Coop for my laying hens-to-be...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BackyardAR, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. BackyardAR

    BackyardAR In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2010
    I am in the process of designing my coop for the 3 or 4 pearl-white leghorns I'm going to be getting. Due to many factors I'm down to having it on concrete, though it will be movable if necessary.

    The designs have a totally enclosed coop and an attached "run". Not including the fixtures (roosts, nest boxes, feeders/waterers) the square footage of both sections is the same...16 square feet for each section. At the most I want 4 hens in there so that's 4 square feet for each one in both the coop and the "outside" area. That all falls within acceptable limits according to the literature.

    My question is... am I going to be placing undue stress on the hens if they can't actually have access to the ground, and are instead basically living in an elevated cage? I want the coop stationary, but I don't want a messy, permanent chickenyard. I considered a tractor for them, but I want something better/more durable for winter months and the ability to ventilate it in the summer.

    Thanks for your time.
  2. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Frankly? I think they'll survive it but won't be nearly as happy as they would be having access to the great outdoors. Is there anyway you can build a small run on the ground and screen it from view with plantings or a lattice fence?
  3. sydney13

    sydney13 Songster

    Mar 11, 2010
    they would be fine although they would be much happier with ground to take dust baths on and eat bugs. maybe you could set up a little movable pen for them that they could go in during nice days
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Quote:Uhhhh, no.... not really. Square footage for the coop is minimum 4 per large fowl, and for the run it's 10 per large fowl. These are minimums, too. And anything ON the floor actually uses up square footage, so it sounds like the coop will be too small, too.
  5. BackyardAR

    BackyardAR In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2010
    I realize some texts are different. The one I've been using says: "You need a to allow a minimum of 2 square feet of indoor shelter area per bird(actually, 3 to 4 feet is better), and you need 3 to 6 square feet of outdoor run area per bird."

    I will likely only keep 3 hens at a time, but could see myself ending up with four.

    With the above in mind, and fixtures in place I have 2.75 to 3.66 square feet per hen indoor space and 3.5 to 4.66 square feet of "outside" space. Both values fall within the above published parameters.

    The amount of space I had really wasn't my question, though I welcome all opinions about it. I know that it can be done with much less.... but that isn't nice.

    My question was more about stress to the chickens due to not having access to the ground.

    With a slight modification I could likely triple my outside enclosure space and make about 2/3rds of it be on the ground. It would mean eliminating my easy waste removal system and going to a straight tray, but I could do it. The problem is, any place I put it, the birds are going to have it down to dirt in very short order and any rainy day or spilled water is going to make a stinky mud pit. Even though I could put large casters on it and move it from it's "home" position occasionally, I don't want it ruining my yard.

    I could easily add a "dustbowl" for them in the extra outside space, but if my goal was to give them access to grass, I'd put them in a tractor. I want to be accomodating to the hens as possible, but definitely have some limitations. I don't suppose they'd really enjoy scratching around on a concrete slab, would they? heh

    More thoughts?
  6. BackyardAR

    BackyardAR In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2010
    Quote:This is something I could likely do, but wouldn't be a daily thing unless I could get the kids to do it......

    This coop NEEDS to be stationary for electricity. It's too hot here in the summer, and too cold in the winter for me to tractor these birds year round. But I could make a PVC and netting bus to take them around the yard some. Although then you need to consider food and water for them while they're in there, etc etc, and then I have 2 setups for one group of hens. Maybe I could just take them to WalMart in the car if they need to get out...hehe
  7. Orchid

    Orchid Songster

    May 10, 2010
    North Central MN
    Once your chickens eat the green down to bare dirt, you could dig it down a bit, install pea rock and then put class 5 gravel over that. It might still get smelly but it wouldn't be a mud pit.

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