Seeking design advice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by stavo, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. This is a story of flock of seven hens living happily and comfortably in their appropriately sized coop and run, and then their owner (me) got greedy and went and acquired new chicks without a plan to house them as they got bigger.

    Well, it's not really a story, more of a dilemma. I'll try to post some pics to show my set-up, but it's basically a 3.5' x 4' coop with six nesting boxes, attached to a 8' x 12' covered run. I employ the deep litter method in the run. I close the coop door at night, but otherwise they're in the run most of the day. I do try to give them a little free-range time when I can supervise - on average this comes out to about 30 minutes a day. For the past year, the seven hens have thrived.

    So stupid me went out and got two new groups of chickens: 4 eight-week old Swedish Flower Hens and 6 six-week old mixed chicks. The ten young ones are growing quickly and will soon need to be moved from their temporary digs, something which I've not yet planned for. Clearly, my current coop/run can't accommodate 17 chickens.

    I have plenty of space, and the first thing I'm considering is fencing a larger area to include the current coop and run - sort of a larger outer run - uncovered but would include some trees which could provide shade and some protection from above. I have a small pre-fab coop and I can get a second (so that's a total of three separate coops) and if I put these in the larger outer run, I could potentially house all 17 in this sort of chicken village. My question is, if 17 hens coexist in this outer area during the day, is it realistic to expect them to all retire to their respective coops every night, or will they all try to squeeze in/fight over the one primary coop?

    Option two would be to try to add-on to the existing coop and extend the run so that they could accommodate all 17. Option three would be to build a second covered coop/run in a different part of the property.

    Would love any feedback on the three options.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  2. The fourth photo shows the current set-up, while the first picture shows part of the greater area (with a prefab coop) that can be fenced in.
    Farmgirl1878 likes this.
  3. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    A 3.5 x 4 foot coop is space for 3 hens at maximum.

    I would go with option 3. New coop in new area.

    I would build a coop that is 10x10 and have a run that is at least 20x10.
  4. Okay, thank you, although if I build a new coop it would only be for the 10 new chickens, not for all 17, so that size sounds a little overkill.

    I've read about the square-footage per chicken rule-of-thumb. But honestly, the seven in the 3.5x4 have no issues. In fact, they crowd together on the roosting bars at night, leaving unused space on the roosts. There are no signs of stress whatsoever.

    But I appreciate your opinion that I should go with option 3. That plan also has some other benefits aside from this.

    Does anyone else have a suggestion?
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Unless you plan to keep the new 10 birds as a separate flock 24/7 forever,
    they will eventually all want to be in one 10x10 is not overkill.
    ...and a larger, walk-in coop will be better for you to tend to that many birds.
  6. Thanks aart. Can you expand on that? In that scenario, I would plan on them staying separate forever, or at least until attrition lowers the overall numbers. Would they have some kind of draw to each other that would cause them to try to escape their pen to get to the other one? What if they're not in the line-of-sight of each other?
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    They don't need to be out of sight, they would probably not try to escape to get to the other birds. But if they all have free access to all the coops, they will likely all try to roost in the same coop.
    Some folks have multiple coops and the birds stay separate voluntarily, but I think it's pretty rare. Have read more stories about all the birds using one coop and it becoming a crowding issue which created behavioral problems.
  8. Okay, that's helpful as that answers my question about creating a type of village with separate coops. But if I build a new coop from scratch, it would go inside a utility yard I have and be completely separate from the other. I think I'm leaning towards option two - expanding the current coop.
  9. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    So here's my suggestion... turn your existing run into the coop - the structure is already in place and is a very good size for the amount of chickens you have. Should be easy to run some roosts and add some nest boxes (internal, if you really want to minimize the work needed) and since it's already naturally ventilated, just board up enough of the wall space to protect the area from draft and the elements. And then add a larger run off of that, I'd aim for at least 200 sq ft but more if you have space.
    tripletfeb, Leigti, stavo and 6 others like this.
  10. Wolfefarmyard

    Wolfefarmyard Crowing

    Aug 18, 2017
    Gansevoort, NY
    I agree with what everyone else has suggested so far! It’s definitely not an overkill. The more space the better!
    stavo and EggWalrus like this.

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