square footage per bird if they have access to a large run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by AConk81, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. AConk81

    AConk81 Out Of The Brooder

    46
    1
    34
    Sep 16, 2012
    I'm looking to get about 6 chickens, most likely in the spring since it's going to take me a while to do all this planning.

    We're looking to get 4 regular sized chickens and 2 bantams. I've heard mixed things about how much square footage is needed per bird. We live in North Carolina, so our weather is mild and I don't see that there would be many times at all that they wouldn't be able to go out into their run. There is the possibility of complete downpour, and I don't know how chickens really feel about that, but I'm also looking into covering a part of the run with corrugated roofing so that even in the bad weather there would be about 36 square feet of covered run area. Here's the plans so far for the run.

    12 feet by 12 feet run, with the coop being in the run, but a 17 inch clearance under the pen, which would then allow them to walk under there and therefore not take up floor space. So that's 144 square feet, which is 24 square feet per bird, which from what I am reading should be more than enough.

    The coop though, is where I'm not sure how to go. The run is going to cost about $250 from my figuring, which is a lot, but it'll be well made and should keep the chickens happy and safe. This does however make me want to keep the actual coop costs down. I have no access to used lumber or anything, so this is going to be all new materials. I am thinking of building the Purina Hen House, which is 4x4, but am concerned whether this would be enough space per chicken. Looks like it would be 2.6 square foot per chicken. Which, is just over the minimum of 2 sqf that I'm reading in some places, but well under the 4 sqf I'm reading in other places. I was thinking of upping it to 4x8, however that will double the cost of building it..and put me up a a cost I'm getting anxiety just thinking about! So, with a run of the size I've mentioned and 2 bantams and 4 regular birds (we're looking towards easter eggers or dominique) would 2.6 sqf of interior space be ok? Or do I just need to suck it up and find a way to make this coop 4 x 8?

    Thank you for any advice you guys can give me!
     
  2. fried green eggs

    fried green eggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,904
    64
    173
    Mar 25, 2011
    S.E. Michigan
    Hi & [​IMG] Glad you joined us! Wow it's great that you are planing ahead. Many buy the cute little fluffy butts and then start planing and making the coop & run. You will not regret having the coop raised so, chickens can go under it. I have 6 pens that have access to run area under the coops. You will find that the bigger you can make the coop the better, for happy & healthy hens. Bigger will also give you allowance for "chicken math". There are many plans on this site of home-made coops that did not cost much to build. Using pallets as walls and floor can save a bunch and is really not that hard to do. A shed style coop or 'A' frame are pretty cost efficient. Check out the Coops section for great ideas. You might check out your local lumber yards for scrap lumber and behind many businesses for pallets. Many businesses are happy to get rid of old pallets. I have read that Dominiques are not a breed that like being confined. Barred Rocks look very similar and do well confined. Just my 2 cents. Good Luck !
     
  3. AConk81

    AConk81 Out Of The Brooder

    46
    1
    34
    Sep 16, 2012
    What's funny is that I just this morning was doing more "research" and had crossed the Dominiques off my list and had actually added barred rocks! I am thinking my choices will probably change several times before we actually get them, but I definitely want something that does well with being confined to a specific area, and something that will do well with my kids. They're really excited about having chickens, so I don't want it to end up in a situation where they're not able to interact with the birds.

    I've been looking into making it 4x8, for the reason of "chicken math" (I just have a feeling I might succumb to that...) and because after doing some calculations (way too much of an over planner here) it actually won't cost twice as much to build, so I might as well do it bigger now so that I don't end up having to do it all over again or make a second coop later. I think in order to add the extra coop space I might need to make a smaller run for now (8x12 instead of 12x12) but it'll be a lot easier to extend the run down the road than it would be to extend the coop. I think using the coop as one end of the run (and just fencing in underneath) will save me on posts and fencing wire, and I can put that savings, plus the savings of having it 8 feet instead of 12, towards the larger coop.

    I will definitely look into pallets for the floor and walls, the siding and floor panels are what seem to be costing the most in my calculations and list. If I could get some of those pieces for free that would really save me a lot. Thank you for your tips and advice! :)
     
  4. fried green eggs

    fried green eggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,904
    64
    173
    Mar 25, 2011
    S.E. Michigan
    I have 16 Barred Rock hens and 2 BR roosters. They are friendly, calm, very social and nice for my 4 year old grand-daughter to handle and feed scratch from her hand. You might check places that sell windows for a shipping pallet crate. I got one that was 4' wide x 8' long x 6' high last summer from a lumber company. Made a great little coop out of it and saved a ton $. You might check out resale/re-purpose stores for siding, doors and windows. Chickens are not picky about what their coop looks like as long as it's comfortable so, my advice is make it so it is easy to clean and low maintenance for you. Good Luck
    [​IMG]
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Unless someone lives in an area where there is a firm cap on the number of birds they can keep (some towns/suburb areas limit to 4 or 6), there's a unamimous concensus in the chicken world to Build BIG - bigger than you THINK you'll need - for chicken math (which you've already figured out...lol). So you're already ahead of the game.

    If you're going to cover part of your run, then an 8 ft. run span is always easier to work with than a 12 ft. span, so it's good that you've rethought that. Once your birds are used to their new coop, you can always free range for part of the day if space seems restricting. I'm a firm believer of giving as much space as you can, but in areas like yours, with VERY mild winters, I can definitely see two sq. ft of housing per bird working - 99% of the time, they really are only indoors to roost or to lay an egg (not so in MY area in winter).

    But yeah...the cost difference between the two sized coops will go up a little (mostly in 2x4s and plywood/siding), but definitely NOT double. And since you're planning ahead, use craigslist to collect as much cheap/free stuff as you can...

    Here's a link to a small pallet coop I built: https://www.backyardchickens.com/gallery/album/view/id/6235656 Just double up the platform and build up from there - that would give you a 4 x 8. But be warned, pallet wood is very heavy, so if you use it, after you have a base, I'd build the rest where you want your coop due to the potential weight.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  6. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    7,950
    271
    321
    Aug 20, 2010
    Colmesneil,TX
    Build the 4x8. I wouldn't put more than 2 in a 4x4 coop, no matter the run size.
     
  7. AConk81

    AConk81 Out Of The Brooder

    46
    1
    34
    Sep 16, 2012
    Hmm, I'll definitely need to check out pallets, that really would cut down on my costs thanks for the links with the pictures, it's a lot easier to imagine it with a visual. My dad works at Walmart, so I am wondering if they might have pallets that he can ask if I can have. Not sure what their policy is on that.

    I'm finding that the key to keeping costs down is trying to find dimensions that work with the size that things come in at the lowest price. Like the 8 foot run width instead of the 12 foot width. I have been thinking about maybe looking into putting it in a spot where I could extend it out only at the one end too in the future..so maybe 8 x16 or something, which seems like the easiest adjustment. It was also a lot more expensive to find 36 inch hardware cloth than it was to find a longer roll of it in a 24 inch size, so I've tried to adjust my measurements to see what I can fit out of that size roll and then work with larger whole fencing for the higher part of the run which worked out to be a good price for 48 inches. When I was trying to do 36 inch and 36 inch..it was coming out a lot more expensive than it is to make it 24 and 48. The 48 inch fencing also worked out to a nice even number for the roof of the run, so another way I saved money by eliminating waste. I'm glad I started off early with the planning because as I learn tips and tricks to keeping costs down I can apply that to the plans we made.
     
  8. ChickNhood

    ChickNhood Chillin' With My Peeps

    214
    6
    83
    Apr 12, 2012
    Decatur IL
    I would build a 4x8 just for the simple fact thats how big ur plywood comes in... Alot less waste and less cutting for those who arent good with a tape measure
     
  9. AConk81

    AConk81 Out Of The Brooder

    46
    1
    34
    Sep 16, 2012
    Well, if we were going to do 4x4 we'd be cutting it in half so one piece would do two sides, which would cut the amount of plywood needed nearly in half. With 4x4 you'd need 3 pieces, with 4x8 you need 5.
     
  10. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    453
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    This is an excellent post on space:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/700308/coop-and-run-size#post_9504811

    If your run will be predator proof I would actually make the coop 3 sided and open onto the run, especially if you go with the 4x4 size. Personally I would not put 6 chickens in a 4x4 coop unless it were open on the run side.

    I've never read anyone saying they built too large -- and it's a lot easier to make it a little bigger now than later.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by