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Historical run sizes and chicken breeds

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I've been combing over old books online to find photos/drawings of chickens around the turn of the century--some breed appearances changed a little, while some have changed a lot. I found a small book on home flocks from 1909 that has chapters discussing how much space chickens should have and found them quite applicable even now:

 

Quote:
 "How little room do I dare to allow to my flock?" is a much more common question among small poultry keepers than "How Yard Room much room should I allow?...A flock of a dozen fowls, more or less, should have at least three hundred square feet, if they belong to the American or English class."

That's a lot of room. :cd

 

But also these quotes:

 

Quote:
"A great deal depends upon the nature of the breed as to how much room they must have. The two extremes of type are probably the Cochins and the Leghorns; the former, large and sluggish as they are, will contentedly submit to a confinement the closeness of which would positively worry the active, alert Leghorns. The Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, and other medium-sized breeds, are between these extremes."
 
"The Asiatic breeds, with good care, will often do well on little or no range ; Leghorns and other nervous breeds should not be attempted on a small plot. All figures given are strictly minimum; the more space allowed the better."

 

This makes sense to me from a dog background; giant slothy breeds like OE mastiffs do fine (energy-wise) in dinky apartments while keeping something active but compact like a Border Collie cooped up all day is pretty dicey. But this goes against advice I've seen suggesting that the smaller the chicken breed, the less space they need in comparison to larger ones. I wonder if this book's remarks on breed temperaments falls in line with personal experiences with different breeds. Y/N/Maybe? :frow 

post #2 of 5

Seems like solid thinking.

Our coop build thread...

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1088771/cheryls-hen-house

 

1Peter 5:2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.

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Our coop build thread...

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1088771/cheryls-hen-house

 

1Peter 5:2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.

Reply
post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by vasher View Post
 

I've been combing over old books online to find photos/drawings of chickens around the turn of the century--some breed appearances changed a little, while some have changed a lot. I found a small book on home flocks from 1909 that has chapters discussing how much space chickens should have and found them quite applicable even now:

 

That's a lot of room. :cd

 

But also these quotes:

 

 

This makes sense to me from a dog background; giant slothy breeds like OE mastiffs do fine (energy-wise) in dinky apartments while keeping something active but compact like a Border Collie cooped up all day is pretty dicey. But this goes against advice I've seen suggesting that the smaller the chicken breed, the less space they need in comparison to larger ones. I wonder if this book's remarks on breed temperaments falls in line with personal experiences with different breeds. Y/N/Maybe? :frow 

Think of it this way, while a mastiff may not be a very high energy dog, he still takes up a lot of space, just sitting around. For a giant breed, everything has to be bigger to accommodate the larger size. While both mastiffs and toy breeds do well in small living situations, a mastiff is going to take up more of that space. His bed is going to be bigger, a week's worth of kibble is going to take more storage space, his bowls are going to be bigger. 

It's the same with very large breeds, like a Brahma, compared to a Leghorn. The Leghorn doesn't take up as much space on the roost, and doesn't need that much space to get up onto a roost, so the general guideline is about 4 sq ft of coop space. A Brahma is going to need a lot more room to maneuver. Most are about twice the size of the average Leghorn, but the space they require is only about 5 sq ft per bird in the coop.

And not every individual is going to be happy with the 'minimum'. My Barred Rocks need a lot more sq footage than my Australorps, even though they are the same size. The Australorps are happy to just putter around the yard. But the Barred Rocks are the ones that actively forage. They are insatiably curious and into everything. Without 8 hours of free range time each day, they can get very cranky.

post #4 of 5

Cool info.!  And I agree.  Although my Andalusian is noticeably smaller than my orpington, my orpington could handle being contained in a smaller space much more easily, as my smaller Andalusian is quite flighty - she needs room to roam!

 

Despite my great dane's giant size, he was a huge couch potato!  My neighbor's little hyperactive  Jack Russell terrier would have had a harder time in a tiny yard than my big ol' boy would have. 

 

So size, temperament, activity level - all of that needs to be taken into consideration when housing birds (or animals in general).

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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post #5 of 5
I had to expand my coop, and now my run to accommodate my new chick's. I have 10. 7 Barred Rocks, 1 laced Wyandotte, 1 Buff orpington, and 1 penciled rock. They are quite different than my silkie bantmans that I have .The Silkies don't roost to sleep like my standard birds will. Instead they sleep in a ground nest on the floor of their small house in which they are perfectly content in.For the Silkies they are content inside their run but my standards wouldn't be. Although my back yard is 10,000 Sq feet I can't let the larger birds free range because we are directly in the flight path of Several types of hawks. From the smaller chicken hawks all the way up to the large hawks. So what I've done for my bigger girls is, I bought a very large and strong bird netting I will string up the net so they have more room to free range. The net is capable of stopping a hawk attack. Even if it's the large hawks. Also the netting will serve a purpose to prevent the large girls from flying over the fence into highway traffic. So yes, take under consideration size, temperament, needs, and Breed and the area and what potential dangers could be in that environment as well. The more you try to anticipate the better the birds are off in the environment you make for them.my DH wanted to free range the standards and had forgotten about the Hawks. That would have been a total disaster. It's important to put many things into consideration to keep your flock safe and healthy and happy flock. I hope this helps and makes since.
Edited by realsis - 5/20/16 at 6:46am
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