NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Chicken housing how much space?  (Read 745 times)

dixie

  • Joined Mar 2009
Chicken housing how much space?
« on: December 02, 2019, 03:56:47 pm »
hi after giving up chickens after fox attacks and bird flu I’ve now decided I’d like to try agin, I used to free range them but have decided that’s not going to work, so planning on building a fox proof pen but not sure how big it needs to be to allow them plenty of space? I could let them out in the garden when I’m home but that wouldn’t be everyday, hoping to have 6-8 hens, any advice please?
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Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2019, 08:58:55 am »
The BHWT website has a lot of good information although it does seem to be predominantly based on free-ranging through the day.  I was researching something similar before getting mine and I think the figure was about 3-4 square feet per bird if they were not free ranging.  If you google caged hens, you get the official government requirements for minimum space requirements. 

Have you considered a "chicken tractor" arrangement as an alternative to keeping them permanently penned in one area?  That way they could be out every day in your garden whilst still safely enclosed and you'd probably need less space for them because you could keep moving it to fresh ground.  It's just a thought.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2019, 10:14:00 am »
You need a minimum of 2 square metres each in a run to avoid certain problems with bullying and feather pecking, more if they don't ever get to run outside that. We built a 600m2 secure enclosure around the runs and smaller enclosures which gave 15 m2 each- an area which is sustainable and keeps the grass. A small run will quickly become bare soil unless moved weekly.


Ignore Government or BHWT guidelines if they differ from above. My figures are based on years of first-hand experience with our multiple small domestic flocks.

dixie

  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2019, 01:17:22 pm »
Thank you I looked at guidelines and thought it was too small, so roughly  3m x 6m would be ok for 6/8 birds? I could put electric poultry netting out for when I’m home but it wouldn’t be everyday.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2019, 03:20:10 pm »

Hi Dixie, We're going back a bit, but there are some blurry photos on this thread of the first house and run I ever made. It was 4.5m x 3.5m and was great for 3 or 4 hens. I think having any more in there would have been pushing it a bit though.

If you have the space, larger is better basically.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

dixie

  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2019, 05:59:30 pm »
Wow womble  that’s impressive. We aren’t short on space, far from it, it’s more about finding the right place for it, I’m looking at galvanised secure runs but have hubby pulling faces about spending £100’s to have free eggs  ::) , even building something large is pretty costly, we did consider heras panels but they aren’t that attractive and we’d still have to build an end to have a door, so it’s still being discussed! The actual,chicken house is sorted it’s just the secure run.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2019, 07:25:50 am »
Something else to consider Dixie is stress. Chickens are very much creatures of habit and like a routine. In our case they stay in their runs during the morning, because sometimes we go out and the runs are very secure. In the afternoons they are let out into their enclosures. If we don't let them out, even for 15 minutes, they get very stressed. So occasional free-ranging is counter-productive in my opinion, as stressed hens have a depressed immune system and are likely to get sick or stop laying. I think best to build a much larger secure run and keep them in it.

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2019, 09:39:30 am »
Wow womble  that’s impressive. We aren’t short on space, far from it, it’s more about finding the right place for it, I’m looking at galvanised secure runs but have hubby pulling faces about spending £100’s to have free eggs  ::) , even building something large is pretty costly, we did consider heras panels but they aren’t that attractive and we’d still have to build an end to have a door, so it’s still being discussed! The actual,chicken house is sorted it’s just the secure run.

I revert back to my suggestion of a chicken tractor... could you get an old caravan or trailer chassis onto which you can build the coop and integrated runs which you then move around the land?  If you have a system to "jack up" the base to allow you to move it, it doesn't need to be excessively large as you can move it every few days to fresh ground.  You could then use something like Heras panels (cut and adapted to fit) for the run part.  In terms of the "jack up" - all that's really needed is solid corners with a pin through the corner and into the chassis that locks "up" or "down" to hold everything in place.  Provided you can access the coop from the outside of the contraption, you don't need the run to be particularly high because if you need to get to the ground under it, you just lift and move the chassis.  It's a project on my list to enable me to be a bit more flexible about where the hens are around the place..."when I get time"!
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

dixie

  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2019, 10:11:04 pm »
Thanks all some really good ideas here, we still haven’t decided exactly what to do, I want to get it right so we still in discussion!

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Chicken housing how much space?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2019, 03:19:53 pm »
Each of our two henhouses (take 40 birds each) have three paddocks and three popholes, one opening into each of the paddocks. We move them on the 1st of the month into a new paddock simply by opening a different pophole. Each paddock is about 120m2, so each hen has about 10m2 across the three areas (I think - complies with Soil Association standards). It means that the ground is rested for two months between having poultry on it and gives it a chance to recover. The hen paddocks are planted with apple trees - so we get two "crops" from the area.

The perimeter of the area is stock fenced, with 2m plastic deer netting inside it (to keep deer out and hens in) and the individual paddocks are divided up by deer netting. Deer netting on its own isn't suitable for the perimeter as Foxy can bite through it quite easily.

 

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