How Many Chickens Are Ok For My Coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by skullgrrrl, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 10, 2012
    I have a 1000sq ft run and within it a 4' x 4' coop, plus two attached nest boxes. Up until recently I have only had 4 standard sized hens so that's been plenty of space. I have added 9 chicks (hatched by my broody hen). To accomodate them I have added roost bars totalling 9'. They are only in the coop for the night (which in the darkening days is getting longer each day); they have another shelter they go in if its raining.

    Of those 9 chicks 3 are cockerels and at least two are going. So far, they are all sleeping in there okay, but the chicks are only 11 wks old and still have some growing to do. How many pullets will I have to downsize so there's enough room without conflict?
     
  2. AConk81

    AConk81 Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, I've read mixed things, which I'm currently trying to figure out myself. But, I've read either 2 sqf per bird, which would allow you enough space for 8 birds, or 4sqf of space per bird which would mean that you were already to capacity with the 4 standard birds that you had.

    What I've been trying to figure out is whether 2 sqf per bird is enough if they have a large outdoor area. From my understanding it's the floor space that matters, so adding more roosts won't help them to not be overcrowded. I'm a complete newbie though, so hopefully someone with more expertise will answer too!
     
  3. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The general rules that I have heard the most are to allow 4 square feet per bird in open housing (meaning in addition the birds will have access to a run or yard). 1 nesting box for every 4 birds and each bird will need 10 inches of roosting space for an average sized chicken. Space is important because crowding can lead to bullying and pecking.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  4. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From what I've seen they roost as soon as they enter the coop at sunset and don't hop down till I open the door in the morning at sunrise. They don't spend much time on the floor of the coop - they are either sleeping up top or are in the nest boxes (the four hens have always laid in one box). They are out all day (their food and water are outside) and even when it's raining or snowing they don't go back in the coop - they are either underneath it (its raised a couple of feet off the ground) or in an open shed within the pen.

    When I had a 35sq ft coop and 8 hens they all crowded together on one roost bar and used one nest box. Again they didn't spend much time on the floor.
     
  5. RoostersCrow HensDeliver!

    RoostersCrow HensDeliver! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think space per bird depends on your climate too. If you live in a nothern climate and get snow, your birds are most likely not going to want to be ouside in snow and you need to account for that in your coop. 11 standard size hens crammed in a little 4X4 coop is not going to end pretty.

    BUT if you happen to live in a mild climate, I think that you'll be alright keeping all of the hens.
     
  6. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My coop and run are about that size and I've never tried to put more than 5 or 6 mixed LF and Bantams (4 LF being perfect). They might seem like they are fitting, but the more you have the more stressed they are. If they start to bicker they need to feel they can get away from the offender. A little pecking order thing becomes a bigger issue. And stressed chickens will not be as vigorous and healthy.
     
  7. skullgrrrl

    skullgrrrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Re: climate. I live in the pacific northwest (Canada) & it is usually quite mild. Rainy, but very little snow or frost. The hens I had previously didn't seem to mind the snow much, but this current group won't leave the covered pen if there is so much as 1" of snow on the ground.

    After I downsize two of the cockerels (in the next couple of wks) should I be watching for particular signs of stress to gauge if their numbers are ok? So far there is a bit of a flurry for competition over food but otherwise they seem fine. No particular chicken seems to be picked on more than the others.
     
  8. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We had total harmony for a long time, but if one gets sick or injured it usually changes the pecking order and the changes can get ugly. Adding to the flock starts the power struggle too.
     

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