Less than an acre chicken suggestions


Feb 28, 2013
Hey guys! I'm not quite a new member, but I'm new to having chickens. I live in a suburb on a little over a half acre. The houses around me have large yards but it is definitely a subdivision, so I have to make sure my setup is considerate of the neighbors. It is legal to have up to 6 hens with a permit. I live in northern il so it gets very cold here, so I'll need hens that are winter hardy.
I have many questions!

What are the top 3 best breeds?
-winter hardy
Really good egg layers
-sweet and cuddly (they will be pets too)
-I love the idea of pretty eggs, but everything else I listed is more important

I plan to start with 3 chickens at first. I'm not sure about free ranging although I'd love to. We have a 5 ft fence, but we have a lot of hawks. Also I'm nervous about them not getting back in the coop during the day if I have to leave. We also have a wall of pinetrees I'd have difficulty crawling into if they chose to hide there.
Is it mean to keep them in a coop/run most of the time? I read 5 square ft per chicken but is that good enough if they don't get to free range much?
I'd like to keep them up against my house if the ordinance allows. Are there health concerns with that, like bird mites or sanitary issues?
what is the best floor bottom? Easiest to clean with the least smell?

Thank you in advance for ALL of the help!

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Aug 26, 2009
Out to pasture
Welcome to BYC, many folks have much less than an acre and raise their chickens well. Free ranging is for folks who can accept losses to predators. Otherwise chickens can do perfectly fine in an enclosed run, If you cover the top it will keep chic kens inside and raptors and climbers out. Rule of thumb is to allow 4-5 sq.feet per bird inside the coop, not including roost bars and nest boxes. In the outdoor run, allow 10 sq. feet of ground space per bird. More is always better but, not necessary.

You can find a lot of information and plans for different coops etc. - check out the coops forum. You may also want to check out the predator section for advise on keeping them out.

Main thing for safety is NO not use flimsy chicken wire. It keeps chickens in but, does NOT keep predators out. The gold standard of fencing is 1/2" hardware cloth securely affixed to frame work. It costs more, lasts much longer and predators will not chew through it.

You may also wish to join your state thread to ask how others manage in your area. Just put state name in the search box and it will pop up.

Pork Pie

Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jan 30, 2015
Hi and welcome to BYC - DD has already given you great advice, so I'll just say a big hello and all the best with your impending flock.



Feb 28, 2013
Great! Thank you, does anyone have suggestions of breeds, placement and substrate?

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