designs, this guide has something for every poultry farmer.
Are you ready to learn how to keep your flock safe, healthy, and happy? Join us below!
Top Chicken Run Ideas
1. Budget-Friendly Chicken Run
If you are on a budget but want to keep your feathered friends safe and comfortable, a low-cost chicken run is ideal for you.
You can build such a chicken run around the coop even if you don’t have experience with woodworking or using tools. And the best part? The structure only requires low-cost repurposed materials like pallets.
In this example, the poultry owner uses nice-looking pallets to construct a chicken coop extension to provide her girls with more room to roam.
As you can see, the pallets are fastened together to make the structure sturdy. But you can secure them to the ground for increased stability and resistance to elements.
Take things a notch higher by including planter boxes to grow chicken and human-friendly ornamental and edible flowers, herbs, and vegetables like lettuce.
Also Read: DIY Pallet Chicken Coop Ideas
2. Simple Design Chicken Run
Sometimes, all you need is a simple structure that holds your chickens while keeping them safe from foxes, hawks, and other predators. This structure calls for readily available cheap materials like wire mesh, wooden panels, and iron or plastic sheets.
You can also check out this simple chicken run project by Hannah’s hens. The structure comprises a few wood beams held together by metal plates and angles. These materials work uniformly to strengthen the chicken structure and hold the plastic roof sheets.
As for the roof sheets, they will shield your chickens from rain and prevent the chicken run from becoming a mud bath. For security, the enclosure is surrounded by a strong wire mesh to prevent small predators like foxes from getting in.
3. DIY Green House Kit Chicken Run
Do you love DIY projects? You would love building this greenhouse kit chicken run. And for a more rewarding experience, involve your whole family in the project.
To create such a structure, buy a greenhouse kit and attach it to your chicken coop. Of course, you will not need the greenhouse cover. Instead, cover it with deer netting or wire mesh to prevent hawks and eagles from slipping in.
You also want to reinforce the structure to increase its sturdiness and stability. This way, it can withstand harsh weather. We also recommend you bury the enclosure about 2ft deep to prevent burrowing predators like raccoons, opossums, foxes, and coyotes.
This DIY enclosure will provide your girls sufficient space to forage, bask in the sun, and play without the threat of predators.
4. Large Chicken Run
The size of your chicken run depends on the number of chickens you have. If you have many birds, opt for a larger chicken run. Experts suggest at least 4 to 10 sq. ft per bird. But remember, more space is always better.
A bigger enclosure means your flock will have enough room to groom, exercise, and dust bathe. It also prevents overcrowding, which leads to pecking issues, bullying, and diseases. Even better, a bigger structure is easy to clean and maintain.
This chicken run, for example, wraps around the chicken coop. It also looks well-designed and sturdy enough to withstand harsh elements.
Alternatively, you can build this 32 by 32 chicken run for your flock.
5. Small-Space Friendly Chicken Run
What if you don’t have sufficient ground space? We’ve got something just for you.
This planter box chicken run makes the most out of limited spaces. It’s designed to support a spacious dry chicken coop above to keep the chickens safe at night. Directly below, a heavy-duty wire mesh chicken enclosure gives your birds 25 sq. ft of room for exercise and forage.
The structure is functional and adorable and only eats up half of your yard or garden.
Furthermore, you can fill the planter box with soil and plant your favorite vegetables, flowers, or herbs. The planter box also features a drainage system to prevent water from falling into the chicken run.
As for the doors and vents, they allow enough fresh air to flow, keeping the structure ventilated.
6. Chicken Run Integrated in Garden Spaces
Besides eggs and meat, chickens can make amazing farmers when left to free-range in the garden. But for their protection, it is best to build a chicken run along the perimeter of your garden beds.
By doing so, you can create a symbiotic relationship between your garden and chickens. The birds can help to keep insect populations down, reducing damage to your plants.
The chickens also produce and spread manure around the garden, allowing plants to get essential nutrients.
But wait, there’s more…
By scratching and pecking at the ground, your girls can help aerate the soil, remove unwanted garbage, and control weeds.
So, you see, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
The video below shows how to build a chicken run for a raised garden bed.
7. Chicken Run on Wheels
Looking to make your chickens foraging experience exciting? It’s time to try chicken run on Wheels. With this movable enclosure, you can provide your cook-a-doodle-doos access to food every time. All while protecting them from predators.
You can also move this chicken run across your backyard and garden, so your birds can enjoy new vegetation and control harmful insects. Amazing, right?
Another plus, the manure they leave behind will help to keep your yard healthy and happy.
So, design your own chicken run on wheels, or check this BlueBird Homestead video for more ideas.
8. Predator-Proof Chicken Run
As a chicken owner, you should always prioritize the safety of your birds. So, if you live in an area prone to predators like skunks, opossums, owls, or coyotes, you need a predator-proof chicken run.
A chicken run like this is built from scratch to ensure it’s extremely sturdy and stable. It’s covered with a heavy-duty mesh wire to prevent aerial attacks from hawks and owls. The wire also keeps out small predators like raccoons and large ones like bobcats.
However, if you have bears or larger predators in your locality, opt for a chain link dog run for your flock.
It also helps to dig a trench around the enclosure and bury the fence a few inches down. This ensures that burrowing predators like coyotes and stray dogs will not gain access to the run.
However, you must inspect and maintain the chicken run regularly to identify and address potential entry points or hazards.
9. PVC Chicken Run
Here’s another affordable chicken run option. It’s constructed from inexpensive PVC pipes and fittings. This material stands out because it’s lightweight and versatile.
As such, it’s great for making a sturdy and secure chicken run that never goes bad even in harsh conditions.
It gets better: This material offers flexibility in design and customization. How?
Since the pipes come in different lengths and diameters, it’s easy to adjust the size of your run based on available space and the number of birds. The fittings allow the builder to secure the pipes together to create a frame for the structure.
For security purposes, you can cover the PVC frame with hardware cloth, UV-resistant plastic netting, or chicken wire. These materials ensure the chicken run stays ventilated while keeping predators outside.
10. Dirt Cheap Chicken Run
Still on saving money, here is another budget-friendly enclosure for your chickens. As the name implies, the chicken run is constructed using inexpensive, recycled, or repurposed materials.
The structure provides your hens and roosters with a safe and functional space while reducing construction costs.
Dirt-cheap chicken runs often feature materials like old pallets, reclaimed fencing, or discarded wood. For the covering, you can use netting or chicken wired since the focus is on functionality, not aesthetics.
This chicken run can act as a temporary solution as you look for money to establish a more sophisticated enclosure.
11. Sophisticated Chicken Run
This professional-looking chicken run is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. It’s well-designed to provide your chickens with the utmost comfort and protection.
From the YouTube clip, it’s clear the builder paid attention to details. They used high-quality materials like pressure-treated lumber and metal roofs that can hold even in the harshest climates. On the side, the enclosure features heavy-duty wire mash to deter intruders.
While this project might need extra investment, it’s worthwhile. It enhances the ambiance of your backyard with its captivating craftsmanship.
To enhance the structure even further, add nesting boxes, feeding stations, elevated perches, and dust bath areas. Trust us, your chickens will thank you!
12. Bear Proof Chicken Run
As the name suggests, a bear-proof chicken run keeps your flock safe from bears.
Unlike other predators, bears are intelligent and powerful animals that can destroy your kitchen coop and kill your chickens. So, you need a structure that makes it impossible for the bear to access the enclosure.
Here, the chicken owner designed an octagonal chicken run, enclosed with netting on the top and wire mesh on the sides.
The wire mesh is buried a few inches down to prevent the bear from digging underneath the run. It also prevents other digging predators like coyotes, opossums, and raccoons.
You can also see the coop is raised from the ground to deter this predator from reaching the birds from below.
For maximum security, we encourage you to incorporate some non-lethal bear deterrents like noise-makers and motion-activated lights.
13. Small Circular Chicken Run
A small circular chicken run is ideal for any poultry enthusiast with limited backyard space. This chicken run maintains a compact footprint while keeping your girls secure and happy.
And despite its small size, it has an aesthetic appeal, adding a sense of beauty and interest to your home.
In this example, the chicken owner used low-cost PVC pipes and fittings to create the frame for the enclosure. He then covered the frame with netting to create a secure wall.
What’s more, the structure is lightweight. You can move it to areas in your yard with natural vegetation, allowing your birds to forage and engage their natural instincts.
Another thing, you can customize the enclosure based on the flock’s requirements. For example, you can include dust baths and nesting boxes.
14. Trampoline Chicken Run
Do you have an old trampoline?
Instead of letting it rust away, repurpose your trampoline into a chicken run. This innovative enclosure is an excellent option for anyone looking to add creativity and excitement to their poultry setup.
The trampoline’s frames and its circular design provide ample space for your backyard poultry to roam around freely. In addition, trampolines are strong and can keep your bird safe and sound throughout the day and night.
In the first image, the builder enclosed the trampoline with chicken wire to keep predators out and ensure the structure stays ventilated. But you can replace the chicken wire with a hardware cloth.
Alternatively, you can cut the trampoline into half and erect an arched chicken coop and run.
15. Modern DIY Chicken Run
With some basic woodworking skills and equipment, you can construct this contemporary and stylish chicken run for your flock. It’s cost-effective, and you can attach it to a modern DIY chicken coop or let it act as a secluded space for your birds to roam and explore.
This chicken coop is also sturdy and durable, thanks to the high-quality lumber used for the frame.
And since safety is a priority for all chicken owners, this structure is built with secure wire fencing and predator-proof latches and locks. These ensure your birds stay safe from potential threats.
You can also see the chicken-run owner incorporated natural elements into the design to enhance its aesthetics. For example, he (or she) included living plants to add a touch of greenery to the enclosure.
16. Artistic Chicken Run
Who said a chicken run should be boring?
Embrace creativity like this chicken owner and design a chicken coop and run that is functional yet visually appealing.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials, shapes, themes, and color schemes to turn your chicken enclosure into a piece of work. It also helps to include murals and decorative elements to give the structure a unique touch.
Remember, this project can have high initial investment costs. But it’s nothing compared to its long-term benefits of protecting your chickens while making your backyard attractive.
17. Custom Chicken Run
This simple but stunning custom-made chicken run can meet all your flock’s needs. Its design takes into account factors like drainage, ease of cleaning, and functionality. And on top of that, it can act as a standalone enclosure or an extension of a chicken coop.
In the image above, you can see the chicken run is covered with metallic iron sheets to provide chickens protection against sunlight and rain.
The hardware cloth is installed on the inside of the framework, rather than outside. This gives the chicken run a clean look while protecting the flock from potential invaders.
And it gets better…
The chicken run is spacious enough to accommodate a chicken swing, dust baths, and other things that can keep your girls happy and satisfied when you are not around.
18. Urban Chicken Coop and Run
If you live in an urban area, this chicken coop and run will allow you to enjoy the rewards of rearing chickens. It also complements the aesthetics and unique challenges of the suburban and urban environment.
The large hinged entry door allows for easy access to the enclosure, especially when cleaning or picking up eggs. It also features nesting boxes and nesting bars that can accommodate up to 10 birds comfortably.
The spacious chicken-run area is surrounded by galvanized wire mesh, which allows fresh air and sunlight into the space.
For the roof, the chicken setup uses an asphalt-coated roof to shield the flock from harsh weather and predators. But you can also use metallic or plastic roofs to save on construction costs.
19. Walk-in Chicken Run
This walk-in predator-proof chicken enclosure will complement your backyard or garden aesthetics. It’s spacious enough to accommodate 8 to 10 chickens without the risk of overcrowding.
And the interesting part? You can extend the chicken run to work with your chicken coop, though you might need to make some adjustments.
20. Swing Set Chicken Coop and Run
Last but not least, we have the swing set chicken coop and run.
Like the trampoline, you can repurpose the old swing set in your backyard into a chicken coop and run.
When designing this enclosure, keep these two factors in mind: cleaning and predator-proofing. You want to ensure that you can easily access and clean the entire structure. The design of the chicken coop and run should also protect your chicken from hawks, foxes, and bobcats.
In this image, the chicken enclosure is enclosed in a chicken wire. It also includes feeding and watering spots, as well as nesting boxes.
But in another example, the poultry framer includes a concrete floor to deter small rodents from entering the run and eating the eggs.
You should also check out other swing set chicken run plans.
Now that we’ve come to the end of our journey, let’s remind ourselves of the few things we have learned.
Unlike a chicken coop, a well-designed chicken run provides your girls a safe space to play, exercise and act out their instincts.
However, these enclosures come in many sizes, shapes, and designs, which makes it difficult to select the best option.
Fortunately, our list of the top 20 chicken run ideas covers all the options, from budget-friendly chicken runs to DIY structures.
No matter your selection, rest assured that these chicken runs will meet your preference and requirements.
So, what are you waiting for? Get your tools and build a paradise for your two-legged, feathery friends today!