Maximum number of chickens in 8x8 foot coop for winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by zowieyellowflame, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. zowieyellowflame

    zowieyellowflame Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2009
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    Hello,
    I currently have 16 hens, 1 rooster and 9 nearly grown chicks. (total 26) I dont mind this many right now because they only have to be in the coop to sleep. The coop is kind of small, only 8x8 with 8 foot ceilings. Plenty of roosts, 8 nest boxes. Some of the chicks will be boys and will go to freezer camp, but I am wondering what is the max number of adult birds you would house in a coop that size for the winter? I live in NS, Canada, generally the chickens will be confined atleast from December to March. I overwintered chickens in there last winter. It is insulated, ventilated, and heated to be just above freezing. Some of the hens have stopped laying, so we will downsize. I just don't know how many I should keep.
    Thank you![​IMG]
     
  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    You're going to confine them 24/7 from December - March? I wouldn't house more than 8-10, if so.

    Is there a reason you keep your coop heated to above freezing? That actually will contribute to moisture problems and puts your birds at greater risk of chill, illness and frostbite.

    I also wonder if they MUST be confined? I know your winters are colder and snowier than ours, but if I were you I would at least give the chickens the option to go outside. We're routinely had chickens out in below zero temps and snow well over their heads with no issue whatsoever. A few years ago it was -10 to -20 and we had bellybutton deep snow from December to March with very little reprieve, if any, and the chickens did no worse that year than any other. They were happy and healthy come spring. And we keep our food outside even in the winter, so ours are going in and out in that weather with no problem. They even choose to stay out after eating and will go scratch around, roost in their favorite bushes, etc, etc.
     
  3. CamsCluckinChicks

    CamsCluckinChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Clunette
    Hi Zowie! My sources (mostly "The Chicken Health Handbook", "Storey's Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens" and this forum - LOL) say, for standard-sized chickens, 4 sq. ft. per bird. This includes the floor, nesting boxes & roosts. I have a 10x12' Layer Crib (I'll explain further in a sec...) with a full 12' wall of 1' square nesting boxes 2 high (I think it's 22 boxes in all...?), a ladder - both made from an old wooden ladder & then 2x4's added to it, which I use for roosting, also spanning 12'. My Layer's have a 12'x20' yard, fully enclosed with a combination of poultry wire (2x4 frame) and aviary flight netting (used across the top)...and numerous natural & man-made roosting areas. There are currently 29 (1 roo & 28 hens)...with 10 young pullets growing to join them. I also plan to add some Cochin's and more Wyandotte's...maybe 10 more. With the roosting & floor space alone, I am 'allowed' approximately 140 chickens. However, I have no desire to have quite that many! LOL!

    Bantam's require 2 sq. ft. per bird. I have a raised Silkie Crib which houses mostly Silkie's, but does have a tiny Bantam Cochin hen named Freddi who believes herself to be a Silkie. LOL! Their Crib is 4'x6', made with a 2x4 frame and the flooring is composite deck boards...Excellent for easy clean-up!! There are 2 'holes' in their floor. One is covered with a 14" square patio brick & the water sits on this. When it's time to clean, I hang a 5 gallon bucket from a nail under the flooring & easily scoop everything through the hole. The other hole is for their descent to their own yard, which is 8'x20'...again with the 2x4 frame, poultry wire & flight netting over the top. I should also mention that each of the yards is separated with deck boarding (regular wood decking) 3' high & poultry wire with hinged human doors to go from yard to yard. Anyway, back to the Silkie Crib... I use 2 empty kitty litter buckets with the tops removed for nesting boxes. Makes for really sanitary cleaning & with Silkie's, you can never clean enough. LOL! I have 6 in this Crib, including li'l Freddi.

    I have a Polish Crib in-between the Layer's & Silkie's (and ducks who live under the Silkie's - LOL). The floor space is 5'x5'. They share a double feeder my husband made with the Layer's. The double feeder has 'compartments' - the largest one for feed, then 2 smaller ones for oyster shell & grit. It's modeled off a double hog feeder. The Polish also have ladder roosts which basically double their square footage. They have 6 nest boxes - 3 across & 2 high. There are 10 chickens - 1 rooster, 8 Polish hens & 1 Sumatra hen. As Polish prefer height over floor space, this arrangement has worked quite well for them. They also have a large yard - 8'x20' - in-between the Layer's & Silkie's.

    The ducks have a Crib under the Silkie's. They are Pekin's, 3 of them. They spend most of their days running around the large part of the yard we fenced off from the dogs. We are getting ready to build them their own pond so I can quit emptying, cleaning & refilling totes daily. LOL! The only time they spend in their Crib is at night, but I have still made their Crib water tight using GlasBoard over the floor and up the sides & using 'safe' caulk to seal it. There is also a large, grated floor pan which their feed & water sits on. Saves a LOT of mess!!

    It sounds as if you are going to be just fine with their 8x8!! Have fun & enjoy!! [​IMG]
     
  4. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What kind of birds do you have? Standards? Bantams? What breed(s)? In an 8 x 8 I wouldn't keep more than twelve to fifteen standard Barred Rock-sized birds in it. I agree with Olive Hill that the coop should be kept at just below freezing as the chickens would probably be healthier if the "stuff" is frozen.
     
  5. zowieyellowflame

    zowieyellowflame Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Olive Hill,
    Last yr I kept my coop above freezing so the water would not freeze. Also, I planned on being tough, but then I kept worrying that they were getting frost bite on their combs and I just figured they would prefer to be warmer. I didn't let them outside because with the pop door open, the temperature would go down so quickly. Every now and then we would have a sunny day that would be around zero celcius and I would let them out. Only, they refused to walk anywhere there was snow. When you had bellybutton snow, did you shovel a walkway? Put down shavings?
    CamsCluckinChicks,
    I am confused. Do you have a picture? 4 sq feet per bird, but then you add your roost area to your floor space, is that right? Therefore, I have 64 sq feet of floor (8x8) and 16 linear feet of roost. 64 + 16=80 So maybe I could house 20 birds? Max?
    Cowgirl71, I have standards. BR, RIR, Americana and some mixed that are slightly smaller.
     
  6. CamsCluckinChicks

    CamsCluckinChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Clunette
    I missed the part about the heating...Not necessary. And I wouldn't keep them confined over winter either. The moisture from chickens can be really, really intense...and a breeding ground for bacteria. Ewwww....respiratory problems in poultry is NEVER a good thing - and rarely easy to get rid of without leftover side-effects. Prevention is so much easier!!

    I live in Northern Indiana, which I realize isn't nearly as cold or snowy in the winter. However, we get nailed by lake-effect snow literally every year. We've had 6' drifts in front of garage door, behind the location of our now Coop (North side - the yards are on the South side)...all over the place. Where we had the coop's last year (our East 'side' yard), there was also quite a bit of wind as there's a woodline on one side & our house on the other. We have huge, open fields North/North-West of us that allows all that Arctic wind to blow right through us. Last year was my 1st winter of chicken farmetting, so please be generous & know that I learned...and managed to not lose a single chicken due to my ignorance. I received some misinformation & was more concerned about my chickens freezing & getting frost bit combs/wattles than I was about adequate ventilation. We also had the run going out the North side, which was completely inaccurate. We knew it was temporary only, but in hindsight, our temporary chicken home would have been much, much different!! So. I spent every day checking heat lamps, fretting over the water freezing (which never did happen - lol), having very, very little ventilation. The best ventilation they had were two small wall registers cut into the upper front doors & their chicken door! We had put a larger wall register for ventilation on the North wall, but we were worried about drafts while roosting. Grr. [​IMG] My step-daughter & I had spent a day insulating the walls of this 'could have been' a perfectly lovely coop, but skipped insulating the roof, smug in our belief that by providing heat for our dear 'babies', that wouldn't be necessary. [​IMG]

    By January, I had an entire coop of sneezing chickens. OK, maybe not every last one of them...but enough of them I ended up 'hospitalizing' the 3 worst and using an approved water-soluble antibiotic in ALL the chicken's water...including my mini coop (red Quaker 4x6 coop bought from My Pet Chicken). By this time I had decided I knew absolutely nothing about chickens. N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!!

    I immediately bought the Chicken Health Handbook and pretty much read it cover to cover. There's some extensively dry reading in that book...but an amazing wealth of information! I probably have it out at least once a week for reference alone!! I also got online & researched & researched. It was honestly exhausting. I mean seriously - Who goes through all this for chickens?? Me. [​IMG] I bought graph paper and began designing my new & improved Coop - with separate Cribs within for each of the breeds I wanted to separate...and, to be honest, to incorporate a few ducks. LOL! My ventilation North & South includes 6 working windows (2 per Crib) on the South side (overlooking chicken yards) and a large double door on the North side plus 2 working windows. East to West, however, I have large 'cutouts' with drop down covers that are secured when closed by a latch. We covered the openings with hardware cloth and they are far above the chickens. There is also a large door on the West end. When my husband finishes the siding and roofing yet this fall, there will also be two custom cupola's centered across the top...with working fans. LOL! He is building me custom screen doors for both my West and North doors as well. We insulated the entire coop - floor, sides & roof - and covered the interior walls/ceiling in skid wood slats. Rustic AND functional! LOL! The only heat will be from the bulbs under their waterers. Between that and the chickens own heat, I have no doubt they will be fine. Having said that, the Silkie's will have a small area with a brooder lamp as they chill much easier. I'm like the 'heat nazi' - no heat for you!! Unless you're a Silkie or chick. LOL!

    Definitely allow them the choice of wandering outdoors. Even with our temporary run facing the wrong way, as long as we shoveled the snow out of the majority of the run, they were outside!! I was freezing - they were roosting outside!! Honestly, they know much more about their needs than we do...they won't go out if it's too cold for them. Also, unless you find them contantly all huddled together & not doing chicken-type things, I wouldn't worry about providing a heat source - just make sure their water doesn't freeze & that they have plenty of fresh water & feed. And non-drafty ventilation!! [​IMG]
     
  7. CamsCluckinChicks

    CamsCluckinChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Clunette
    Quote:Your calculations are the same as mine. [​IMG] Add a couple more roosts & you could get away with your current flock - but I wouldn't go any higher until I added on to my coop. [​IMG]

    When we get snow, we shovel it up against the side of the run that is getting the most wind so it serves 2 purposes. It helps act as a wind break & the chickens will walk around in their yard! My chickens won't step on snow willingly either. Spoiled. [​IMG] Then, when all the snow started to melt & we had a muddy mess in the runs, we put down bales of straw. The chickens had a ball breaking up the bales, it covered the mud so they weren't in it & it was easily cleaned up with a rake & scoop shovel. My 'dream coop' will have runs built on a deck & I'll grow native grasses, etc. for them in deck boxes. The deck will have granite grit underneath so we can hose it down really well a few times a year & dissolve all the extra chicken poo into the ground. Oh! And clear fiberglass roofing - all the sun, no rain or snow! LOL! Of course, I'm mostly kidding - what we do for our chickens!! [​IMG]
     
  8. True Grit

    True Grit Chillin' With My Peeps

    Zowie I think what worked for you last year will work for you this year.[​IMG] My coop is only 4x4 and the run 8x4 and I have 5 EEs. Being new at this I actually expected to lose one and one did try to check out but she ok now, so I'm stuck with not enough space. I have had 3 strips of mosquitoe netting over the pop door all summer so the birds know to push against it to get in and out of the coop. Rather than keep them in all winter, I plan to put some strips of something, heavy plastic maybe, in place of the netting on the pop door and give them access into the covered run. I will also put heavy plastic around the run up 4 ft or so and put hay on the sand. I think I will try to leave the food and water out as much as possible.
     
  9. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:I am far too busy to move snow for chickens. [​IMG] Snow gets brushed out of the way of the coop door it can be opened. That's it. They do not weigh enough to sink through the snow and be lost in it. They can walk right on top.

    4 sq. ft per bird inside is a minimum guideline that assumes the birds also have space (of which the minimum guideline is actually an additional 10 sq. ft per bird) outside. (So, in other words, the minimum is actually 14 sq. ft.) Keeping with a minimum of 4 sq. ft. when the birds will not have any additional space outside is a creative case of selective listening, but not a great idea for the birds.

    Similarly, imo, adding roost space to your square footage is only an acceptable practice when the birds have access to the outside at all times when they are not sleeping. We, personally, fill coops based on sleeping capacity rather than daytime capacity, but our birds always have access to the outdoors from dawn to dusk -- and they use it. If they're locked in there 24/7 you need space for everyone to be on the ground if they want to. You need space for everyone to get to the feed and water at once if they want to, etc, etc. You can't do that for 20 birds in an 8x8 coop.

    Forcing birds to spend all -- or even most -- of their time in overcrowded conditions is asking for problems.
     
  10. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Please let me know if I can assist, I'm in NS too and had my birds out almost every day last winter...
     

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