For backyard chicken keepers, winter can present some interesting issues. Chickens are wrapping up their molt. There is reduced egg production due to short days. Cold temperatures can freeze waterers, chicken combs, and even eggs. But one thing that most of us have to deal with (to varying degrees) is snow.
Believe it or not, by doing one simple thing, you can make snow less of an issue. Folks, cover the top of your chicken run. You can go simple and use inexpensive materials for a seasonal solution or you can spend more time and money and come up with a year-round fix.
The simple solution is to cover the run with a tarp or piece of plastic. This is the least expensive route. In some instances, you may already have a tarp or a large sheet of plastic. To keep the tarp from collapsing under snow load, pull it taut and secure to the top of the fencing of the chicken run. Once temperatures begin to warm up, you can remove the tarp and store it away for the next winter.
However, if you want something to be a more permanent solution, you can create a roof for the chicken run. Now you could go all out and build rafters,placing sheathing over the rafters, and then top with shingles, creating a traditional roof, which is the most expensive option. Or you can go with a less time and money consuming route…covering the top of the run with a small grid woven wire. In both of these scenarios, these are permanent covers for the chicken run. In the previous photo, wooden rafters were nailed into place to create a foundation for woven wire. (In urban settings, some communities may require a covered chicken run to ensure that the enclosure is predator proof.)
Benefits of a Covered Run
- Keep most snow out of the run (less run winter maintenance)
- With a permanent roof, creates a predator-proof chicken run
- Helps block the wind (in the event of the wire grid covering, snow will settle on it and helps block the wind)
- Helps block visibility of chickens from aerial predators
- Allows year-round access to chicken run
Whether you live in on a farm or urban homestead, a covered run provides many benefits. Select materials from what you already have on hand or purchase items from a store. You can go with a temporary or permanent solution, but in either case, your chickens benefit from your actions.