Build big or renovate later?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ci_cyfarth, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. ci_cyfarth

    ci_cyfarth Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 29, 2011
    Columbia, MO
    One of the challenges I'm having designing my coop/run is that I'm planning to move slowly and keep a fairly small flock. My city only allows six hens at a time, and I'd like to ensure I have the space for younger birds periodically, so I'd only be starting with 2-3 this coming year, then add another 1-2 after a year or two, etc. (Note: I'm being an optimist and assuming about an 8 year lifespan on my hens; random death/loss will be factored in as needed once the theoretical chickens start being actual chickens.)

    While it seems like chickens don't object to more room than is necessary -- I'm really hoping to stay close to that 4' sq coop/10' sq run ideal if I can! -- I worry about a duo or trio being able to keep their coop warm enough in a coop made for six during a Missouri winter. I don't want my future hens to be chickensicles! On the other hand, building a coop cozy enough for two or three now will mean a rebuild or renovation further on down the line.

    Anybody have experience or advice with how to manage this kind of thing? My inclination is to build a smaller coop -- 3'x4' with either a 4'x6' or 4'x8' run -- for the initial 2-3 and then expand it in 2-4 years when I get closer to the 6 chicken mark, but there's definitely a part of me that grits its teeth at what feels uncomfortably like planned obsolescence.

    Thoughts? Experiences? Good ideas?
  2. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2011
    Foothills of NC
    Hands down, build big!
  3. suzyQlou

    suzyQlou Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2011
    Dillsburg, PA
    My Coop
    Yeah, I'd build big. It's amazing how long it can take to build just one coop [​IMG] If you're worried about too much space, you can always put a temporary partition in the big coop. Maybe use half for storage during the first phase of your chicken experience.
  4. smalltownchicks

    smalltownchicks Seven Silly Hens

    Jul 7, 2011
    Go BIG!! Wish mine was bigger! [​IMG]
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Build big. If needed, you can put a huddle box inside the coop. This can be a cardboard box or anything where the chickens can huddle and stay warmer. You can even install a roost in it. They might start laying eggs in it, though, lol.
  6. stoopid

    stoopid Chicken Fairy Godmother

    Aug 3, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    Build big.
    Chicken math.
    Gets us all, one time or another.
  7. ci_cyfarth

    ci_cyfarth Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 29, 2011
    Columbia, MO
    I can't be sure, but it's almost like all of you are suggesting I build...big? [​IMG]

    The huddle box is a great idea! I had no idea that was an option, though I suspect the whole "eggs in strange places" situation could be problematic.

    One thing I'm wondering about is whether I could make my coop design sufficiently modular that I could, say, remove a wall every so often and fasten on an addition. If I built the new section in advance, attaching it would (at least theoretically) be the work of an afternoon (he says, all wide-eyed and innocent to the ways of chicken math).
  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Quote:It's much easier to make a space smaller than it is to make a space larger. The huddle box, a winter drop ceiling, etc. are great. Huddle boxes are great because they can help conserve body heat, but the floor space is still available if your birds don't want to go out much in winter.
    Adding one bird is never a good idea, so however you want to do your math, consider it with adding a pair of birds down the road rather than a single bird. So either think of starting with three and adding three, or starting with two, then two, then another two... I've been trying to somewhat stagger my new chicks that way too, every two years. Thankfully, I don't have to deal with space issues or number restrictions, so my oldies aren't quite such an imposition.
  9. Patricia Jane

    Patricia Jane Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 28, 2010
    Petaluma CA
    Build big. You will be glad you did. I started out with 4 chickens and now have 10.I've only had chickens not even a year and have expanded twice. Easier to make smaller spaces in a bigger area.
  10. Sissy

    Sissy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2007
    Sevier county, Tn.
    The bigger the better.
    as long as you have the space.

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