1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

room requirements per hen

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by crunchygeek, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. crunchygeek

    crunchygeek Hatching

    Dec 22, 2014

    I posted an intro and a request for breed recommendations in the social forum last fall. I got some really good responses with specific recommendations (Black Australorps, Barred Rocks, and Black Sex-Linked). After some life last fall and winter, the chickens got put on hold.

    Now, we are back to the discussion, and I am looking at what size coop we need. What is the recommended size allowance per hen? In other words, how big of a coop do I need for 6 hens, and is it wise to go ahead and allow for the flock to expand just in case?

    In the meantime, we have seen foxes roaming the property during the year, so I'm guessing it will need to be off the ground. I found this plan on Home Depot's blog: http://blog.homedepot.com/free-plans-for-an-awesome-chicken-coop/#more-59891 Is that a good design?

    Thank you guys so much for your advice!!

  2. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler extrodinaire Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2014
    Orrock township, Minnesota
    That is a great plan, Oh, and welcome to BYC.

    But I have a couple things I see wrong with it.

    One it is not big enough for 12 chickens. It is big enough for 4-6 chickens if you have a covered run for them. I would suggest wrapping the legs in hardware cloth and an area over the chicken ramp to give them space to get away from the other birds. Chickens are like people and need their "me" time too.

    The other depends on where you live. I live in Minnesota, I do not care for the lift up nest box covers. I prefer the side flipping down and reaching in because of snow cover..

    and again Welcome to BYC.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You’ll see many different suggestions for how many square feet per chicken you need in the coop, anywhere from 2 to 10. The problem is that they are all right, depending on the specific circumstances. We are all so unique in our climate, goals, flock make-up, management techniques, and so many other things that there is no one number that works for all of us. If you wish you can follow the link in my signature. I don’t give you hard and fast numbers, more things to consider.

    If you see foxes you have a lot of other potential predators too. I don’t know where you are so I’m not sure which predators you might have, but many can climb, even foxes. Predators are funny. Sometimes you can let the chickens free range with predators around and go a long time without a problem, or they can wipe you out immediately. You never know when one will attack. And don’t believe that they only come out at night. You’ve seen those foxes during the day haven’t you? I have and they are hunting. I’ve seen several nocturnal predators besides foxes out hunting during the day.

    There is more danger at night. You are asleep and there is not enough human activity to cause them to be cautious. They have more undisturbed time to work their mischief. Chickens need to be locked in a secure place at night. Some people can free range during the day without huge issues, but most of us take precautions; fenced runs of varying degrees of protection, electric fencing or netting, maybe an outside dog that will help keep predators at bay.

    I don’t know what the right answer is for you, we are all unique in this too, but a really secure location at night is pretty important. Don’t think of your coop in isolation, either from a space perspective or predator protection. Think of it as part of your system.

    Those elevated coops can work pretty well for limited numbers of chickens. A lot of people like them, they have a lot of advantages for some people. But you need to be able to reach anywhere inside, either for maintenance, cleaning, or to retrieve and egg or maybe a chicken that doesn’t want to be retrieved. They can work great for six chickens but at some point you need to switch over to a walk-in coop just so you have access. I don’t know how much you might expand.

    There are a lot of advantages in having a second facility available. Those can come in extremely handy for many different reasons. One option is to build for six and if you expand build a second bigger facility.

    If you are buying new building materials and building it yourself, most building materials come in standard sizes. Here in the US that is normally 4’ and 8’ dimensions. I’m not sure where you are. If you design around your standard dimensions you can usually build a structure with less cutting and waste plus get a little more room at no real extra cost.

    I’m in the camp that instead of trying to shoehorn as many chickens in a space as you can, provide as much space as you reasonably can. I find the more I crowd them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the less flexibility I have to deal with any issues that come up (not just expansion), and I have to work harder. Why make your life harder than you need to?

    A big problem facing you is that there are so many different things that can work you may have problems deciding how you want to proceed. Too many options. Good luck!
  4. SLKchickens

    SLKchickens In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2015
    We have foxes, coyotes, weasels, etc...you name it! We decided to go for a "box in a box" idea. We have 8 hens in an 8'X8' run area with a 4'X8' completely enclosed box with in it for nesting and roosting. So really about 96 sq ft. with extra perches for daytime perching....that's about 12 sq ft/chicken.

    We laid down pavers and then put build the structure on top. An animal would have to dig 10" to get underneath it. We also enclosed the whole coop in hardware cloth. Our coop is inside our fence we already had and our corgies are out there a lot too. So far, I haven't had problems. We are in a rural subdivision and our neighbor across the street has coyotes, foxes and raccoons on his web cam of the field close to us. The neighbor right next to us saw weasels out and the neighbor behind us traps raccoons. We know they are out there!!

    I would opt for bigger is better when it comes to chicken space.

    Here's a picture of our coop in fall and then winterized (with today's snowfall). You can see the not painted plywood on the inside? That's the main protected area for nesting and sleeping. We have plexiglass on the widows to let in winter light.


  5. crunchygeek

    crunchygeek Hatching

    Dec 22, 2014

    You guys have given me a lot of useful info. Thank you so much!

    A couple of people mentioned my area, I am in coastal SC. FWIW, two of my daughters are jealous of your snow, SLK. ;)
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I don't know if you have weasels in your area. I'd look into it. If you do you'd need to use hardware cloth to cover the vent areas on that coop. I also see it doesn't provide a roost for the birds. That would have to be worked in. The last thing on the coop would be it will need more light. I just built a 4x7 coop and if you put your head in the pop door on one en and looked down the roost it was pitch black by the end of coop. I ended up putting a plexiglass light on other end to provide enough light for chickens to roost as dusk and some light to move about until I open the coop in morning. You can add a piece of clear roofing panel for any needed light.

    An elevated coop is nice as if provides a dry area under to hang the feed and dry area for chickens to be outside in rain. Also with raised coops and external nest boxes there's no bending over to collect eggs.

    Look into electric poultry netting. Likely a good solution for a run in sunny SC and will eliminate any ground predator from getting at your birds while they are out in day. From skunks to stray dogs and electric fence will make them run and not come back.
  7. SLKchickens

    SLKchickens In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2015
    I agree with the other posters that you could use that design and then add hardware wire around the base for a run. I agree with Ridgerunner about using 4' and 8' dimensions. My husband ultimately put this together and that was his thinking too. Less cutting that way.

    Other things to consider:

    1) care when you're gone (is it easy for someone else to access....we have the food, water and egg doors all on the same side and you don't need to go through the run or even in the coop. It's all accessible from OUTSIDE.),
    2) do you want a poop tray for daily removal (hen poops most when sleeping)
    3) overhang over nesting box (for rain or snow?),
    4) and easy access for cleaning (We can fold down two sides completely to clean out the box coop part or get to a hen if we need to).

    We looked at a lot of ideas and put together what we thought would be important and we watched 2 of our friend's chickens, so we could see their setup.

    This is our first snow fall of the year and we got about 10 inches! We just got done clearing the driveway. I'll tell the kids to think of your daughter in SC as they are sledding! I think if you got 10 inches in SC, your state would close. Everything's still open around here. Just par for the course. ;)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by