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Do I need a Chicken Run

So you have bought your InTheMarket.ie Chicken Coop. Good for you! You have excellent taste. So the next question you have to ask yourself is, do my chickens need a Chicken Run and almost as importantly, what is a Chicken Run? 

Most of us would prefer to free range our flock, i.e., let them roam freely on our property. But because of the differences between us, it’s not always doable.

We don’t all have the time to watch over our hens when they free range to make sure they don’t get hurt. You don’t want them cooped up, (pun intended) in their chicken coop all day either.

Our chickens may need to be contained in some way due to predators, traffic, neighbours who don’t want them in their gardens, and their capacity to ruin our own plants.

However, content hens enjoy being outside. Their normal behaviour includes digging through grass or leaves in search of insects (and, in the case of my flock, the occasional frog! ), relaxing in the sun with their wings spread, and taking a dust bath under their favourite tree.

A Run is a simple enclosed area where your flock can safely roam is the run. Additionally, they will be happy if you can provide them with extra outdoor space. The InTheMarket.ie Runs are all made from galvanised steel and with a metal mesh tight enough to keep your precious fowl safe and secure.

What size chicken coops are ideal?

The correct absolute minimum space for a chicken confined in a run is one square meter (about 11 square feet) per bird. You’ll see varying figures in other places for this. You can allow a little bit less for little breeds like the Silkie, but you should allow more for larger types. At InTheMarket.ie we allow for a little more room than recommended by the ISPCA, in order for your chickens to have as much room as they can.

The flock should have as much room as possible, especially if your coop is small. Lack of space makes chickens more likely to become bored and/or aggressive, which increases the likelihood of undesirable behaviours like egg-eating, feather-picking, and bullying. The likelihood of both that and disease spreading is reduced by giving the birds enough room to engage in their natural behaviours.

What if your garden is modest in size?

You can still maintain chickens in your backyard or little garden. Just be careful not to use too many numerals. Despite the constant temptation to do so, keep your flock size in line with the available space.

Have a look at our smallest Hen Run which is 10x7ft 6ft High This Green Hen Run is perfect for those with a smaller garden.

 

 

Our smallest Hen Run with some plants and some of our Raised Beds.

 

Also keep in mind that hens are social animals. They dislike being left alone. In a small garden, three chickens is the optimal number. They have company, and if one of them were to pass away suddenly, the others would still have one another until you could add another to the flock.

In order to keep your hens happy, even if you have a little extra space, keep the number at three and give them each a little more room rather than increasing the number.

Which surface is ideal for chicken runs?

Whatever sort of ground your run is on, it should be at a spot that is as well-drained as possible and offers some shade. The best option is a tree. Additionally, they offer protection from the wind, and your flock may build a lovely dust bath out of the roots.

The chicken run on grass

Grass may seem like the natural choice, and if you have a large enough area, grass is perfect. Chickens can cheerfully spend the day searching for bugs and making their own little dust baths in whatever they can find.

Other Options rather than Grass

Although wood chips and other mulches are typically pricey, they are an option if you have a relatively limited run. Additionally, when the run is cleaned out, they can be composted.

The negative? They become dusty in the heat and turn to mush in the rain, so they’re not the best option unless you can cover at least some of your run. Additionally, never use cedar chips since the fumes and oils can be poisonous to chickens.

Hemp bedding is a great option for a very tiny run with only two or three chickens. Although pricey, it is very absorbent, sustainable, natural, and free of mites and lice, unlike certain wood chippings, which have been proven to contain these pests.

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