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Coop Size Question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Dukeofhawg, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Hi All, this is my first post. I know this question has been asked before, but the answers seem to vary so much I wanted to make sure I'm doing a good job to make sure my ladies are healthy and happy. I am wanting to only have 6 hens (2 buff Orphs, 2 Star Blacks, and 2 Marans). The Coop I want to build will be 4' X 4'. Is this enough space for them? I don't want a massive coop and this size will be good for my area. The Run will be about 4' w X 11' long. They will get a lot of time free ranging the yard in the afternoons. I just want to do the right thing. I live on the Oregon Coast and the winters and summers are fairly mild.

    Any advice?
     
  2. devora

    devora Chillin' With My Peeps

    Welcome! How exciting to be getting new birds!

    I'm gonna guess you will hear that that is not enough space. I'm surprised you found many different answers, I thought 4 ft per bird was pretty standard here (more for the run).

    I think ample free ranging changes that equation but I may be in the minority.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You are going to get some different opinions because there is no one right answer for everyone. There is a rule of thumb many use that says you need 4 square feet per chicken in the coop along with 10 square feet per chicken in the run. This rule of thumb is intended to keep practically all of us out of trouble regardless of our chickens our climate and our management techniques. It is more than many of us need, but there are some people with certain climates or management techniques that actually need more. We are all different with different situations.

    One kind of trouble I am talking about is behavioral problems. If chickens are too crowded, they can become bored. When I say "can" I do not mean it will absolutely happen each and every time without a shadow of a doubt without possibility of exceptions. It means it might happen. They might become feather-pickers or even go as far as becoming cannibals. Social unrest is possible. There are different degrees and outlets for behavioral problems. Even in fairly crowded conditions, some will be fine. That's why I hate giving hard and fast numbers. There are always exceptions. And space includes coop, run, and free range as a system. You can't talk just about the coop and ignore he rest. If they can get out of the coop to more space, then your coop can be smaller.

    Another issue with crowding them is you might have to work harder. A prime example is poop management. I'm a firm believer that the fewer times you have to clean out the coop, the better. But I have an 8' x 12' walk-in coop, not a small elevated coop where all you have to do is pull up a wheelbarrow and sweep it out. The more space they have, the more poop load it can carry, but you still might have to give special attention to under the roost. They do poop a lot when they roost.

    Another more nebulous concern I have is that if you limit your space, you have less flexibility in managing them. On the good days, what you have will probably work well for six chickens, especially if you can let them out to roam a little daily and don't leave them locked in the coop very much during their waking hours. But what happens if you get a freak storm where they cannot get out, even to the run? Or you get a predator where you don't feel comfortable letting them out? You may be able to avoid some of these problems by making sure the run is usable year around, but that may involve a commitment to keep snow and wind out of it. Mine don't mind the cold temperatures, but they hate a cold wind. Mine don't like snow when they first see it, but if it stays in the ground a few days, some get brave enough to walk in it. You may need to scatter straw or something on top of the snow to get them into the run. This involves a commitment to do it when needed and you may have to clean it up when the snow thaws.

    What you are proposing would probably work, but you may find you need to work a bit harder than I do and you may have to tweak the normal management techniques a bit, especially during bad weather. People do it, but I'll admit to being a tad lazy sometimes.
     
  4. So most would agree 6 X 4FT would be better, if I'm hearing you right?
     
  5. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    4x4 is fine for 6 chickens as long as they have a nice run to enjoy during the day. My 10 hens have a 4x6 hen house to sleep in. I made sure to allow for extra roosting space. The feeder is hanging on the door and the waterer is kept out in the run, so they really have all that space available to them. I don't have pecking issues. My hens are healthy. They have a big run to play in. As long as you open the pop door early enough for them, they'll be fine.
     
  6. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    If your run has a roof and you're putting the food & water outside of the coop, 4x4 would be fine. But if it not, what happens when it rains for 3 days straight? The chickens won't go outside and you have a feeder and waterer taking up 1/3 of the floor space; it's going to be very tight quarters for 6 heavies.


    I have 7 mid to heavy-size breeds in a 4x8 which is slightly over the rule of thumb and they have a 10x10 run and 8' of roost space. I consider my max adult population to be 10. It's working fine but I do have to change the litter pretty much monthly because there isn't room for a poop board. I put the nest boxes on a shelf and hung the feeders underneath them to save space. I installed two good-sized windows for light and so they can see out and I can see in.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

  8. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    I had another thought also -- if you're relying on range time, what are you going to do if you have a predator incident? We have an abundance of hawks right now so mine are getting very limited, heavily-supervised range time only.

    Oh, and yes, more space is better. If you can manage something larger or make do with 4 hens instead of 6, do it.
     
  9. GREAT ADVICE EVERYONE!!!! Thank you very much for your wisdom and experience. This will be our first crack at having hens, I want to do the right thing for them... My wife thinks I'm nuts but as soon as they get named she'll be out there fussing over them all the time... she loves her some animals!

    Since I live on the Oregon Coast, and we get 90+ inches of rain.... I'm going to put a removable roof on the run so they can get outside during the mild rains. Then when may comes I can remove Large portion of it so they can enjoy the mild 65 degree summer. You all have convinced me to expand the coop a bit, 5Ft X 4Ft and maybe try starting with 5 hens and see how they do.

    Thank you Again!

    Anyone else out there from the Oregon Coast?
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'll mention that a lot of building materials come in 4' and 8' dimensions. You could probably build a 4' x 6' for practically the same cost and work as a 4' x 5'. A 4' x 8' will cost you a bit more.
     

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