Minimum run space for HAPPY chickens?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Xtina, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Hi all, I've posted this before, but I need some reassurance because I'm between a rock and a hard place. I promised my son that he could raise his own chicks when he turns four (this year) and it's a promise I can't take back. But my husband wants to be able to enjoy his backyard again. He refuses to go out there with free-ranging chickens. So I built them a new coop that I thought would be enough space for them. They basically have 80 square feet of run space between 3 birds, which is a lot, technically and comparatively speaking, but I HATE it. I feel like they hate it and they want to have a lot more run space than they have. My husband refuses to budge, saying that if they get more space than the 8'x10' they're in right now, that it will be too much of the backyard to sacrifice and that I might as well let them free-range again over the whole back yard because he'll never go out there if the coop/run is bigger. This makes me want to get rid of chickens altogether, because I hate how cramped and unhappy they seem. But maybe I'm just being crazy? Please reassure me that 80 square feet is enough for happy birds. I know that they would love to have acres, but I want to know the minimum square foot requirements for happy, healthy birds...not the USDA minimum of 4 s.f. or whatever...I want a good estimate on what it takes to keep chickens HAPPY, at a minimum. Please help!
  2. Bubbles11

    Bubbles11 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 26, 2013
    Hi Xtina,

    I think that is plenty of space. They will be happy. Chickens in general love to free range. But they will be fine. You can put in weeds and leaves that they can scratch through. You can also give them hanging cabbage so they can peck and play with. Remember to give them an area they can dust with. I put a child's plastic pool in the pen area filled with dirt. This way they can dust when I'm at work and they are not out free ranging.
  3. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Oh, those are great ideas. Thanks!
  4. OScarlet

    OScarlet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2013
    What about you ask him for a compromise and ask him if he would be ok with a temporary run that can be folded down and put away in the shed when he wants to be in the back yard or you have guests? We use a precision pet 4' high enclosure with some shade cloth clipped to the top so we can have them contained in different parts of our yard when the dogs are out. They only go in it when we are home and it completely folds flat when you aren't using it. That means they can get fresh weeds to chomp on, or be under the tree where it is good dust bathing. Are you at home when he isn't? They'd be happy just to have an hour or so in that so they can be somewhere else for a change.
  5. Chickens R Us

    Chickens R Us Chillin' With My Peeps

    The run should be big enough and maybe just let them out an hour or so when the DH isn't home. That's a Win Win situation. [​IMG]
  6. myfinefeatheredfriends

    myfinefeatheredfriends Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2011
    In addition to the above, buy them some scratch grains... it is chicken candy! Also give them a couple flakes of straw or hay (don't spread it out, let them do that)... they love playing in it!
  7. averycatherwood

    averycatherwood Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 5, 2013
    Concord, North Carolina
    That is plenty of space! I have four chickens currently and they have an 80 sq ft run space. They are incredibly happy! Once you have your chickens for a while, let them out to free range for an hour or two. They will get back in the coop when they're done. Trust me when I say this, those are some happy chickens that you have!!

    Good luck with your son!! [​IMG]
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That's plenty of space, they will adjust to what they have.
    Letting them out once in a while..... I would think would make them 'unhappy', once you let them out, they'll want out again.

    Hopefully part of your run space in under the coop, or solid roofed, where it will stay dry and they can dust bathe all year round.
    You could make some grazing frames to keep something green growing for them.
    You can put some roosts and/or other things for them to climb on and hide under.

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