Small flock owners: coop question re: floor space, droppings pit...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SeaChick, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    OK, so we've seen these great designs for small coops where the enclosed henhouse portion measures about 4x6 for 6 hens. That gives a nice comfy 4sf per hen inside, and then the coops have an attached pen, like 4 x 8 or so.

    My question about the small henhouses is about that square footage "living space" number. Whay happens if you employ some type of droppings pit, or sand boxes, or something, under the roost? Does that still count as living space for the hens?

    In my design (for 6 hens) I figured I needed 60" of roost (10" per bird). So that sets one wall's dimension at about 6' to allow for insulated walls. I dew the other about 4.5', giving me room for interior nest box (2 stacked on top of each other) and the feeder and waterer to hang. But if you discount the area under the roost, there's not much floor space left over. is that OK?

    Of course there's the attached run, but I don't know how much they'll use it in the dead of (Maine) winters.

    Can anyone comment on how these small henhouses perform in cold climates?

  2. biretta

    biretta Songster

    Jun 7, 2007
    Stacey, it sounds like you have plenty of space, I wouldn't worry about accounting for, or not, that below the roost. My hen house for 5 hens is only 38"x45" and not that tall, although they have a 7'x13' run. I think most species are pretty cold-hardy, although the larger-combed breeds are prone to frostbite. It freezes here too in the winter (WA State) so I am planning on putting a 60 watt bulb in the house during the cold snaps. But that may be mainly for extending daylight hours, depending on how cold they seem. I think the main concern is their drinking water freezing. You can buy something specifically made to warm the water. I am planning on using a cinder block to keep the waterer on; I'll place a 40 watt bulb inside the hollow as a warmer.
  3. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    imho-4x6' of floor space is good for 6 birds. That's available walking around room. If you have a droppings pit, inside nest box, food, water, that all takes space away from available walking around room. Especially if you're talking about standard breeds. Especially since you live in a very cold climate and your birds will spend a lot of time inside on cold days. I think they would be better off if there are only 3 or 4. It would be fine, though, if you're talking about bantys.
  4. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Ha ha! I love it: two totally conflicting responses! Anyone else care to chime in? Will the girls be too cramped in 4.5 x 6 feet with inside food/water/nests/droppings pit?
  5. dragbikepilot

    dragbikepilot Hatching

    Jul 15, 2007
    I remember reading somewhere that the 4sf per bird was necessary if the birds have no outside run and are under constant confinement.....that number drops to 2 or 3sf per bird if they have an outside run available.....
    can't remember where I read it....
  6. domromer

    domromer Songster

    May 11, 2007
    I'll give one more dissenting opinion. Earlier today I was reading storries guide to raising chickens. It said for birds that live in a run all day you will need 10sqft of space per bird. For birds that spend all day outside and then come in at night you would need 4sqft per bird. My birds have a tractor for the day and a coop they go into at night. I made the coop 4sqft per bird and the tractor is 7sqft per bird. Everyone seems to be happy with this arrangement. These sizes are for large breed birds.
  7. 3peeps

    3peeps Songster

    Jul 4, 2007
    One of the better posts I read (might have been by a "George in NH"?? Could be wrong...) was that you will have fewer problems regarding space in the henhouse if you make sure to provide ample roosting space. And already I can see with my young teenagers that perches are sort of prime real estate.

    Another thing is gut feeling. Measure it out with string or a garden house on your lawn and see how you feel about it.

    As for the cold climate, my gut would tell me the following: strike a happy medium...make it roomy enough that they can walk around in winter, but not so big that it poses a heating problem. It gets to be 30*F below zero here (Wisconsin) with howling winds making it even colder.

    I've measured out the minimum space (2sq. ft. per bird) for my three standard girls and it just seems not right for my situation. Given winter, I'd personally like our house to end up at 3-4 sq. feet per bird with a very long roost. They may huddle all together, but at least they can choose where and do it on their own terms.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2007
  8. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Songster

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County
    I like what 3peeps says "go with your gut"!

    if they are doing a lot of push & pecking raise the nest off the floor around 2 feet to add floor space!

    I guess it also depends on what your reading or going my!

    DH & I visited a church member that had 20 chickens we followed his coop design :eek: after doing the work my books from inter library loan came in!

    DH was very patient as he had to undo what was done! [​IMG]

    Bottom line is everybody or book is slightly different (because this is what worked for that person)

    here is another view: !

    What I like about this was it helped me realize there is a big difference in a 9lb Jesry Giant than a 4lb polish!
  9. ThunderStruck

    ThunderStruck Songster

    May 18, 2007
    Sterling, Ohio
    For what its worth...I have a 4x6 coop w/ approx 50 in of roost space. I have 4 girls (1 B.R, 1 B.O, and 2 RIR's) and they are doing fine. the nest box (an old milk crate) is on the floor under the roost at one end. I also have my waterer on the floor on 1/2 of a cinder block, and their feed dispensers are mounted on the wall. They spend 95% of the time out in the run which is 6x17, 4 ft of which is under the coop for shade. during the day i find that they only go into the coop for feed and water ( & to lay), and hardly never more than 2 girls in there at one time. At night even with all that roost space when they go to roost they all pile on the one end of the roost all most right on top of each other even in this hot weather [​IMG]

  10. erinm

    erinm Posting For A change

    Feb 24, 2007
    Central Massachusetts
    We just attached our nest boxes to the outside to free up space, but ours is a converted shed 10 X 12, so there would have been plenty of space anyway. { I plan on more when we move to a more chicken friendly zoning area in town} It's 4 feet per bird I think for reg. size isn't it? With that many birds you don't even need a dropping pit . just stir it up and it will dry an decompose etc. etc. That is what I do . My coop does not smell and I have had the same bedding in there since April. I have 13 in my shed.{ 11 chickens, 2 guinea keets}. I just stir it up. In the fall I will dump it in my garden for next year fertilizer. I will post photos as soon as I learn how but i don't . my hubby is suppose to show me. Erin m

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