How many chickens should I get?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by fullpawtential, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. fullpawtential

    fullpawtential Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 31, 2013
    We went a little crazy and ended up with 12 chicks. Silkies, bantam cochin, and an ameraucana... We still don't know the sex but we can't have roosters... So we will have to find homes for a few when we figure out who is who. I already think 3 are boys, my ameraucana tried to crow.

    My question is, I have a 4x6 coop with a 8x6 attached run. How many bantams can I have in that space before it's too many? How many hen boxes should I have for them?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Your limiting factor is size of your run. Chickens crowd into a coop at night with little problems but like space in the run when scratching about. I like 10 sqft per large fowl or close to that. That would equate to around 6 sqft for bantam. With 48 sqft for your run I'd limit 8-10 birds. But you'll know as you care for them what they can handle and silkie and cochin are well adapted to confinement.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That’s not an easy question. I don’t believe in magic numbers in space for chickens. We all have our unique situations, each chicken has its own personality, we have different weather and different management techniques. What works for one of us may not work for another. By the way, it’s total amount of space available to them when they are awake that is important. It doesn’t matter if that space is in the coop, coop and run, or they sleep in trees and totally free range.

    For example, what kind of weather do you have? The answer to how many you can put in there might be different in Miami Florida in the summer and Fargo North Dakota in the winter. The more time they cannot go out into the run the more room you need in the coop portion.

    I find the more I crowd them the more likely I am to have behavior problems, the harder I have to work, and the less flexibility I have in solving problems. It’s not that you are guaranteed to have problems if they are crowded, just that the more you crowd them the more likely you are to have problems and the more you have to manage the poop.

    I know this doesn’t give you the numbers you are looking for. If you don’t have experience with chickens you don’t even know where to start. A general rule of thumb for bantams is that you should have 3 square feet per chicken in the coop along with 6 or 8 square feet in the run. That is a pretty safe set of numbers that will keep practically anyone out of trouble in many different locations using different management techniques and with different flock make-ups. That means it will be overkill for a lot of people but for some they can still have problems.

    The kind of problems I’d look for is that they might be loud, you could have more fights and bullying, feather picking, or even cannibalism. It’s possible you could keep 9 bantam hens in that space and you’ll be OK, but it’s also possible you will see problems. No one can tell you for sure.

    With you not having roosters you should be able to squeeze them in a little tighter. If your weather is such that the run is available most of the time or if you cover it to keep wind and snow out you have greatly improved your situation.

    I can’t give you a hard and fast number. I have no idea how many hens you will wind up with out of those chicks. There are just too many variables, including the personality of the individual hens. I do suggest you add perches in the coop and run high enough that the chickens standing on the ground can’t reach up and peck the feet of the ones on the perches, provide additional roost space so the weaker ones can get away from the bullies as they are settling in for the night, provide at least two feeding and watering places to reduce potential conflict areas, and give them some things to hide behind or under. All these things will help you create more “space” for them.

    I’d go with at least two nests regardless of how many you wind up with. A general rule of thumb is 1 nest for every 4 to 5 hens but you have bantams that are known for going broody. Even if you wind up with only 4 or 5 hens, that extra nest will probably come in handy. With your tight space I sincerely hope you are not even considering getting fertile eggs and allowing them to hatch any without adding a lot more space, but a broody hen can upset the laying in the flock if they have to share one nest. Many broodies are happy to share their nest, but some won’t. That can lead to fights and broken eggs.

    If you put those two nests 8” or so above your floor (remember to consider depth of bedding), that leaves more floor space available for the chickens plus maybe gives them a place to hide under. Just remember to have your roosts higher than the nests. Another option is to hang the nests external to your coop, but remember to make them strong so you don’t give predators an easy way in and watch out for them leaking in rain. If your chickens will have access to that run all the time, you can even put some nests out there instead of in the coop. You have options on where and how to do nests.

    I’d also suggest you look into a broody buster. That’s a raised pen with a wire floor that has no nests in it. If you get a broody and put her in there for a few days that normally breaks them from being broody. I find it really handy to have a place to isolate a hen if you have problems, say if one gets injured. I have lots of room and that still comes in handy at times.

    Good luck!
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Don't try to crowd too many in a space, you'll get behavioral issues including pecking and cannibalism. With your run size, I'd stay with no more than 8 bantam hens, and IMO even that's going to be pushing it in the coop.
  5. tadpole98

    tadpole98 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2012
    With a coop like that you can keep a max of twelve. Generally the rule is 2 sq ft per bird. But you have to account for water and feeder taking up space
  6. I feel like I would have to see the coop.. Maybe 12... That may be too many. I am not sure...

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