Coop size and design

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lhowemt, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. lhowemt

    lhowemt Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Dec 6, 2008
    Western Montana
    HI All-

    I am planning on getting up to 8 egg hens this spring. I have read a lot of differing recommendations on coop size, so I thought I'd ask here. The coop will have a run, and it will probably be about half covered. We plan to free-yard them sometimes, but are not sure how well that will work out and the frequency, but likely a couple of days a week.

    So for 8 hens, how much coop space, how much run space? I was thinking a 5 x 5 coop, and a 10 x 5 run. but that seems small.

    Also, what are the pros and cons of a coop that is up in the air, vs having the floor on the ground? I plan to have a droppings collection below the roost area, and deep litter in the rest.

    Lastly, I'm really interested in the highly ventilated systems, it sounds like a lot of venting up high is good, and be able to close it for bad weather. I live in Montana, but our winters aren't terribly bad the whole season. Also big windows down at the roost level, with hardware cloth for summer ventilation.

    Thanks!
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    The usual rule of thumb is 4 sf per standard size chicken for a minimum. At 5x5, that's 25 sf, so should hold six birds comfortably, maybe seven, but think of days when they cant get out due to really bad weather. The air quality will suffer with too many birds.
    I think any coop should be off the ground at least a foot to deter rodents chewing through the floor or living under it. Yes, ventilation above their heads is a necessity, especially when they are inside for long periods. I just had a problem myself with closing down too many vents adn it got way too damp in there, just from poop and respiration. Had to do a complete litter dump and put all new down. We had a really cold spell and I closed more than I normally would. Shame on me, but I wont make that mistake again.

    Oh, and welcome to BYC!
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  3. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

    16,153
    64
    361
    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    [​IMG]

    Your coop plans sound like they're coming along really well. Speckledhen gave you some excellent advice.

    One thing you can do with the run is plan to staple Visqueen or attach tarp around the wire during winter. That way, you have a removable cover that keeps the wind and the snow off the birds during the cold months.

    Ventilation near the ceiling of the coop is a good idea. Some people have added fans to their coops (box fans) near the ceiling to aid with ventilation.

    Have you thought about running electricity out to your coop?
     
  4. lhowemt

    lhowemt Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Dec 6, 2008
    Western Montana
    Oh, and I forgot to ask for recommendations on coop designs, books or websites besides this.

    It sounds like I should go up to 6 x 5, or just slightly over. Plus, I need to think about future expansion, so I have a bit of dilemma since I'm not really planning on putting it in a great area for expansion. I think I need to do more thinking and planning.

    How big should I make the run, say for if we are gone for a week and they don't get to free range at all?

    Yes, I'm going to put some form of power out there, but it might be as simple as a winterized extension cord. The water will not be winter-proof, so I'll need the power for at least the water heater, plus I want to be able to do a light.

    I like the idea of getting it up off the ground, so I can make storage underneath, and have the roost dropping area recessed below the regular floor.

    Let's say I put 3-4 nests in their, how much of the rest of the space should be roost, open, and feed/water? I'm also thinking about putting the water over a grille and catch container, so any water drips will fall away from the regular bedding, and I can change that more often.
     
  5. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Indiana
    There are a couple of books available. One I believe was called "animal housing" another is titled "chicken coops". Try doing a search on Amazon.
     
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    As far as the run goes, 10 sf is a good rule of thumb, so 12x8 pen would be enough for 24 birds or so.
    My original coop was a simple design, 8x8, featured in the coops pages, with a shed roof, 6 ft high at the front to 4 ft high at the back. It's a classic, easy design to build. And build for more than you think you're going to have. I started out wanting just a few guineas and three or four chickens to lay during the time the guineas weren't laying. Now I have over 50 chickens, including 5 roosters. [​IMG] I also have added 12' onto that original coop and built two more coops.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  7. lhowemt

    lhowemt Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Dec 6, 2008
    Western Montana
    I've done that, and am ordering one that looks pretty old, but focuses on ventilation. I was just wondering if someone had any good recommendations, I don't feel like I'm really getting anywhere.

    Thanks a lot!

    This is where I get confused, 10 sf per bird, or 4??? 10 seems like a lot, some books I've read even say as small as 2, but only if they will free range a lot.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  8. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    It depends on whether or not you want some extra space to add a few more to the flock later on.

    In that case, I'd go with an 8x8 house, which would be 8 sq. ft. per bird for 8 birds, or 10x10 house. If you just want 8, and you don't plan on enlarging the flock for a while, you could go with a 6x6 at the least, which would give you 4.5 sq. ft. per bird if you have 8 birds, or 7x7 which would be 6.1 sq. ft. per bird for 8 birds.

    As for run, I'd go larger, we have 15 girls and they have about 9.6 sq. ft. in a 12x12 run, if you go with 12x12, you'll still give them some extra space, and it's a nice even number.
     
  9. Felicitas

    Felicitas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:10 sq feet per bird for the run, 4 sq feet per bird for the coop. It took a while for that to sink in with me, too. [​IMG] Most people on here say that 4 sq feet in the coop is really too small, and I am taking that advice to heart. My planned coop could hold around 13 going by the 4 sq ft rule, but when I look in there it seems pretty small, and I am going to make 10 - 11 my maximum.
     
  10. lhowemt

    lhowemt Out Of The Brooder

    32
    0
    22
    Dec 6, 2008
    Western Montana
    Thanks! It helps to read closely, and I missed that "10 sf FOR THE RUN" part of her post. I'll work with the space, and see if I can plan for a future flock a bit bigger, and 5-6 sq per bird for that number. And 10 sf for the run. I'm going to have to move some things in the garden around a bit to put it where I want, but I think it will be worth it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by