Coop, Setup & Chicken Math Questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bluedoor, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. bluedoor

    bluedoor Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Aug 22, 2013
    As a newbie to chicken keeping (well, I haven't even gotten my chickens yet!) I have been reading quite a bit and working diligently on getting a reasonably secure and user-friendly area set up. I have a few questions for the experienced folks out there.

    My Setup:
    I have a 4x2 coop, well ventilated, equipped with electricity if I need it for any reason. Underneath/attached is a 4x6 run. The nest box is mounted underneath the coop and is accessible from the run area. So, the sleeping space is the full 4x2 coop, which is tall; the roosting bar is about 18" off the floor. The run (top, sides and bottom) is covered with chicken wire. I purchased a roll of 1/2" hardware cloth that I will be using to make an apron around the outside edge of the attached run area. In addition, I have also fenced in an 11x11 area around the coop and run with 4' green garden fencing for some additional foraging area that they can use when we are home.

    Coop size: 8 sqft
    Run size: 24 sqft
    Fenced foraging area: 97 sqft (this will not be accessible 100% of the time)

    Questions:
    1. What do I cover the chicken wire (that makes up the floor of the run) with? Do I bring in dirt? Rocks? Wood planks? Should I just snip it off and assume my hardware cloth apron will protect from diggers?
    2. How many chickens would you feel comfortable with in this setup? In the winter I doubt they will spend much time outside of the main coop and run area.
    3. Should I put a weatherproof roof on the run that is attached to the coop? (Under the coop is part of the run so they can have shelter if they want to be outside in the rain.)
     
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,242
    215
    208
    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I would feel comfortable with 2 chickens in that set up. The general rule is 4 sqft per bird in the coop area and 10 sqft per bird in the run with about 10 inches to a foot per bird on the roost depending on breed.

    It sounds like you have thought of a lot of things, which is great. If the nest is in the outside area you might want to put a little curtain or something so they feel very safe and a little darkish. If they are bright and open and outdoors your birds may not choose to lay there.

    Good luck!! Welcome to BYC!

    edited: You could put dirt or sand on the bottom of the run or even pine shavings. Weather proofing depends a lot on where you are. What are your winters like?
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  3. bluedoor

    bluedoor Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Aug 22, 2013

    Thanks for the welcome! Guess it's time I come out of lurkdom!

    The nest is pretty dark, covered on all sides and just a small opening in the front to get in. I can put a curtain up too, thanks for the idea.

    I have heard everything from "only bantams" to "6 LF". I don't mind going with only 2 LF, I just worry that if I were to lose one, the other might not fare so well alone.
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,242
    215
    208
    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    The 4 sqft/10sqft rule is what I read the most and based on my own experiences I think it is a really good rule of thumb. That being said it's just a guideline and not a be all end all for every person and every flock. If you pick bantams or a smaller, leaner breed and you let them free range often then you might be able to get away with three if you they end up all having kind personalities. I certainly would NEVER consider 6 LF is that space. The 4/10 is meant to cover all bases and even within LF there is a great deal of body type and size difference.
     
  5. bluedoor

    bluedoor Out Of The Brooder

    18
    0
    22
    Aug 22, 2013
    I totally agree. 6 LF is way too many for the space I have. I think I could go 4 bantams or 3 easygoing LF that are raised together, etc. We just want a few hens for pets.
     
  6. cknkids

    cknkids Chillin' With My Peeps

    177
    13
    81
    Jun 27, 2012
    Camarillo, CA
    1. I'd leave the wire and put in at least 6" of sand.
    2. 2 possibly 3 chickens. (many follow the 4sq ft house, 10 sq ft run)
    3. If you think the weather will keep them in the coop I'd cover the run and consider wrapping part with a trap during worst weather. Also Sand works better if it's kept dry, it can get stinky when wet.

    I'd also cover all chicken wire with 1/2" hardware cloth, raccoons can reach in and pull a chicken apart. This happened to a friend in the middle of a small city.

    For a small set up I love having the run predator proofed so they can come and go as they please and so can you. You'll find they really appreciate being let out in the bigger area. We keep our mulch pile in ours and it's always their first stop to see what goodies they can find.

     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by