Newbie needing some constructive criticism & advice, please!


In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 22, 2014
We are planning on getting chicks either this fall or spring and was hoping that I could get some pointers on what is right/wrong with my plans and some advice. :)

Chicks - planning on purchasing 9-12 chicks. Breeds we are currently thinking are Araucanas, Iowa Blue Heritage, Exchequer Leghorn & some kind of Maran. Would there be any issues putting any of those breeds together?

Coop - planning on an 8'x6' coop off the ground. Would you put a human door on something like this? Should I just build it on the ground and put a floor in it instead? How much vent spacing should I have? I've seen some people say 1 square foot per bird (12ft) & some 1 square foot per floor space (5ft).

Run - this is the one thing that I have done the least amount of research on. I was loosely planning on a 10'x12' run that would be off of the coop, but now that I've actually gone outside and drawn things out, I'm thinking that we would want more space for them and what to put the coop inside of the run? We have about an acre of land, and hoping to be able to free range them whenever we are outside. I'm also trying to keep costs down, as we were at first thinking that we would do this in the spring & now I'm trying to convince hubby to letting me get chicks in the next month :hmm
Here are my main questions as far as the run goes - What is the easiest/cheapest way of making a safe run? Would it be silly to make a smaller, cheaper run this fall and then possibly add to it in the spring?

Any other major things I'm forgetting?

I know there are a ton of questions in there, any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!


BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Dec 12, 2013
Welcome to BYC! Everyone probably has a lot of questions when they are first starting out. Even long-time bird people ask questions!

About the breeds, frequently Araucaunas and Americaunas are actually Easter Eggers (which are great birds!), just be aware of what you are getting/wanting. You can check out breed reviews and information here:

About your coop/run concerns, here is the place to ask:
Just keep in mind, the bigger the better as chickens need their space. Crowding can cause bad behavior.

If you do decide to get chickens this fall, it may be more difficult to find the chicks you want...spring time is the time most folks get them as transporting chicks in the colder months can be hard on the birds. Also, if you get birds this fall, you'll want to keep in mind how you are going to protect them from winter weather.

Ask lots of questions, there are a lot of very experienced people here that will be willing to help you out!


5 Years
Sep 2, 2014
Where are you located? 6X8 would be perfect for especially the lower end of your number. If you get alot of snow and/or bad weather and they have to stay "cooped", 12 in a 6x8 would have just enough space. If you went with 9, they have a bit more room and less opportunity to peck!
I am a novice at this too...but have probably 40+ hours into reading all the info on this site (an
On cost, I am in the same boat...want to keep it I am building a pallet coop. Not only does it keep cost low, but you can recycle and be a good steward of existing resources (if you wish of course)! I am at about 70% pallet wood and 30% store bought timber. It will add up very very fast if I go with too much store bought.
Here is my thread for the build:
We have chicks showing up Oct 31st! GAAAHHHHH!


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I suggest you start by reading these articles, then follow the link in my signature for my thoughts on how much room you need.

Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

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

There should be no issues at all in combining those breeds.

There is no one right way to do anything. We are all unique in unique circumstances. A lot of different things work. There is a lot of personal preference on here though, and sometimes there are reasons for those preferences.

A 6x8 is not all that big when you put a dozen chickens in there, but with the right set-up and management techniques you can probably make it work. But that is covered somewhat in the link in my signature. Personally I like a human door in a coop for a few different reasons. You need to be able to access every spot inside that coop. You may need to do repairs or maintenance, clean, or retrieve eggs or a chicken that does not want to be retrieved. That’s hard to do in any decent sized coop unless you can get inside. I like to go inside when I gather eggs. I’ve found a dead hen, snakes, and even a possum in there that I would not have seen if I gathered eggs or fed and watered from outside. But that is just my personal preferences. Others are different.

I built mine on the ground and use dirt as a floor. Many people put floors in theirs, either on the ground or elevated. They all can work. One of the key things about a coop or run is that a wet coop or run is unhealthy and will almost certainly stink. A dry coop or run is normally pretty healthy and hardly smells. You need to do it in a way that either stays dry to start with or will dry out rapidly if it gets wet. There are different ways to do this. Keep rain from blowing in and groundwater runoff out or have it wide open with lots of ventilation and a bedding (like sand) that dries rapidly. Another consideration is how often you plan to clean and what you plan to do with the stuff that comes out. Are you composting or putting it in trash pick-up? There are a whole lot of different ways to handle bedding.

How much ventilation do you need? Pat’s article covers that but she was in Ontario. In other climates you might not need quite as much. However, in about any climate, it is hard to have too much ventilation as long as you don’t have a breeze blowing directly on the chickens in winter. You accomplish that by having ventilation openings above their heads in the winter months if it is really cold where you are. Hot weather is usually much more of a danger to chickens than cold and when it is hot, you can’t have too much, even if it blows on them.

There are a lot of different things you can do with a run. Some of it depends on how much risk you are willing to take. We all live in different places, have different predator pressure, and have different risk tolerances. Some people build a run that is as safe as the coop, using expensive wire or other building materials to try to stop the possibility of anything getting in. I use a philosophy of a predator proof coop with a predator resistant run and lock them up at night when the risk is greater. Generally the safer you want it the more money you have to spend. Some people use hardware cloth and make the run impregnable. I built my run out of 2” x 4” welded wire with chicken wire around the bottom 18” or so. Mine is fairly tall and about 2/3 is covered but it is possible a raccoon, bobcat, or something else could climb in. I’ve also got a big area outside the run enclosed in electric netting which stops ground predators. Owls and hawks could still get them but have not been a problem even though I have owls and hawks around. It’s that different predator pressure. Some people have big problems with hawks or owls.

How pretty you want it makes a difference too. The chickens don’t care but people do. Especially if you are in suburbia it may be important to you to have it attractive because of the neighbors.

Building a small run now and building a bigger one next spring is a logical approach. Keep them so you can isolate one from the other if you wish or open gates so they can use all of the space. That should give you some more flexibility in how you manage them. There are times for me that it is beneficial to separate them.

You can put the coop totally inside the run if you wish or you can bring the run off the coop and use the coop as one side of the run. People do it all kinds of different ways. There is no best way that suits everybody, just the way that works for you.

Something you will probably find, coop and run, you will build them then before too long you’ll start making some changes. You need to do as much thought, research, and planning as you can but you won’t think of everything. What works for someone else may not work for you. One difficult thing on this forum is to try to decide which suggestions and recommendations will apply to you, your climate, your management techniques, and your unique situation. So sort through things and think about them, make a decision and try it, then be flexible. You will make some adjustments as you go along. The good thing is that a whole lot of different things work. You can be successful.

Good luck and welcome to the adventure!


In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 22, 2014
Thank you so much for your responses!!

I have a breeder for most of the chicks that I am wanting. Still hoping to find a breeder for a couple of Maran chicks, but if it doesn't pan out that way, then we will figure out a way in the years to come.

We live in central/southern Iowa. It can get fairly hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. I will be okay once they feather out to put them outside, correct? We don't have much forest area around (mostly corn and bean fields), and haven't seen much for predators besides our neighbors' cats & dogs, but we are still fairly new to the area.

Wxguru - I'm hoping to find some pallets as well & use most of my wood from them. Thinking I will need to purchase most of the framing wood, but maybe use the pallets for the rest. I will definitely be following your post!

Ridgerunner - Thank you for all your helpful info! I swear that I've been researching like crazy, but still feel like I have so much to learn and figure out. I will definitely be referencing those links when we start to build!

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