??? Pre-made Coops and space requirement inconsistency

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BirdaMay, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. BirdaMay

    BirdaMay In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2016
    Loveland, CO
    My ultimate wish would be to design & build my own coop(s). Meantime, I procured a coupld of dog houses to modify. As Murphy & his law would have it, freak accidents and incidents have conspired to zap me of the necessary time & energy to complete the projects in time for my chickens to get into them, so I've had to turn to pre-fab coops online.

    My first one had no less than 6 different manufacturer's defects. It's been 2 weeks since arrival, and my birds are still not in it.

    In researching and comparing some other coops, it always seems like they advertise that their product can hold more birds than the space requirements I learned about on BYC.

    For instance, for standards, it's 4sq ft in the coop & 10 sq ft in the run per bird. For bantams, it's 2-3 and 6-8.
    So, let's say a coop is advertised as being able to contain 12-15 standard birds, because it has 36" total of perch space, yet it only has 17 sq ft interior space (which probably includes the nest boxes). By what I've learn in BYC is the minimum space requirement,17 sq ft will only house 4-5 birds.

    What is going on here? When I talk to sales reps, their angle is that the birds are only in there at night, and the close quarters will keep them warm in winter.

    What should I do? I am racing the clock with the chickens needing their permanent housing (they are in wire dog crates right now!), and I am in desperate need of surgery, so my energy gets more & more limited every day.

    Someone please help with some wise counsel!

  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockwit Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Free ranging does take some pressure off coop space, but not to the extent claimed by the sales rep. Also, the sq footage you rightly mentioned are considered to be minimums, not optimums. The more space your flock has, the better. Is your flock young or mature? how many do you have?

    Not ideal, but maybe if you can construct a covered / weatherproof area over and extending out from the coop, it may help, but as you are currently not in a position to build (otherwise, as you mentioned, you'd have build the coop yourself) then thats out of the question.

    Do you have a garden shed that you could clear out and convert to a coop - or a section of your garage? If possible, thats what i would likely try and do. I cleared my shed, put up some roost bars and covered the floor with 6" of grass clippings / leaves and that was it. Nests are either on the ground (their choice), or plastic basins on one of the shelves.

    Sorry, i don't think that i have been too helpful, but its a difficult issue that you are dealing with.

  3. TWK777

    TWK777 In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2016
    It all depends on the type of bird you're raising. For instance, if I were to have that pen with my seramas, i would have no problem putting 12-15 in it. But if i were to be putting Easter eggers in it, i probably would go for a lower number. If you already have the coop, eyeball it and see. Do your birds have enough space to move around when inside? are they picking each other because they are so close? If not i wouldn't sweat it. the whole 4ft 10ft thing is just a guideline if you are building an enclosure. My Easter eggers have a 5ft by 5ft house with a perch for night time but they have free run during the day of a large yard. I have feed and water both inside and out so they don't experience any conflict during the day. I have seven in there, and they stay outside all day, unless they are laying. I would personally agree with the salesman on not needing that much indoors space, but they should not be on top of one another. they should be able to get to food or water and move around. i also have a caged in run that's covered in case it rains.
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    I think the short and simple answer is these folks either don't know what the space requirements for poultry are, or don't care. Perhaps a bit of both. The main thing that matters to them is they have a product to sell. As long as someone buys it, they really don't care how bad it is.

    Back to your questions.......as near as I can tell, there are a number of "standards" floating around out there. The long term, tried and tested version that is in the range of 3 to 4 SF per bird. That has been the standard for our type of housing going back at least 100 years.

    The "new" standards appear to come from high denstiy CAFO type operations, the worst of which pack birds into less than 1 SF per bird......they each get about as much space as a sheet of copy paper. In response to this, came the "cage free" space standard which is about 1.5 SF per bird. Enough space they can spread their wings and stand up, but still packed in pretty dense. Still a lot of social issues to deal with. Remarkably, the "free range" standard isn't much better........all that means is they have access to the outside. It is NOT what we think of as free range. As near as I can tell, the space requirements of these new backyard pre-fab coops conform to the cage free standard densities. Consider them to be bogus.

    The comment about only being in there at night is a bad one. I once spent a weekend on Bourbon Street in New Orleans with 40 other guys......and we all stayed in 2 rooms in a Ramada Inn. We survived it, but it was not pretty. I would have the guy you talked to try to spend a week or even one night in a standard hotel room with 10 other folks just like them. After all, it is only at night......they get to leave the room during the day. Forget the smells, forget the snoring....imagine how damp and clammy it would be from all the moisture buildup? That kind of social issues. Would love to make it so.

    Back to your dilemma, the quickest and fastest high quality pre-made coop you can throw up is a three sided mono-slope shed, with welded wire across the open side. Face the high open side to the south on a well drained site, hopefully overlooking a south facing slope. If you want a run, attach a chain link kennel with enclosed top on it to the open front.

  5. BirdaMay

    BirdaMay In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2016
    Loveland, CO
    Thanks, everybody, for your responses.
    CTKen, the 8 bantams are 9 weeks old.
    Of the standards, there are 3 adult hens who are a couple/few years old and a 6-month old rooster. Also there are 5 standard chicks in the brooder box of differing breeds)

    2 of the adult hens pick on the single one (obtained them from different sources- RIR came alone & 2 Easter Eggers came together), so those adult birds are separated at the moment, but I'm hoping they integrate with a new coop. I abandoned mods on the huge coop I got with them bc it was too heavy & my body can't handle it atm.

    BUT with a new coop for all 3, no one has a former claim on the territory, so that might level the social playing field. I probably will have enough energy to build a separate coop for this Snap Lock coop (which is 3' x 3' inside, not including the nest boxes). It's plastic, double-walled insulated, and it's lightweight, so easy for me to move around, and no mites can live in it. The coop has 3 3' roosts, so plenty of roost space. Of course, I figure 8-9 birds could be OK in there at least for a few months until I get my own place and can upgrade them. I plan to build a spankin' large, lightweight tractor for them that I can put a chair in and chill with them and have chickens on my lap and share snacks with them over a lovely beverage.

    As for the bantams, the prefab coop I already bought should be able to house them alright.

    And yeah, they do go by 1.5 sq ft per bird, which I thought was kinda crampy. But still, it will only be until I get my own place, as I rent right now, and the flock will not increase until that happens. I don't want my birds living in sub-standard conditions even if they are free ranging a lot.

    At least these 2 prefab coops will buy me some time to finish modifying the 2 dog houses I got to turn into coops, and they are on mesh-bottomed wagons, so I can move the coops around and the runs that go with each will also be detachable and mobile. One of the runs is almost done and is 31" x 8', so that can kind of be a temp coop with a tarp on it while the weather is still warm, again buying me time to finish another run and the 2 dog house coops.

    Between the 4 coops and runs, I should have ample space for my flock.

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