Walk in runs for chickens are fantastic and perfect if you are looking to semi free range your hens, but want the security of knowing they are always safe after you let them out in the morning. You can go ahead and place a coop inside a walk in, which most people do or even have it on the outside facing in. They really are very versatile and great for newbies or the most experienced poultry enthusiasts.
Deciding what run or pen to buy can be kind of confusing with all the different shapes and sizes available, the area where most people come unstuck is the space calculations. Let’s run through those and get everyone fully up to speed.
How much space do chickens need?
Medium sized chickens (and by medium I’m specifically talking about breeds like your Red Rangers and Leghorns), require 4sqft of coop space. Now that’s per bird and a minimum space requirement, the more you can offer the happier they are, for sure. Most chicken breeds love to forage and scratch around a lot during the day.
Bantams require less space naturally being smaller at around 2sqft per bird.
Then we move onto the larger breeds like the Australorps and Buff Orpingtons these girls need a minimum of 6-7 sqft. Remember that’s just floor space, so when you are placing down feeders and waterers that doesn’t count as available space, so bare that in mind with your calculations.
We are referring to the bar that they will sleep on, during the night [and possibly relax on, during the day for a short while, too]. These measurement are given as a width so again, here, we are talking about the ‘wing to wing’ dimensions of individual birds.
- Bantams 4-8 inches
- Medium Sized Breeds 8-12 inches
- Large Breeds 10-16+ inches
During the hotter summer months they will space out whilst roosting to allow air to flow between. During the colder winter months they do the exact opposite cuddling up nice and close to keep warm.
More space in the run is required than in the coop, as chickens love to be active and stretch their legs. A minimum of 8sqft per adult bird is therefore required and again remember to calculate any space for waterers and feeders as ‘extra’.
The Best Budget Friendly ‘Walk In’ Chicken Run
Giantex wins this for us, it has some awesome reviews online too so don’t take just our word for it. It has a few USP’s that put it above everything else at that price point. Firstly, they have a range with 3 different sizes to suit everyone’s needs:
Small [9.5*6.5ft] – at 62sqft this size is perfect for 7 medium sized chickens
Medium [9.5*12.5ft] – at 118sqft this size is perfect 14 medium sized chickens
Large [9.5*19ft] – at a whooping 180sqft this is will house up to 22 chickens!
Poles & Construction
The runs are made with high quality steel poles giving it really solid feel, some of the others on the market are just plain flimsy, bowing after just a short while. The poles are also really lightweight so the whole thing can be moved to fresh grass, even daily, if you wanted. It can be constructed in just minutes as the poles are ‘quick connect’ and it comes with a manual too, so you have all the parts explained to you in an easy manner. Being galvanised means they won’t rust corrode or fade so should last you a number of years.
Unlike some other walk in chicken runs that just use a ‘cheap mesh’ the wire on this run is fairly heavy duty. Having exposed wire though can mean it rusts or being sharp could harm young chicks so they have coated the wire in a PVC. This will also add to the durability of it and gives it a good look too.
Walk in Door
A proper walk in door! Not a ‘walk in style’ that is 3ft high that you have to crawl through. The door is over 6ft making it easy to get in and out. The door is completely lockable with a latch and you can even add steel wires for extra safety. What we like about this walk in run, as we have this on our farm to house our cochins, is that when you enter you can close the door behind you on the latch so none of the chickens can get out, then when you leave you can reach through and with your fingers just unlatch it. The only thing better would be a stable style door.
- Waterproof, protective UV resistant cover. This is definitely needed as it does a number of things. Firstly it keeps the direct sun from the chickens and provides some shade. Chickens can suffer from heat stress very quickly, if you’ve ever seen this it can be very traumatic. This shade will also be where you can place down the feed and waterer to keep it cool, as feed will expire a lot quicker in heat and direct sunlight.
Secondly the cover is waterproof, so if it rains they won’t get wet. Chickens unlike ducks, aren’t a big fan of water! Under this is usually where they will take their dust baths to cool off etc.
Thirdly it also prevents wild birds from landing on the poles and pecking at the wire or pooping into the run whilst perching. Wild bird spread diseases amongst chickens and chicks are especially venerable.
- You have the ability to secure it right down to the floor. We love this feature too, as it means no predators can sneak under or no chicks can sneak out! This is also really helpful if placing it down on slightly uneven ground, which our farm has in abundance. It just means you can peg down one side slightly more if necessary to counter this. Simple, but it’s a great feature.
We do have predators sniffing around our farm unfortunately so for extra extra security we set up a simple solar powered electric fence to go around it. We had no issues with foxes, bob cats, possums etc before setting up the fence it was just a precaution. I can just leave them to it then, safe and sound all day with no stresses.
- The gap between the door and the frame is slightly larger than we would have liked.
- You have to keep an eye on the protective cover, as when it rains, if it’s not pulled tight, water can pool on the top flat section and then the weight of this makes it sag down. This could damage both the cover and the surrounding mesh.
So, is there anything better? [Spoiler: Yes!]
Omlet ‘Walk In’ Chicken Run [Best Overall]
What Omlet have to offer is fantastic, they have really knocked out the park with their walk ins. Yes its slightly more expensive, but here you get what you pay for as it is a much better quality product with some extraordinary USP’s. It’s the best walk in chicken run on the market currently.
We have the largest Omlet walk in on our farm too that houses our Dorkings and they absolutely love it. It’s permanently stationed [i.e we don’t move it around] and so we have placed down a bark wood chip floor which works really well. Better than anything else actually we have found, as the chickens love to scratch around in it. Also I scatter a bit of feed in the morning for them and this keeps them really busy during the day, they are very happy in it and lay a tremendous amount of eggs.
The Omlet walk in comes in a range of sizes [in fact its even extendable] and has some brilliant design features:
The walk in door [stable style!]
This is the stable door style. So the bottom half and the top half can open independently of each other. This is a neat design for a number of reasons firstly it means you can place down chickens back into run without the others running out the door by keeping the bottom half closed. This is a bonus for replacing feed and water aswell, you can just reach in with bottom half closed.
If you need full door access to walk in you can close it behind you properly, on the latch, then you can actually let yourself out from the inside, too. It just works really well when you are carrying stuff – trust me!
Having a stable style door is perfect for keeping both chicks and adult chickens together. If you plan to ever let the adults free range just open the door but leave the bottom closed. The chickens can simply hop over and come and go as they please but the chicks remain safely inside.
The wire mesh
This is really strong steel welded wire again covered in a PVC coated outer giving it an excellent look, but also means it will last for years. It’s also really easy to wash down [pressure hose or use a small brush] although the rain does most of it, and even after 4 years ours looks good as new. The sun has had no effect on it whatsoever.
For protection against predators like foxes, coyotes or possums from digging under the run they have designed it so a piece of wire mesh runs around the coop but is flat on the floor. Omlet call this a skirt. The skirt can be secured with special ‘twist in’ pegs. This means nothing gets in or out without your say so.
The whole size is FULLY customizable on the Omlet website, meaning you can get exactly the size you need. You can have it long and thin or in a square shape, the list is endless. No one else has this level of customer attention, anywhere. Standard sizes are below [shown in metres]:
- Curved roof, so there can be no build-up of water on top
- Very small gap between the awesome stable door and the frame – peace of mind
- Great ‘anti dig’ skirt around the outside making it really, really predator proof.
- Great for a permanent position but light enough to be moved or dismantled quickly.
- Extendable – perfect for a growing flock, saves going out and buying a whole new walk in run and having to get rid of the previous one. We went from 10 to 18 chickens within one summer!
- Works seamlessly with Omlet coops but works with other coops too.
- You can even customize it to add a partition or porch section, worth its weight in gold when introducing new chickens into any flock.
- You can add an automatic chicken door right on to the run itself – how cool is that!
There is no manufacturers of walk in chicken runs that have the same quality of design or finish. If you’re a chicken first timer, don’t waste your money on anything else. If you’re a chicken veteran well the benefits are glaringly obvious over anything you’ve had before, no more spilling the waterer over yourself trying to get in, tons of praise of neighbors and an awesome number of eggs as chickens feel safe and secure.