space for chickens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mika4me, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. mika4me

    mika4me Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 20, 2010
    Like just about everyone else we built our coop too small... It is 12 square feet inside and has a 20 square foot run attached. The chickens also get an hour or two a day of foraging around outside the pen, depending on work schedules and weather. Right now we have two chickens. I would like to get more, and am wondering how many I could keep in the henhouse if I added an expansion to the run. We live in CA and the chickens always choose to come out to their pen (it's covered) during the day. Even if it rains some, it never gets too cold and the run is sandy on the bottom and dry. So the house is really just for sleeping. Could five chickens sleep in it if I doubled the run space or is that too many? I am also considering making a second coop and run, but would rather just expand the pen if the birds would be comfortable. What do you think? Any advice welcome! I have a BR and an australorp and would probably get more of the same...
  2. OkChickens

    OkChickens Orpingtons Are Us

    Dec 1, 2010
    Owasso, Oklahoma
    You want at least 4 sq ft per bird in the coop and then 10 sq ft of run per bird. 4-5 in the coop would probably be max. You can always expand you coop for you chickens though!

  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I wouldn't put more than 4 in that coop with the run doubled. I assume you are talking about adding adults to an adult flock? That is difficult enough to do when they have plenty of space and facilities to live next to each other for a while.
  4. Clairabelle

    Clairabelle New Egg

    Sep 12, 2010
    Last year I had my 4 chickens in a coop that was only 12 sq ft inside (they had loads of room outside, but it's cold here and they wouldn't come out when it was -20C). In the summertime when they only used it for sleeping, there were no problems, but in the winter they started to "pluck" one of the other chickens. I had to bring her in at nights for a while until her feathers grew back, as I was worried it would get worse. We have now built a 4 ft x 8 ft coop, giving them plenty of inside space for the winter. I agree that 4 would be the max in that space, providing they were outside during the day, 5 would be a bit squished, I would think.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    It's up to you what kind of risk level you are comfortable with. There is no universal magic number... some individual chickens handle crowding better than others, also the only thing that can be said with confidence about the onset of pecking/cannibalism is that it is *likelier* (on average) with more crowded living conditions. Nobody can foretell accurately whether it will actually start to happen in a particular case.

    Personally, I might consider putting 4 or 5 chickens in a 12 ft sq coop if they genuinely only ever went in there to sleep and lay eggs, and spent their entire time (every day of the year) in a very ample and congenial run, or free-ranging. Like, if I lived on Maui [​IMG] I would not consider trying it under any other circumstances. However there are some people in less-Maui-like climates who are getting away with similar degrees of crowding, at least for now, so it is not like you can't get lucky. OTOH the odds would not be in your favor.

    Personally I would suggest building a larger coop, as well as enlarging your run as you say you're going to (if it could be more than doubled, that'd be a lot better -- 40 sq ft for 5 chickens is still only 8 sq ft per chicken, which especially without much indoor space is still kind of on the cusp of askin' for trouble)

    Good luck with your decision,

  6. mika4me

    mika4me Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 20, 2010
    Okay, I'm thinking I should just build a second hen house and run and put the new girls in that. If I introduce the birds properly, maybe they can all range around outside their coops together and then go back to separate and more spacious indoor quarters. Will chickens always go back to their own house? Or will they try out different arrangements? Should I just let them go back into whichever coop they want and not worry about who belongs in each?
  7. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Quote:Why not, as long as both are secure from predators and you are comfortable with doing the cleaning chores twice a day instead of once a day?[​IMG]

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