Question for folks with 4x4 coops with 6 or more chickens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by taxus812, May 31, 2009.

  1. taxus812

    taxus812 In the Brooder

    May 26, 2009
    I have a question for folks that have 4x4 hen house with more than 4 chickens.

    What issues are you experiancing (if any)?
    what are you doing to aleviate them.
    Do you have large birds or small birds?

    I am looking for specific cases so I can prepare.

    I got some diffrent info when designing\\buildng my coop other than 4sq/ft per bird. I built the hen house 5x3x4 (giving 2.5 sq ft floor space per bird) and it seems it may be small based on posts here.

    My run is 100% covered and will have a snow guard in winter (winters in CT are not horrible and are 5 months long).
  2. damselfish

    damselfish Songster

    Mar 8, 2008
    Southwest Missouri

    I have an 8x8 coop with 17 birds, who use it only for sleeping and laying eggs. They free range the rest of the time.

    So that's roughly equivalent to a 4x4 with just over 4 chickens.

    My experience so far is that this is borderline acceptable in my free-range situation. The chickens are clearly very crowded when they're all pushing to get at the food for their morning snack, but I let them out early and they have other food sources. They also have other daytime shelters, so in bad weather, they just go hang out in the barn.

    One simple issue you can easily take care of is poop. When you have a few too many chickens in a space, you'll want to transport some of the droppings out, even if you're using a deep-litter method. We are currently using some fiberglass panels under popular roosting spots. We're fixing them so I can pick up, take outside and hose off as needed. Most coop poop comes from nighttime roosting and tends to be concentrated in those spots.

    A lot of the rest of it depends on the size of your run...hope this helps...
  3. Lots of cleaning. Thats what you have to expect when you have that many chickens in a 4x4 coop.
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I have a 4x4 coop with just 5 silkies in it, who are less than half the size of the standards. They get along ok in there, but I let them free range as far as they want. I just find it's a lot more cleaning, not much room for nest boxes, and that regardless of weather, they need to be let out and chose to spend their time pooping on the porch instead of in their coop.
  5. briteday

    briteday Songster

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    I would try to put the nest boxes hanging to the outside of the coop to increase interior space. And make the food container as small as possible. I have a 4"diameter PVC pipe that runs down the heighth of the coop on the outside and just a small pipe enters the coop though a hole in the wall for them to eat through a 45 degree elbow.
  6. Kelly G

    Kelly G It's like herding cats!

    I keep 5 of my 35 chickens in a 4'x4' coop, and I have no problems at all with feather pluckin, egg eating, or any other obnoxious habit...the girls seem happy and healthy, and they will be a year old next month.

    I don't find my 4'x4' coop a lot of work to clean. I stir the bedding up once a week, and strip it about once a month & put completely new bedding in it. I clean my three horses stalls once each day, so cleaning out the coop once per month is a piece of cake!!!!

    Here is my little coop. The feeder hangs under the coop to keep it dry, and the water hangs in the run.

    Here is the inside of the coop - it's small, so it was hard to photograph, but we have the one nest box mounted just to the right - inside the door.

    I love this little coop, and I plan on using it as my nursery in the future. All 35 chickens will be together in my big coop once the 30 are big enough to defend themselves.
  7. greenpeeps

    greenpeeps Songster

    Apr 15, 2009
    Greenford, Ohio
    I have a converted dog house that is now a coop for my 6 chickens. It is 4x4x3. I have two nesting boxes in it. They are currently stacked ontop of each other but I plan on moving them so one is on each side of the coop. There is a 4 ft. branch that goes across the back of the coop. My 11 week old chicks seem very happy here. I know this is small so this weekend I finished my chicken run, or as my DH calls it, my chicken turn around. This is 8 x 4 x 6ft high, with a roof. This winter I will cover the run with a heavy tarp to help keep them warmer in our nice freezing Ohio winters. i plan on swapping the recycled metal roofing for a clear plastic roof to let the sun in during the winters. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any ideas for me. [​IMG]
  8. GardeNerd

    GardeNerd Songster

    My coop has a 4x4 foot print and I currently keep 6 chickens in it.

    I don't have any issues so far, but I live in a mild climate and they will almost never be confined for long periods of time.

    Here is what I do to avoid issues:
    1. The chickens are moved between the run, out in the yard in a dog pen which is 4' x 12'. I move the pen around the garden in different configurations. It has bird netting over the top. I live in a city that prohibits free ranging, so this is a substitute.

    2. On days when they are stuck just in the run and coop, I make sure to give them something to keep them busy. Right now I have a ton of trimmings from my grape vines and they love pecking at them for a snack. I also scatter treats around so they have something to scratch for. Here is a good link on what to watch out for.

    3. I also have an interior second story inside my coop. I was unsure if they would use it or not, but they do.

    Update on 9/26/11: we have since downsized to a bantam flock of 4 hens.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  9. fiftyfifty

    fiftyfifty In the Brooder

    Aug 4, 2008
    suburban Minneapolis
    I kept 5 chickens through a Minnesota winter in a 4x4 coop.Height was 5 ft (a Lowe's playhouse). They did have a fully plastic-covered run 6x12. They went out in it every day, even when it was below zero (during the summer, they free range). In January and February, the droppings froze solid and mostly stayed that way, so all the warnings I had heard about ammonia were moot. It was well ventilated. It probably didn't have to be as well ventilated as I made it.

    It did get cramped and I did wish for a bigger coop. The laying box took up space, so did the feeder and heated dog bowl and flowerpot heater. Each item took up about 1 sq foot, although they were able to perch on the laying box and the flowerpot.

    One of the hens got into feather picking. She had already been a feather picker, but it got way worse.

    If I had to do it all over again, I would have made a larger house.
  10. Jaclyn

    Jaclyn Chirping

    Jun 1, 2008
    Toledo, OH
    We bought one of the Lowe's Playhouses last year. Like many people, we were a bit misinformed on the space requirements for chickens and had thought that 2 sq ft per bird was acceptable. So we have eight chickens in the 4 x 4 (or 16 square feet) coop. Our birds are considered medium sized.

    Here's our modifications. First, we built the coop up on a deck so there's an additional 4 x 4 sq ft of covered space below the hen house. They love this shaded area and spend a lot of time here.

    Second, we built a "bedroom" - the top bump out that contains three nest boxes. This also made it easier to retrieve the eggs.

    Third, we built a "dining room" - the lower bump out that has the water and food containers. This made it easier for us to recruit chicken sitters since one of the hens turned out to be a rooster. It is easy to feed and water without stepping inside.

    Fourth, we use a poop tray under the two roosts and clean it out daily to keep the inside of the hen house clean. The hen house is really two levels inside.

    Fifth, we provide a lot of weather protection in the chicken run. It has a sun shade to keep it cool in the heat of summer. We use plastic wrap, straw bales etc to keep it warm (and free of snow) in the winter.

    Sixth, we allow them a lot of time to free range in our large yard (under supervision).

    They are rarely in the chicken house except at night. They seem to be happy chickens. If we had it to do over again, we would buy two of the playhouses and link them together (someone else on Backyardchicken did this and it turned out great).

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