Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ask Bee - What Size Coop Do I Need?



Dear Bee,
How much room do chickens actually need in the coop?  How high should a coop be?
When I see my birds roosting - what will "comfortable" birds look like?  Spread out? Close together? On different roosts?

(Coop by All Cooped Up, NC - Photo is link.)

Bee’s Answer:

When I decided to get into my own flocks of chickens, I had already seen the general ratio of chicken to space for most of my life from viewing grandma's or mother's coops, so this was a little less difficult for me than for someone who never had.

I can only put it like this... how do you know a dog house is big enough for your dog?  It all depends on the size of the dog... if he has difficulty climbing into it comfortably and then seems cramped when he tries to lie down, you have obviously gotten the wrong size house.

If you have an existing coop, imagine how you want your birds to move around in its space if they have to be confined to it for any length of time.  This will happen sometime or other in their lives, so you really cannot count run or yard space as chicken space.  Do they have different levels of existence in the coop (roosts, nest boxes, feed cans, etc.) or is it all mostly floor space? Place all the mentioned items in the coop if that is where they will be, add feeders and waterers and THEN re-evaluate your floor space. 

 (The "Poop Coop" by All Cooped Up)

Can you picture X amount of your adult-sized birds/breed being able to walk past each other freely, scratch in the litter without bumping off another chicken, line up to the feeder without too many having to wait their turn, or roosting and still being able to change positions freely on the roosts or jump up to the roost without bumping another bird off?  If you can, then the space is probably adequate...  then err on the side of caution.

I can tell you this... you can never have TOO much space, only too little.  Don't get greedy and get a bunch of birds and just HOPE they fit into your coop... add a fair number and see how they exist.  If you see obvious problems as the result of overcrowding (feather picking, squabbles, signs of stress) reduce your numbers and continue to monitor them.

Everyone's style is different.... I like my birds to have plenty of room but don't feel they need a football field. Comfortable chickens will not fight and fuss all day and will not pick each other's feathers for sport nor pick on any one flock member.  If you cannot reasonably walk into your run or coop without tripping over the birds, you probably have too many.  If you walk in and they can easily avoid you when you DO walk, then you probably have enough space. 

(Poop Coop interior - All Cooped Up)

In my experience, a coop should be high enough to walk into... I'd never have a coop so small that I couldn't inspect every corner or retrieve a bird in that corner with some level of ease.  Coops should be easy to clean, big enough to be able to repair inside features and visualize any bird at any given time.  If you simply must have the type of coop that is just designed for bird living only, I'd design a feature where a portion of that lifts away, levers up, slides apart to where it could be easily maintained.  Chickens don't really care about height… although they do prefer to roost high. 


Birds on a roost look comfortable to me if they have empty spaces to move into... if they have to drop down to reposition and then try to hit a very small roosting spot when they try to get back up, it creates a lot of tension and movement in the roosting flock that I don't like to see or hear.  Jostling for position should only be due to pecking order and not necessarily because there is so little room that, if you don't grab some rail, you may sleep on the floor. 

Bee -



Leigh says:
Like the coops on this post? If so, please go “Like” All Cooped Up on FaceBook and tell them Leigh of Natural Chicken Keeping sent you!

 *

13 comments:

  1. I love that Poop Coop! LOL

    Great advice! More is always better for space IMO.

    -aoxa

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that poop coop and it's features! If someone had to have a small coop, this is a cute design all around...LOVE the toilet seat frames on the nest boxes! LOLOL

    ReplyDelete
  3. When I started thinking about getting chickens, I decided I wanted a coop that could be converted to a storage shed if I ever decided that chickens were not for me. So I decided to go with a building that I can move around in easily, full size people door with lots of ventilation. Lots of floor space is essential for the comfort and health of your flock so I have a 10 x 12 foot building with a 10 x 17 foot run and when they get a little older they will forage outside the run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought the same way. I figured if I tried chickens and decided not to keep at it, I'd have a nice storage shed in the end. I ended up getting mine from a house that was going to be torn down for a road expansion and it cost only $250 if we would move it. It was in good shape and measured 12 x 8 floor space. Then we built some partitions inside. I'm loving it!

      LM

      Delete
  4. Leigh says:
    Like the coops on this post? If so, please go “Like” All Cooped Up on FaceBook and tell them Leigh of Natural Chicken Keeping sent you!

    DONE!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Toilet seat nest boxes...why didn't I think of that?

    LM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I laughed so hard my husband thought I went crazy!!

      Delete
  6. I want a poop coop!!!
    And solid advice, as always.
    Thank you, Bee and Bulldogma!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the poop coop, that is great!
    Can you give me some advice on how many roosts, and how big shi ha be with 13 - 15 chickens? They are orpingtons & road island reds (I think..we inher item them)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the poop coop, that is great!
    Can you give me some advice on how many roosts, and how big shi ha be with 13 - 15 chickens? They are orpingtons & road island reds (I think..we inher item them)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the poop coop, that is great!
    Can you give me some advice on how many roosts, and how big shi ha be with 13 - 15 chickens? They are orpingtons & road island reds (I think..we inher item them)

    ReplyDelete

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