Realistic Run Space/Coop Space for Urban Coops

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by tiffanyh, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Songster

    Apr 8, 2007
    Okay, I have read a ton of post and the general consensus is 4sq/ft per bird on coop space and 10sq/ft per bird on run space. Even if they free range, it seems people cut down on the coop space to 3 sq/ft and still 10sq/ft of run space (for standards). From what I gather, a lot of members live down south or out west were it seems you have beautiful land for your chickens. (some of the pictures posted make me jealous! [​IMG] )

    My question is, what about the urban/suburban backyard chicken owner? With smaller lots, most owners seem to opt for a chicken tractor, but it seems we discount the run space when looking at chicken tractors because I have seen 4-6 chickens in an 8x4 or 6x4 tractor. It seems when we "speak" of tractors, we only count coop space and ignore run space. Or there are situations with smaller coops and runs. Personally, I have a small dog house (5x3) and my chickens ALL sleep in a 1x2 section of it.

    So, with the suburban coop in mind. If you have 2 hours let say of free ranging daily and the rest of everyday having free access to the run (never being shut in coop except overnight), how much can you cut down on available coop space AND run space from the general consensus. And of course, end up with happy comfortable chickens....

    Thanks everyone for your opinions!
  2. aran

    aran Songster

    Apr 28, 2007
    rochester ny
    great post tiffany..i too am somewhat baffled by the coop space/tractor space thing. I will be interested to hear what ppl have to say.
  3. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    We are using a tractor for the first time this year, as a grow out pen for some new chicks. It is for warm weather only and the house end is very open. The chickens in it are now 12 weeks old and have 8 square feet per chicken. It is moved to clean grass every day. They also free range for part of the day.
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I find those rules of thumbs are guidelines. If you keep your birds in a small pen and they end up raggedy, you have thinner birds, and missing feathers, you have too small of a space and it's too late for that year to change it. Some types of birds can do well in smaller spaces, others wont. With most perminant runs, you can't move them so the larger area is meant to allow more pecking space. In a movable tractor, the pecking and digging of the ground is changed every day so that is not as much of a problem.

    At the most compact space, I had 3 sq ft per bird in a run, but that run was basically their coop and they spent all sun light hours out free ranging on as many acres they bothered venturing onto. I found that at 3 sq ft per bird, with the birds about 15 weeks old, and constant free ranging, it was not quite enough room for the lower ones to get away. I dispatched 6 roosters and found that it was more comfortable with 14 in a 8x8 coop which is about 4.5 sqft each bird.

    I find the more space the better but if you want to try tighter, you might end up having to get rid of birds if they are too crowded. I guess I wasn't that much help answering what is realistic though for a city, since I am lucky enough to have acreage for them to travel.
  5. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Songster

    Apr 8, 2007
    Woodland Woman,
    Is that there coop or run, or is that the "whole"? I was just looking at another post about a tractor with 6 chickens in a 8ishx4ish it looked like. That would be 32ish sq/ft so about 5 to 6 sq/ft per bird. Now that is the run and coop space. We seem to "allow" less spacing in tractors.

    Dont get me wrong, I am all for the tractors. Some of them look great! I am just wondering about how the standard guideline apply to these different situations, i.e. altering these standards for urban/suburban coops and tractors.

    I totally agree with you silkiechicken, you can quickly tell when your bird are unhappy so you alter to fit that, which I have. But I am really curious as to these standards and how people have altered them to make them work in smaller settings, realistically.

    I also want to compare to what I have.

    I have one run with 60sq ft for 7 birds, they free range 1 to 2 hours each evening. But there coop is small, 15sq/ft ( i know to small, but they dont even use a portion of it). Although the only go in there in the evening and to lay, even in the winter. My second run is 3x12 "chicken alley" and houses 6 bantams. Again, has a small coop. But I semi count my run and coop space together since they spend almost no time in the coop during the day. My birds seem very happy so far, they have 8 to 10 feet of roost each in the run and additional in the coop. But I have a couple more standards I need to intergrate and I dont want to build another run. I also have cold winters, so I want to keep them together for winter warmth and cut down on the feeders/waterers I fill each day.

    Enough about me..... I really do want to know about those coops/run that dont meet the "standards" and how their chickens do.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2007
  6. greenmulberry

    greenmulberry Songster

    Jul 17, 2007
    I think one reason you see less sq/ft per bird in a tractor is because you are supposed to be moving the tractor to fresh grass often.

    My thought is that the fresh grass is quite a diversion and affords the chickens more entertainment and things to do than a dirt or sand run. This would make them less likely to hassel each other if they are busy digging holes in the sod and eating grass and new bugs.
  7. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Songster

    Apr 8, 2007
    That makes sense, I was thinking that also

    What about you other suburban chicken owners, how much coop and run space do you have for your happy chickens?
  8. Newchickenmom&kids

    Newchickenmom&kids Songster

    Apr 11, 2007
    Well...we have ours in a tractor that we move every two to three days...we have four hens and one is A-Frame that is approx 7'X4'X4' works great....we get four eggs a day and they enjoy 2-3 hrs or free range time MOST evenings! Here's a link with a pic:
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    The 8 sq ft per chicken is for the whole tractor. Most of it has a roof and one end has solid sides. It doesn't have a full wall between the "coop" and "run" or a door that locks them in at night. Or a floor. That's what I meant by it being open. To the chickens, it's all one space. Parts of it just have more or less shade or protection from rain/wind. I hope that makes sense.

    We'll be moving them to winter quarters before too long.
  10. I have a tractor which is 5x8 for the run and 5 x 3 for the coop. I move it every couple of days, but the spots repeat about every 14 days, and they're getting thin. I probably should water and fertilize when the tractor is not in a particular space, but I'm frugal and hate to water grass.

    I let the hens free range in the backyard most evenings for at least a couple of hours. They go back into the tractor at bedtime, and then I go close it up. They only lay eggs in the coop part; they do not like to sleep in there, probably due to the heat and the fact that there are higher roosts in the run portion of the tractor.

    I have three hens in it, and it seems as though it could easily accomodate 4-5 with no crowding at all.

    Photos of my tractor are at 11:12 pm on 5/19. Once you get to the following page, scroll down to the second post:
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2007

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