logic re number of coops

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by beardiemom, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. beardiemom

    beardiemom Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 21, 2010
    Western MA
    I am a chicken newbie. We raised our first 6 girls from day olds and so far everything has gone well (knock on wood). They are now giving us 4-6 eggs per day, which is plenty. We built a log cabin coop with attached run for them and while it is big enough for 6, I wouldn't want to push more in. Yet, it is true that this is an addictive sport. So, now to the questions:

    People always say build bigger, but what is the real advantage of one big coop? Given the horrific tales I hear about chickens picking on each other and the picked-on refusing to go back in the coops, people putting them back in and then finding them beaten up the next morning.... wouldn't it make more sense to have a few small coops so that there is no crowding and birds who don't get along together don't have to live with each other?

    If you do have a few smaller coops and like it that way, do the chickens share a common yard (if you can keep them in it?) or do you give them separate yards?

    We currently have a yard for the chickens and a yard for the ducks. The ducks stay in their yard, but the chickens just fly over the 4 foot fence, each the ducks' food, drink out of their bucket, check out their house, and scratch for treats in the hay.

    Sharon
     
  2. BWKatz

    BWKatz Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    Columbia,SC
    When u have the larger coop u can subdivide it as needed when needed. Saves money in the long run.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:First, it is significantly cheaper and easier to build one bigger coop than several smaller coops with the same total square footage.

    Second, it is much easier to MANAGE, as you only have to haul water or run electricity to one place not several, and often run fencing can be more "condensed" and thus cheaper too.

    Third, it is far more flexible, because a larger space can be subdivided any of a number of different ways depending on your changing needs, whereas (say) a 4x4 coop is a 4x4 coop no matter what.

    Now, that said, there are a couple situations where several separate coops can be the better option. It is certainly better for quarantine, if you are going to be buying grown birds elsewhere and bringing them home. In some cases it slips under zoning radars better. Smaller coops can be more easily portable than a large one, if you are doing that. And in an awkward or odd-shaped area, or if you want to have BIIIIIG runs for each pen, several smaller coops allows you to distribute run space better so that each pen can have a larger run with less "traffic congestion" (=mud) right around the popdoor. Oh, also in some circumstances it is easier to scrounge (or drag home in a very small car or without a car at all) materials for small reach-in coops than for a great big walk-in one.

    Given the horrific tales I hear about chickens picking on each other and the picked-on refusing to go back in the coops, people putting them back in and then finding them beaten up the next morning.... wouldn't it make more sense to have a few small coops so that there is no crowding and birds who don't get along together don't have to live with each other?

    Actually if there is a difference at all between having (say) 20 chickens in a 12x12 coop versus 5 chickens in each of four 6x6 coops, it tends to favor the LARGER coop. I am not sure how to explain this but basically it's because chickens do not distribute themselves evenly in space, they tend to hang together or try to get away from each other, so the larger the TOTAL AREA is available, the better they can go pursue their own activities or get away from each other EVEN WHEN the square footage per chicken is identical in the two situations.

    The only real exception to this is when you have fundamentally-not-so-compatible breeds that may best be housed separately. For instance if you have a pen's worth of silkies or Polish that tend to be "peck magnets" because of extensive head feathering, and a pen's worth of something highly-caffeinated and grumpy that tends to go after anything that won't get out of their way, then indeed housing the two breeds separately is probably a good idea.

    HOWEVER this says nothing about whether to do it in structurally-separate coops or in separate pens under the same roof. For which see the first part of my post [​IMG]

    If you do have a few smaller coops and like it that way, do the chickens share a common yard (if you can keep them in it?) or do you give them separate yards?

    While there are exceptions (mainly ones where the birds were initially kept totally separate so that each flock developed its own habits, especially when they are then free ranged together, as opposed to simply sharing a run), most BYC posters who try to have everybody mix in the run or free-ranging and then sleep in separate coops at night seem to find that chickens have their own ideas and would often all mash into one coop together. Which there is not a whole big lot you can do about [​IMG]

    Pat​
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  4. beardiemom

    beardiemom Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 21, 2010
    Western MA
    Thank you both for your comments. They make sense. In our coop there seems to be room for 5 across on the roost. So instead of dividing up 3 and 3, they usually go for 5 and 1, leaving one colder chicken.

    I look forward to learning to understand chicken logic.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm thinking of expanding my little flock as well (like you, I have 6 hens). While my coop is technically large enough to add a few more birds, I worry about them having ample space. Plus I'm considering foofoo bantams, and wouldn't want them terrorized. So I'm going with an additional (small) coop with a separate run. I wish now that I could go back and build one BIG coop and just section off different spaces for the birds. [​IMG] Not only would it have been cheaper in the long run, but it would've conserved yard space...not sure how I feel about having a coop village in my yard.
     
  6. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Reading
    We started off with a decent size coop until chicken math began.
    Now we have the large and 2 small coops in one enclosure plus a batchelor pen for the extra roos.
    Our aim is to have one large intermingled group in one coop and run to minimize hassle during the long winters.
    But, we have 3 breeds and want to have them pure to hatch.
    So it seems best to have these minicoops in the same run. We will put run dividers in place during the breeding season and hopefully re-assimilation will work well when we rejoin the flocks and freerange.
    The only problem I foresee will be the roosters. We have 3 now: 1 must be separated, the other two are ok together. I think if they all grow up together each year we will be ok. The task will be to remove as many as possible to the rooster pen as soon as possible to leave only a select few roos with the main flock. And hope we choose correctly!
     

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