Covered or Uncovered Run: Pros and Cons for Your Homestead.
To cover or not to cover? As someone who grew up in a small town in the Midwest, I understand the importance of finding the right balance between shelter and openness when it comes to raising animals on a homestead. Recently, I received a question from a fellow homesteader who was unsure whether to cover or leave uncovered their chicken run.
This decision can be a difficult one, as there are pros and cons to both options. In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of a covered run versus an uncovered run and provide some personal insights to help you make the best decision for your homestead.
A covered run is enclosed with a roof, usually made of materials like tin, polycarbonate panels, or even fabric. Here are some advantages of having a covered run:
- Protection from weather: A covered run provides protection from the elements, including rain, snow, and harsh sun. This can be especially important if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions.
- Protection from predators: A covered run can also protect your chickens from predators like hawks, owls, and other birds of prey. It can also deter other predators like raccoons, foxes, and even dogs and cats.
- Extended outdoor time: With a covered run, your chickens can still be outside even when it’s raining or snowing. This can be beneficial for their mental and physical health, as they need fresh air and exercise.
However, there are also some disadvantages to having a covered run:
- Cost: Building a covered run can be more expensive than an uncovered one, as you will need to purchase materials for the roof.
- Maintenance: The roof of a covered run will require maintenance over time, including cleaning and potential repairs.
- Reduced sunlight: A covered run will provide shade for your chickens, but it can also reduce the amount of sunlight they receive. Sunlight is important for egg production and overall health.
An uncovered run is open to the elements, but can still be enclosed with fencing or hardware cloth to keep predators out. Here are some advantages of having an uncovered run:
- Affordability: An uncovered run is typically less expensive than a covered one, as you won’t need to purchase materials for the roof.
- Natural sunlight: An uncovered run allows your chickens to receive natural sunlight, which is important for their health and egg production.
- Low maintenance: Without a roof to maintain, an uncovered run requires less maintenance over time.
However, there are also some disadvantages to having an uncovered run:
- Exposure to weather: An uncovered run leaves your chickens exposed to the elements, which can be especially harsh in extreme weather conditions.
- Predators: An uncovered run is more vulnerable to predators, as they can swoop in from above or dig under the fence.
- Limited outdoor time: Your chickens may need to be kept inside during inclement weather, which can limit their outdoor time and exercise.
A combination run is a compromise between a covered and uncovered run. This type of run has both a covered and uncovered area, providing the best of both worlds. For example, you might have a covered area for shelter and a sunny, uncovered area for your chickens to enjoy when the weather is nice.
When deciding on whether to have a covered or uncovered run, consider your climate, budget, and the level of protection your chickens need from predators. A combination run may be the best option if you’re looking for a compromise.
Deciding whether to cover or leave your run uncovered is a matter of personal preference and the needs of your flock. A covered run provides protection from the elements and predators, but can also limit airflow and increase moisture. An uncovered run allows for natural sunlight and fresh air, but may require additional measures to keep predators out.
Consider the climate in your area and the type of predators that may be a threat to your flock when making your decision. And don’t forget to take into account your own budget and time constraints when planning and building your run.