Coop and run size

ssbs

Songster
9 Years
Jun 7, 2010
378
1
111
Someone on craigslist posted a coop for free and we got it.. Nothing special, just a 4'x4' plywood box.. But we are working on doing some improvements to it. So we've got a 16 square foot coop. And a friend let us remove a bunch of chain link from his yard that we plan to use for a run. The area we plan to fence in as a run will be about 192 square feet. We also intend to allow the chickens to free range in our large yard for two or three hours a day when our dogs are put up. Is this sufficient for 2 sex links and 5 bantams?

Pictures to come. Possibly tomorrow or sometime soon
 
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Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,296
20,164
907
Southeast Louisiana
We keep them in so many different conditions that there can’t be one magic number that is required for all of us. Some chickens take confinement better than others. We manage them differently. We have different weather or maybe work or school schedules that put restrictions on us. And it’s not about coop space by itself but how much total space is available to them and when it is available. It doesn’t matter if it is the coop by itself, the combined coop and run, or maybe coop and free range as long as when it is available is considered.

A coop that size should work for you with those birds provided you use it only for a safe place to lock them up at night and you commit to letting them out about as soon as they wake up every day of the year, even if you want to sleep in on a weekend, when you have the flu, or when you are on vacation. That’s if the weather allows them to get out. If you live where weather keeps them in the coop for long periods of time, you could have problems. Don’t just think of those perfect days but consider when you have really bad weather. Some people do keep that number of chickens in that space but it takes a certain commitment every day if you crowd them like that.

You can probably come up with a way to get a nest or two in there but you might have trouble fitting in feeding and watering areas that they don’t poop in from the roosts. Layout can be kind of rough in those small coops. Some people manage though. If they can be out each day, you may have to feed and water in the run.

One of the risks of overcrowding birds is that they can become very aggressive toward each other. This can lead to feather-picking, fighting, all the way to cannibalism. Commercial operations have proven that you can keep chickens in very little space but they often have to take extraordinary measures to keep them from harming each other, like beak trimming. Most of us want to do better than that.

The way I envision your set-up, if you are willing to make that commitment to let them out every day of the year, it would probably work out for you. The coop and run together gives them plenty of space. That little bit of free ranging is even better.

One of the handicaps is that you don’t have a lot of flexibility in how you handle problems. Say a predator finds its way into your run. You can’t leave them locked in the coop while you go to work but you have to deal with that problem immediately. Or maybe you have a weather-related issue?

Another aspect of flexibility is that if you want a hen to raise chicks with the flock or you want to integrate more chickens later, that goes a whole lot easier if you have some extra room to work with. I feel that most of the broody hen problems or integration problems you read about on this forum are due in part to a lack of extra space.

I find that the more I crowd them the harder I have to work. Not just responding to things but think poop management. The more crowded they are the more concentrated the poop is. You can handle that; you just might have to work harder at it or come up with a strategy like a droppings board.

I always suggest providing as much room as you reasonably can. I find I have fewer behavioral problems, more flexibility in dealing with things that happen, and I have to work less hard. It’s not that you can’t get by with less space, just that it is less enjoyable.

Hope you get something out of this long rambling that helps. Good luck!
 

LittleBits

Songster
6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
598
74
138
Kentucky
My Coop
My Coop
Thank you for your information and suggestions. I just posted some questions on another forum about poop cleanup, etc., and then found this about the spacing. I think we might not have enough space, but the chickens we got were a "package deal" - we had to take all of them, and in a short time. We couldn't afford to do anything else but what we did - moved an old playhouse away from the house to become our chicken coop and fenced in a run around it. The coop is home to 15 chickens and a rooster and is about 6'x6' inside with their roost on one side, nests on the other. Food and water are outside for now. They come and go during the day at will (into the coop that is). Yard is about 20 x 20. I did built a little food shelter so it doesn't get so wet, unless it's blowing hard. Straw inside but also lots of poop so I'm going through too much straw. No way to get it out except all of it and then add more.

Want to treat my chickies right, so would value anyone's opinions or suggestions as to what to do for some more, but very cheap space. Thanks a bunch and my chickies will thank you, too. (I hear them now...thank you...thank you...peep, peep, peep...
D.gif
)
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,296
20,164
907
Southeast Louisiana
Littlebits, some people have “ideal” situations. I have situations “I deal” with. Sounds like you’re doing the same.

Your basic run size isn’t bad for that number of chickens. They’ll strip all the green stuff in it and turn it into a barren wasteland, but they’ll still enjoy taking dust baths and being in there.

My suggestion for a cheap source for more space is Craigslist. Maybe look for some more fencing material for an even bigger run or an additional run you can alternate, but what I’d really be looking for is another building you could get or maybe material to build with. Either put the second building next to your playhouse and give them a way to get from one to the other regardless of weather or maybe expand your playhouse.

One way chickens have developed to live together in a flock is that when there is a conflict, the weaker runs away from the stronger or just avoids them to start with. That’s the real advantage of space. It gives them room to run away or avoid.
 

Mitchell Farm

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 21, 2013
88
3
43
Your run is fine and will allow ample space. The coop seems a bit small bur will also work especially id they are allowed onto the run and free range part of the day. Good luck!
 

confusedturtle

Songster
8 Years
Apr 6, 2011
364
6
113
Virginia
Can you attach a nest box to the outside of the coop with an entrance from inside? This will add a little more space to it. I had a 4x4 coop with 5 in it and a 4x10 run, they did great in it. They were let out into the run from dawn-dusk and allowed to range a few hours a day. It wasn't ideal but it worked and my girls never fought. I'm expanding my coop now because hubby wouldn't listen to any of my suggestions. He built it the way he wanted & ignored my wishes, I'm doing it my way this time. The new one is 4x10, elevated with a run beneath & attached nest boxes, and I'm going to attach the other run as well, it will be housing 8-9 birds.
 

LittleBits

Songster
6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
598
74
138
Kentucky
My Coop
My Coop
Thank you all for your good ideas. I will talk to my hubby about putting the nesting area through the wall, kind of like a dormer window on a house! I've seen them on some of the coop designs and it looks great. More coop space would be great and the idea of just building on, even if it's a "lean-to" might be OK. Scrap lumber...I think we can get raw boards from the lumber yard quite cheap. Craiglist is a good idea, too.

Yes, I see the weak and mighty side by side out there. One poor little chicken doesn't seem to get along with ANY of the others. They don't peck on her, but they chase her away from the goodies and regular food. She is on the small size and lays small, but pretty, light green eggs! Not very friendly with me, either. She's not mean, just very wary of everyone 'cause they chase her away all the time. More space would definitely be beneficial for those who want a little solitude.

Today it's been raining a lot and when I went out to check on the ones in the cages (our extra rooster and the pecked one) they were dry but the coop birds were kind of wet! Figure that out?! Maybe they like the rain after taking their dirt baths the other day. (That spectacle scared me - I thought they were all going nuts or dying!) But the run is all mud and totally yukky. No fun to scratch in that! They stripped the green off in about the first 3-4 days that we had them.

Thanks again. I sure do appreciate BYC!
 

ssbs

Songster
9 Years
Jun 7, 2010
378
1
111
I will see about making an attached nest box.. When we got the coop they actually had an old dresser drawer screwed to the inside of it. Someone else gave us some plywood, another gave us two sheets of 4'x5' aluminum roofing so we should have the proper supplies. How deep and tall does it need to be?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,296
20,164
907
Southeast Louisiana
Are you talking about a nest box, ssbs? If you are building one the minimum size I’d use is 12” width, depth, and height. I made mine a 16” cube, partly because that width fit the framing of my coop plus I like them a little big. It’s not unusual for me to see three hens piled in one nest at a time.
 

MANNA-PRO

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