Cold Country Coop Size?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cabincrazyone, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. cabincrazyone

    cabincrazyone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2010
    NE Minnesota
    Hi, I'm a newbie from NE Minnesota. I've been reading this great forum a LOT and have piled up a lot of info for planning my coop, run, how to care for chickens, everything I can find out about.

    At the risk of beating a dead horse, I'd like to hear more advice on coop size for areas where chickens might need to stay in the coop during a two week long, 20 below cold snap, or a snow storm and two feet of snow in the run.

    My city code requires "a floor area or combination of the floor and fenced in area for keeping chickens shall not be less than ten square feet of floor space per chicken".

    I'm planning on 10 sq. run per chicken, but I'm thinking the coop maybe should be a bit bigger than the BYC recommended 4 sq. per.

    Any ideas from you folks that right now have snow up to your belly buttons?
  2. greenriver

    greenriver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2010
    Wilmington, Il
    Hello. how many chickens are you planning to keep?
  3. cabincrazyone

    cabincrazyone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2010
    NE Minnesota
    Four full size DP brown eggers that are cold hardy like Rocks, Cochins, Wyandotts ....
  4. spartacus_63

    spartacus_63 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    Central Iowa
    4sq ft per for four hens is ample coop space for the previously mentioned confinement purposes. Bigger is not always better. As long as you will not later want MORE birds. Good luck and [​IMG]
  5. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    Since you are only planning on 4 birds I don't see how it would be a problem to build bigger and give them, and you, more room in the coop. An 8x8 coop would give you 64 square feet and you could also store feed, etc. in it. You could have an isolation cage or broody area, too. I think you should build as big as possible since you are in an area where weather conditions will confine them for extended periods. An 8x8 coop is what I have, with 11 hens and I love it.
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:I have to disagree here. Build as big as you can reasonably manage and you'll not regret it. I consider the 4 square foot per bird as a minimum, not as an indication of the ideal.
    For someone who is planning only 4 hens, 4 square feet per bird means a very tiny, 16 square foot coop. A coop that small has very little thermal mass and the inside temp will fluctuate much more quickly than a bigger coop. Plus, if you do decide to add little supplemental heat, you'll find it hard to position safely in such a small coop.

    If you can swing it, I'd suggest you go for an 8' by 8', full height walk in coop. Here's mine, and I'm lovin' it:

    These dimensions make full use of 4' by 8' siding panels without waste, too.

    Oh, and by the way: who among us has not built our coop and then wanted to get more birds afterwards?
  7. cabincrazyone

    cabincrazyone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2010
    NE Minnesota
    Thanks everyone.

    Elmo, great coop. I perused it several days ago. You're the one that gave me the idea of the oil filled radiator for the coop.
    I'm still trying to work out the ventilation. I see that your back vent is close to the roost. Is there a draft on the roosting hens?
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I like 15 sq ft per chicken (that's indoors, plus their roofed run space), it works well for me (I'm not quite an hour north of Toronto ON) -- but that may not be doable for you so my best advice is simply "as large as you can possibly make it".

    Also, if you can roof the run (in a snowload-proof way!!!) and staplegun plastic (or whatever) to the upwind sides, that makes a big difference in how much time typical chickens wanna spend outdoors, and of course the more you can convince them to go out, the better, stir-crazy-wise.

    So, build big, stock sparsely [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  9. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Cabincrazy, I'm glad Pat chimed in; you should check out her links if you haven't already. I really liked Elmo's coop, too, but thought the same thing about a draft on the birds. I feel sure he closes the one just behind the roosts at night, at least in cold weather. I wonder if you couldn't put the roost on the opposite wall. I often suggest that those starting out build something much like Elmo's, no smaller.

    I would not go below 10 sq ft per bird in just the coop if I lived up where you guys do, and I do feel more is always better. Even in this climate I have almost 14, and am glad of it. There are days they hang out in the coop a lot. (Long story why it's so big; I wasn't that smart when we built it!)
  10. cabincrazyone

    cabincrazyone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2010
    NE Minnesota
    Quote:My current plans afford me a 4' x 8' coop plus two nests that are above the floor and hang out of the back wall. and an elevated roost. If I end up with 5 hens (city code max) they'll have 6.4 sq. ft. each. (I'm planning on a 6' x 10' run, but that has nothing to do with this thread question.)

    Also, there are things I can do to entertain them during a "cooped up" situation, such as hanging a veggie in the middle of the room, tossing in a sealed freezer bag with peanuts and raisins inside, and other things that I've learned here at BYC.

    There are many things I'll just have to learn as I go along. Like, how long will they actually have to be cooped up for cold weather or snow? How will they act during these times?

    Thanks much.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011

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