How Many Chickens To Keep The Run Green?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by GreenEggsNSpam, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. GreenEggsNSpam

    GreenEggsNSpam Out Of The Brooder

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    We will be building a a 6'x12' coop. I'm only starting with 7-8 standard laying hens this year, and might pick up 3-4 chicks every couple years to keep the eggs coming for a time. These will be pets and I intend to keep them well after their egg laying days are done. I'm not going to have more than 20 hens max or less, though I have plenty of room to expand if needed (I have 5 acres).

    All this said, I'm trying to decide how big to build our run. As much as I'd love to simply free range, we just have SO MANY predators around here for the good of any chicken. So a run is a must. I would LOVE to make it big enough so that the grass stays MOSTLY green. Some brown patches are fine, but I just want the chickens to have some green. And I like to see some lawn too. [​IMG]

    So my question is how much space in the run per chicken is needed for it to stay mostly green? And what dimensions would you recommend for say 16-20 hens, considering that I will have to wire the top, too (we have LOTS of red tail hawks and coopers hawks). Any thoughts or advice on this would be awesome!
     
  2. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As big as you can build it is how big any run should be. They need more room outside than in.
     
  3. BridgeMan

    BridgeMan Out Of The Brooder

    Can't answer your question (directly), as I'm still a complete novice. Hope to pick up our first 6 chicks tomorrow, so I have a few months to come up with a coop/run configuration. But I had a thought regarding your run size question--why not make the run movable? Even if the coop is fixed, you could pivot the run to at least 3 different positions, say 9 o'clock, noon and 3 o'clock, making sure it's securely anchored to the coop by using a fixed (square or rectangular) vestibule with 3 separate access doors. Keeping the 2 not in use tightly closed/locked, until it's time to rotate the run to the next position.
     
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  4. GreenEggsNSpam

    GreenEggsNSpam Out Of The Brooder

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    Edelstein, IL
    I had thought about making a portable run, tractor style. But one of my concerns with that style is the predators. I worry about coyotes or dogs passing through digging under a tractor-style run where I live. I certainly can't be out there with them all the time! [​IMG]

    Plus they won't be able to go into their nice coop on more dreary days if they want, or to nest or whatnot. It is a good idea, though. But I think it's a better idea for smaller flocks and areas with less predators.

    I know the bigger the better, but bigger costs more money and takes more time. Still, I'm willing to do what it takes. Just thought someone out there might have an idea how much land it'll take per chicken to keep them from turning it entirely to dust. Knowing those guide lines, I'll build as big a run as I can afford and manage to it. [​IMG]
     
  5. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know how much space would be needed for 20 chicks to not free it from all grass, but it's probably more than you could build and enclose. I have seen posts on here where 8 chickens destroy a rather large run...so 20 in a run would probably be near impossible
     
  6. bacpacker

    bacpacker Out Of The Brooder

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    I have ran into a similar situation. I have 11 birds in a 32'x64' run, which I thought would be more than enough. They had it down to dirt in no more than 3 months. I am now looking at building out 2 more larger runs, all tied together, and rotating the birds between the three. This will give the grass time to grow back and can be reseeded if needed as well.
     
  7. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I only have 3 girls and they have a run area that I rotate. In late fall/early winter, I put them in a fenced area approx. 30 x 50 in size - certainly a good size for only three chickens. They've been there approximately 3 months.

    We moved them from that area last week. The following picture is a sample of what they can do in that amount of time. You can see the straight line of the fence. As this was done by three hens in a 30 x 50 ft. run in just three months, I'm not sure how much space you'd need for 8 hens if you wish to keep grass. They're grass-loving machines, for sure!


    [​IMG]
     
  8. GreenEggsNSpam

    GreenEggsNSpam Out Of The Brooder

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    Edelstein, IL
    Wow! Thanks for the photo! That's some visual. LOL
    Yeah, they do love their greens. That's half the reason I want to try to keep their area somewhat green. I'm starting to see it's not going to be easy.
     
  9. GreenEggsNSpam

    GreenEggsNSpam Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 25, 2013
    Edelstein, IL
    That's actually a great suggestion. I might well build more than one run for them and rotate as needed. Unfortunately, I'm starting to see that this might have to be a long term project as time and money allows. So I might have to settle on a smaller run for the time being and work on building bigger/additional runs before I get more chickens in the future.

    When I was a kid, we had about 17 chickens, but 90% of the time we just let them free range. They had a small run as well, but they really only spent time in it in the winter. And it was NEVER green! We just didn't have all the predators that we have where I live now. We really only had to worry about raccoons and hawks back when I was a kid. We have SO many more predators here. Red fox, silver fox, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossum, red tail hawks, coopers hawks, barred owls, great horned owls, and the occasional loose dog. I just see free ranging here as an occasional treat when I'm out gardening. So a good run is a must.
     
  10. The Luggage

    The Luggage Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah, I have three girls in a 30 x 36 foot pen. I was thinking with that much space, the growth rate of the weeds would at least come close to matching their eating/scratching rate. HA! Granted, it is winter here, and they were put into the pen in the fall, when growth was slowing down. But they have pretty much decimated every green thing in there. Lately, I've been letting them out for a little while in the afternoons. I just stay out there with them to keep them safe. Hawks are my main concern.

    I'm thinking about putting a temporary fence halfway down the middle of their pen for a few months to let some things grow back in. I'm also thinking about growing some "chicken salad" in some pots that I could move in and out of the pen for them. Yes, they are spoiled, but I'm getting 18-19 eggs per week from them, so I think they deserve it!
     

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