Chicken Run Roof: Why Cover Your Chicken Run?

Chicken runs allow your chickens to leave the coop and come outside in a safe, fenced off area. The fence keeps your chickens in and predators out. A lot of people also cover their chicken run, but most chicken breeds don’t fly very high or very far. So, why would you need a roof?

A chicken run roof is needed to help protect your flock from aerial predators. Aerial predators such as hawks, eagles, and owls will hunt and kill your chickens. A roof will also aid in keeping out climbing animals such as raccoons, bobcats, foxes, fishers, opossums, and several others. Some sort of covering for your chicken run is always necessary.


Hawks are very prominent where I live. They are what I personally have the most trouble with. Hawks will dive bomb their prey. This means they will dive from high up in the air towards a chicken and kill it on impact.

Eagles and owls both tear their prey to pieces with their sharp beaks and talons. Eagles will usually carry their prey back to their nest to eat. Owls will also sometimes eat back at their nest. Both of these are less common. Eagles are endangered birds and owls will be less of an issue for you because they hunt at night.

Land predators like raccoons and foxes are highly intelligent, determined, and capable animals. They can slip into small gaps in your fencing. They will likely be your biggest issues. However, bobcats (I’ve had issues with bobcats) and other animals can also be clever. Especially in the colder months when there’s less to eat. A roof will take care of this or you can invest in an electric fence like the Permire 1 electric netting (my personal favorite). Either of these options will keep your birds as safe as can be from land predators.

Chickens are pretty good at spotting predators. They will run for cover on their own. However, once a land predator makes its way into the chicken run, it will likely get however many it wants and leave. As for aerial predators, sometimes chickens don’t see them before it’s to late. Once predators establish where your chickens are, they will return. It’s best to have some sort of roof in order to preserve your flock.

How To Roof Your Chicken Run

Roofing you chicken run can be done in a variety of different ways. How you built your chicken run will come into play when deciding how to build your roof.

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

The first way to build a chicken run roof is to use the same material you build the walls with. This option often looks very clean and it may be the best, most secure option. Building your chicken run roof in this way will ensure that there are no gaps where a sneaky fox can wiggle its way through.

The second option is to use string. This option involves tying brightly colored string in a zigzag pattern across the top of your chicken run. You continue to tie string in slightly different patterns until there are no holes a bird can comfortably fit through. The string should be brightly colored and multicolored to confuse the bird as much as possible.

This works well for an electrified fence. An electrified fence will keep out climbing predators, so you don’t have to rely on a roof. The string will keep the predatorial birds away because they won’t be able to dive bomb the chickens. This same idea could be accomplished with some sort of netting. The main goal is just to not have any holes big enough for a bird to get through.

The third option is to use tree cover. This is the least secure option. It works best for chickens who aren’t fenced in. Pasture raised chickens are pretty much completely open to predators. You want to try and provide them with as many hiding spots as you can. Pasture raised chickens will run under trees when they spot a predatorial bird. It’s important to give them some kind of cover.

Tree cover will only protect your chickens from aerial predators. Tree cover will not protect your birds from land predators. There is an exception to this: Certain chicken breeds like Hamburgs. Hamburgs can flee from land predators by flying into trees. Hamburgs are fantastic birds to think about trying if you are wanting to let your birds wander without a fence.


You should have some sort of roof over your chicken run. This will keep out predators so much better than an open top. There are three ways I have personally tried to to this. I have tried to do this using:

  1. The same/similar material that I used for the walls
  2. Colorful string and an electric fence
  3. Tree cover

The most predator proof option is to use a similar material you used on the chicken run walls. This is what I use In my chicken fortress. My chicken fortress is a carport That I enclosed and turned into a coop. It’s a very large space with two bays. It has one hardware cloth wall, three wooden walls, and a metal roof. I call it the chicken fortress because no predator has ever made it in.

I believe the second way would have worked for me if I had made my holes a little smaller. It worked for big birds, but a smaller hawk did end up making it’s way through. Shortly after that, I decided to let my chickens roam without a fence.

Letting my chickens go without a fence has been going fairly well. They have plenty of tree cover and they still have access to the chicken fortress. They have gotten very smart about hiding and they are very strategic about when they leave the chicken fortress. That being said, I have lost several birds. It is definitely the least secure way to raise chickens.

Let me know down below how you built your chicken run roof!

I wish you all joyful farming!

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