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I'm confused on how much space I need.

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
How do I calculate or figure how much space my girls need? I'm looking at plans but have no idea how much space they really need so I don't know which plan to choose. I currently have 4 but would really like 6. I don't have a large backyard, but I do let them out a few hours everyday. Help! I'm overwhelmed!
post #2 of 6
Follow the link in my signature to get some of my thoughts on that. Some of it won’t apply to your situation but some will. It does not give you hard and fast numbers and may not be a great help right now but in the future something you read may come in handy. It may help convince you to go bigger rather than smaller though. And it may help you decide how to manage them.

One thing that is going to help you get by with less space is that you are going to have an all-hen flock. No roosters and I doubt you will be having a broody hen hatch and raise chicks with the flock. But you say you will be integrating later, so your space requirements at that time go up. You may be able to deal with that using something temporary.

I don’t see you letting them out a bit every day being all that relevant to how much space you need. I encourage you to do that but there will be days you don’t do that. Life gets in the way of those types of plans.

I don’t know where you are located so I don’t know what extremes of hot or cold you may be looking at. It often helps with questions if you modify your profile to at least give us a clue which side of the equator you are on. Narrowing it down a little more can really help.

Chickens do not understand the concept of room in the coop versus room in the run. They just understand whether or not they have room somewhere when they need it. I don’t know how predator proof your run will be so you may or may not be locking them in the coop at night or give them access to the run all the time. I don’t know your weather so I don’t know if the run will be accessible year around.

This is not just about how much space your girls need. Your comfort and convenience are very important. You need to be able to access everything inside the coop. Being able to stand up in the run without banging your head or not having to work on your knees makes life so much more pleasant. I find the less I crowd them the fewer behavioral problems I have to deal with, the more flexibility I have to deal with those and other problems, and the less hard I have to work. This is mostly about you, not them.

It sounds like you are going to be building it yourself since you are looking at plans. I don’t fully trust you to stop at a total of 6 either, but since you are integrating a little extra room can come in handy. Since most building materials come in standard 4’ or 8’ lengths I suggest you look at plans for a 4’ x 8’ coop. 4’ x 6’ wouldn’t be bad but with the 8’ you won’t have a lot of cutting and waste. Look at your roof. I really like enough overhang so I can leave the tops of the walls open for ventilation (covered with hardware cloth for predators) without rain getting in. You need it to slope also so water runs off in the direction you want it to. You don’t want water running off into your run or your access door when gathering eggs and getting it even wetter and you don’t want a flat roof where water stands. It will rot your roof or leak through.

A 4’ x 8’ isn’t really big enough for you to get inside and work so make sure you have a few openings to access the inside. I’d look at elevating it and making it at least 4’ high. Getting a slope on your roof may cost you a bit more in building materials. If you are careful you can get enough stuff in 4’ to meet your vertical needs, especially if you hang your nests outside and keep them really low. You need height for any bedding, room for nest openings above that, your roosts need to be higher than your nests so they sleep in the roosts instead of in the nest, and the roosts need to be below your ventilation up high so a breeze doesn’t hit them if you live in a cold climate. If you live in a warm climate like the US Gulf Coast, cold weather worries go away.

I don’t know what your run will look like. If it’s just fence posts and wire you have a lot of flexibility, especially if you are not going to cover it. I suspect you will build something fairly substantial and pretty predator proof, including a roof or at least a wire cover. Remember that lumber often is pretty inexpensive in 8’ lengths. You can get a lot of different lengths and width of rolls of wire. For six hens I would not be happy with a 4’ x 8’ run. If you put a solid roof on it, a 6’ width would not a horrible. A 6’ x 8’ run for six hens would probably work. I’d want more but it should work. With it that small you may have to do more poop management, this is an example of working harder, but your space is limited and you are probably going to have to do something with poop management anyway. With chickens pooping in a smaller area you just may have to do that more frequently.

I understand your frustration. You don’t have the experience and you can get a lot of conflicting advice on here. And there are no magic numbers for any of this. My suggestion is to provide as much room as you reasonably can, whether that is coop, run, roosts, brooder, or even nests instead of going with the bare minimums. People don’t complain about having extra room.

Good luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
You were very helpful thank you! And FTR I'm in Fort Worth, Texas. I
Don't have a huge backyard, hence me not wanting to take up a ton of space.
post #4 of 6

Ridgerunner's advice is spot on. Believe me I know how you feel. I went with the idea of a minimum of 10 square feet per bird between the combined space of the coop and run since I didn't plan to free range them (in the yard) due to predators and since the weather in central AZ is warm most of the year they would never be spending entire days in the coop. And like Ridgerunner said, it's important to build the coop so it's easy to clean so stand-up room or at least easy-access is important. I don't believe it gets too cold where you're at either so if you're thinking to let them in the yard to browse for the most part you could probably get away with a relatively small coop. I don't know if you looked on the coops page here but there's a lot of good ideas there. Here's mine:

 

I hope you don't stress over it too much like I did. Remember that you'll probably be making adjustments to it afterwards as you figure out what's going on with your gals so go with what you think will work and take it from there.

post #5 of 6

Nice coop!!!  Mary

post #6 of 6

Thanks Mary. It was a fair amount of work but wasn't all that difficult. That was the first such structure I ever built so I probably spent most of the time reading books on building sheds to get an idea what to do. If I had to do it again I'd probably just use a metal roof on the coop like I did the run since it's about 2/3 the price of a regular asphalt shingle roof and probably 1/4 the work. Other than that though I'm happy with it and already planning another coop/run for broilers.

 

Gene

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