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What size coop do I need

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Dawnlemons2003, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Dawnlemons2003

    Dawnlemons2003 In the Brooder

    Jan 11, 2017
    Adair Oregon
    I am new here and this has probably already been answered, but I'm not sure where to look.
    In the spring I want to get 6 young/baby chickens, no I have never done this before.
    What size coop do I need?
    This will be in the country so there is room. Does each hen need their own nesting box? do they share? Do the hens lay at the same time? I am in the process of learning to raise chickens for eggs, just for the family.
    I don't know what size coop to make or get.
    Thank you for any help.

  2. Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    I will give you the general guide lines... 4 square feet per bird in the coop and 10 square feet in the run. With about 1.25 feet roost space each Even if you plan to free range you should set up an enclosed run for when you need predator protection or to confine the girls and teach them to lay in the boxes. These are a minimum suggestion. Things like how often you clean and how bad your weather gets can effect these parameter. If they will spend a lot of time indoors, go bigger. And don't forget to allow space for feeders, waterer, and lay boxes... mine are all outside my coop measurement. But if you have things taking up floor space, it cuts room for the girls.

    1 box for every 2-3 hens is usually good.

    Do not buy those pre fab coops that say for 6 birds, they will quickly out grow it. Those way over estimate. Don't forget windows and roof ventilation.

    Remember all your girl will molt and stop laying during winter # 2. So just in case you want to add more in that spring so you can still have eggs next winter.... I would build bigger than you think you need. Chicken math is dangerous! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    It's best to have your coop done before you get your girls. But don't wait too late or they won't lay very soon. No later than April for me to get eggs around 4th of July.

    If you haven't considered it... look into Mama Heating Pad to brood your babes and think about doing out of the house. [​IMG]

    Chickens are a lot of fun. We watch chicken TV in our back yard for hours. [​IMG]
  3. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2013

    i see you got many questions answered BUT remember chicken math

    always go WAY bigger than you think you need [​IMG]
    and ventilation is SUPER important!
    1 person likes this.
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    There are a couple of things I'd like to add. Eggsighted gave you good information, but I'd like to stress that the number of square feet per bird is a suggestion for MINIMUM amount of space. The more room, the better. With six chickens, two nesting boxes should be sufficient, but it doesn't hurt to have more. They usually like to all lay in the same place. What I'd like you to do is think about your flock, and look to the future. What are your plans for when laying slows down significantly around their 3rd lying season? Are you ready to keep a "retirement flock" and feed non-productive birds (pets)? Or do you only have space and finances to feed birds that are laying well (livestock)? There really is no right or wrong answer, but too often, these things sneak up on a person and they have no idea what they're going to do. It's good to plan ahead. Our chickens are considered livestock and are removed from the flock and relocated to canning jars in my pantry when they stop producing well. Every now and then one will be moved to "pet" status and spared, but not all of them. You just need to decide if you have room to replace old layers while letting them live out their lives, or if you only have so much room and money to feed chickens and want to feed the ones who are productive. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your new hobby!
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Welcome to the forum, glad you found us. Never be hesitant to ask any question, even if it’s been asked many times before. This forum would dry up and die if people stop asking questions. I would not like that. Besides you don’t want your chickens to be hurt because you failed to ask a question.

    If you are going to hang around, and I hope you do, it helps to modify your profile to show your general location. It doesn’t have to be too precise. Knowing which country you are in has some benefits, knowing your general climate is often quite helpful.

    I’m not one that believes in square feet per chicken, there are just too many variables in our unique situations that no one number can cover us all. If you follow the link in my signature you can see what I mean. The 4 square feet per full sized chicken in the coop with 10 square feet in the run per chicken give you a decent starting point, but that’s only a starting point. Your flock make-up, how you manage them, your climate, and many other things have an impact. That 4 and 10 may be more than some people absolutely have to have but for some people it’s not enough.

    It’s not just coop space in isolation either. If they have access to other space, a run or free range when they ae awake, coop size is a lot less important. If they stay in the coop a lot with no access to any other space, it becomes much more important. I’m always an advocate for as much space as you can reasonably give them. I find the less I crowd them the fewer behavioral problems I have to deal with, the more flexibility I have to deal with issues, and I just don’t have to work as hard. How much room you give them has a direct influence on your comfort and convenience, not just the chickens. That’s important to me.

    If you stick with a small flock of all females all the same age, you don’t usually need a lot of room though the tighter you pack them the more poop you will have to manage. If you bring in any new chickens, especially if they are still immature, or if you let a broody hen hatch eggs, your need for room goes up, even if the total number of chickens remains steady.

    I’m partial to walk-in coops on the ground, especially in colder climates, but that’s personal preference. To me, the additional height has benefits. Lots of people are happy with elevated coops. For six hens I’d suggest a 4 x 6 if elevated. You need to be able to reach everywhere inside so you need a couple of access doors. For a walk-in I’d go a minimum of 4x8 (and prefer larger) so you have a bit more room to work when you are in there. It helps if they can get outside most of most days. If your climate keeps them locked in the coop for long periods of time I’d go bigger. Or fix the run to protect them from snow and wind. Just a little outside space can help a lot.

    For six hens I’d go with two nests. They like to lay in the same nest, sometimes they will even crowd in together to lay at the same time. On several occasions I’ve seen three hens crowded into the same nest at the same time.

    Some hens lay at the crack of dawn. I’ve seen hens in the nest laying as the sun goes down. More tend to lay in the mornings, but even the same hen can and often does lay at different times during the day.
  6. Dawnlemons2003

    Dawnlemons2003 In the Brooder

    Jan 11, 2017
    Adair Oregon
    Thank you so much for your help.
    Can you also tell me where is the best place to find plans to build a coop (Walk-in). I am looking at 6 chicks to start with. I'm not a big builder so I would need something really simple. I will be living in Oregon, Marion County, so the weather don't get really cold. Is it recommended to put Chicken wire on the floor and nail it up to the sides of the coop so coons and bobcats don't get in?
    Thank you,
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Welcome to BYC Dawn. You're going to have a lot of fun. for 6 birds, I recommend a minimum of 4 x 8' coop, and suggest that you make it a minimum of 4' tall. I also suggest that you build a run, even if you plan to let them free range most of the time. There will be times when it's impossible to let them free range: Dog on the loose, recent predator attack, birds laying eggs every where but in the coop, hawks soaring over head morning, noon, and night. A good run, even if it's not large will allow you to weather these storms and many more. Make your coop predator proof (use 1/2" hardware cloth over all openings). Put in lots of natural lighting, and lots of ventilation. For the cost of a small "doll house" coop, you can build your own that is 4 x larger, or you can buy a shed from one of the box hardware stores which will actually meet your needs well.

    I'd suggest that you take a trip to your local library while you're waiting, and check out a few books on back yard poultry raising, coop building, and perhaps gardening with chickens (if that's an interest to you). Other topics to consider: Fermented feed, heating pad brooding, Henderson's chicken breeds chart. Look at some of the mail order hatcheries also for information about possible flock options, and check out your state thread in the social forums.

  8. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I kept 6-7 birds in a 4x4 coop for years. Kept up to 9 but worked better with 6-7 and one being a cockbird. All large fowl not bantam. As Ridgrunner said there are just too many variables to say what you need for a coop size. If up to some peoples preference they'd want you to build a 20x20 shack, move into it, then give your chickens free range of your heated house. I currently have 15 large fowl chickens in a 4x7 coop on stilts with an exterior wall mount nest box. They have a covered 10x12 area plus under the coop with three sides blocking wind for winter digs if weather is poor, otherwise they've snow shoveled paths to under favorite shrubs in run. This works well for me and my birds. I'm fortunate to be able to provide a 5,000 plus square foot run.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    If you go to the “Coops” tab at the top of this page there are a lot of coops shown, most with plans. You can usually get books at Lowe’s or Home Depot that give really good plans on how to build a shed. A shed with ventilation, roosts, nests, and a pop door is a coop. An often overlooked source for free plans is your local library. Your librarian should be able to find books showing plans for sheds.

    The way I like to stop digging predators from digging into the coop or run or critters crawling under the run fence is to use an apron. Lay out about 18” of wire flat on the ground on the outside. I’ve used leftover hardware cloth and 2” x 4” welded wire for this. Attach it to the bottom of your coop or fence so critters can’t get through. You don’t have to bury it but if you dig out the turf, say 2”, and put that over the top it keeps the wire away from lawn mowers and weed eaters. The idea is that the predator goes up to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and does not know to back up.

    You can use chicken wire, you will get a lot of protection from that and it is fairly inexpensive. When chicken wire is used as fencing it’s possible some larger predators like big dogs, large raccoons, or coyotes can tear their way through it. The gauge of the chicken wire has a lot to do with that, it’s usually made of a fairly light gauge metal. Many people will tell you that you have to use hardware cloth to stop these critters but large animals can also tear their way through light gauge hardware cloth. Heavier gauge wiring of any kind costs more than light gauge metal. Light gauge fencing will stop a lot of predators.

    It sounds like you are on the wet side of Oregon. One huge mistake when building a coop and/or run is location. You do not want to build either in a low spot where water runs to it or collects there. A wet coop or run is a dangerous coop or run from a disease standpoint plus they can stink really badly when wet. If you don’t have an area where water drains away from it naturally, I’d build it up with dirt so water drains away from it. I’d slope any roofs so water runs off the roof away from the run, not into it.

    When it sets in wet it’s hard to keep any run dry unless it has a roof and rainproof sides. Some people use plastic sheeting on the sides to keep rain or snow out, but over time it gets brittle and the wind will shatter it and spread pieces everywhere. When it sets in wet here I just live with it. Mine drains fairly well and it doesn’t get very bad. I’d hate to have one where water drains to it and stands.
  10. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Songster

    Mar 19, 2016
    34.560847, -81.154203
    My Coop
    I would recommend against "chicken wire" fencing for any purpose other than decorative. It is just too flimsy, and exposure will only exasperate this. I gave up on this junk decades ago when I saw my chickens were able to gnaw their way through it and get into the garden.

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