1. BJnJenny

    BJnJenny Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 15, 2012
    When determining the size you will need for the birds. Is it soley coop size or do you factor in the run also? ie., if I have 20 chickens and each one needs about 4sq ft each that equals out to 80 sq ft total. If it is just the coop as I suspect, and decide to make 100 sq ft total for the birds would it be more wise to make 2 smaller coops opposed to 1 larger one? Like 2 5x10 coops and a run in between to connect them. I am planning on making at least the run out of PVC as I need this to be a chicken tractor and have the costs low as possible.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    It's real hard to make a tractor for that many birds that you can move without heavy equipment. PVC will help, but it is still real hard. You might consider electric netting that you can move a lot easier and that you don't have to move as often. I know that is pricey but I'd certainly think about it for 20 birds. I resorted to that and I currently have more than 20 chickens in it. The only time i have to move it is when the grass and weeds grow up enough to short it out.

    One summer I kept 8 chickens in a tractor with 64 square feet. It was two 4x8's that I could move separately then connect. The coop section was in one of those. The other is where I kept food and water. If it rained, I had to move that every two days. Even then, it got pretty smelly. If it was really dry I might be able to go 4 days but that was a stretch too. It did not take them long to finish off any green stuff in there but the smell was the deciding factor.

    Back to your basic question. There is no magic number as far as space goes for all chickens in all circumstances. How much you need depends on how you manage them. If they have permanent access to a run, they just need enough coop space to sleep. If they are locked in the coop longer they need more coop space. In a tractor, you need less space per bird than in a permanent fixture, but you have to commit to moving them. The smaller you make it the more often you have to move them.

    There are several ways people can manage chickens with less space, but they have to work harder to do it. Poop management is a big issue if space is tight but there can be others. You also have less flexibility in handling problems if you commit to one specific technique to manage that tight space and something goes wrong.

    Do you plan to take a vacation this summer? Do you have someone you can depend on to move them while you are gone.

    Many people use tractors and are really happy with them, but they are a time commitment. You have to be around to move them. How often you have to move them depends on your climate and how much space they have.
     
  3. wekiva bird

    wekiva bird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    BJnJenny.
    Don't forget the bad wind stroms around here .If you make it to light it might end up in the next county.
    I have pm you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  4. BJnJenny

    BJnJenny Out Of The Brooder

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    Gotcha! So it would be better to start off with maybe 10 or so chickens in a tractor format? And purchase more later as I adjust to the "Hen life" As I have mentioned before they will soley be in a run and a coop and I do plan on moving it around frequently. As far as poop control I suppose that is something to play with too, I ideally would like to have a mesh type bottom in the coop so the poop fall through as much as possible to the ground. (I can then rake it up after the tractor is moved for compose) My concern with the mesh is winterizing it and the possibility of the cold air coming up through the bottom.
     
  5. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wire or mesh is also hard on chicken feet. We have a portable coop/run that is moved about every 3 days so they're always on fresh grass. We have 6 and the coop is 4 x 5, which is really a bit too small imo...had we to do it again, we'd make it a bit bigger or only get 4 or 5 chickens. The run is 9 x 9 so there's plenty of room for them there, but we do have some pecking issues which I think is a result of them being a bit too crowded in the coop. There's no room in it for poop boards, but we keep about 4 inches of bedding in it and use Sweet PDZ to keep it from getting stinky. We scrape and pick up the globs as we can and then clean it all out and replace it about once every 6 weeks or so. The coop is solid with the ventilation way up high and we've found it stays quite warm and draft free in there for them. We put in an inexpensive thermometer to help keep an eye on it. We did insulate it but not so much for the cold as for the heat. Our elevation is around 5000 feet, so the sun is very strong. During the heat of the summer, we found that the inside of the coop was generally about 10 degrees cooler than the outside so that made them a lot more comfy.

    As Ridgerunner said, moving a large coop can be a real job, so you might well be better to start smaller...you can always make more small ones and they are MUCH easier to move! Ours can be moved by one person...well if the one is DH...it's too heavy and unwieldy for me. The run is made of metal conduit and wire, so it's quite light...one person can easily drag it or two of us can simply pick it up and walk it wherever we want it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Coop size needed is really more determined by your situation rather than a random formula everyone repeats (4 SQFT/bird). For those with a large run or solely free ranging the coop, even in winter, is solely used for entering to lay eggs and to roost at night. In this situation your limited only by nesting boxes and roost accommodation- how many chickens your roosts hold without squabbling/fighting.

    My birds are never locked in the coop days only the run. For coop space they only get slightly more than 2 SQFT/bird not counting nesting boxes and are quite happy with that.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We open the coop at first light and leave it open till after they've put themselves to bed. We also keep the food and water in the run to encourage them to use the coop only for laying and sleeping or once in a while getting in out of inclement weather. Even so, we've got some pecking issues going on inside the coop...nothing really horrible but enough to be annoying. Since they seem to all get along great in the run, I have to conclude that they feel a bit crowded in the coop.
     

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