Coop and Run Advice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Woodnik, Dec 26, 2015.

  1. Woodnik

    Woodnik Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 27, 2015
    I bought a coop that was recommended for 8 chickens before we bought our chicks. I ended up ordering 15 chicks, so I bought a second coop of the same size (roughly 4x5' + 3 1x1 nest boxes), thinking 40 sq ft for all 15 chickens would be enough. What I'm finding though, is that most frequently all 15 chickens are going into one coop at night, instead of splitting up. Occasionally 1-3 chickens will stay in the other coop, but it is not nightly. So I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to encourage them to split up a bit, to even up the impact on the coops, and so that the are less agitated in the morning.

    This leads to another question. Both coops open up into a run 12x12, 7' high with metal roof, 1/2" hardware cloth top to bottom. I've been closing them into their coops at night, and opening the coops in the morning. I'd like to leave the coops open so that they can come and go between the coops and the run as they please. Some days I do this, and there doesn't seem to be a problem (it's been in the 60's here this week). When it is really cold / freezing, I feel the need to shut them into the coops to help contain some warmth. I do keep a window open on each coop to help with ventilation, which I think I will close if I keep the doors open, and it is very cold.

    Any thoughts on the 15 chickens in 2 coops situation, and/or keeping their coop doors open at night?

  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Keeping the coops open to the run at night is more about security from predators than 'warmth'.
    Ventilation is much more important than 'warmth'....chickens have down coats on and most are very cold hardy.
    When overpopulating a coop ventilation becomes more important due to the increase in respiration humidity and ammonia from increased amounts of feces.

    Not sure how you can 'split them up'....they are flock animals and like to stay together.
    If your coops are big enough to hold them all day and night you could alternate run days....
    ....or spit the run with a fence and split the flock.

    Best bet long term would probably be to build a large coop to hold them all and use the small coops as isolation enclosures for raising chicks, broody hens, injured birds, rogue cockerels, etc.

    More info (pics are good) about your coops and run, chicken keeping goals, and climate could help us help you make a decision.
  3. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 21, 2015
    No where Nebraska
    Agreed, warmth is not a problem, protection is, and ventilation. P
  4. Woodnik

    Woodnik Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 27, 2015
    Thanks for the comments and ideas. I am in hardiness zone 6a, and have the chickens for eggs (which have not started quite yet), and as part of a garden / soil development system - scratching, fertilizer, compost, eating bugs, etc. I haven't decided on what to do as the flock ages, other than crossing that bridge when I come to it.

    I understand the security concern, which is why I built the run as solidly as I could, and am actively improving it. I mentioned warmth because if the window and the door are open, then I imagine a draft could occur, which would be problematic, versus just having the window open, which I imagine would be more ventilating than drafty. Perhaps during severe cold, I could leave the windows closed, and the door open, but since the door isn't above the chickens, I don't imagine upward ventilation would occur. I suppose the main principle here is to spend time at the coops and run, inspect, examine, check for problems, whatever I decide to do.

    As far as coop population, while I am invested in the two existing coops, I can imagine moving them and building a larger coop onto the run, perhaps next year, and using the older coops for other purposes, like you said, flock separation, and/or perhaps starting a few guineas next year (which I don't imagine we would try to keep in the run).



BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by