Why You May Need a Bigger Chicken Coop than You Thought

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A mistake people often make when they buy or build their first chicken coop is making the coop too small. Nearly everyone says they wish they had a bigger coop. Here are nine reasons you may need a bigger chicken coop:

Chicks Grow

Fluffy little chicks are incredibly cute. But they grow really fast. As they get bigger, they need progressively more room. A full grown bantam needs at least 2 square feet of living space. A mature light breed, such as Spitzhauben, needs 3 square feet. A mature heavy breed, such as Jersey Giant, needs 4 square feet.

Chickens Crave Variety

A coop should be big enough to accommodate sufficient variety to keep your chickens from getting bored. It should also have places where the lowest-ranking birds can get away from those of higher rank. Plenty of space is especially essential in a climate where chickens may spend extra time indoors because of uncomfortable cold wind or rain.

Hens Get Old

As hens age they gradually lay fewer eggs each year. Although a healthy hen may lay for a decade or more, production peaks in the first year. By the tenth year you can expect only about one-tenth the number of eggs laid during the first year. At some point you may wish to acquire more hens to boost egg production. And if you are like many chicken keepers, you’ll want to keep your beloved older hens, even if they aren’t laying well. That means you’ll need a bigger chicken coop.

Chicken Math

“Chicken math is real,” is another way of saying that once you start with chickens you’ll have a hard time resisting the desire to add more. Maybe your hens hatch out chicks you decide to keep. Or maybe you’ll want a greater variety of breeds, or more variety in eggshell colors. Whatever your reason, having more chickens means needing a bigger coop.

Crowding Leads to Problems

Crowding too may chickens into too small a coop leads to behavioral problems and illness. Behavioral problems include fighting, feather picking, and cannibalism. Illnesses can follow an excessive build-up of droppings and the accompanying increase in moisture and ammonia fumes in the air. Cramming in more chickens than a coop is designed for invariably leads to problems. Hence the need for a bigger coop.

Integrating Chickens

Once you start adding more birds to your original flock, you’ll need to integrate the new chickens. The best way to introduce new chickens is to temporarily house them separately from the existing flock, but near enough that they can see and hear each other. Both groups then have time to get used to each other from behind a safe barrier. And the easiest way to do that is to have a coop that’s large enough to partition.

Separating Bullies

If you keep roosters, a time may come when they start fighting. Or perhaps your flock includes a mix of both timid breeds and aggressive breeds. Unless you’re willing to give up one or the other, you may need to separate them. Having the ability to partition the coop, as you would if acquiring new chickens, will keep peace among the chickens and give you peace of mind.

Feed and Water

Whether you provide feed and water inside or outside the coop is a matter of choice. But even if you intend to feed and water your flock outdoors, you may find significant reasons to move feeders and drinkers indoors. In that case, your coop needs to be large enough to accommodate them while giving the chickens enough space to navigate around them.

Space for Storage

Although not absolutely essential, having space in or attached to the coop for storing feed, supplies, and cleaning tools is a lot handier than carrying everything you need from the house or garage. The coop may include a separate indoor storage area, or it might offer porch-like outdoor space under the roof where items you use regularly are within easy reach. So think ahead and factor in these possibilities as you determine what size chicken coop will best suit your needs.

Helpful Links

8 Things to Know Before Building a Chicken Coop

Buying a Ready-Made Chicken Coop — 10 Things to Consider

5 Accessories to Add to Your Chicken Coop

Chicken Coops from Cackle Hatchery®

And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop.

Source: The Cackle Hatchery