Thinking about space for my gals

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by FirewifeJess, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. FirewifeJess

    FirewifeJess Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,611
    52
    208
    Mar 2, 2012
    Gallifrey
    I have 11 pullets (3.5 weeks old) brooding in their coop right now. The coop is 5x7' of floor space and they each have over 3 square feet inside. As for outside, we're still figuring out exactly what we want to do for the run. The coop is in a triangular side yard that is 365s/f, giving each chicken 30s/f. With this setup (which seems to be quite a large run compared to most I see), would they still likely turn their run into a desolate wasteland of mud and muck? I *DO* intend on letting them out to freerange the rest of the half acre backyard whenever I'm around to be out there with them (hawks live nearby), but if I don't spend my winter outside in the rain watching chickens will they be OK in a run like that most of the time? Thanks!

    Forgot...I do plan to cover some of the run for shelter from rain and to keep their food dry. Don't know how much we will cover though. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,108
    3,312
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    They will be OK in a run that size. It is more than a lot of people here provide.

    It's a little harder to say for sure if they will change it to a moonscape. It depends on your climate which I would expect to be fairly mild summers, probably fairly mild winters but with an occasional shot of real cold, and a lot of moisture. It also depends on how you manage them and how much time they actually spend in there. But relating my run size to yours which is similar, yeah, they will probably destroy it. I'll say almost certainly or I'll be amazed if they don't. But they will still be OK in there.

    With that small a coop and the potential for snow and weather where they will not want to be in the run a lot, I'd cover a fair portion. You want them to be able to get out of the coop during the winter. There is no magic number as to how much space they need, but be as generous as you can. There is a possiblity if they are too crowded too long they could develop behavioral problems, but this suggestion in being as generous as you can with space if for your comfort and convenience too. I find I have to work less and have more flexibility in dealing with problems if I have more space to work with.

    Just covering it is not enough. Snow and rain can blow in from the side. Mine generally hate cold wind more than rain or snow anyway. I'd try real hard to give them a sheltered area where they are protected from cold wind as well as trying to keep rain and snow out.
     
  3. FirewifeJess

    FirewifeJess Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,611
    52
    208
    Mar 2, 2012
    Gallifrey
    I think what I've decided, based on lots of research and your helpful advice is to wait and see if I have any roosters (which will go immediately, we cannot have them in the city); here's to actually *hoping* I have some, LOL! If not, I will probably get rid of another 1-3 birds to end up with 8-10. I think 8 would be a great number for the size of my coop and run. I just don't know how I'll choose which ones go if none happen to be roosters! I guess it would be the ones with the least likeable dispositions. [​IMG]
     
  4. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Yep...I'm still checking in on you, LOL.
    I think your off to a great start and being smart to wait until you see about the roosters before making further decisions. Did you guys get a poop board up in there as well? It really makes a difference especially on the smaller coops.
    They will probably turn your run into bare dirt still, but may not depending on how much they are out. You might want to get that area over seeded with some clover and some annual rye grass now and let it grow even if it gets 6 inches tall...that could really help by getting ahead of them. I wish I would have thought to over seed really well when I first got started.
     
  5. FirewifeJess

    FirewifeJess Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,611
    52
    208
    Mar 2, 2012
    Gallifrey
    [​IMG] Well I think I have the hubby convinced to make an even larger run, and then let me free-range them every day that I'm home. I'm a stay at home mom who home schools, so I won't be gone all that much most of the year. I do worry about those trips out of the house for a couple hours though; do I let them out for part of the day and try to wrangle them back in the run before I leave, or simply keep them in the run if I know I have errands? sheesh.

    We already do have a MAJOR amount of grass on that side of the house and are way ahead of them, but I'll have to remember to seed every late winter/early spring to get a head start on the girls before the nice weather shows its' face.

    I don't have a poop board, not sure how to go about that. Maybe tomorrow I'll post pics of the inside of the coop and you can help me with some logistics. Right now it's hard because we have them in the coop with food and water and lamp (they'll be 4 weeks tomorrow) and can only let them out in extremely supervised situations until our run is built. I know within the next month they'll be dying to get outside a lot more though. Thinking about "training" (as much as one can train a dumb chicken) to stick close to me and the coop in case the run isn't built as soon as I'd hoped. Should be in the next couple weeks.
     
  6. Mine hardly ever show an interest in going out the pop door until 6 weeks or better. Usually about 8-10 weeks old before they will attempt to follow the big girls out to the yard.
    As far as letting them out...Im lazy. I let them out 2-3 hours before sunset and that way they put themselves back in, LOL They will naturally stay really close to the coop when they first get out and nature will tell them to hit the roost before sunset. I go out and say goodnight and close the gate after that. I have let them out early in the day, but I dont like wrangling them, so its only when i know ill be there all day and they just stay out until they put themselves to bed
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  7. You have time on the droppings tray....I keep forgetting they are only 4 weeks old.
     
  8. FirewifeJess

    FirewifeJess Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,611
    52
    208
    Mar 2, 2012
    Gallifrey
    That's brilliant about only starting to let them out of the coop for a couple hours in the late afternoon/evening when they're ready! I want them to be SUPER familiar with their coop so they know where to go back...gosh that opens up a whole host of possibilities about having solely free-range chickens once they're used to the yard and such. Thinking...maybe we can get away without a run. That's gonna take some considering!
     
  9. since your a stay at home mom...its possible if the yard already has a fence (possible without one, but they get too close to the street otherwise)
    If you know your home all day then let them out and they will go to bed at sunset. If you have errands, wait until your back home to let them out. Only problem might occur is during vacations or weekends away and they cant get out of coop
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by