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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Naughty Naughty Girls!

My husband doesn't like the chickens free ranging our property. They poop on the porch, eat all the tomatoes, and eat all the pears - and that is just more than he can take. How much space should they have per hen? 

The minimum for chickens is this:

coop 4 square feet per chicken
run 8 square feet per chicken

bantam (smaller breed)
coop 2 square feet per chicken
run 6 square feet per chicken

I really wanted to have truly free range chickens as well, but like yours they would poop on the porch, they dug up a bunch of my strawberries, were digging up brand new plants in my garden etc. We had to make some changes as well. It was a hard transition for them, so to make it easier, we would let them out in the yard in the evenings (somewhat supervised) for an hour or two, then back to the coop for sleeping.


Please leave a comment if you have any other input!


Dale Johnson said...

I agree that true free range is the ideal but chickens like to poop on porches and eat the vegetables so we confine our too. Marisa gives a good rule of thumb on space requirement but don't feel guilty if you have less space than she suggests. Considering that most layers in the United States spend their 2 years of life in a 2'x2'x2' cage with 4 or 5 other hens (factory farms) then anything beyond that is an improvement.

Country Beans said...

I took one of the coop plans that backyard farming sent to me, and had my husband extend the size of the run area. As soon as I paint it I will have to cutest and most functional coop in all of Poki!

Conny said...

We have 4 hens in a run that's 6'x13' and it seems to be enough for them. They've never free-ranged, but once I clip one wing each I plan to let them roam for a couple hours before dusk. My brother has always free-ranged his 3 hens and has the same result as you have.

If you have a run about the size of ours it needs to be cleaned once a week - or the buildup gets stinky. And kept inside the run 24/7 seems to mean they eat more, maybe out of boredom. I have to buy food twice as often as my brother does.

Michelle said...

Free range chickens do come with it's draw backs. We end up hosing off our sidewalks and porch almost nightly and our ladies love to travel out onto our busy country road, so we are constantly chasing them back. We've also had to put chicken wire around all of our special plants and garden. The plus to free ranging is the reduced cost of having to buy grain to feed them with. Bugs are FREE.


Malisams said...

Our hens (3) have a 3'x1' "atrium" between their coop and their covered 2'x16' run, so on the days we don't let them out, they still have some room to move and scratch about.

Typically, though, we let them out in a large, cordoned-off area at the back of the yard so they can run and dust-bathe and do chicken stuff without pooping and scratching all over our yard/patio. It works really well. In fact, on the rare occasions that we let them into the yard for a little fresh greenery, they pick around for a minute and then loiter by the gate to their fenced area. Chickens hate change. :)