Adding hens to my flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bltfisher, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. bltfisher

    bltfisher New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Mar 18, 2016
    Sebastopol, CA
    Hello,
    I have a question. I am trying to figure out how many new chicks I can add. I have a 32 square foot coop with 4 large nesting boxes (old apple crates) and a 5 level roost. Right now I have 7 hens and a rooster that are free range everyday on 12 acres in Ca. They use the coop for sleeping and laying. I've looked up and seen all the different numbers for how many chickens per square foot and I figured I have come up with a number between 5 and 8 new chicks. But I just want to make sure I am not overcrowding.
    I know I have a while before the chicks get introduced to the new flock, and I do have a mobile coop with a separate run so they will be around each other until the chicks start laying and are big enough to handle the rooster.
    Thank you
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

    17,180
    5,080
    476
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    If your birds are truly free range than they are mostly using your coop to lay and roost, so it's more important to have multiple roosting spots where bottom birds can get away from top birds or else you will have birds who begin to sleep and lay elsewhere. I'm guessing your coop is about 4x8, which isn't very large. I personally wouldn't keep more than 8-10 in it, especially if you want to mix ages which tend to form mini flocks within the big flock and want to stay away from each other. I would either add some space on or make another coop.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

    4,950
    2,665
    341
    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I agree it could get quite interesting at roosting time. I would at least double that space since your flock size would at least be doubled.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,265
    3,552
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    So you are a little north of San Francisco and just a bit inland. Thanks for including your location, that helps. You should have really nice weather in the winter especially. Your chickens should not be confined to the coop much if at all.

    I’ve seen numbers anywhere from 1 square foot to 16 square feet per chicken on this forum. Which one has the magic? None. There are just so many variables that you cannot go by any magic number. We are all unique. You might follow the link in my signature to get a feel for what I think some of those variables are.

    I like what the others said. You mention that they free range but you don’t mention if you keep them locked up at night for predator protection or what time you might open the door to let them out. Unless you are down there every day of the year to let them out at the crack of dawn, you may fine you have a problem if you crowd them much more. That’s one of those management practices that can make a big difference.

    I realize you said you would keep them in a separate coop until they start to lay, which would help reduce the problems with them trying to keep a separate mini-flock, but I’d still be extremely nervous about adding more than two more unless you leave it open so they can get in and out at all times, which means predators can get in and out at any time. And you’d still have to go through integration. The way you are talking about keeping them that should not be a big issue but extra room always comes in handy when you integrate. Roost space is an important part of that extra room.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by