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Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Stormhorse23, Sep 9, 2007.
How many square feet per bird is acceptable for banties?
Hmmm, im not for sure. I know its 4 sq ft per standard chicken....so I would say...3 MAYBE 2 sq ft per banty. Hope someone who knows more, will help ya soon!
It is 2 square feet for banty!
that is one reason I love them youcould have double!!!
Ah, the old "Square Foot Rule." SO often batted around, and just as often misunderstood.
You have heard the classic answer, so I wont repeat it. I will only say, at the risk of offending, that it is one of the most worn out fallacies in the chicken keeping world. Unless you have a lot of outside room for them to run and feed in (you did know they should be fed outside the coop, right?) so they will only roost and lay in the chicken house, these numbers are absolute minimum...and much closer to ridiculous in practice.
The oft quoted figures are for indoor, square footage on the floor of a coop, correct? Let's try it, shall we?
Go out to the garage and GET 16 floor tiles and lay them down on the floor of your kitchen in a square, 4 on a side. Or, if you have them already in place, good. THAT, my friends, is what you are allotting per adult bird, an active creature that handily fills 18-24 CUBIC INCHES of space.
Now find a five gallon bucket to represent the bird's volume of space and put it in the middle of the tiles. You have just simulated the reality of the thing. None of this changes for banties except the scale.
The square footage figures we are referring to here are offshoots of intensive management systems, the epitome of which are seen in factory rearing. It works in a tightly managed system, with genetically manipulated birds that only live for 8-10 weeks. You don't even want to ask what is alloted for a factory layer. But, in the small flock, under average hobbyist management (or mis-management), these are formulas for disappointment - or worse.
In the old days, 10-20 square feet in the coop was recommended, as overcrowding is one of the cardinal sins of keeping any livestock. Chickens are no different. Just for giggles, guess what they considered to be the maximum outdoor space allotment a century ago - back before anyone had heard of factory rearing?
500 birds/acre, or 87.12 square feet per bird.
This was considered the max under intense management and it was often rounded up to 100 sq.ft. to ensure a margin for error. Believe it or not, I don't make this stuff up!
Want your chicken keeping to be a pleasant experience? Wanna come close to guaranteeing success at it? Then reduce their numbers, give them as much room as you can and make it more than you think they need... then toss that 4 sq. foot rule out the window.
I agree with Elderoo, that you should allow the absolute most space you can for your flock or for a few birds. The figures he quotes, however, are related to pasture raised chickens. In the old days the farmer threw out some cracked corn and let the chickens out of the barn and off they went to forage for themselves. They know what to eat to take care of their nuturitional and medicinal needs.
Today we don't have the luxury of huge land holdings like in days past. I keep my bantam birds in a coop that allows three sections that are 4'x8' for five birds. That is almost 7 Sq ft per bird. If I had standards I would not put more than four bird in that size coop. I allow a run that is at least 10 x20 for each section. I do have a few small tractors that I use for spare or growing roosters.
This formula works well for me. I rake or shovel the pens several times per week. I am lucky enough to have grass most of the year. I don't have health problems, or fighting, picking or other situations that are common to birds that are to closely confined.
I guess one needs to decide if they want to provide the base minimal space or to allow for optimum freedom and space. I can't allow my birds to free range any longer because dogs are just to common around here. I do have a fenced yard for them that I rotate the groups into each day so they get plenty of opportunity to run, streach and most of all scratch till their heart are content.
The figures he quotes, however, are related to pasture raised chickens. In the old days the farmer threw out some cracked corn and let the chickens out of the barn and off they went to forage for themselves. They know what to eat to take care of their nuturitional and medicinal needs.
This isnt entirely correct.
It IS true that a hundred years ago, many, many farmers did just as you suggest, Jaynie - throw some spoiled or leftover grain on the ground and the chickens were on their own thereafter. I have at least one reference that recommends such grain for that very purpose and chickens as the ideal way to use it.
However there was another poultry movement going on at the time - market poultry, for both meat and eggs. We think we are the only ones who ever thought of that. Not so!
It was apparent to the agriculture pros in both academia and government that the methods you described, and which were far too common across America, were pitiful and would not do for the future. There was a concerted effort to improve methods, mainly driven by the large northeastern rail markets. The figures I quoted were recommended for what would have been considered intensive management practices in their time. True, they were ranged poultry but it was the only way to do it then and they were TRUE ranged birds. Factory rearing was still far off in the future.
Todays factory birds would not have suited the market in those days, as only fresh birds in the peak of outdoor-raised health would do. Even what we so proudly call "pastured poultry" would have been a hard sell. More of a nod to our New Age sensibilities, such "humane" methods are really little more than out-of-doors factory rearing... better than nothing mind you, make no mistake, but that's what they boil down to.
If you choose, you can view what was done a hundred years ago as the apex of what we as hobbyists, on the resurgent vanguard, are trying to do now.
That is pretty interesting David and your knowledge and study of the topic continues to amaze me. I know my approach to raising chickens is very much to mimic my grandparents, nothing very scientific in their approach. They had small ranch and raised much of their food when I was young and they were not to old to work as hard as that life required. I can see the coop now and it was not crowded and the pen was huge. Barred rocks and Rhode Island reds were the breed and they tasted great. I wish I had the fortitude to process some chickens because I remember how fantastic they were on the table. But I am a wuss and can't bring myself to do the deed.
In keeping with the topic of the thread, however, I would encourage anyone who is raising backyard poultry to give them some space and they will thrive. Those Key West chickens are testimony to the chickens adaptability when just given room to roam.
Oh, the Key West chicken! Those birds are a real testimony to the chickens ability to adapt and turn wild in short order. When I lived there, they were indeed everywhere and I was very surprised to see them at first. The park across the street from my house had a huge flock of them year-round, which had to be run off whenever a baseball game was scheduled.
Much loved by the locals for their colorful "flavor," they represented much of what life was all about in the free-wheeling Keys. I never appreciated them for more than being "cool" ... today I would feel vastly different about them, likely having a town flock of my own. The best thing? In Key West, few would care!
A minor note. There was abundant fruit growing all over the town of Key West (mangos, papayas, tamarinds and grapefruit), mostly hanging over the street from people's yards. Too, there was always fresh seafood to be had. For some of the more economically challenged locals, these items comprised much of their diet...along with a bag of grits and whatever chicken could be snagged from a vacant lot.