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  1. ken Franklin

    ken Franklin Hatching

    Feb 23, 2012
    Hello all my name is ken. I could use some help on coop size and run size .i am new to chickens in my backyard. I have 6 silver lace wayndotte, 5 americannas and 4 Rhode island . i want to keep at least 10 could someone please let me know how big coop and run should be and how many nest boxes i should have. and if anyone knows of a club or something in pringle pa 18704

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There is no perfect answer to your question. How much space they need depends on a whole lot of things. Commercial operations have proven you can get by with as little as 2 square feet per chicken, but they have to take special precautions, like maybe trimming their beaks so they can't eat each other. Hopefully we treat them better than that.

    There is a general rule of thumb some people use on this forum that suggests 4 square feet per chicken in the coop along with 10 square feet per chicken in the run. I really don't like hard and fast numbers since there are so many variables, but this will keep most people out of trouble most of the time. I understand too that it helps to have some numbers to start with when you are just starting out.

    I like giving them as much space as possible. That gives you more flexibility in handling problems, plus I find the more space I can give them, the less I have to work. I'll add a write-up I did a while back at the end of this post that discusses what I think you should consider concerning space.

    I'll mention some things specifically. Plan for the future. How many might you have. If you want a broody to raise chicks with the flock or if you want to integrate new chickens, it is easier if you have extra space.

    Most building materials come in 4' or 8' dimensions. You can get more efficient use of your materials with less cutting and less to throw away if you think around these dimensions. But don't forget the roof. You want some overhang so you can put ventilation at the top of the walls and still keep water out. So watch your roof span. In Pennsylvania, you'll need to design for snow load and the wider your span, the heavier the roof rafters need to be. There are trade-offs.

    The rule of thumb for nest boxes is one nest box for every four to five hens. But whether you keep 10 or 15 hens, three will be enough, but I would not go less than three.

    I'll also give you some articles a lady in Ontario wrote that I think can really help anyone building a coop and run.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    And here is the write-up on space.

    1. Personal space for the birds. They have different personalities and different individual requirements. Some are very possessive of personal space and some can share.

    2. Access to feeder and waterer. The general recommendation is that they all be able to eat at one time, but access to the waterer is also important. Part of this is that they seem to like to all eat at once but not necessarily drink at the same time. Part of it is that a dominant bird may keep others from eating or drinking, especially with limited access.

    3. Being able to put the feeder and waterer where they will not poop in it when they roost.

    4. Roost space. They not only need to have enough room to roost, they need to have enough room for them to sort out who gets to sleep next to whom and who gets the prime spots. They also need enough room to get on the roosts and get off them. When they get on, they may jump from some midway support or fly directly to the roost, but either way, they like to spread their wings. And some chickens seem to enjoy blocking the entry points if there are limits. And when they get off, mine tend to want to fly down, not jump to a halfway point. They need room to fly down without bumping into feeders, waterers, nesting boxes, or a wall.

    5. Poop load. The larger area they have the less often you have to actively manage the poop. They poop a lot while on the roost so you may have to give that area special consideration, but mucking out the entire coop can be backbreaking work plus you have to have some place to put all that bedding and poop. In my opinion, totally cleaning out the coop is something that needs to happen as seldom as possible.

    6. How often are they able to get out of the coop. The more they are confined to the coop, the larger the personal space needs to be. The normal recommendation on this forum is 4 square feet per full sized chicken with a minimum of 10 square feet of run per bird. This additional requirement outside is sometimes not mentioned. How often they are allowed out of the coop may depend on a lot more than just weather. Your work schedule, when you are able to turn them loose, what time of day you open the pop door to let them out or lock them up at night, all this and more enters into the equation. The 4 square feet recommendation assumes they will spend extended time in the coop and not be able to get in the run. What that extended time can safely be depends on a lot of different factor so there is no one correct length of time for everyone.

    7. Do you feed and water in the coop or outside. The more they are outside, the less pressure on the size of the coop.

    8. The size of the chicken. Bantams require less room than full sized chickens. This has to be tempered by breed and the individual personalities. Some bantams can be more protective of personal space than others, but this is also true of full sized breeds.

    9. The breed of the chicken. Some handle confinement better than others.

    10. The number of chickens. The greater the number of chickens, the more personal space they can have if the square foot per chicken stays constant. Let me explain. Assume each chicken occupies 1 square foot of space. If you have two chickens and 4 square feet per chicken, the two chickens occupy 2 square feet, which leaves 6 square feet for them to explore. If you have ten chickens with 4 square feet per chicken, each chicken has 30 unoccupied square feet to explore. A greater number also can give more space to position the feeders and waterers properly in relation to the roosts and provide access. I’m not encouraging you to crowd your birds if you have a large number of them. I’m trying to say you are more likely to get in trouble with 4 square feet per chicken if you have very few chickens.

    11. What is your flock make-up. A flock with more than one rooster may be more peaceful if it has more space. I don't want to start the argument about number or roosters here as I know more than one rooster can often peacefully coexist with a flock, but I firmly believe more space helps.

    12. What is the maximum number of chickens you will have. Consider hatching chicks or bringing in replacements. Look down the road a bit.

    13. Do you want a broody to raise chicks with the flock? A broody needs sufficient room to work with or you risk problems from other chickens.

    14. The more space you have, the easier it is to integrate chickens.

    I'm sure I am missing several components, but the point I'm trying to make is that we all have different conditions. There is no magic number that suits us all. The 4 square feet in a coop with 10 square feet in the run is a good rule of thumb for a minimum that most of the time will keep us out of trouble, but not always. I do believe that more is better both in the coop and in the run.
  3. ken Franklin

    ken Franklin Hatching

    Feb 23, 2012
    Thanks for all the info was explained in great detail. i was only looking to keep 6 hens no rooster (because of ordinance). And my coop plans were 3'x5' with ceiling hight at 7'. And run was 5' x10' . I heard of sand as a substrate in the run , any info on that. and my city said i need drainage , can you enlighten me on that

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