Ever growing flock! 32sq. ft. too small and now 64 sq ft. seems to small! How do you keep adding for

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ChxLadyCass, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. ChxLadyCass

    ChxLadyCass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 2, 2017
    La Junta, CO
    Hello!

    I currently have purchased or own 16 chickens total, however if the last Golden Wyandotte doesn't have a home by Friday, I am bringing her home too. So 17! My current coop is 32 square feet with 3 additional nesting boxes. It is just too small for the 12 I have (which seems silly to me because they all crowd into about 4 square feet of the coop). You can tell by their behavior. One of my Buff Orpingtons has become a pecker head (literally she pecks the new hens' heads) as she roosts on the highest, 4 foot long roost alone! It seems as if they are not using the space they have, but knowing what is best for them, I am drawing up plans to expand. My plan has been to add a second coop that's a basic copycat of the first, giving me 64 sq feet total and 6 nesting boxes for 16-17 chickens. We will probably retire a few of our girls to my sister-in-law, but what if I want 20 later? Do I have to keep building new coops? Are there any clever ways to add space? I am not a carpenter and work full-time Monday through Friday, so my time to build is also limited. I see all of these beautiful coop plans and designs, but they just do not look realistic to my available time, resources and talents. My parents and in-laws all live on farms, so scrap materials are PLENTY! I'm talking about old wood planks, plywood, tin, fencing posts,etc. Help with simple solutions is greatly appreciated!

    I have received so much help from this community since joining this website. I am so grateful for you all and feed unworthy of the grace and understanding everyone has for a newbie! You all have made this hobby even more enjoyable for me! THANK YOU!!!

    -Cass
     
  2. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Overrun With Chickens

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    Hahaha! Chicken math has struck again! [​IMG] Well, if your girls are large fowl, they will need about 8 sq.ft/hen in the coop. If you allow them to free range, you can get by with less room. If they have an outside run they need about 10 sq.ft/bird in this area.
    Your Orpington is already displaying signs of being too cramped - they have some very unattractive vices - picking at heads and vents, plucking feathers etc.
    Nest boxes should be 1 box/4 hens or so.
    Can you get by with less space? Yes - but be prepared for some very anti-social behaviors.
    What you need to do is look at what your overall goal is. Are you aiming for a big flock so you can sell eggs etc. or is it a homestead project?
    A coop 20x20 ft will give you 400 sq.ft (check my math) - which is more than enough for 36 hens, even if you have to shut them in all day. If it's too big you can partition it off until you need more room. Make sure you have plenty of perches and boxes and hopefully they will live happily ever after....[​IMG]
     
  3. ChxLadyCass

    ChxLadyCass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh to live happily ever after! Yes they have a 20X20 chicken run plus they free range at least once a day as well. A 20X20 would be awesome but then do you think it could still be mobile? We'd like to be able to move it from place to place with the skid loader and I'd like to keep the original coop as my man built it for our daughter's chickens.
     
  4. ScottandSam

    ScottandSam I'm still here. Premium Member

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    Shell Knob, Missouri
    Oh to live happily ever after! Yes they have a 20X20 chicken run plus they free range at least once a day as well. A 20X20 would be awesome but then do you think it could still be mobile? We'd like to be able to move it from place to place with the skid loader and I'd like to keep the original coop as my man built it for our daughter's chickens.
    With 400 sq ft run. I would shoot for 160 ish sq ft. coop.

    Our chickens free range right now. Our coop 163 sq ft.. The run will be tad bigger than 20x20.
    At 4SQ. ft per bird. I figure We are good for 40.

    Scott
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  5. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Overrun With Chickens

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    Take a look at some of the larger mobile coops - some are almost as big as a tractor trailer! You would def. need a tractor to move it, but if you put it up on wheels to start with I think it would be feasible...
    Since they have such a large run, it sounds like you need more perches for night-time. Your Orpington has decided she's Queen and no-one is going to mess with her....[​IMG]
     
  6. ChxLadyCass

    ChxLadyCass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well here's the crazy part! We added in perches to equal 12 ft of perches plus a large ladder to the perch adding about 2 more ft of perching, plus 2 of the hens consistently cuddle on top of the water tank. So last night, here is how my 11 chickens decided to use the coop

    [​IMG]

    4 feet of perch left completely untouched!! Oy! (Hard to see in photo but there is a perch along the far wall with no one on it, usually the Queen's throne) Any ideas on how to encourage them to use the space they have?

    I am making plans to build a second coop on wheels! I will make it home to my newest flock members and the new chicks I will be integrating in a few months! Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  7. ChxLadyCass

    ChxLadyCass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/gwendellannos-chicken-tractor-and-coop

    I LOVE this design! This is my inspiration without a doubt. I plan to add 3 more nesting boxes and LOVE the idea of a storage bin that could also be converted into more boxes. GENIUS!

    But I am still curious if I can encourage my girls to use what they have. I have 3 nesting boxes for 10 girls (only two are laying), but they all use the same box and no one has EVER used the box closes to the wall. Do they need more privacy? Ladders to access? Any ideas?
     
  8. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Overrun With Chickens

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    How high are your boxes - can they do a straight jump into them? Are they private? I have found they won't use boxes when you can see straight into them - try curtains - cut up old feed sacks and pin in front of the boxes. I cut my sacks to be about half the width of the box and then pin so that they can peek out either side. They do have favorite nest boxes - as you are finding out.
    Have you tried golf balls/fake eggs in the unloved box? Is it colder than the others?
    I love the design you picked, [​IMG]
     
  9. maryleo9

    maryleo9 Out Of The Brooder

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    I would suggest building as large a coop as you possibly can the first time so you don't have to build again! We were originally planning on building our nice big permanent coop when we first moved into our house December 2015...THEN getting the chickens. We'd been moved in for about a week when we found we had a chicken had already taken up residence in the well house..which is really just a child's playhouse stuck over our well head. She was mid-molt (and is a very ugly molter!) and had a very bare butt when it was freezing temperatures. We did what we could for her in the little playhouse and got a make-shift 12x6 coop built as quickly as we could. That coop soon got several more (planned for) chickens added to it and our #1 chicken now named Speckles could be reminded she was a chicken, not a human. By this time she'd taken to roosting on the deck right next to the kitchen door which made for really unwelcome presents when I let the dog out in the mornings.

    Needless to say, we're in process of building a 16x8 coop which is just a tad larger than we can get away with without getting a permit. (120 sq foot limit). It'll have a cinder block foundation around the perimeter with a dirt floor. While the birds are free-range right now, they like to cross the road and block the small amount of traffic we get and we recently lost two to predators so are going to build an enclosed run for them. They'll still get free range in the evenings when we can go out and do yard work while they forage. The initial attached run will be a total of 16x42 feet and will be divided into two separate planted runs. Well be adding a third run onto the back measuring 8x50 later on. This will give us 3 good sized runs to rotate up to 32 chickens (currently have 19) through. This is figuring 3 sq feet per bird in the coop and minimum 10 sq feet per bird in the run. They'll be in each run for about a week before rotating to the next one and give the run time to rest and regrow. Plantings will be protected so they can't totally decimate them!

    We're fortunate to have acreage and would gladly build a coop twice the size I mentioned but we're also on a hillside and digging it all out by hand. Mainly, build it as large as you can to start because I don't think you'll ever regret it. Make sure it's well-designed too! My chickens all like to nest in ONE SPOT...on the floor behind the perches that I can barely reach over and am too tall to duck under. Perches in the next coop will be ladder style and attached via hinges so I can lift it out of the way.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. ChxLadyCass

    ChxLadyCass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They can do a straight jump, they don't have curtains (my mom wants to make some pretty ones for me) and that last one may be a bit colder than the others. I have tried golf balls and fake eggs. I will add some privacy and some insulation to the unloved box and see what we get! They may just all like the other two the best and they are enough for the few hens actually laying!
     
    1 person likes this.

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