Advice on coop and run capacity

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cairopd1069, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. cairopd1069

    cairopd1069 Out Of The Brooder

    63
    0
    39
    Dec 4, 2010
    Cairo, Ga
    I am new to chickens and I am trying to do everything right. I want to know how many chickens I can have with the facilities I have built. I ordered 25 chicks from Stromberg's, I only lost one so far. They are 3 weeks old, 10 BOs, 9 RIRs and 5 SW. My coop is 8x8 and is 7' tall in the front and 5' tall in the rear. My run is 8' wide x 20' long and 6' tall. I am sure I will have to get rid of some of them, but I want to wait and see if I have any roosters in the bunch.

    On another note, I am wondering about ventilation. Right now, I have a storm door with a sliding window and screen. Other than that, the only ventilation is a small area where my light cord runs through that is about 6"x8". I open the glass during our warm days, but close it at night. Our night time temps are getting down in the mid 20s right now, so I hate to leave the screen open during the night. I plan on installing some windows with hardware cloth over them when it warms up. I have two brooder lamps, but I am only using one during the day, 40 degrees to 70 degrees, and two when the temps get down in the 20's.
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    102
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I want to know how many chickens I can have with the facilities I have built.

    With all due respect, and meaning this in the nicest way, can I point out that what this question really boils down to is "how crowded can I probably have them and still get away with it?"

    Whereas what's best for the CHICKENS is "how few chickens can I be satisfied with, so that they will have the best living conditions possible".

    How crowded you can likely get away with (meaning, "without excessively high risk of cannibalism-related problems") is not a single magic number, it depends partly on the temperament of your chickens and partly on LUCK and largely on how risk-tolerant you are. If you are ok with chickens pecking each other bloody sometimes and maybe even having to cull some or all of them and start over again, then I would suggest that 2 sq ft apiece indoors and maybe 4-5 sq ft apiece in the run is a reasonable ballpark.

    If OTOH you would be distressed to find them doing awful things to each other, there are never any *guarantees* but the more room you can give them (i.e the fewer chickens in a given amount of space) the likelier that things will go well. People on BYC like to quote a magic number somewhere around 4 sq ft per chicken indoors plus 8-10 sq ft apiece in the run. You can still sometimes get cannibalism problems at that density, but less likely to than with more crowding.

    If what you care about is having happy natural-behaving chickens, though, then all of those numbers are real real crowded and you will want to think about a WHOLE lot more room per chicken.

    So it comes down to a very personal decision, which everyone will have different feelings about.

    On another note, I am wondering about ventilation. Right now, I have a storm door with a sliding window and screen.

    You will need a LOT more in summertime, as I see you are in Georgia. What you have may be minimally-sufficient for now (esp. with the chickens being small). Not just windows, but large open (hardwarecloth covered) areas.

    Bear in mind that windowscreen, even if metal, is not by any stretch of the imagination predatorproof. Although if the screen door opens into a pretty daytime-predator-proof run and is closed every night, that may not be a big issue.

    As for whether your ventilation is sufficient right now, use your nose and eyes -- if you are not getting condensation, and the place does not smell "strong" when you open the door first thing in the morning, your ventilation is adequate.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. cairopd1069

    cairopd1069 Out Of The Brooder

    63
    0
    39
    Dec 4, 2010
    Cairo, Ga
    The reason for my post is I am trying to do the right thing by my chickens. I am not trying to pack my chickens like sardines. I had to order 25 chicks, that is what Stromberg's required. I do not want them to resort to cannibalism, fight or peck each other to death. I was looking for "advice" as to how many chickens I should keep once I find out how many, if any, roosters I have. I am not going to build a bigger coop or run, I am going to adjust my numbers so that I can raise chickens in an appropriate enviroment and gather eggs for my family to eat as well as have pets for my 6 year old daughter. I am not a math major, but at 4 sq feet per chicken, in the coop, that means I can keep 16 chickens. Based on the size of my run, that would give 16 chickens 10 sq feet of run space. If I find that they are resorting to cannibalism, then I will sell some more.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    102
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I was looking for "advice" as to how many chickens I should keep once I find out how many, if any, roosters I have.

    Right, I realize that, all's I'm saying is that there is no one answer. It just totally depends on what you want to do.


    Pat​
     
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,852
    37
    249
    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    How many chickens do you want? In other words, how many eggs do you need and/or want?

    There's no minimum number of chickens per square foot. I have 9 tiny bantams in a coop the same size as yours, with a run slightly smaller, as well as two other coops/runs and two tractors that I use to rotate my flock around. I don't feel like I have too much space in the housing I'm using...far from it.

    The lower the population density in housing, the easier the chicken keeper's job.

    By the way, there are other ways to get chickens than ordering from a hatchery and having to deal with minimum order sizes. We got five day old chicks from a local backyard breeder, then raised some of our own under our broodies (partly from eggs that were fertilized by our illegal roo before we rehomed him, partly from hatching eggs we bought from another local breeder).

    For us, 9 is a good sized flock. It's not so large that I can't keep track of and have a good individual relationship with each one of the hens. And it's not so small that I can't master that ever present desire to get more chickens....
     
  6. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,993
    20
    176
    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Quote:
    Too crowded by a lot for what you have now. Health and fighting are two main concerns. Both affect egglaying. Check 'My BYC Page' for size I did for 24 chooks. Regards ventilation, I did 6 sq ft full-time year-round ventilation for my 24 chooks. That does not count door, windows, and pop doors. Few chooks die of cold, but they drop dead easily in hot weather especially if ventilation is bad. I am in E Tenn and do not provide heat for my chooks at all.
     
  7. shopchicks

    shopchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    Sep 4, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    I think 10 or so is a good number for your setup. I built my coop for 8 (32 square feet inside and 96 SF outside) and have 5 in there and it's just right. They are happy and have no issues; I think if I tried putting 8 in there, it would be a little too tight. 10 hens will give you LOTS of eggs; there's only 2 of us, but with 5 hens we are giving eggs away pretty much every week, and eating a lot more eggs than we used to.
     
  8. cairopd1069

    cairopd1069 Out Of The Brooder

    63
    0
    39
    Dec 4, 2010
    Cairo, Ga
    Thanks shopchicks for the response, I am learing as fast as I can, I am really enjoying the responsibility that comes along with raising chickens.
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,451
    3,545
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I think they're fine for now, as you know. I would say follow what you're thinking, wait until they're three to four months old and you can tell if you have roos (did you order sexed or straight run chicks?) and which pullets you just like better. At that age, you'll be able to sell pullets that are ready to lay, in the spring when a lot of folks are wanting chickens but can only find chicks. Depending on your area, you can probably sell them for ten to twenty dollars apiece. Nice return on your purchase price. I'd say go down to fifteen or so, then keep an eye on them and be ready to get rid of up to five more. You don't have to do it all at once, you can always sell another hen if you find there are problems.

    Do you plan to free range at all? It doesn't sound like it, but if you do for a good part of the day, space in the run doesn't matter so much.

    Good luck with your chicks--glad you've had a low loss rate so far. Before you know it you'll be on here looking for recipes to use up all those eggs!
     
  10. valentinebaby

    valentinebaby Chillin' With My Peeps

    402
    1
    132
    Mar 23, 2009
    Sherman-Denison, TX
    You will get a variety of answers to any question - my opinion is watch your chickens and trust your instincts - you'll know when they're not happy. But do a bunch of research as to proper square footage - you don't want there to be too little that will cause them to bicker and set in bad habits early on that they probably won't outgrow. If you don't want to purchase any books, go to the library and do some research. I got most of my knowledge from an old English book I've listed on my BYC page. I think the main footage issue in the coop is plenty of room on the roost. With that being said, they all seem to want to squat on the one that's the smallest and closest to the door - go figure. I also think more square footage is important outside, where they spend most of their waking hours. Since I can't let them free range unsupervised anymore due to bobcats and owl losses, I've added an additional enclosed "play area" using wire gating next to their enclosed run that I open up at least 4 days a week or more as a "treat". Mine now have well over 30-40 s.f. outside per hen, but only about 12-15 in their permanent run. I'm planning on adding more permanent and separate play areas next year that I can seed and grow grass on to rotate them through over the season - they do love to tear up grass! Good luck!

    Gail
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by