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My Coop Design Help/Size

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Ok let me start off by saying I know it sucks and this questions has been asked a number of times I just want some clarification on how i am going about this. I just recently got out of the military and bought some land for me and my family of 3 ( soon to be 4 in July) I want to live a simple life the way i was raised and offer my son the same kind of mentor ship. I started a little Farm call freedom produce and homesteading and just now getting my chicken coop going. i have read that for coop size per bird is 2 square feet if they are going to be in the coop the whole time and 10 square feet per bird in the run. My question is this. i am building a coop the will be 96 square feet with a ceiling height of roughly 4 foot. I will have a run the will be 352 square feet with a ceiling height of 6.5 feet. I have taken several ideas off of this site and kind of made one that is to my benefit. With what i think i know, that gives me 48 chickens in my coop but only enough room in my run for 35 chickens. I plan on doing 50 chickens and moving the Coop/Run every 2 weeks. They will get wheat fodder, chicken feed, and oyster shells. Plus scrapes from the produce farm. 

post #2 of 4
First congratulations on July. That’s great news.

For a coop that size, you do not want it 4’ high. You need to be able to stand up in it. You do not want to be on your hands and knees every time you go in there and you will go in there.

While chickens are basically ground dwelling birds there are advantages to managing them to having more height to work with. They like to roost on the highest thing available. Whatever that is, it needs to be higher than your nests, noticeably higher. I don’t know where you will be located so I don’t know what kind of weather you are facing, but ventilation is important in both hot and cold weather. In hot weather you can’t have too much. In a really cold climate it’s often best to have wind protection where they are roosting but have it open over their heads. Having more height to work with makes that a whole lot easier.

I’ve read everything from 1 square foot per chicken to 16. Sometimes a run is mentioned, sometimes it’s not. I don’t believe in magic numbers for chickens. We keep them in so many different climates, use different management techniques, have different goals, just tremendous number of differences that there cannot be one number that works for all of us. About any of those square feet can work, depending on the conditions though even commercial operations don’t generally go as low as 1 square feet. That’s just too much even for them and their techniques.

You can follow the link in my signature to get some of my thoughts on space. A lot of that won’t apply to you but some will. I find the tighter I crowd them the more problems I have to deal with, the less flexibility I have to deal with that problem, and the harder I have to work. A lot of this is more for your benefit than the chickens. Why make your life harder than it has to be?

What you are talking about is basically what we call a tractor. You are providing predator protection but moving it around to provide fresh forage. I tried a tractor one summer. It did not last real long. I had 8 chickens in 64 square feet and had to move it every two to three days. It did not take them long to wipe out the vegetation and their poop quickly made a mess. If the ground was wet two days might be a stretch. If it was really dry, maybe I’d wait four days but I really shouldn’t have. It’s not just their poop but their scratching. I don’t know your climate or anything like that but you may find it has to be moved more often than every two weeks. If you move it regularly when needed you can get by with less room than with a fixed coop and run.

On that general note, it often helps if you put your location in your signature just so we have an idea about your climate.

What is your winter like? They won’t forage much if the ground is covered with snow. Something like this may be hard to move, say it freezes to the ground. A lot of people that use tractors use them in the summer to provide protected forage but have a permanent winter quarters, maybe greatly reducing the numbers in the winter and cranking back up in spring. Some of that depends on your goals.

If you haven’t considered it you might want to look at another model. Build a mobile coop but instead of a run use electric netting. You’ll need power but solar might work for you. Those pretty much stop any ground based predator. Birds of prey are still a danger. Some people have a lot more trouble with them than others. With electric netting you can give them a pretty big area to forage in and it’s not that hard to move. This model will be used a lot more for the number of chickens you are talking about than a mobile coop and run.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.


 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

post #3 of 4
Some of us keep them as pets, some as hobby, some as livelihood, 50 birds are probably the third group, which I am not. But I have visited farmers and learned a few things that might be useful to you.

Coop with 96sf should have a ceiling high enough to walk in. Crawling inside to feed and clean gets old fast. Moving a coop that size and weight will be difficult and gets old fast, even if it is on a trailer.

10sf per for run is un-necessarily big.

If you plan to sell eggs for money, many keepers find it tough just to break even. If you start with a large investment in building, you are starting in the hole.

If you have only book knowledge on raising chickens, maybe start with 8 to 12 birds. Enough for the family and get your feet wet.

Sorry to be brutal, but...
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

I do thank you guys for the quick response and the knowledge. I do not think ECBW was brutal just stating your opinion. I grew up on large conventional farming with 3 hog house, 6 300 feet chicken houses, 400 acres of crops, and about 120 heard of goats. I am starting out on my own and in a different way than my grand father did. I want it to be a little more stress few vs the above. i do not mind long hours just don't want it on that scale. I have attached a link of how the inside of my coop will be roughly set up so i will only need to enter in the event of an emergency.


I also added my location to my profile


I have 2 24 roll away nest boxes from Shenandoah that i will be using for nesting boxes once I fabricate a new design. I also understand that i may be moving it more than every two weeks and have looked into electric fence netting to help with this. I am just waiting on loggers to come clear my land. They will also spend winters during the harsh months in a rotation in my green houses. 

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