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Minimum coop space for Chicken Paddock System

 
                                            
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Hi,

I searched through the topics for the chicken paddock system and couldn't find an exact answer for this question, my apologies if I missed something.

I am looking to start raising a small flock of egg laying chickens according to the Paddock system. I'd like to build a small moveable coop on wheels for them to stay in only at night - something that can be locked up tight from racoons and weasels, while during the day they will roam around within portable fencing.

My question is - what is the minimum square foot per chicken space that I need in the "micro-coop"? I would like it to be as small as possible so that I can move it easily from paddock to paddock as my rotation needs. I'm looking to raise about 6 hens to start. Would a 3'x4'x2' (width,length,height) coop, with a roost and 2 nest boxes be enough for that many chickens? Would that be just enough or have some room for expansion? If anyone has any plans or designs for such a micro-coop I would be really appreciate it - I've been searching online for something (as I have no building acumen) but concrete plans are hard to come by.

Thanks so much!
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
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That's about the size we had enclosed in the chicken tractor we used to use, so I think it would be fine for a paddock system.  We had 4-6 hens in it, mostly bantams.  It wouldn't really allow for expanding your flock, though.
 
                                            
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Is that the size you had of the whole enclosed space in the tractor, or the part where they had their nest boxes and roost for the night? The total foraging space I'm going to give them will be much larger than 3'x4' - I want to know what the bare minimum of space they need in an enclosed area overnight.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
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That was the enclosed area-where the roosts were, with 2 nest boxes on the side that could be easily accessed from outside.  Not where they foraged.
 
John Polk
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Two feet high is (maybe) OK for meat birds, but not for layers.  There would be no space for roosts (their heads would already be near the roof when standing on the ground).  Meat birds who will be sent to freezer camp by age 10 weeks do not need roosts, but layers, who you hope to keep for at least a year or two do need roosts.  Nature has taught them to not sleep on the ground, but as high as they can.  If they have to live on the ground, they will be stressed, and unhappy...a sure recipe for low egg production.  If they cannot feel safe, their desire to reproduce will be greatly diminished.  A stressed hen has more acidic juices in the stomach/innards which greatly compromises her overall health.

Seasons also factor into the equation.  Summer time requires good air space to keep it from overheating and provide good circulation.  Winter time also requires good circulation, and don't forget that in bad weather, they may be confined for weeks at a time.

California recently had to (early) release 10's of thousands of prisoners because Federal regulations deemed that they were too crowded.  Don't let your hens live in worse conditions than a man on Death row is entitled to, please.
 
Thea Olsen
Posts: 95
Location: suburbs of Chicago USDA zone 5b
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Those are good points, John.  Our old tractor was actually about 3 ft. high, and we covered the whole run area in winter so they had more space to move around.  We do the same with our current tractor/mini coop.  I think they'd be miserable in such a small space all winter.
 
                                            
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Thanks for your replies! I certainly don't want my chickens to feel like prisoners, that's precisely why I asked this question. I have plans for a larger stationary coop and run for winter (I live in Mass so the winter is no joke) but while the forage is good I'd like for them to have as much access to it as possible. Points are duly noted, I'll definitely make the coop at least 3, maybe 4 feet tall.
 
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