?? about space:hen requirement for RARELY USED run (beneath coop)


10 Years
Mar 28, 2009
Near Asheville, NC
i have six hens and hope to expand to about a dozen. (getting a broody BO tomorrow, so seven really). i have two coops both of which are raised off the ground in the pen (so the whole pen is accessible). pen is 30x30 and they are in that or free ranging all the time.

my question is about the use of the 20" tall, 4x6 space below our new coop. it will have hardware cloth around it (and buried). what we have not had in the past (with our ark) was a way to keep the flock 100% safe without putting them in the coop proper. we want to be able to go to a friend's at night and eat dinner and not have to get back by dark (or coop them for several hours!)

the question is, is it ok to have my six hens (only the BA/BO are actually "heavy" hens) in the 4x6 coop and with access to their 4x6 enclosure beneath the coop) for a few hours in the afternoon (with the knowledge that they can be totally safe and put themselves to bed)? at what point (# of hens) would i absolutely not be able to leave them in that space for a few hours?
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any ideas?
I'm no expert but I think they'd be totally fine. Mine spent days on end in their coop during our bad winter storms we've had. They could have gone outside but didn't want to. You could always hang a cabbage for them to peck at if you think they'd be too bored but probably not needed.
Se my siggy for details, but the space under my coop is filled with sand, and every time the sun hits it and warms it up, the chooks are down there flinging sand everywhere and having dust baths till they can't stand them anymore...

You'd probably be fine to leave the access to that open all the time, if it's predator proof. Once the sun starts to go down, they'll go up in the coop and roost on their own.
i think i was a little unclear...had two kids running around me at the time i was typing.

short and sweet, what i am saying is--i want to make sure my hens aren't cramped for space, and i know that on a day to day basis they are in a large pen and are doing great.

i wonder if occasionally putting them (7-9 hens, maybe a rooster too) in an 24 sf enclosure (with access to an additional 24 sf coop) for three or four hours before sunset is ok? if birds are kept in a "too small" space (less than 4 sf per bird) only once a week for three or four hours, is that going to have a detrimental effect on them (aside from dominance issues...i will separate if need be and use the other coop in that case).
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watch pecking and aggressive behavior. i'm saying that is a little too tight unless rarely. i'd watch for aggressive behavior.
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