Coop for 46 hens

Kye022984

Hatching
Mar 13, 2015
7
0
9
My husband and I are looking to start the building process of our coop this weekend. We'll have 46 laying hens. They are only confined to the coop at night and are let out in the mornings to run our acre and a quarter parcel. Around what length, width and depth are we looking at? And length of rooting poles? Just looking for a jumping off point. Thanks in advance!
 

yyz0yyz0

Songster
8 Years
May 2, 2012
616
113
184
The general consensus seems to be around 4sqft/bird of coop space and 1ft of roost space. So a coop of approx. 200sqft and 46ft of roost space should be what you are aiming for.

Of course these numbers are all relative, I have 8 birds and 8ft of roost space. Any time I go look at them after they roost I find they are all jammed into about 4ft of roost space. If you have bantams, you can get by with less.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,265
20,050
907
Southeast Louisiana
With that many hens a lot of the basic guidelines used on here for small backyard flocks don’t apply. How you manage them will make a lot of difference too. You might check out the link in my signature for some of my thoughts on space for them but a lot of that won’t apply to you. Still, it might give you some things to think about.

Your climate will make a difference. Will they really be able to get out every day of the year or will they spend periods confined to the coop? Also, when will you let them out in the morning? The later you leave them locked in after they are awake the more room they need.

They don’t use a lot of roost space once they are on the roosts but they need adequate space to get up there. Also, some of mine can be pretty bad bullies on the roosts as they settle in for the night. Giving them enough space to get away from the bullies can make life a little more peaceful. They’ll want to roost in the ”best” spots but the ones higher in the pecking order will get those. With 46 hens I’d probably be OK with something around 36’ of roost space, in separate roosts spread out a bit. Normally roosts 12” apart and separated from the wall by 12” works out pretty well. As with anything in chickens, more space rather than less is a good idea.

If you are buying new building materials, standard pieces come in 4’ and 8’ dimensions. You can usually reduce cutting and waste if you plan around those dimensions. I’d think about a walk-in coop 8’ wide. The roof needs to be sloped so water drains off and you need some overhang so you can have ventilation at the top of the walls under that overhang, so your rafters will have to be a bit longer. The wider the coop the heavier those rafters need to be for snow and ice load or even just wind load. I would not go any wider than 8’. That leaves you enough room to work in there and leave room for nests, feeders, and waterers if you feed and water inside.

The question is how long. If you use it just for roosts and nests with your management technique that they are never locked in there for extended periods of time, you can probably get away with a 16’ long building. If you occasionally sleep in on a Saturday morning or weather keeps them in there longer, a bigger building might be a good idea. From a building materials perspective a 20’ length isn’t all that bad.

As far as height you certainly need to be able to walk around in there standing straight up. Chickens don’t need a lot of height but you do. If you use bedding on the floor, which most of us do, you need a bit of extra height to keep from banging you head. Also the taller the building the better it ventilates because of hot air rising. The flatter your roof the more likely it is to leak. You want water to run off, not stand on your roof. How much slope you get so water will run off and not pond will depend some on your roofing material too but I’d suggest a minimum of 2 feet slope in an 8 foot run. Some building codes require more. To be able to stand up in there without bending considering bedding, I’d probably go with one wall 8’ tall and the other 2 feet taller.
 

Kye022984

Hatching
Mar 13, 2015
7
0
9
Thank you so much for the information. We'll be taking those measurements into account when we start the building process.

As far as our management goes, the hens go into their coop for the night around 8pm and are let out at 6am. Those are spring/summer time hours. In the fall/winter they'll be heading in around 5pm. We're in middle TN so our winters aren't very harsh. They can be cold with some ice and dustings of snow but nothing that they wouldn't want to be out about in (at least for part of the daylight hours). If anything, I'd want the structure to hold up to winds. We can get straight-line winds here that can be pretty strong. I'd thought I'd share a couple pictures of where the girls run and where our coop is going to be built. They have plenty of room outside but tend to go into the back woods most of the day. Probably because it's cool there and there's lots to eat!

We get a whole lot of free palettes from a local business here so I think we'll be using those mostly. We are thinking about doing a simple 8x12-16 rectangle with a pitched roof for drainage. I would like to do the stadium roost poles inside for cleaner poop clean up too.

 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,265
20,050
907
Southeast Louisiana
I went to college at Cookeville so I have a pretty good idea what your weather is like. You are right, the weather is not bad for chickens at all.

Those free pallets are great. Definitely design your building around them.

Removable roosts are nice for cleaning or just doing maintenance in there. I’m not sure what you mean by stadium poles but this is how I made mine removable. Drill holes and drop big nails through them.

700


The way I decide on my roost height is to determine how tall the floor will be when bedding is in there, then position the nests. Since chickens usually want to roost on the highest thing available make your roosts higher than anything you don’t want them to roost on or in, which usually means the nests. You don’t want them sleeping in the nests because they poop a lot at night. Who wants poopy eggs? For different reasons you don’t want the roosts abnormally high so make the roosts about a foot taller than the nests. That usually works.

A normal rule of thumb is that you want one nest for every 4 or 5 hens. With as many as you have eight nests should be enough but an extra one or two doesn’t hurt. The minimum recommended size is a 12” x 12” nest but I made mine 16” x 16”. The larger nests can handle more hens plus it fit my stud spacing really well.
 

Kye022984

Hatching
Mar 13, 2015
7
0
9
Thank you these are awesome tips! I think we were shooting for making about 10 nesting boxes for all of them. The Woods coop is really neat! I love the idea thank you!!
 

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