Excited Chicken Newbie


Aug 13, 2016
Northern California
Good Evening!

Our city has recently approved backyard chickens. The new zoning ordinance should be official in about 6 weeks. We can have a maximum of 6 hens. I plan on starting with two, maybe three birds. I'm thinking to start with 2 black australorps for egg production and maybe a bantam. I am very excited to get chickens. I've never had them before, but used to live next door to some. I am ready to start doing some more in depth research and have already started reading at the Learning Center. I think I want to start with chicks and plan on getting them in early spring. I am open to any help and suggestions. We are planning to build this coop: http://www.simplesuburbanliving.com/2016/03/how-to-build-simple-suburban-chicken.html?m=1

Pork Pie

Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Jan 30, 2015
Hi and welcome to BYC - thanks for joining us. The coop design seems fine, but one word of caution - the 4*4 sqft will only house a max of 4 chickens, and thats not including nesting space. Since you are allowed up to six, I'd suggest increasing the footage of the coop (you will want you max of 6, i am very sure). Ideally, a run (if you are going to use one) should be 10 sqft per bird - again, I'd suggest going for a 60 sqft area to accommodate your max allowed chickens. This link may help - https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

In terms of number, it might make sense to get at least 3 chicks. The reason i say this is that if you only get 2, and one dies or is taken by a predator etc, then you will be left with 1 lone chicken. They are social animals and thrive in their own company.

You may wish to consider joining your state thread as it will put you in touch with other BYC members in your area - https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/26/where-am-i-where-are-you

All the best and good luck


drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Aug 26, 2009
Out to pasture
Welcome to BYC - you have a lot more patience than I do. I could never wait till spring. Still time left for growing out chicks before winter sets in.


Flock Master
8 Years
Jan 10, 2013
so glad you have joined us and congrats on the ordinance change and your plans to get your own flock.

@CTKen has given you great advice.

IMO go for the 6 you are allowed - They are happier in flocks of at least 3, but 4 or more is even better.

Build larger than the minimum - expanding later is much more difficult once you have the flock residing in the coop/run. But, if you do decide to start smaller - include possibilities in the plans for expanding their home. Deciding to later increase the flock is somewhat of a challenge in integrating the newbies.

Find a source that offers sexed chicks to lower the risk of drawing unwanted roosters. Spend the year planning what you want, designing your coop/run and time to explore the Learning Center, Predator protection and general managing flock information. And deciding on a brooder, location best for you.

And IMO Spring is the best time to get your new babies - and easier to transition out of the brooder with weather issues.

Enjoy the new adventure, you are in for a really wonderful experience.


12 Years
Mar 25, 2009
South Alabama
CTKen has given some good space recommendations. I'd go 4x8 for the coop (area inside of the pop door). The 4x4 coop in your link will (somewhat tightly) house four chickens. The 4x8 coop would give six hens plenty of room. Plus, sheet goods such as plywood come in 4x8 sheets so that reduces the number of large saw cuts that have to be made...good efficiency of material and labor. The larger coop also allows more room for feeders and waterers inside.

More space/room is *always* better for chickens!!!

Definitely go for the full six hens to begin with. Out of six chickens there is a chance of getting a rooster, which you would have to cull by either re-homing or making soup out of...that would reduce your number of chickens. Chickens do die suddenly, especially young ones. You might lose another one there. Predators may also kill one or two. Or, nothing at all will go wrong and you will end up with six wonderful laying machines that adore you.
If the latter is the case, then that is much better than adding a couple of hens later as the new chicken introduction phase can be rough (very rough sometimes). It's much easier to start out with the number of chickens that you ultimately want to have. With the larger number you also have a slight buffer against losing a chicken or two for whatever reason.

I agree with sunflour about getting chicks in the spring. It's the natural timing for chickens to mature into healthy hens with fewer reproductive issues. Also, this will give you un-rushed time to construct your coop and run.

Best wishes and HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!


Aug 13, 2016
Northern California
Thank you all for the information. I was wondering if my coop and run would be big enough since it had such well laid out plans and I have no building experiences. With reading all of the replies I think I will make a 4x8 coop with an attached run that is 8x8 or 12x8 feet. This should provide 32 square feet of coop space and 64 or 96 square feet of run space. Plus, there will be 32 square feet of space under the coop which I'm guessing is where the food and water should go. Hoping I can find some already made plans for this. I would love to start with all 6 birds. However, that decision is not mine. I'm hoping I can push it to closer to 3 or 4 (or 6) when the time comes.
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