How many chickens?

Pooze

In the Brooder
Mar 26, 2018
8
12
27
So I am relatively new to chickens, and just picked up 4 chicks over the weekend. I am already addicted and considering stopping to get 2 more on the way home today. I want to have enough eggs for my family of 4 year round (I realize this might not work out in the winter months if they aren't laying) so I want to make sure I start out with enough birds. I have a store bought coop to start out with (the annex from tractor supply) and about 2 acres of land where I am fairly comfortable letting them free range while I am home. Thoughts? thanks!
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
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Western Ohio
Also your location is helpful. Most store bought coops are barely large enough for half of the birds they state they will fit. With respect to free ranging, what predators are in your area (cats and dogs included, along with rats, raccoons, coyotes, opossums, birds of prey). With a small flock you might need to provide a secure run with supervised free range time.
 

Pooze

In the Brooder
Mar 26, 2018
8
12
27
search
At the moment, I have 2 Rhode island reds and 2 black sex links. the coop is 76" x 47" x 72" tall. I'll attempt to post a pic.

I am in eastern Pennsylvania, on about a 2 acre property with farm fields on 2 sides and neighbors on the other 2 sides (friendly neighbors.) I am planning to build a larger run on to the coop before they get full grown, but I would like to let them range while I am out supervising. predators are not a large concern since I would be supervising. also I have the means to take care of them if they would become an issue. I agree that the rating of 8 birds on that coop is not very practical, but would 5 or 6 be too many?

Thank you both for taking the time to reply.
 

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Morrigan

Free Ranging
7 Years
Apr 9, 2014
3,046
12,154
692
N. California
Aside from coop/run size, the other two things to keep in mind is that, firstly, chickens only reliably lay in the winter their first year. Secondly, egg production really drops off after the first two years. Although some hens stay more productive then others, many 2+ hens will cease laying as early as August as they start their molt and will not resume laying again until March. Even my best 2+ year old layers will generally take 2 to 3 months off during the Nov-Jan time frame.

For those reasons, if having eggs for your family is a goal, I would suggest aiming for a flock of mixed ages. That means waiting to add those 2 chicks until next spring. Ideally you would be adding 2 new chicks a year if you have the space and/or willingness to cull older, unproductive hens.

If you stock up on chicks now, you will find yourself overflowing with eggs this year, but then finding things drying up for months at a time when they age. It's one thing to know this is coming, but it's another to actually experience feeding and tending a flock of chickens all Fall and Winter and seeing maybe 1 or 3 eggs per week if you are lucky.
 

sphillips

Songster
6 Years
Feb 18, 2013
225
229
156
New Mexico
Tha Annex is a cute coop! I have a prefab from TSC, but even though mine says it will hold 15 birds, I wouldn't put more than 8, and that's with additional run space/free range. I would say, at best, that coop will hold 4 full size birds max. Maybe 6 bantam but no more. Again with additional run space added. Also, I highly recommend a good exterior sealer/paint inside and out. A good base to attach it to, and upgraded hardware.
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,536
20,938
867
Western Ohio
search
At the moment, I have 2 Rhode island reds and 2 black sex links. the coop is 76" x 47" x 72" tall. I'll attempt to post a pic.

I am in eastern Pennsylvania, on about a 2 acre property with farm fields on 2 sides and neighbors on the other 2 sides (friendly neighbors.) I am planning to build a larger run on to the coop before they get full grown, but I would like to let them range while I am out supervising. predators are not a large concern since I would be supervising. also I have the means to take care of them if they would become an issue. I agree that the rating of 8 birds on that coop is not very practical, but would 5 or 6 be too many?

Thank you both for taking the time to reply.


Most people say 4 sq ft per bird in a coop, so you have 24 sq ft - sounds good for up to 6 birds. Most recommend 10 sq ft of run space or more. I have to give the photographers credit, they have only 6 birds in the coop pic that I can see.

The only other thing I would note is that even with supervision, some people have predators take a bird - usually it is some kind of bird of prey. However, you know your land best - and if you have clear sight to observe predators from land or air, etc. Its not like a predator will show up the first day they are out. However, it seems that once predators know there is chicken to be had (successfully getting a chicken dinner before) they hang around until the dinners are all gone or the dinners are inaccessible. Some people successfully free range without incident for years.....then something begins to take the chickens.

Good Luck!
 

JurassicBawk

Songster
5 Years
Jun 23, 2016
298
566
171
Hixson, TN
I just watched the video of the coop on the TSC website to try to get a better idea of size, and honestly I wouldn't more than put 2 birds in that full time. That whole house area looks around 4x4, which in theory that should hold 4 birds. But there is no external nest box and the nest area is taking up half the house space. Minimum standards are generally 4 sq ft of house space per chicken, 12 inches of roost per chicken, and 10 sq ft of run space per chicken.

I have 4 chickens and they've got a 4x4 raised house inside a 10x10 dog pen. They prefer to sleep on top of the house instead of inside it, because even with 2 4' roosts they feel cramped. I always like the look of the prefab coops, but they're just so impossibly small.
 

Pooze

In the Brooder
Mar 26, 2018
8
12
27
I agree they never seen to be as big as they should be, but they look good compared to some homemade jobs that I see while driving around which kind of made my wife happier. I think based on the info you all have given me I will stick with 4 birds until I can add in some additional coop space.
 

MANNA-PRO

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