How many will fit?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Jen422, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. Jen422

    Jen422 Just Hatched

    Sep 24, 2016
    Hello Everyone!

    I have a coop that is currently housing 5 chickens. I've seen descriptions of this coop that mentions that it can hold between 6 and 8 chickens. There is a 4ft roosting bar which seems to be fine right now as the girls squinch to one side when they sleep. My question is, will this coop really hold 8 chickens comfortably? I've modified this coop adding more ventilation, along with numerous other upgrades. I have more than enough outdoor space with the ability to add more. My only concern is when they are in the coop at night. I'd like to hear your opinions.

    Thank you and Merry Christmas![​IMG]
  2. dragonthehunter

    dragonthehunter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2016
    New brunswick Canada
    How many square feet in it?
  3. Jen422

    Jen422 Just Hatched

    Sep 24, 2016
    4ft by 3ft (12 square feet)
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    That's maybe okay for three standard sized hens. Prebuilt coop sellers always make up numbers, sometimes at random, seems to me. 'Chicken math' hits most of us, and we build bigger! My coop has had three additions so far. Mary
  5. Jen422

    Jen422 Just Hatched

    Sep 24, 2016
    Ok. They only go in there to sleep right now (not laying yet... still freeloaders). I have the outside run set up such that part is covered in plastic and they enjoy being there when it's raining or windy. Is more square footage necessary if they don't hang out in there?
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    A little more information would help. Where are you located so we have an idea of your climate? Putting your general location in your profile can help with this type of question.

    Size and layout of the coop would help a lot. Maybe a link to a website with photos inside and out and enough info so we know which one we should look at if they have more than one.

    How much outdoor space do you consider adequate? How is that outdoor space set up, will it be covered in snow part of the year. How do you manage them, lock them up in the coop section each night or leave the pop door open? How you manage them is quite important.

    You might follow the link in my signature to see some of the things I consider important concerning space. I’ve found that the tighter I house them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the harder I have to work, and the less flexibility I have to address issues. A lot of that is more about your comfort, convenience, and stress levels than the chickens.

    Is that a current photo of the chickens? They look quite young. That 4’ roost will probably still be adequate for five chickens, even when they are fully grown. Trying to put even one more chicken in there might work, but the roost will be getting pretty crowded. Based on roost length alone I’d say you are at your limit without more modifications. It’s not just how tightly they squeeze together once they are on the roost, they need room to get on the roost. In that coop it may be they just step on it, but if they have to jump up at all, they will probably spread their wings, which requires room.

    I’d guess that has at least three nests, which is way more than just adequate, it’s overkill. That won’t hurt anything but it’s just more than you need. Nests are not a limited factor for you.

    If you leave the pop door open 24/7 and the weather and set-up is such that they can actually go outside every day of the year if they want to, coop size becomes much less important behaviorally. Chickens don’t differentiate between coop space and run space. They just need enough space whenever they need it. It doesn’t matter if it is inside or outside as long as they can use it. When it is dark isn’t a big issue, as long as that coop stays dark all night, street lights or security lights might cause a problem in keeping it dark. If they are locked in that space after they wake up you could easily have issues. Are you willing to go out there at the break of day every day of the year and let them out, even when you have the flu or really would like to sleep in on a Saturday morning?

    If that is all the coop you have integrating more chickens is likely to be pretty rough. Integration is one time you need a lot of extra space.

    The tighter you pack your chickens the more you have to manage the poop. That’s part of working harder. Chicken keeping should be a pleasure, not a chore.

    Where will your feeder and waterer go? If you add another roost can you keep the feeder and waterer in there without then pooping in them from the roost?

    There are several things I don’t know about your specific set-up or about that coop, but it looks a lot like others we’ve seen on here. In my opinion it is not even close to adequate for 6 to 8 chickens. You are pushing the limits with five. In my opinion, if you try to add even one more you are setting yourself up for a lot of stress and taking a risk for creating serious behavioral issues among the chickens, even if you are successful integrating. Instead of asking how many can I possibly shoehorn into this tiny space, look at it as how can I give my chickens adequate space.

    Edited to add:

    I see you and Mary posted while I was typing. 3x4 is not adequate for any more chickens. You are really pushing the limits now. You might be OK in a decent climate so they can get outside often, but that is tight.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  7. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My coop is about as big as yours and trust me, when the chickens are grown it'll be tight. I have 4 birds and I feel like I'm right up against the amount of room they need (my manufacturer said my coop holds 3 birds tops, which was pretty honest of them... I ended up with 4 thanks to chicken math!) I've already had to do alterations, taking out the nest box to expand the roost bar and then attaching my own nest box outside.

    Ideally you want around 12" of roost per standard sized bird, some people say 8 or 10" will do, others say 14". I got my roost up to 10" per bird and even though they only sleep on about 50% of it they use the extra space to get on the bar.

    I have a large run but sometimes the birds are going to be stuck inside for one reason or another (weather, predator issues, you wake up late or don't want to open up the coop at dawn) so you really do want to make sure there's a comfortable amount of space inside the coop, so other issues don't arise.
  8. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2016
    The overall wide spread rule of thumb is 4 sq ft of space per bird for the coop and 10 square foot of space in the run per bird. Again if they are going to free range and you are in a warm climate then they could be in a smaller coop. If you live in a cold climate that might cause them to stay inside a lot, or if you are in an area that gets a lot of rain then you will want more area per bird.
  9. Jen422

    Jen422 Just Hatched

    Sep 24, 2016
    Hi again, everyone!

    Thank you for the great replies!. I live in the Philadelphia suburbs (NW). My girls go outside at dawn each day (I've installed an automatic door), and are back in at night. I have 112 square feet of outside run, not including what is permanently attached to the coop. I have the top part of the coop run attachment covered, and part of the other section of the run is a chicken tunnel that's covered in opaque plastic, which they stay under during high wind and rain. They don't hang out in the coop it seems. They only use it for sleeping right now (no eggs yet).

    I made a wood "litter pan" which I've filled with Sweet PDZ under the roost. I clean that out every morning with a kitty litter scoop, though it honestly could probably be left for a few days before cleaning. The water is outside in a 5 gallon bucket with a submersible bird bath heater in it. The feed is outside too.

    I want the girls to be comfortable and happy, so maybe 5 is it for me right now unless I figure out how to expand the coop.

    This is their first really cold night. I have the top vents open (over the roost), and the window on the opposite side of the blowing wind open too.

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