Big enough?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by LVchicks, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. LVchicks

    LVchicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2013
    We are planning a coop with enclosed run like this one:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/rancho-chickacabra


    the dimensions will be the coop itself: 4'x8'

    the run: 12'x8'

    We are hoping to let the girls free-range some since we have lots of bugs and such they would feast on and we'd be happy for them to do so and I think it makes for happier, healthier birds, not to mention our sandy yard is one big dust bath. But depending on predators (the hawks are what concern me) and such that may be limited.

    If the hens cannot free range or at least not often is that enough space for 10 or so hens to be content and not pick, fight etc.... I've see the 4 sq ft per hen quoted but not clear if that is just coop space or total coop+run.
     
  2. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    That is pretty much what I started with -- 9 pullets, 1 cockerel, 4x8 coop, 10x10 run, 4 nest boxes, two feeding stations, and one 8' roost. Our winters are not snowy so they are rarely restricted to the coop. They seemed content. I ranged a lot at first and discovered quickly that a large dog, attentive rooster, good cover, and even my presence in the yard wasn't enough. Soon I had only 4 hens and a rooster which did not work for the ladies at all. The rooster was replaced by 2 mature pullets and ranging was resticted to supervised only and we're back to peaceful, happy chickens.

    It's really anyone's guess how many is the perfect number for a space but it's certainly true that you have to clean more often the denser the population. I wouldn't go over 10 but would add to get back to 10 because it really was fine for my little flock.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I think your coop may be a little tight, but a lot of that depends on where you live and your climate. My coop and run are not seperated at all, so the birds are never confined just to the coop. I also live in the PNW, so rain and mud are a way of life. I try to keep my coop area a little larger as my birds stay there more--even though they do go out in the mud and rain, just not as much. If your coop is mainly used for nesting and sleeping, you should be fine. Just be sure you have lots of roosts, and your nest boxes are below the roosts or the birds will roost in the nest boxes and you'll have poo eggs [​IMG].

    Your run is right on the border, but should be fine if you can free range daily. Also, check out threads on boredom busters for cooped birds. Remember, in the wild they spend most of their time looking for food, so whatever you can simulate like that is good for them.

    Finally, with all living creatures, you'll just have to keep an eye on them and listen to what they tell you. If you have behavior/pecking problems, you'll need to decrease the number of birds and see how things go. If everyone's healthy, happy, active and laying well, you're all good!
     
  4. dolphinlvr4

    dolphinlvr4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Speaking of big enough, I have 3 girls outside n 3 2 weeks inside. My coop is 12x12 and my run is 15ft long n 8ft wide. My run is entirely enclosed to include the top. I do buy bugs n feed lots of treats as well as reg crumble. Since they don't free range, is that going to be large enough for 6 hens? They also have mostly dirt n sand for dust bathes....
     
  5. dolphinlvr4

    dolphinlvr4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 27, 2013
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    I meant 3 two week old chicks inside
     
  6. LVchicks

    LVchicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2013
    We live in S. Texas. It will be rare that the chickens will be 'cooped up' due to weather, probably less than 10 days a year. They will almost always have the coop + run at all times which will be enclosed on all sides as one unit. It will be Ft. Knox, my hens won't last one night out here if it isn't. Owls, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, feral cats....


    I was just talking to my neighbor. My daughter is watching her dogs for a couple weeks and she reminded Emma not to let the Yorkie out alone because of the hawks. Just walking him she had 4-5 red tails following her down the street.[​IMG]

    I'm thinking now the only way my girls will free range is under armed guard. Hawks around here go after squirrels and gophers (I've seen them hunting) and eye up little Yorkies, it seems. I think/hope a fully grown Australorpe will be too big for them to consider so we can eventually let 'em range, at least during the midday. I do have a dog in the backyard all day, and although he is about as aggressive as a teddy bear the hawks don't know that.

    I am prepared to accept free-ranging may just not be safe and if that is the case I will have hubby work up a portable enclosure that we can move around the yard.
     

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