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How many chickens?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by usmc88222, Sep 2, 2015.

  1. junebuggena

    junebuggena Overrun With Chickens

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    It really depends on what breeds you plan on keeping. White egg layers are smaller, lighter built birds. They need 4 sq ft in the coop and 10 sq ft in the run. If you get larger, dual purpose brown egg layers, they will need about 5 sq ft in the coop and 12 sq ft in the run per bird. If you get very large breeds like Brahmas or Giants, they will need even more space.
     
  2. henless

    henless Chillin' With My Peeps

    Remember, that is just a guideline. Depending on your chickens, you may need more room or less chickens. Some chickens get along better than others. Just be prepared to reduce your flock or increase your pen if needed.
     
  3. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our coop is a 8' x 18' (half 8 x 9 used for chickens, other half is storage) walk-in, the run is 8' x 16' walk-in. I have 6 chickens. The most I would add are 3. The size keeps the hens happy and management in general easy.
     
  4. the poppster

    the poppster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow nice big space for a half dozen birds....my coop is 10'x6'....and I have at least 20 birds living happily in there...they have free access to a 10'X25' covered run and when I set up my portable fence, they get to work over different areas of the yard....it gets really cold and snowy here for up to 6 to 7 months of the year....the birds like to hunker down together for warmth....the coop has good ventilation year round...only the big white rock roo suffered a bit of frost bite to his points...the smaller birds like to snuggle up under the big hens...the big girls just sit there and let them...if I pick up one of the hens from the roost...I have to be sure I don't have a little guy as well...they spend their day out in the run...few of them are in the coop during the day...unless they are laying an egg...all they do inside the coop is sleep at night...now some might think they are crowded...but if I only had 8 birds in there they would never keep warm enough thru the winter....I add a heat lamp if the temp drops below freezing inside the coop at night....and it does even with all those birds....every one is healthy...they don't pick on each other....they seem happy....so I don't know about 10 square feet per bird...but we all seem to do what we find works for our each individual situation...so what works for one flock might not work for another....all of my birds have been raised together....New hatched chicks and mom are isolated from the main flock by a fence...till the chicks have a month of growth....then mom and chicks are aloud to mix....so far the older birds have accepted the new comers with little to no fuss...mom shows them where to go and where to roost..the coop is all roost space....the nest boxes are built into the garage...so they don't take up any space inside the coop....the last coop I had was 8X16....4 ft by 8 ft..of grain room and storage...so the coop was 8x12...and housed 35 birds....without any squabbling....so there ya go...each situation is different....different breeds are more tolerant of each other...some not so tolerant....maybe the birds I tend to like are the more tolerant types...just know if I only had 8 or 10 birds in my coop....they would spend a cold winter in there...
     
  5. lisalevi

    lisalevi Out Of The Brooder

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    thank you for posting this thread. i have a 8 x 8 chicken house with an acre and a half they are going to free range in. then i can move them out front to the other acre and a half pasture to rotate them. right now i have 24 chicks at 2 days old. thinking about bringing that total to 32. they will be average 6# size and all have friendly dispositions. will this be really pushing our limits. (64 sq ft is actual space- egg boxes, roosts all have additional space) thanks
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Welcome to the forum, Lisalevi. Glad you found us.

    I didn’t see this thread when it was active or I might have commented then. I don’t believe in magic numbers for space for chickens. We keep them in such different conditions, different flock make-ups, different climates, for different goals, with different management techniques that there cannot be one magic number that covers all of us. It’s not that there is one magic area where everything is absolutely glorious but if you take away one square feet it all goes to crap. I find the more I crowd them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the less flexibility I have to deal with issues when they do come up, and the harder I have to work. The more pace you can provide them the easier it is on you, but that doesn’t mean less space won’t work. You might follow the link in my signature for things that I think make a difference.

    People like to think in isolation too. What is the right amount of space in the coop and what is the right amount of space in a run. Chickens don’t think like that. With chickens it’s how much room do I have when I need it. That can be the coop by itself, the coop and run, or the great outdoors. That’s where your management techniques and the weather come in.

    If your chickens are cooped up in the coop for long periods of time when they are awake they need a lot more room in the coop than if they have access to outside space. If you lock them up at night for predator protection (highly recommended) but sleep in on a Saturday until noon before you let them out you could be in trouble with them really packed in there. If you have a predator proof run so you never really lock them in the coop or you commit to opening the coop up at daybreak 365 a year, you can get by with a lot less room. If your weather is such that they are trapped in the coop a lot, you need more space in there. Do you often get blizzards that will keep them in the coop for days at a time?

    You also have to decide how you will use the coop. If you feed, water, and have nests in there, you need to set it up so they are not pooping in those things from the roosts. If they are packed in too tightly that can be a challenge. They poop a lot from the roosts. The more birds you have packed in a tight space, the more the poop builds up. You have to work harder managing that poop.

    Suppose you commit to packing them in tight like that and wake up early every morning to let them out, and you find that a fox, bobcat, dog, something is killing your chickens. What do you do? Some predators can be hard to deal with, they take time. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could leave your chickens locked up safe in a coop or coop and run while you deal with that predator?

    2 square feet per chicken is commercial conditions. Chickens can be kept in that type of space but you have to take extra precautions. They often clip the upper beak in chickens kept like that so they don’t eat each other. They normally feed a wet mash so they can eat. A clipped upper beak makes it hard for them to catch a grasshopper if they free range. They generally don’t keep mixed flocks in those conditions. They ae typically flocks of nothing but hens all the same age. If you will have roosters, broody hens raising chicks with the flock, or plan to integrate new chicks in the future as replacements your space requirements go up.

    Can you get by with 32 chickens in an 8’ x 8’ coop? Yes you might be able to. It will depend on your flock make-up, your management techniques, your weather, and other things. You’d be living on the edge where a hick-up could cause you some grief, but it is possible. Personally I’d want more room or fewer chickens.

    Good luck!
     
    2 people like this.
  7. lisalevi

    lisalevi Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2015
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    Wow! Thanks so much for your fully detailed reply. You answered like I was thinking. I am dedicated to rising early and definitely want a healthy stress free pack. They wil have alot of property to roam on with litle in the way of predators (after watching the neighbors flock) We have lots of space so let'stand see how it all works out.I am home during the day so I can check on them very often. Thanks again! I am really excited to be living the dream!
     
  8. lisalevi

    lisalevi Out Of The Brooder

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    I wanted to update that our 26 girls are happily pastured all day on an acre and living comfortably in their 8x8 house at night. Almost all laying daily now. We are getting from 18- 24 eggs a day! Boy are they delicious! We love having chickens and are in the process of building out part of our barn 9x24 space just for new ones. Any tips on itegrating the new flock with the current flock in the same acre pasture would be greatly appreciated!? The current coop is separate from the barn in the same pasture so they will be mingling for sure.
     
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Overrun With Chickens

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    When integrating groups of chickens, it works best if you can set up a run to keep both flocks separate, but still close enough to interact. This gives both groups a chance to get to know each other without feeling threatened. After a few weeks, you can let them start mingling together, but make sure there are several food and water stations to prevent 'guarding' behaviors.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    June is exactly right. Do you have a run associated with that barn? I don’t know how far apart the two buildings are, but even a temporary run to keep them close to that barn but where the others could see them would be great. Keep them in that barn and run until they are going to bed at night in the barn (if that is an issue) but at least for a week. Then, with food and water near both buildings as a minimum, just let them out. They should pretty much form two separate flocks during the day. They may intermingle some but the young ones will more likely avoid the older. Don’t worry about that.

    When the younger reach maturity, normally about the time the pullets start to lay, they may mingle a lot more but there is a reasonable chance they will continue to form two separate flocks. Whether or not you have roosters can make a difference in this.

    It will be interesting to see what eventually happens. When they start to lay, the pullets may lay with the older hens in their coop or may lay in their own. Since they roam like that it’s always possible they could hide a nest. It’s possible some chickens may switch coops that they sleep in, maybe an individual, maybe several. But in a situation like that, integration should not be a big problem.
     
    1 person likes this.

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