Coop Space needed for free-rangers

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by newarkrooster, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. newarkrooster

    newarkrooster In the Brooder

    Nov 16, 2007
    My flock free-ranges on 2 acres fenced in web wire, daily. I have seen many suggestions about coop space on the boards like 4 sf per bird etc. If they free range is this still necessary. I have had chickens for about a year and a half now and I am thinking about getting a few more and was concerned about space. My coop is 16 X 8 and they only use it to lay and roost, I have 15 nest boxes so that is not going to be a problem and I have about 90 ft of roost space, and could add a little more but it is definately not necessary now. My question is how many full size birds can I safely house in this situation.
  2. Shared Acres

    Shared Acres Songster

    Aug 10, 2008
    Northeast Fla
    Seeing as how I've had 4 Silkies squeeze into one small nest box to sleep (their choosing) I agree that for sleeping only, not as much space would be necessary, if they have room to run while awake.
  3. Portia

    Portia Songster

    Feb 29, 2008
    South Central PA
    Right now I have 26 (plus 1 4 week old chick) in my 8x8 coop. They have 4 roosts, but usually use only the top 2. So far all is fine & I think if I a few less of them were roosters all would be just fine. Like yours, mine are out of the coop at sun-up and back in at dusk. They frequent during the day to lay or if a broody is in there with chicks. Just make sure you have a good ratio of hens:roosters and that you provide them with access outside at first light.
  4. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    if you go by the 4sq feet per bird, you'd have room for... lets see, 16 times 8 = 128, divide that by 4 = 32, so you'd have room easily for 32 average sized birds. a few less of something like Jersey Giants, or even if you have agressive or grouchy hens. Roosters just need seperate corners to move into if you have more than one. I start the summer with a few extras, and by winter, would have it back to about that ratio... 4sq ft/hen. During summer, I might have as many as 40 in there, no more though. [edit] that's just my opinion of course!! your flock, your judgement, always! I really don't mean to sound bossy, it just happens!

    [edit AGAIN] That's WAY too many nesting boxes!! I'll bet you they all battle over just one or two! I also like those 'double wide' sized ones, that way two can easily fit into one area, or even three in a box. the single I have available is pretty much ignored.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  5. Montana-Hens

    Montana-Hens Songster

    Feb 20, 2008
    Buxton, Montana
    My ladies free range all the time.

    The question to ask yourself is if I had terrible weather and they all had to spend 3 or 4 days with the door closed what would happen then.

    My hens think they have to go out every day. I draw the line at subzero for the whole day. They will have to have the space to be nice to each other for the several days they spend the whole day in the coop.

    To me that is what the floor space is about. My ladies have about 3 square feet each. It is less than recommended, but when the spend the whole day in they get extra treats and things to hopefully prevent boredom.

    On the 3rd day of terrible weather you don't want them to turn into pecking for kicks or space.
  6. Quote:My freeranging chickens don't have a coop.. only a covered roost
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    there is a plastic sheet over the front for winter and they get in through the space between the coop & the hen house (right).

    If your coop is big enough for food & water and roosting then I would simply add roofs of some sort for rain & bad weather cover. Making sure they have a large dry area out of the rain to hang out under... why build more interior space if they only need rain or snow cover?
  7. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    Covered area like that is fine as long as weather permits, and there aren't many preditors either. Like I said, you can have a few extra in summertime, but by the time bad weather hits, you want to be sure they have room to relax indoors if you are in a snowy/cold climate... if your forum name indicates Newark NJ... well I don't need to explain about crummy weather do I?

    Too many hens in confined space for too long means they don't much relax, they bicker and peck and spat. No way to relax and stress means injury and illness, summertime's easier though.

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