Variation on the square foot question asked in other posts

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by steinway, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. steinway

    steinway In the Brooder

    Oct 27, 2011
    Newbie here, I plan on getting just a few laying hens in the spring. I have been reading the posts (and there are a lot of them) about size of coop/ run per chicken and it looks like 14 square feet per chicken is the consensus. My questions is "Do I have to have a run?". I will be using a horse stall that is 10' x 12' with a high roof, good air circulation with two vents and another stall next to it. If it matters I am in upper MI where it gets pretty cold and winter lasts a while.

    If I only have 4 hens I figure I have 30 square foot per hen just in the 10' x 12' coop without a run. I am assuming you are going to tell me they have to have a run and if so I will build one or let them free range but if I do not have to build one then I will not. Just wondering.

    Also, if this is possible you might tell me which breeds might prosper in this set up as I do not want to be cruel to a breed that really "needs" or "wants" to run a lot. Thanks in advance.

  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    No, they don't have to have a run. I think if you're using two horse stalls for for hens, that should be roomy enough. I would just make sure they had some nice places to roost, good nesting boxes, and I would probably put something in there like a flock block every now and then.....Make sure you throw some scratch in there for them or give them greens or whatever every now and then so that they don't get bored......Variety is the spice of life, ya know? [​IMG]

    OOH, I bet it really does get cold up there in MI! It sure gets cold here in Ohio. Often times, during the winter, the snow is so deep they can't run around in it, so I put tarps around my run and they're stuck inside, plus my run has a roof. I try to add things to keep it interesting during the winter because they can't free range. I let mine free range every day during the rest of the year.

    Maybe if they can't free range, you could always let them run around in the barn a little bit. If you keep them locked in the stalls for a week or two first, they will always consider that their "home", so you could throw some scratch in there in the evening and they'll go right into the stalls and you could lock them up. That way, they'd be safe from predators.
  3. UrbanFarmerGreg

    UrbanFarmerGreg Chirping

    Oct 11, 2011
    Well I think you don't really need a run as long as they aren't cooped up all the time... I live in a city so i cannot let mine free range, my set up is basically a building with 3 walls, a roof and the front is covered with chicken wire... they stay outside all day but they do have a small 'house' with a door that they can go into (which has nest boxes inside) I just make sure they are in their 'house' at night... I don't think it is cruel at all... good luck on your adventure
  4. fireguy56

    fireguy56 Songster

    Oct 2, 2010
    Slidell, Louisiana
    Hi, And welcome to BYC. As far as yor question it seems to me that you will have plenty of "coop" area for only four chickens. The problem I see is that once you get a few, you'll want more. It happens to everyone, myself included. I only wanted about 15, right.....I;m up to about 28 in my main coop and 520 sq. ft. enclosed run and am building a second coop for Bantams. Chicken keeping becomes very addictive as many on BYC will tell you. So, ya may want to add afew more later and the size coop you have will be fine.
    As far as a run. Even sticking to only four girls in a 10' x 12' coop, they are gonna need to be able to stretch their legs and run some. They love to scratch in the grass and dirt, get in the sun , dust bathe, etc... I think you will have to either povide a secure run area for them or let them free range(ideal). They will become bored cooped up all the time and I think their health could suffer. Just my humble opinion. So good luck and enjoy.

  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing 7 Years

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT

    Breed Chart is a good place to start looking at chicken choices. Pick a good layer, cold hardy and bear confinement well type bird. Plenty to chose from that conform to those standard. Once you narrow down your choices some it's easy to research individual breed characteristics. For instance Ameraucana and EE's are great layers yet slow or stop laying in winter. Stuff like that is good to know.

    And if your birds will be confined most of the time you will want to supplement artificial light, like us birds need the sun spectrum, a flourecent or energy efficient bulb on timer is all they need.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2011
  6. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    So essentially, your chickens will be indoors all the time? If that's the case, you will need to provide additional Vitamin D to their diets because they won't be able to synthesize their own without access to sunlight.
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Quote:Yeah, that would be my biggest concern with your scenario....unless the wall where their stall is has nice big windows.

  8. steinway

    steinway In the Brooder

    Oct 27, 2011
    The way things are set up with this house I just bought is that the previous owners turned the area right outside of the stalls into a garden, fenced in from deer. I could let them run there but I think they will destroy my garden. I would have to go through some building contortions with turns to get them to a free range area (1"4 acre with horse fence - would cost a ton to fence that in so the chickens would not get lose into the surrounding woods) or I would have to build a normal fenced in run, hate to lose part of the garden so I have the same building problems with turns to get them outside.

    They will destroy a garden if I run them in there - correct?
  9. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Unless your garden is huge, I'd just use a few of those short metal posts (24 or 36 inches would be fine) and run short chicken wire around your garden. That's what we did this year - we went with the 24 inch chicken wire so we could just step over it - the chickens never touched it.

  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing 7 Years

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    As wee chicks their fine in a growing garden. You'll know when they get too big and start scratching too much. Then of course they can use the space post harvest, all winter and spring.

    As for free ranging you'll find you can let them out a few hours prior to dark and they wont range too far and will return to the coop at dusk all on their own. But that's for you to decide if they range some or not.

    And again, for vitamin D/ sunlight all you'll need is a small fluorescent cool white tube or a few energy efficient bulbs (13w) on a 12 hour timer.

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