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How much coop space is needed for free range chickens?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I have 9 - 5 month old girls right now. But we are looking to get a few more in the Spring. (Chicken math, initially wanted 6, got 12 instead, 1 died, 2 roosters were re-homed, and now want a couple more breeds)

Our set-up includes a 5x6 coop with 2 - 6ft roosting bars. We have an automatic door that opens at dawn and closes just after dusk, so they are only in there to sleep. There is an attached run that is 10x12, but the door to the run stays open, so they free range all day. (the run is really only for when we need them to not be roaming, and they are usually only penned up for an hour or so, such as; when mowing the lawn)

I have read that most say your coop needs to be at least 4 square feet per chicken, but then I have read that some say that is only if they are kept in the coop for more than to sleep, and they are ok as long as they have at least 1 foot of roosting space. We would prefer to not need to get another coop, so I am curious if I need to wait until we do have enough money to get another coop, or if we will be ok to get a couple more girls.

post #2 of 6

In my opinion this is how you should approach   this.... 

 

Let your girls grow to full size first.    They become hens at one year old, but should start laying at about 6 months or so. ( give or take )  at which they are referred to as pullets.    At that stage you will be able to see how their behavior is.   Overcrowding is something not desired.  You will know at that time if you should add some extra chickens or not.     Since your girls are only in the coop to sleep, and soon lay eggs,  I think that you can stretch the 4 square foot guideline a little.  You may just need to expand your coop rather than  get a larger one.   Easier to add on than to get a whole new bigger unit.   Another thing to consider is the height inside.   The higher the coop, the larger the interior volume.    All factors that make for more comfortable accommodations for your girls. 

WISHING YOU BEST :thumbsup

post #3 of 6

What you really need to measure is the length of the winter night. Mine are roosting up earlier and earlier as we go into winter, in another month they will be roosted from 4:30pm - 7:00am. That is a long time, and the darkness will artificially confine them to the coop, even if you leave a door open.

 

Free range can be used to cheat on the run, but not really the coop. 

 

The number one problem in chicken behavior is caused by not enough space. Wishing they would all get along, really does not work.

 

Mrs K

Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. K View Post
 

What you really need to measure is the length of the winter night. Mine are roosting up earlier and earlier as we go into winter, in another month they will be roosted from 4:30pm - 7:00am. That is a long time, and the darkness will artificially confine them to the coop, even if you leave a door open.

 

Free range can be used to cheat on the run, but not really the coop. 

 

The number one problem in chicken behavior is caused by not enough space. Wishing they would all get along, really does not work.

 

Mrs K

I like that, makes sense.

 

Bad weather and/or predation events can keep even mostly free range birds confined at times.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks, looks like I should hold off this spring on getting more :/

post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by HJSmith View Post
 

Thanks, looks like I should hold off this spring on getting more :/

It's SOOO much easier(and much more fun) integrating new birds if you have to proper spaces prepared ahead of time.

Getting thru your first winter will teach you a lot about 'space' and population.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
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