Originally Posted by jazzpurr
I have finally got all the materials together to build an 8FT x8 FT coop. I wanted to get 12 Buff Orps but I'm not convinced that 64 Sq feet is enough, especially when they may be inside for days at a time in the coldest stretch of winter here in North east PA.
I have plenty of room for a large run. It is approximately 50 Ft x 75 Ft (3750 Sq. Ft). What I would like to know is that enough for 12 Buffs without ever moving it. I am putting up 4 Ft fence on the entire perimeter. I would think 3600 Sq Ft would be enough that even the most active birds wouldn't tear
up that much space.
They won't destroy the run as quickly, but unless you are blessed with unusually glorious growing conditions and do a good bit of manual-labor maintenance, they WILL turn it into a bit of a wasteland in time (perhaps a year or two rather than a month or two), at least in the most-frequented areas. Just so you know to expect it
Previous replies have good suggestions about coop size. Here are a couple other things to consider.
You can have a two-room coop, such that they can be shut into a 4-sq-ft-per-bird area in really bitterly cold weather but have a larger area at their disposal most of the time.
You can also have a smaller fully-enclosed portion of run, leading from coop to the outer roofless run, that can be wrapped with plastic etc (you might just want to build a permanent roof on it, as well) in wintertime so they have a less-cold less-snowy place to go out. That,too, will help alleviate stress from being stuck indoors. In fact it might be really good to plan on this, because your 4' high fence is likely to be highly raccoon-permeable and will offer no protection from hawks and owls, so I betcha anything that at some point (possibly often) you will find it highly convenient to have a way of letting the chickens be sorta outdoors without being exposed to major predation. For instance, if you go out on vacation, or are having a really bad predator problem at some point, or just don't want to have the chickens locked indoors til you haul your butt out of bed at 10 a.m. after a late night out
Personally I would do both of these things if possible, or if not, I would do whichever I could best afford financially and construction-wise. I really feel like it is best for chickens to have as much space available as possible, for both health and happiness -- and as per above, this *need not* compromise their ability to stay warm in winter.
Just a thought,