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Suggestions on square footage for a chicken run, please.

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

So I finally got home to the USA and I am ready to order my chickens, I know it is a little late in the season. Anyway, we have been using my mothers backyard coop as an experiment and I have decided that what she has is simply way to small. She has 4 square foot per bird in the coop and that seems just fine as they only sleep there but the run just seems too small. The run is about 8 square foot per bird and I know the recommended is 10 but even that seems like it might be a bit small. We do free range the birds we have for about 4 hours on week days and all day on the weekend but still, I feel bad for the birds.

 

I had planned to get two breeds of chicken and keep them in separate coops but I think I will skip that this season and go with just one breed and build a bigger coop. With the new dimensions that I came up with it will ramp up the square footage to about 16sf per bird. That is double the 8 my mom has now, will that be a significant improvement or am I going to have to go bigger to see a noticeable difference?

 

So, knowing that 10sf per bird is the minimum standard what does everyone else consider a good number to make my chickens comfortable? I want to go quality over quantity here which is why I have decided to scale things back in the bird department.

 

Thank you in advance for any info or experience you might be able to share.

post #2 of 5

Make the coop and run bigger. Always have too much room, you'll end up wanting more chickens in the long run. You just have to make sure that if they're a nesting breed you factor in room for nesting boxes. Though since they'll be off the ground anyways it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Don't feel bad about the size of the run. As long as they are protected from predators and have access to grass and dirt they will be happy. They can free-range safer if your yard is covered by trees and foliage so hawks and big birds won't be able to snatch them up.

post #3 of 5

Yay!!  Quality over quantity is my motto...lol!  Keep in mind that the often suggested 10 sq. ft. per bird truly is a minimum, at least in my mind.  Mild mannered breeds can cope okay with that amount of space, but why shoot for minimums??? 

 

Here are my thoughts:  If you guys do a lot of traveling, and someone else will be caring for your birds fairly frequently, they may not feel as comfortable about the couple of hours of free range time as you are - so make it big enough that they would be comfortable if contained for weeks on end.  Personally, when I see folks using one of those 10x10 chain link dog pens as a run, I would not house more than 5-6 birds inside (although some would house 10 birds, based on minimums).  Many LF breeds are about the size of a house cat (not one of those mongo house cats of course...lol).  So if I try to picture 10 cats living 24/7 in a 10x10 room, it doesn't give me a good feeling.

 

So 16 sq. ft of run space per bird is good!!  If it's possible to plan for 20 sq. ft. even better!!  There is no such thing as too much space - it comes down to finances and space planning...and of course being able to build the run (if not using a dog pen set-up).

 

For someone who is rarely gone from home, and knows they will be able to free range quite a bit (which may be your case - 4 hrs per day is wonderful), then a smaller run is doable.  But what about when the days get short and it's dark at 5:30PM??  Will they have any free range time then??? 

 

My bantam run is TINY...way too small.  It wasn't way too small until two extra birds ended up in there somehow (6 silkies/d'uccles in a 44 sq. ft. run!! was built for 4 bantams).  BUT...those birds are let out by 8a.m. and I don't close the run doors until they've put themselves to bed at night - so they pretty much free range all day long.  And because we're on a family farm, on the rare occasion we are out of town, there are lots of "helpers" available to let the chickens out. 

 

Our other two coops have good sized runs - one offers 15 sq. ft. per bird (and they are tiny seramas ranging in size from 9 oz up to 20 oz - don't take up much physical space but are active little things), and my "big girl" run offers over 30 sq. ft per bird.  All my birds free range pretty much all day, but I didn't know that would be the case when we built our first coop/run, so we built our first one with LOTS of space.

 

The housing you mentioned sounds fine space-wise.  We do get winter snow in my area, so I did plan from more than 4 sq. ft. per bird of housing.  Of course that bantam coop I mentioned is 4x5 and houses 6 bantams, so it no longer is as spacious as it once was (well, I did PLAN for more space...lol).

 

Anyhow...think about your lifestyle, and plan accordingly.  Have fun!!


Edited by teach1rusl - 5/29/16 at 6:37am

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 #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by teach1rusl View Post
 

Yay!!  Quality over quantity is my motto...lol!  Keep in mind that the often suggested 10 sq. ft. per bird truly is a minimum, at least in my mind.  Mild mannered breeds can cope okay with that amount of space, but why shoot for minimums??? 

 

Here are my thoughts:  If you guys do a lot of traveling, and someone else will be caring for your birds fairly frequently, they may not feel as comfortable about the couple of hours of free range time as you are - so make it big enough that they would be comfortable if contained for weeks on end.  Personally, when I see folks using one of those 10x10 chain link dog pens as a run, I would not house more than 5-6 birds inside (although some would house 10 birds, based on minimums).  Many LF breeds are about the size of a house cat (not one of those mongo house cats of course...lol).  So if I try to picture 10 cats living 24/7 in a 10x10 room, it doesn't give me a good feeling.

 

So 16 sq. ft of run space per bird is good!!  If it's possible to plan for 20 sq. ft. even better!!  There is no such thing as too much space - it comes down to finances and space planning...and of course being able to build the run (if not using a dog pen set-up).

 

For someone who is rarely gone from home, and knows they will be able to free range quite a bit (which may be your case - 4 hrs per day is wonderful), then a smaller run is doable.  But what about when the days get short and it's dark at 5:30PM??  Will they have any free range time then??? 

 

My bantam run is TINY...way too small.  It wasn't way too small until two extra birds ended up in there somehow (6 silkies/d'uccles in a 44 sq. ft. run!! was built for 4 bantams).  BUT...those birds are let out by 8a.m. and I don't close the run doors until they've put themselves to bed at night - so they pretty much free range all day long.  And because we're on a family farm, on the rare occasion we are out of town, there are lots of "helpers" available to let the chickens out. 

 

Our other two coops have good sized runs - one offers 15 sq. ft. per bird (and they are tiny seramas ranging in size from 9 oz up to 20 oz - don't take up much physical space but are active little things), and my "big girl" run offers over 30 sq. ft per bird.  All my birds free range pretty much all day, but I didn't know that would be the case when we built our first coop/run, so we built our first one with LOTS of space.

 

The housing you mentioned sounds fine space-wise.  We do get winter snow in my area, so I did plan from more than 4 sq. ft. per bird of housing.  Of course that bantam coop I mentioned is 4x5 and houses 6 bantams, so it no longer is as spacious as it once was (well, I did PLAN for more space...lol).

 

Anyhow...think about your lifestyle, and plan accordingly.  Have fun!!

Thank you. I don't actually travel much but my wife is from Spain and we go to visit her family once every two years for two weeks. My mother will take care of my birds like they were her own, no worries there. 

 

As for the ability to plan for 20sf, I can do that! I would only have to add another 4 foot panel to each side of the run when I build. As I said, I wanted two coops for two breeds but have decided to go with one this season so I have the extra money to make this one larger and if I still want to expand next year then I can build another.

 

Thanks again! It is nice to get ideas and advice from those more experienced. 

post #5 of 5

a picture is a thousand words...and a video is a thousand pictures

 

as for suggestion-- also most everything you need from this extension

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by BruceAZ - 5/29/16 at 4:56pm
What i posted above are just my opinions.. they are NOT facts.
Reply
What i posted above are just my opinions.. they are NOT facts.
Reply
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BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance › Suggestions on square footage for a chicken run, please.