Help!!! Small coop-how do tractor/roosts factor into required space???

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Gindee77, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. Gindee77

    Gindee77 Songster

    Mar 31, 2008
    QCA, Illinois
    I have a coop that's 4' wide X 8' long X 5' tall. I have about 15' of roost space. How many chickens can I comfortably have in this coop. We also have a tractor that we built to fit into my old rose beds. It's about 3'Wide X 8'Long X 2' Tall. It has a small shelter on one end and the rest is runout area.

    I need your opinions and how you figure square footage per chicken. What do you think is a good healthy, normal amount of square footage? Do roosts help "stretch" the square footage of your coop? Or do they matter at all? I will only have pullets when the smoke clears and this mystery of which chicks are roos and which are pullets! Does having a tractor to put some of them in everyday help? (I know my tractor is small and I'll probably make them take turns being out in it so they aren't crowded in there.)
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Does the coop have an actual attached run, or do the chickens stay in it 24/7, or do they get put into the tractor daily, or what? It makes a big difference.

    Most people around here figure 4 sq ft per chicken in the coop (assuming 6-10+ sq ft per chicken of additional outdoors space for daily use) to be a comfortable minimum for happy backyard chickens. Some go as tight as 2 sq ft per chicken and 'get away with' it in terms of no serious pecking/cannibalism/health problems --- but, realize that the likelihood of those problems developing really goes up as crowding increases. Furthermore, personally I feel that just because you can keep an animal alive and not identifiably suffering in X amount of space doesn't mean that's all you should give it... if you work in a cubicle, you probably know what I mean here [​IMG]

    For a chicken's *total* space that it has regular access to -- coop+run, or just coop if they are confined to the coop on a typical day -- you need more space, more like 6-12+ sq ft per chicken depending whose opinion you ask.

    If you put them out in the tractor every day for most of the day, it sort of might kinda count as extra space in a way... but not really, if it isn't attached to the coop, because they will still be confined there, know what I mean? If a chicken goes from a x sq ft per chicken coop to an x sq ft per chicken tractor, it really hasn't had access to more *space*, it's just had a change of scenery and an opportunity to peck at different dirt [​IMG]

    So if you have a decent permanent run attached to the coop, I would say a 4x8 coop *to me* would hold up to 8 standard chickens; if they must be confined to the coop or tractor, I would say only 3.

    Do roosts help "stretch" the square footage of your coop?

    No. Roosts are normal coop furnishings, they do not count as extra space.

    If you wanna know what I think (you did ask what people thought [​IMG]), I am really really uncomfortable with the idea of 2 sq ft per chicken unless they spend virtually all their time all year outdoors. The idea of 2-4 sq ft per chicken TOTAL (that is, without additional run area) is distressing to me personally... I mean, that gives a chicken only 2-4 times its own body area 'personal space' in which to move freely. Chickens are not naturally sedentary or crowd-forming birds -- thousands of years of evolution designed them to live free-range in loose flocks, and I just have problems with treating them as if they were barnacles or something [​IMG] I know people with more-crowded chickens will say their chickens are happy. I just don't feel comfortable enough with ANY person's ability to 100% accurately judge chicken happiness to be willing to take that chance. I know opinions differ and hope nobody is too offended [​IMG]

    I am set up for 6-10 sq ft per chicken indoors (because in winter, they ain't a goin' outdoors much of the time), plus equal or greater run space. It 'looks right' to me. I think that is pretty much the criterion everyone uses, though, and probably *should* use... what 'looks right' to you, in terms of freedom to move around and ability to get away from the others if desired and so forth.


  3. Gindee77

    Gindee77 Songster

    Mar 31, 2008
    QCA, Illinois
    Right now they are staying in the coop because they are just 5 and 4 weeks old and it's still cold here (UGH!) but when they are a bit more feathered and it warms up, they will be spending daily time in the tractor. No, they do not have an attached run on their coop.

    Thanks so much for your comprehensive answer!!! I appreciate your time and comments! [​IMG] [​IMG]

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