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Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Kemer, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. Kemer

    Kemer Hatching

    Feb 13, 2013
    I am building a chicken coop and have a few questions. We live in Vermont.
    I am building a coop that is 3w x 3l x 5h. I am wondering if I should insulate my coop?
    And if a chicken coop is actually measured in cubic feet? Because square footage wouldn't take in the height factor.

    I plan on getting 2 bantams, 2 aracaunas, 2 silver wyandotte and 2 gold wynadottes.

  2. jksranch

    jksranch Songster

    Oct 19, 2009
    Streetman, Texas
    If you plan on getting that many chickens you need to double the floor space at least. I keep 5 small silver duckwing oe in an 8x4 (32 sq. ft.) old hunting blind with 6 ft. ceiling. I'm in Texas so insulation is not a issue.
    Enjoy your chickens!!![​IMG]
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    :frow Welcome to the forum! :celebrate Glad you joined us! :frow

    I don’t believe in magic numbers for much to do with chickens, whether that is coop space, run space, roost space, hen to rooster ratio, or much of anything else. I know when you are starting out and don’t have any experience you need somewhere to start. But we keep chickens in so many different situations and circumstances, with different flock make-ups, for different goals, with different management techniques, in different climates that no one number magically fits us all. Having said that, your proposed coop is way too small.

    Chickens are ground dwelling birds. Yes they will perch and roost, but the ground area is what really counts. You need enough height to get your roosts higher than any other place you don’t want them sleeping and you want enough height you can have ventilation over their heads when they are sleeping to avoid certain problems, but in general extra height does not really help the crowding problem. Your coop also needs to have enough clear floor space they can get down without hitting walls, nests, feeders or anything else while getting down. The higher your roosts, the more floor space you need. My suggestion for the roosts is to make them as low as reasonably possible while making them noticeably higher that any place you don’t want them to sleep. They poop a lot while sleeping. You really don’t want them sleeping in your nests.

    Chickens have developed ways to live in a flock fairly peacefully. One basis to this is that weaker birds run from stronger birds when there is a conflict, or avoid them to start with. Your chickens need enough room to run away or avoid. Chickens confined in too tight a space can get pretty brutal and violent.

    Commercial chicken operations have proven that full sized chickens can live in as little as 2 square feet per chicken with no run. But they take extraordinary steps like beak trimming and other management techniques to keep them for eating each other. We normally treat our chickens better than that.

    There is a general rule of thumb used on this forum that goes 4 square feet per chicken in the coop along with 10 square feet in the run. Bantams are usually allowed 3 square feet by this rule of thumb, not 4. It’s not a real bad starting point. This will keep most of us out if trouble in most conditions with many standard management techniques. For many people it is a little more than the absolute minimum they have to have to keep their chickens from eating each other. With certain management techniques, maybe like the coop is used only as a safe sleeping place with some nests and the chickens don’t stay in there much at all during their waking hours, you can easily get by with as little as 2 square feet per chicken in the coop, but they need access to a run whenever they are awake. That means you don’t lock them up at night to keep them safer from predators, you have a place you consider safe from predators so you don’t need to lock the door, or you commit to letting them out at the crack of dawn every day of the year, including weekends when you might want to sleep in, when you are sick, or when you are on vacation. That also assumes your weather of conditions allow them to leave the coop on any day of the year.

    In Vermont you will get some snow and wind. Cold is usually not a real problem with chickens but they often won’t go out in snow for several days until they get used to it and they really hate a cold wind. You can build a run that keeps the snow out and blocks the wind so they will go out during waking hours, but your climate makes that harder. Each of us has our own unique situations and management styles. That’s a big reason I don’t believe in magic numbers.

    I find that the more room I give them the fewer behavioral problems I have to deal with. For example, if roost space is tight they can be pretty brutal to each other as they are going to bed.

    The more room they have the less hard I have to work. For example, the smaller space they are in the more the poop builds up and you have to work harder managing that.

    I also find the more room I have the more flexibility I have in dealing with things. If I want to integrate new chickens that goes tremendously better if I have more space. If I want to have a broody raise chicks with the flock, Mama can do that a lot easier and with a lot less risk to the chicks if she has room to work. If I want to sleep in and not let them put at the crack of dawn, my coop is big enough that is not a concern. Same thing if the college girl that takes care of the chickens doesn’t let them out first thing when I go to see my granddaughter. I really like the flexibility the extra room gives me.

    I know this is pretty long but I’ll give you links to three articles I think you should read before building a coop. The lady that wrote these was in Ontario so she should have some credibility in a cold climate.

    Good luck and once again, :frow

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:

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

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