How many do I keep?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Oscgrr, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. Oscgrr

    Oscgrr Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2010
    Cape Cod
    This is my first flock and I'm faced with a small dilemma. I began construction on my coop in early spring and I'm putting the finishing touches on it now (I'll post pics when it's done). I wanted my chickens to be big enough to survive the winter by the time it rolled around so I picked up some chicks and put them in a brooder in the house while I built the coop. When they were ready to go outside and the coop and run were ready for them, out they went and I continued construction around them. All I have left to do is insulate the coop and we're ready for winter. My dilemma is this: I got thirteen chicks because I read that about half of them will turn out to be rooster and I should be prepared to lose some because that's what happens but I didn't lose any and only two are looking like roos. My coop is only 4x6 feet with two external nest boxes with two nest each. I can't keep the roosters because my neighbors won't appreciate it and I don't want fertile eggs anyway (this makes me sad because the roosters are very friendly). How many hens can live in a 4x6 coop with a 8x12 covered run? I let them out of the run for a few supervized hours a day and they are very well behaved and happy and always put themselves to bed (I count and lock them up every night). I'm a good chicken keeper and I don't want to over-crowd them but I also don't want to see them go (never thought I'd feel that way about a chicken!). They're only about eight weeks old and still pretty small but that won't last: 4 Barred Rocks, 3 Easter Eggers, 3 RI Reds, 1 (very pretty) brown and white mutt and 2 white mystery mutts (look like leghorns).
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Oh, maaaaaaan. That's gotta be tough. I don't want to get rid of any of mine, either. (I've posted one roo on the BYC auction site for free, but doubt anyone will take him. So I will keep him, if that happens.) It's why I have more than one coop... and have expanded the run twice. Well, not just because of that one roo... but all of my flock.

    However, your coop size is good for six chickens, and your run will handle 8. That's still pretty short of 13. My chickens only use the coops for laying and sleeping (except the one broody who just hatched a chick), and I let them range freely in my back yard during the day. If you have enough roost space in that 4x6 coop, you could handle the 8 your run will support. If you let them free range, you could squeak a couple more in... but not 13.

    Sounds like you either have to make that horrible decision to rehome some of your chickens, OR build another coop.
  3. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    Where are you? You seem very concerned about winter, and if the hens are going to be spending extended time in the coop I would not keep more than 6 maybe less depending on your winter weather.

    I would keep 2 of each preferred breed for a colored assortment of eggs. Personally I would keep 3 BR and the 3 Ameraucanas, but that' my choice. As they grow out a bit, you will probably choose by their personalities and who hangs out with who. They need to each have a friend or they are easy prey. As long as there is still room in the Coop for them its not a problem. But it looks like the roos should go now to make room for the growing hens.

    I also have outside nesting boxes and that does allow for extra hens, as long as they don't have to spend a lot of time cooped up. The longest mine have had to be in lock down is 3 days. Even if they can get out in the run for a few hours a day it makes a world of differance.

    And gryeyes is right, if you really wanted to, you could add an addition with a pass through door to the new section. My coop was and can be built in sections and I am planning on adding another section next year for brooding and get rid of my old brooder house. DH doesn't know about that plan yet. If you add another section though, what are going to do with the extra eggs??

    Have fun with your chicks.
  4. Oscgrr

    Oscgrr Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2010
    Cape Cod
    I live on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts and the winters can be harsh. Granted, not as harsh as other parts of the country and being on the water makes it a little milder than even ten miles inland but we still get about four months where there's either snow or the threat of it. I can't expand the coop so that option is out. A guy I know keeps twelve hens in a 4x6 coop and he says they do fine but I think that's a lot for such a small space. I take all advice in consideration and the conclusion I've come to is that I'm going to keep eight. I figure if they have access to the run all winter (it's covered) they should be happy. I hope to sell my extra eggs for a couple of bucks a dozen to help offset the price of feed and litter. I have a neice that's expressed an interest in acquiring a few pullets, she has an empty coop and run and has kept chickens before, so I know they'll be fine.

    Thank you for helping me decide. I really didn't know how many I could fit in a 4x6 and the responses I got here were helpful.
  5. math ace

    math ace Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 17, 2009
    Jacksonville, FL
    I have thinned my flock twice now - - -

    The first time - - - I kept the lowest 2 on the pecking order. I felt sorry for them and didn't want to send them where they would be picked on even more. Then, I kept my favorites - in personalities and looks. I got rid of the chickens in the middle - - -not the weak ones but not my favs either.

    The next time - - - I got rid of the 2 on picked on the weakest ones the most. I planned on introducing some new chickens - - - smaller chickens - - and I didn't want them to get picked on more than necessary. So, I got rid of the two BULLIES.

    Pullets and Hens are easy to get rid of.
    So, as long as nobody is showing signs of being overcrowded - -
    I would wait until you can observe their personalities and keep your favorites.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by