Number of chickens in a coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by daniel-delarosa, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. daniel-delarosa

    daniel-delarosa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 14, 2010
    Seminole, Oklahoma
    Im planning on building a 4x8 coop that is 4 foot tall. How many chickens can I fit in there, comfortably? Does each chicken need a nesting box?
  2. LarryPQ

    LarryPQ Easter Hatch!!

    Jul 17, 2009
    You should have a nesting box for every ~4 hens.

    8 chickens? That seems a little crowded to me, but I like my chickens exercisin' [​IMG]
  3. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Some of it depends on whether you will free-range or have an attached run. Each chicken needs about 12" of roost space to sleep comfortably at night. You do not need a separate nest box for each chicken. They tend to choose a favorite and all pile into that one or form a queue to use it (some waiting less patiently than others). As a general rule, I think the recommendation is 1 nestbox per 4 chickens. In reality, even when I had 8 layers at one time I only had one nest box because they all insisted on using the same one no matter how many I set up.
  4. Knock Kneed Hen

    Knock Kneed Hen California Dream'in Chickens

    Feb 15, 2010
    So. Cal.
    Technically you can put 8 chickens in there. However, if you don't have a covered run and you're somewhere where you get bad weather for long periods of time I'd go with less. I have 19 hens and they use two boxes.
  5. daniel-delarosa

    daniel-delarosa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 14, 2010
    Seminole, Oklahoma
    Here is what I was thinking about.
    I haven't thought much about the run yet. Does it need to be covered? Roughly how big does it need to be?
  6. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    We have 8 chickens in a 4x8 tractor. It is now parked for the winter. My chickens seem happy enough in there. I open the pop door to their portable run so they always have a choice of going out or just hanging around inside. There are two nest boxes inside the tractor and they use both. The run is not covered and they hang out under the tractor (which is surrounded with hay bales for insulation/windbreak) on most days, even when it has been 10 degrees. Your drawing looks like my tractor. Check out my byc page and you will see what I mean. There are inside shots of the tractor as well so you can see where we put the roost and boxes. Hope this helps and keep us posted. Remember, pics will be needed when you are done!!!
  7. daniel-delarosa

    daniel-delarosa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 14, 2010
    Seminole, Oklahoma
    What happens if there is more than two chickens that need to lay an egg? Will they lay on another chickens eggs? Do you have access to your nesting boxes from the outside of your coop? If so, can you post a pic so I can get an idea on how to do mine.
  8. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2010
    I wouldn't waste that much space in a small coop for that many next boxes. For no more than the number of hens that can fit in there, I'd just put ONE in. MAYBE two... or one that's two boxes wide but not divided.

    I have 21 birds (20 hens/pullets). Not all are laying yet... about half. I have on larger community nest box... it's basically 3 boxes without dividers. Most of my laying birds use one particular spot in the community box, but on the occasion two are in there at once, they have a little more room. If there's no waiting... they pretty much ALL want the same spot.

    I've seen two or three hens pile into ONE 12" next box to lay at the same time when there were other nests available. They don't have problems sharing.
    If there's another hen's egg in the box, they don't care, they lay and leave their egg with it. In fact, times when an egg gets laid in a different spot, the next hen in tends to roll the wayward egg back into the favored spot. [​IMG] Other times, like other posters said... they will literally wait in line for the preferred spot rather than use an open nest that's NOT the preferred spot. [​IMG]

    I REALLY, REALLY wouldn't use up so much room in your small coop for that many nests. You'll be kicking yourself when the birds pick *one* spot and all the other space goes unused.

    And whoever made the 'rule' about one nest box per 4 hens... I swear they never had chickens...[​IMG]

    One... or two... MAX... or at the VERY least, make them all removable so when you see that they are just taking up space, you can easily yank them out!
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    If you are in a climate that gets actual winter, 8 chickens in a 4x8 coop is going to be pretty crowded and you have a significant chance of running into problems with pecking/cannibalism, also it will be very difficult to maintain good air quality in there in wintertime without draftiness. OTOH if you live in, like, Hawaii, you probably really only need the coop for them to sleep in at night, so 8 birds would be no problem and you might even be able to double the number.

    Unless you are in the aforementioned never-a-day-of-bad-weather situation, I would recommend putting as few chickens in the coop as you can bring yourself to be satisfied with; and maybe build an external nestbox rather than taking up indoor space with it, especially if this will be a reach-in rather than walk-in height coop.

    YOu needn't have more than 1 nestbox for 4 chickens. Yes, they'll lay on each others' eggs or two in a box at once. If you build extra nestboxes they simply won't use them.

    Good luck, have fun,

    1 person likes this.
  10. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Where are you? If it is real winter where you are, you will probably come to regret a 4' tall coop as you won't be able to ventilate it well enough to prevent frostbite. If you are in the south, you may well wish you had built a 3 sided pen with hardware cloth instead of solid walls, or at least something that will allow maximum breeze in the summer.

    The rule of thumb on here is 4 sq ft per bird in the coop and 10 sq ft per bird in the run. What that is, is the minimum space you can give them so that they will PROBABLY not start pecking or cannibalizing each other. It is far from optimal, IMO.

    I would not consider a coop I could not stand up in. I have an 11'x17' coop attached to a yard that is about 50'x70', which was cleaned of grass by 15 or 16 birds in about a year. They now free range. I would not consider a smaller coop for my 15, and not much smaller if I had 8, certainly no less than 8'x8'. If I lived in Canada I would want about 15 to 18 sq ft per bird as they would no doubt stay in the coop all day for part of the year.

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