1. Michelesullivan

    Michelesullivan New Egg

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    Jan 2, 2013
    Hi all
    I'm in the planning stages.. I'd like to have a dozen hens. I have the opportunity to get a 4x6x66" chicken coop with 3 nesting boxes. I like it because it has a people-sized door I can get into, for one thing. I would also be able to have as large a run as I like, and the hens would be able to free range during the day. So in this scenario, what do you think? Thanks!
     
  2. skeeter4488

    skeeter4488 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2013
    Delaware
    My Coop


    I'm no expert, but it seems from everyone else that you should account for 2-3 square feet per chicken. So with a 4'x6' coop and 12 chickens, that is 2 square feet per bird, which is good, but maxes you out. If you ever decided to add more chickens (which if you catch the chicken fever like everyone else did, you will), then you'll want something bigger. However, if you can get one for the right price, go for it. You can always re-sell it later and get a bigger one if you need to. I have a 4'x8' coop with a 24'x8' run. Right now, I have 8 hens and 1 rooster, but I plan on getting 4-5 more hens. Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  3. Masonicflock

    Masonicflock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 4, 2012
    Springfield, Tn
    Sounds like its big enough. I run 14 chickens and 3 guineas out of a 4'x6' coop. So that will be plenty of space. Having a big entry door is nice too. Are the nesting boxes inside or attached? If inside and not covered they will roost in them at night and needless to say its alot of constant cleaning.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    First off, I don’t believe in magic numbers for chickens, space or much of anything else. We keep them in so many different conditions in so many different climates with so many different flock make-ups, for so many different goals, and use so many different management techniques that I don’t see how any one number for square feet a chicken needs could possibly work for all of us. I really hate to give out any numbers, but I know people that don’t have experience need a starting point.

    There is a rule of thumb that you should provide 4 square feet per chicken in the coop along with 10 square feet per chicken in the run. This will keep most of us in “normal” climates and using “standard” management techniques out of trouble most of the time. So it’s not a bad starting point.

    Commercial chicken operators have proven you can keep chickens in as little as 2 square feet with no run. But they have to take measures to keep them from eating each other, like trimming the beaks so they can’t get a good bite. They work pretty hard in taking care of them too. Most of us are not going to keep chickens in those conditions.

    Unless you are going to manage them very tightly, chickens need more space. It really doesn’t matter whether that space is in the coop, the run, or even free ranging, as long as it is available when they are awake. That’s where climate and management technique come into play.

    I can see two different scenarios working for you with what you propose. These involve you using the coop as nothing more than a place for them to roost and lay eggs. Just finding a place in there to put food and water they won’t poop in when roosting could be a challenge.

    One is if you build a predator proof run, which is fairly hard to do if you make it very big, and just never lock them in the coop. You can build a large predator proof run but that can get pretty expensive. You will need weather where they can actually leave the coop every day. I don’t know where you are, but cold probably isn’t really that much of a concern. Chickens can handle pretty cold temperatures pretty well, but they hate cold winds. Snow can keep them in the coop too. You can handle that by building a run that blocks the wind and keeps the snow out, but that adds to the difficulty and expense. You have to design your top for snow and ice load.

    The other scenario I can see is if you commit to letting them out every morning at the crack of dawn, never sleeping in and having someone you can depend on to do that if you are going on vacation or are too sick to do it. Of course this again requires the outside being OK for them to go outside.

    If they spend more time in the coop, they need more room in the coop. Exactly how much depends on a lot of the things I mentioned above.

    I find the more room I give them the less hard I have to work. A good example is poop management, but there are others. I also find the more room they have, the more flexibility I have in managing problems.

    If you build with the minimum space in mind and then find you have a predator problem in your run, you have to immediately solve that problem. With a bigger coop, maybe you could leave them locked in there while you solve the problem. Often these involve animals like foxes or raccoons that don’t hang around and can take a while to take care of.

    When I have a hen laying outside the coop and run, I can lock all of them in the run until that hen learns to lay where I want her to.

    When I have a hen go broody or I want to integrate some chicks I’ve raised in a brooder, I have room to do that. If you start out with the maximum number of chickens shoehorned in your coop, that stuff gets really hard.

    Instead of trying to shoehorn the maximum number of chickens into a tiny space, I suggest you build bigger. It really will make your life a lot easier.

    If you are building a coop instead of buying one, I’ll mention that most building materials come in 4’ and 8’ dimensions. If you design your coop around that, you can generally build a coop with very little cutting and very little waste.

    Another good option is to get one of those building kits from Lowe’s, Home Depot, places like that, and convert it to a coop. All you need is roosts, a pop door, nest boxes, and decent ventilation. Roosts are dead simple to put in.

    The pop door (that’s the way the chickens get to the run from the coop) involves cutting out a hole maybe 12” square and figuring out a way to close it if you want to lock them up. This sounds complicated but it’s really not. You can hinge a door and have a hasp or build a guillotine type door. There are plenty of people on this forum that can give you details.

    You can make the nests as simple or complicated as you wish. You can make nests with cat litter boxes, the bucket the cat litter comes in, 4 or 5 gallon plastic buckets you can get free at a deli or bakery, or a whole lot of other things. You can build convoluted contraptions with roll-out nests or with outside access.

    Ventilation may be your hardest issue and again that does not have to be hard. You can maybe cut out the top few inches around the top of your walls and enclose that with hardware cloth to keep predators out. Gable vents or roof vents move a lot of air. I suggest you don’t depend on ridge vents if you live where you can get snow. Snow can block those. I’ll include a few articles I think everyone that is designing and building a coop should read. The Muddy Run and Ventilation ones will apply to everyone. The Cold Weather one depends on where you live.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    Good luck with this and welcome to the adventure.
     
  5. Coco Rae

    Coco Rae Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 23, 2012
    Sounds big enough to me.
    I would want to get at lease 2 sq feet per Chicken so I think that it would be a good idea to get it while you can.
    I would get it!
    Hope this helps,
    Coco
     

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