Building A Chicken Run: The Best, Cheapest Way To Build

There are a dozen ways to build a chicken run, but what’s the cheapest, most effective way? I have reviewed several different ways to build a chicken run and have determined which way gives you the most bang for your buck.

The cost of buying a chicken run averages about $400 for a fairly small size run. People often build them to avoid paying that premium and to customize them for their specific needs. The traditional way people build them uses wooden posts and hardware cloth. At the time of writing this post, the highest ranking post when you search “how to build a chicken run” on google is from The Old Farmers Almanac (click the link to check out their How To Build A Chicken Run blog post). Assuming you already have the tools required, let’s look at the price of the materials for this chicken run (For this price calculation, I will be looking at a 10×10 or 100 square foot chicken run which should fit about 10 chickens).

Eight 4×4 fence posts$50.24
80 pound bag of Quikrete concrete mix$4.48
Sixteen 2×4 boards$71.68
½” welded wire fencing$103.82
Staples (U-shaped nails)$6.46
Wood screws$15.48
**DISCLAIMER: Prices may vary based on location and store. This is an estimation.**

Building this chicken run would end up only costing you $250-$275. This is significantly cheaper than buying a chicken run and it will look pretty. However, this is not the only way to build a chicken run. There are other cheap options out there. Some of the other cheaper ones will not look like a typical chicken run, but are just as effective. The purpose of a chicken run is to keep your chickens in a specific area and keep the predators out.

An Unconventional Chicken Run Option

This is the option I used for my chickens before I let them go free range without a fence. It is the option I would recommend. Building a chicken run like the one discussed above is cheaper than buying a chicken run, but it does not factor in the value of your time. I used the Premiere 1 electric netting. This option worked fantastic for me. My chickens did not experience any predator pressure as long as they were inside the fence. There isn’t much assembly required. All you do is set the posts into the ground and hook it up to a power supply. This option is the fastest BY FAR and therefore one of the most attractive option for people who truly value their time.

Black Australorp Inside Electric Netting

The Premiere 1 electric netting has the added benefit of being able to be moved around whereas the last chicken run was a permanent structure stuck in the ground by concrete planted posts. Your chickens don’t have to be stuck in one place for the entirety of their lives. If you decide you want to move them, you can!

Another benefit to using the Premier 1 electric netting is that you don’t have to have a super secure roof. The electrified netting will not allow animals to hold onto it long enough to climb up. However, you should still have some kind of cover. Aerial predators are still a threat. Luckily, there is a cheap and simple way to deal with this. Aerial predators like hawks kill prey by diving from the sky and killing on impact. You can use string to tie above your chicken run. Creating a funky zigzag pattern with no holes big enough for a hawk to comfortably fit through will keep these predators away.

Premiere 1 electric netting$492.80
**DISCLAIMER: Prices may vary based on location and store. This is an estimation.**

It may not look like the cover of Country Living magazine, but this was by far the most practical option for me. The price of the Premiere 1 electric netting includes a solar power generator. They have a battery and an electric power option for cheaper, but the more self reliant option is solar power. It may seems like the price is just as expensive as buying a chicken run that’s already made. This is not the case. This netting (at 100 feet long) will actually give you over twice the space that a pre-made chicken run of the same price would. When I used this netting, I had 70 chickens in this fence at once and they all had plenty of room.


The cheapest way to build a chicken run is of course to use materials you already have. The price of wood has wildly increased over the pandemic. This has made reusing older materials even more attractive than it was before. To build a cheap chicken run that looks like most of the other chicken runs (hardware cloth wrapped around wooden posts), You’ll want to use any wood that you already have access to for the posts. You will want to use hardware cloth that is thick and hard to chew through. Your chicken run will require a roof to keep out climbing predators like foxes and raccoons. Typically you want to bury your hardware cloth in the ground about a foot to keep digging predators out.

Remember that your time is also valuable! The dollar amount isn’t all your spending on building chicken runs. Any extra time you spend building is cutting into your chickens’ time outdoors and your time that could be better spent elsewhere. Your time should be calculated into the total price of whatever option you decide to go with.

There are absolutely other ways to build chicken runs. There are tons of possibilities, so get innovative! The only requirement for chicken runs is that it keeps your chickens in and the predators out. It doesn’t have to look a certain way. You can experiment with different designs (like a hoop house style) and materials (like tarps, pvc pipes, etc.) to make whatever works best for the space and materials you already have.

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