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What is a reasonable amount of chickens for me to have? Please help!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by alvarez91, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. alvarez91

    alvarez91 New Egg

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    I have 3 hens, and was recently given 3 chicks. I live <1 mile outside of San Diego's city limit; it's just close enough for the population density to be pretty high, but just far enough for hen ownership to be legal. This is how my 3 hens currently live (chicks live inside):
    Night: they are locked in a 16sqft coop (in the process of building a second coop)
    6am-1pm: they are free to wander around their 80sqft run (fully chicken-wired) and the aforementioned coop
    1or2pm: I get home and let them wander around the ~4500sqft (pretty big) backyard until 8or9pm (my dog protects them from the skunks, raccoons, possums, and foxes)

    I have always planned on keeping my flock at ~5 chickens, but lately I have been wanting more; I just love the idea of micro-farming. I love tending my flock, I love putting their waste in my compost pile, I love growing plants with my compost, and I love to eat the plants' veggies & feed the chickens the scraps. I just love all the work. I would like to have around 12 hens, but I feel like this would be kind of weird since my neighborhood is not at all rural. My 3 hens right now aren't really noisy, but I feel like 10+ would be. Considering I would build more coops, how many hens would be able to spend 7or8 hours/day in my 80sqft run? How much more work would 9 more hens require (I work ~20hrs/wk and am a full time engineering student)? I hate that I was raised in the city, but I was, so this all just naturally seems kind of impractical to me.

    By the way, I am 19 and live in a house with a stable (honestly) girlfriend, so parental permission or anything like that isn't a concern.

    So, considering my lifestyle, what do you think is a reasonable amount of hens for me to own? Thanks for any help!
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Just based on run size, where they would be spending 8 hours a day or so (plus there will be times when you have weekend plans and can't let them "free range"), I'd limit yourself to no more than 8.
    Personally, based on your situation, I'd stick with the 3 hens and 3 chicks you now have for at least a year. I don't know how old your hens are now, but they will lay a lot less after their 2nd year. Your 3 chicks will be laying this next spring, and will do well next Fall, while your 3 mature hens are molting. If you want more, get a few more chicks next Fall, or early spring 2013...and they will carry you through that following year really well. Plus it'll give you time to see how your chickens/neighbors do together [​IMG] JMO [​IMG]
     
  3. sadies0111

    sadies0111 Out Of The Brooder

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    As long as there aren't any legal limits to your chickens, and you neighbors don't seem to mind, I'd say to have as many as you want. Although, I would say that to keep your chickens happy and healthy, they need a bigger run area if you want that many. I've read that the rule of thumb for an outdoor run is a minimum of 10 sq feet per bird to give them room to keep busy. I agree that it is fun to enjoy seeing what all your hard work and time spent can give you!
     
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    I noticed you said your run is made of chicken wire. Dogs can be good protectors. Does your dog also stay out in the yard to protect them when they're in the run in the morning?
     
  5. vfem

    vfem Yoga...The Chicken Pose

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    When people say 'reasonable' to me... I can't lie... I say make the coop bigger, build a second coop, and go over board. You can never have TOO many chickens! LOL

    [​IMG]

    As for real advice, you've gotten some wonderful feedback here. [​IMG]
     
  6. FiveHens

    FiveHens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For your current coop, four-five adults. For more coops...as many as you want (but probably not more than 8-10 because of your enclosed run space). However, in my opinion, the more free range time they have, the more you can fit and the happier they'll be with each other.
     
  7. alvarez91

    alvarez91 New Egg

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    Quote:You're right. I didn't even consider the fact that my chicks will mature! I will stick with 6 for now.

    Quote:My dog is a Pitbull, so, even though she is a good dog, I know what she would be capable of doing if my neighbor's yappy Chihuahua were to squeeze under the fence and attack her. Hence I keep my dog on a 75ft run while I'm not home, so if said situation were to ever happen, I would at least be able to prove that the Chihuahua came after my dog. Anyways, the coop is in the corner of the yard, and she can't reach it while tied up, but she is allowed to run free with the hens while my girlfriend or I is home.
     
  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    The reason I was wondering about that, is because dogs and racoons have both been known to go through chicken wire. A welded wire fencing like the kind that has 2x4 inch openings is a lot sturdier.

    If your yard is fenced, your dog is out quite often and also can bark at any dog that could possibly try to get in your yard, you might not have a problem with that.
     

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