Chickens And Space The In Your Face Answers

By bairo, Apr 15, 2012 | Updated: Nov 11, 2012 | | |
  1. bairo
    As applied to LF laying or breeding chickens:

    It seems I see this more and more. Always the questions of how do I fit all the chickens I want into this space. The questions are fine....but many times we see that people will already have a certain number of chickens on the way and then ask the question of space. Many times the over crowding then leads people to ask what is wrong with them when they get sick. What is usually wrong is that their owners wanted to satisfy their desire for a certain number of birds more than they wanted to raise healthy and happy chickens!! In this world today we have been taught that there is always a way to satisfy our wants no matter what it takes. (we are a very spoiled society with entitlement issues). Sometimes we are just going to have to admit that it can not be done!

    By the time you get in the feeders, nest boxes, waterers, roosts, etc.etc. You need 5 sq./ft per bird inside with a minimum of 32 sq./ft. (no matter how many birds you have). You need 15 sq./ft per bird of run space (ONLY IF THEY CAN FREE RANGE SEVERAL TIMES PER WEEK) If they can never free range...then you need about a 100 sq.ft. per bird of run space. Just measure the length and the width of the coop floor and multiply those together. Take that answer and divide by 5. That is how many chickens you might be able to have. Now measure the length and width of the run space and multiply. Now divide by 15. Look at this # and the # from the coop space....take the lowest #. That is it....that is the # of chickens you can get (period) Get more at your own risk!!

    Chicken tractors were invented to allow the controlled and safe ranging of chickens, not as a permanent coop. The same sq./ft. rule applies to tractors. A tractor is outside and therefor figured as run space. If you have a 32 sq.ft. tractor (4 x 8)...then you can only get 2 birds in there to roll them around so they can have their outside time and pick at greenery and bugs during the day. As sun set approaches they need to be back in the coop.

    You may berate me for this, you may not like it, you may think I'm mean, etc.
    Regardless of how you feel though, that is the way it is unless you and your birds wish to suffer the consequences of any number of problems.


    I imagine that there will be plenty of people that say they get away with much less space and not had big problems...this might be correct. But I think you will find as time goes by these folks are spending an inordinate amount of money and/or time trying to avoid problems. Me? I like being able to just do a couple cleans a year, having a coop that never smells and having happy and healthy chickens without having to constantly solve problems of pecking, fighting, disease, parasites, and the list goes on and on. So these are my opinions formed by countless mistakes in the past. For the folks that want to say to look at the commercial operations and their space...would you want to eat those so called eggs? For the folks that say it has been done with much less space for hundreds of years, or "my grandfather did it such and such a way".100 years ago most chickens did not make it past 2 years old, nor produced the amount or quality of eggs.

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  1. Free Feather
    I agree with this, especially on the run space. My chickens are used to free ranging, but they have a run in case I need to close them up. Each chicken in the run has about 60 square feet. When I started doing rotational free ranging because of cockerel sparring, I was afraid to open the door for fear of a horde of angry chickens flogging me. They HATED being in there with even that much space, and free ranging every other day. And some people want to have only 10 feet each? Wow.
  2. coloradogal
    Awesome answer! I agree totally. I sort of found this out on my own last year when my 11 chickens, even with a 150 yard run, were too small during the winter for the first coop. I ended up with a second to get through the winter until the Spring, when I built a 15 X 25 add-on to the garage with another 90X30 run outside (just fenced in my back yard). My target for my flock is just under 35 as 10 are bantams and very tiny. So far, so good. If in the winter they are stuck inside because of a blizzard, I plan on opening up one bay of my 3 car garage. That should give them enough extra space to keep them happy.
  3. FirewifeJess
    Thank you Bairo, I appreciate your genuine apology and I'm still excited about my girls; I plan to stick around BYC for a long time. I was also pretty riled up yesterday after your response and apologize for being so aggressive.
  4. bairo
    @firewifejess
    You are right. I apologize and can only say I was upset about something else when I wrote it (not your fault of course). I have changed the wording here and re-posted and apologized on the other forum as well. Believe it or not... the last thing I want to do is turn someone away from the hobby. I realize now that I could have easily done that with my former post. Please accept my apologies.
  5. FirewifeJess
    Do you happen to think that we are asking questions (hoping not to be judged right off the bat as ignorant and selfish in our chicken wanting desires) because we love the idea of chickens and actually DO want to make sure we are doing the best we can with our chickens? I know you are speaking of my post asking about having 15 chickens in my 5x7 coop and I'm glad I asked for advice because I realize I need to get rid of some chickies, or expand my coop and run. Instead of getting safe, kind advice from a friendly community, you came here and basically posted about how stupid people are for asking these questions. I agree with your advice but you are terribly rude in your passive aggressive answers and posts.

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