Coop/Run Design Questions: Urgent!


11 Years
May 23, 2008
Peterborough, ON
The girls will be in the coop by Friday at the very latest, and especially after tonights incident, September's death. I have a few questions that need answering urgently so I can get started on them tomorrow.

1. How high off the ground should my roosts be?

2. I'm thinking of running the roosts along one of the long walls, which would make them about 10-12ft long, all on the same level, would this be a problem at all? keeping them all on one level with each other.

3. How many nest boxes would I need if we expand our 14 head flock to 25 in the spring?

4. What size should our nest boxes be? our girls are Rhode Island Red X's and all our additional girls will be standard sizes.

5. How far off the floor should our nest boxes be?

6. We have 14 girls, and will be expanding our flock to 25 or so in the spring, how big should the run be at the smallest? Square footage per bird, etc.

Heather J

11 Years
May 29, 2008
I'll try and take these in order:

1 Roosts can be any height from six inches to four or five feet depending on the breed, and whether they have a way to get up there. Mine are 2 1/2 to 3 feet up, and they can fly up just fine on their own, if you're going to put them higher, you may want to provide some kind of ladder for them to use to get up that high. One the other hand, they may be fine jumping four feet up on their own.

2- Keeping them all on the same level shouldn't be a problem at all, a lot of people do it to prevent crowding on the highest roost, though a lot of times the chickens all have a favorite to fight over anyway. My only concern with making them ten foot long would be bowing in the middle--especially if you put the 2x4 with the flat side up for them to stand on (which is the recommended way), so you may want to put a support halfway through.

3- 25 birds should have 6-8 nest boxes. They suggest three to four birds per box, but my seven hens usually all cram into the same one, or take turns. lol

4- Someone else may correct me on this, but I'd say about 14x14 is a good size. Mine are wider because that's what I had available, and because my dh's aunt said her girls all squeezed in together anyway, so she made hers about 20 inches wide.

5-Don't put your boxes as high up as your roosts if you don't want them sleeping and pooping in the boxes! This varies greatly for people, some put them right on the ground, some like them two or three feet up. With your chickens, you could put them anywhere up to three feet, higher if you provide a roosting bar out in front of the box to aid them getting in and out--actually, even at two feet a roosting bar in front isn't a bad idea.

6-If you won't be doing any free ranging, you need to make your run a *minimum* of 10 square feet per bird, most people like to make it bigger than that. My current coop is about 50 square feet and the run is nearly 450 square feet which means I can add another coop and separate the run for different breeds, lol, but really, my coop is waaaaaaaay undersized for the number of birds I've got in there right now while we build a second coop (the project that never ends), but it's been fine because the run is so big and I make sure they are out of the coop as early in the day as possible. This would not work if I had to keep them locked in the coop due to bad weather--I can't wait to move half of them into the new coop.

If it is at all possible for you, cover at least part of your run to keep out rain and snow, and to provide some shade, this will enable you to let the girls out more in the winter, since my birds refused to run around in the snow--most birds feel that way, though not all. Sorry, I didn't notice if you wrote where you were from, or if you have snow.

Good luck with your planning. don't forget--the coop will cost twice as much and take at least twice as long to build as you expect, so start early and leave plenty of room for changes, additions, unexpected hardware. Good luck.
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