I must have the meanest chickens ever


11 Years
Aug 18, 2011
I am NOT dogging anyone's coop/run here!!! Gonna say it again - I love to look at all the coops and runs and am constantly impressed with the craftsmanship, creativity and just plain ol' hard work that goes in to them and I would NEVER play the 'mine is better than yours' game.
But I have a question. I see TONS of coop/run combos where the footprint is basically a 8'-12'-ish rectangle and a coop is created by closing in the upper portion of one end. These are CUTE-as-can-be and for the longest time I kept wishing I could afford something as safe and compact as this. But then I got some chickens and as they grew, they moved out of my 8'x8' coop building into the attached 8'x8' fenced run. Then a 10'x8' run. Then a 20'x16'run. Then a 30' square with the 8'x8' building in one corner. Each run enlargement came with a roost extension and a couple more chicks
There are 13 in there now and I'm seriously considering doubling it (the run, not the flock) over the winter because I still see a lot of chasing and bullying going on. I have 2 feeders and 2 waterers because I was concerned that some of my younger birds weren't getting their share of the groceries.
So - HOW do yall manage to keep a flock of 8-10 birds happy in a 10' long run?????
I have a smallish run for 7 chickens. I let them out 2x a day, and that keeps them happy.
Hello! The general rule for space is 4 sqft per bird in the coop PLUS 10 sqft per bird in the run. So in theory 8-10 birds should be fine in a 10 ft by 10 ft (100 sqft) run with an attached 40 sqft coop. Every flock is different so that is just a guideline but I think it is a pretty good guideline. I personally have 6 hens in an about 10 by 6 run with that closed off rectangle on the side that is an additional about 3 by 6ish but is two stories.

What is your current sqft to hens? indoor and outdoor?

If you are having pecking/bullying problems but feel like your birds have lots of space there are a number of other things that could be happening. What kind of bullying are you talking about? Chickens do have a pecking order and aren't really lovely dove-y so some scolding and bossiness is very normal between the higher ranked hens and the lower ranked hens.

If the bullying feels extreme or violence then I would look at the following:

You mentioned that you have added new birds several times. Every time you add new birds you are going to see bullying to some degree because the flock needs to adjust to it's new members and re-establish a pecking order. Blood is extreme and should be addressed right away but a little bullying is normal in this situation. How often have you added new birds? Does the bullying get any better after the same group has been together with no changes in flock or space for several weeks/months?

What are you feeding? Pecking for blood and feather pecking can be a sign of low protein. Are you seeing blood? What is the total % protein they are getting?

It is possible you just have a bully? Every once in a while you will get one really mean chicken. This meanie will start pecking and the other will start following and it becomes a habit. Does there appear to be one leader who is the main mean girl or is it a whole flock issue? Sometimes removing the one bad bird can solve the problem.

Do they have anything to do in their run? Anything to climb on or hide under or peck or scratch at? Any dust baths or treats? Sometimes bored chickens will peck at each other. You could trying buying or making a flock block or a treat ball or growing fodder to give them something to eat that takes a long time to peck apart or just add a ladder or any sort or climby thing -- this gives them something to do and a way to get away from each other.

ALso, do you have roosters? What is your hen to roo ratio? Sometimes too many roos to hens can be an issue.

Just some thoughts and possibilities. Good luck!!
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ugh.. math.
Lets see... if the run is 30x30 then it's 300sq feet and at 10sqft/bird that would be .... carry the 2... move the decimal... both arrive at Cincinnati at 3:00!
Wait...that can't be right.
It's 64sqft inside (16 birds) and 300 outside (30 birds) - IF I figured that right.
I have the original flock (1yr old now) of 5 LG hens & 1 roo, various breeds.
In April I added 2 adult australorp hens and the pecking order drama was completely settled in about 15 mins. Only 1 hen seemed to notice or care and since she is 1/2 their size there wasn't alot she could about it. She chest bumped them and when they weren't impressed, she ran away.
In May 2 of the hens went broody the same week that I came home with 2 chicks from Gilmanor who went into the quarantine/brooder pen. The eggs hatched Memorial day weekend (4 of them) and mom & chicks were moved across the yard to the quarantine pen where the 2 Gilmanor chicks were. When the hatched chicks were about 3 weeks old I moved them back to a separated corner of the run and after a couple of weeks there I started to open the fence when I was there for a couple of hours so they could mingle. Just in case anyone objected too strongly. None of the adults seemed to care about the new chicks in the flock. The broody hen did, however, make a ruckus and picked several fights - none too dramatic or long lived. I assumed this was just her establishing her place back in the flock.
Once everything was settled again, I moved the 2 Gilmanor chicks - now about 2 months old into the separated section that the broody and chicks had just vacated. Again, a couple hours supervised time to mingle in 'safety' for a couple of weeks and then the gate just stayed open.
This is when I started to notice that the half grown hatched chicks are running in terror when either of the sussex hens (part of the original flock and both brooded & raised them) even looks in their direction. Also, the 2 Gilmanor chicks are doing the same thing. Although all of the young birds get along ok.
They originally seemed to be mostly afraid of the sussex hens. Who took advantage of it and ran at them whenever the mood struck. I never saw them make contact - just run and scatter the younger birds in a panic. But now it's any of the older birds. They will be laying all together in the tall grass in the corner of the run and if one of the older hens walks by it's pandemonium!
They eat Rockin Rooster Booster - pelleted feed fed free choice from 2 feeders on opposite sides of the run. They also get several cups of scratch (wild bird seed/sunflower seeds/oats/feed pellets) each afternoon and most days they also get several things from the garden.
They have a sand pile to scratch in. A turtle pool full of hay - that just seems to fascinate them. Two shrubby shaded areas. And a deep hole they've dug that they dust bathe in.
There are currently 3 young males in there. 2 of them are not yet mature and one is JUST starting to try to crow and do his little dance - when he's not running in terror of the hens.
So I guess the issue is that I essentially have 2 separate flocks. The adults and the youths. The adults keep the youths in almost constant motion just by walking near them. I can't imagine the chaos that would be going on in a smaller, enclosed space that didn't have bushes & trees in it.
a thiry by thirty run is actually 900 sq feet....which means your birds have approximately 56 sq feet per bird....it's not the size of the pen at that rate.....

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