NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: stock levels  (Read 2265 times)

jacob and Georgina

  • Joined May 2010
stock levels
« on: April 06, 2012, 09:46:52 pm »
i am part way through building my new hen house which measures 4m x2.4m. But i  am struggling to find any information on how many hens per sq metre? they are completely free range so only go in the house to sleep, one book i read said 3 per sq m which would mean around 30 hens, whereas on the internet i look at similar size houses and they say that they could keep up to 150 hens!  obviously they are just trying to sell their products so this is not a very accurate way to find out.

i was wandering if anybody had any ideas on where i could find any legislation (if there is any)?
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Jan 2011
Re: stock levels
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2012, 09:57:32 pm »
Defra codes of practice for welfare of laying hens

Big Light

  • Joined Aug 2011
    • Facebook
Re: stock levels
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2012, 07:46:48 am »
Hi, it really depends on how you are running them, for instance do you require to keep them in if you are away for a weekend ?  it also depends on the type of birds you are getting (i.e bantam or LF and breed). I imagine you are putting perches in, a rough rule of thumb is about 30cm of perch per avg LF Hen. If you ran that along the 4m wall and could manage to put two in whilst leaving floor space for feeders etc that would give you perch room for 26 / 27.

Also you don't say how high it is / ventilation as the more you have in the more ammonia from poo and therefore more frequent cleaning (higher roof's / sufficient vents alleviate the fresh air problems a little)

Best to buy in stages then you can see how your choice of birds fit it ( also allows laying hens to be at different stages and not all moulting together). Too many chickens means plenty of shovelling, more disease prone and more bullying / feather pecking etc as they become more competitive for resources.

Probably more important is the area they have access to outside, if it's a whole garden great, if its a small pen the 27 is a mud bath

« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 07:48:28 am by Big Light »


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: stock levels
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2012, 08:12:54 am »
^ What they said!

They all like to snuggle up at night, and for reference, all 23 of ours like to use the same two 8 ft perches (there are lower ones available), which by my reckoning means each bird is taking up about 22cm, and there is still space at the ends.  Add some comfort room and 30cm perch space per bird sounds like a safe bet if they're going to be out free-ranging during the day  :thumbsup:.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

jacob and Georgina

  • Joined May 2010
Re: stock levels
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2012, 08:19:06 am »
they will be warren hens so not overly big, and the house will be 6ft tall and will include 2 windows which will be opened on a dry day plus ventilation at the eaves. during the day they will have access to around 10 acres of pasture land so shouldn't get to muddy!

starting small and gradually increasing the amount sounds like a good idea, just got to be carefull when i introduce new ones i suppose as there could be some fighting!! I will put the perches along the 4m length as you suggested big light,

is it essential thing to put feeders in the house? as in my experience the hens just made a mess of the food.

jacob and Georgina

  • Joined May 2010
Re: stock levels
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2012, 08:20:30 am »
Womble how much space between perches that are the same height?

little blue

  • Joined Jun 2009
  • Derbyshire
Re: stock levels
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2012, 01:14:34 pm »
is it essential thing to put feeders in the house? as in my experience the hens just made a mess of the food.

Depends how much you have to waste!
It needs to be clean, dry, away from wild birds and rats etc...
If you can manage this outside, good on you!  But if they make a mess of it indoors, then doing the same outdoors will jsut attract pests
Little Blue


  • Guest
Re: stock levels
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2012, 01:44:05 pm »
You could try suspending the feeders on chain from the roof - but they still make a mess  ::)
I had a galvanised feeder with an overhanging lip perfect for outdoor feeding so mine didn't have food in their house - only water (and they still managed to make a mess with it  ::))
I floored my shed with an old bit of vinyl too - makes cleaning out much easier  ;)
The other thing to remember (especially if you're putting in perches above other ones) is to have plenty of supports below them  :thumbsup: I've heard of perches coming down due to the weight of the birds and squashing ones below them  :o
Looking forward to photo's of the finished article  ;) :thumbsup:
Karen  :wave:


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: stock levels
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 09:13:15 pm »
Our coops have a minimum of two square feet per large fowl but we don't run them at capacity so they have more like 3 square feet. Old poultry books will give similar figures. Coop manufacturers claims can be exaggerated. The British manufacturers divide by two, the Chinese divide by 6. We have a Chinese 5 bird coop and we only put one sick hen in at a time and even then it is cramped. Perch space 9" to 1'. They huddle when it's cold and space out in Summer.

Adding extra hens later could be a bit of a problem as the established flock will fight the newcomers and there will be losers. Best get an amount and stick to it. Say 40 maximum as if they are too cramped laying will drop as stress increases and there will be no gain, just sick birds and a larger food bill.

Good point about leaving them inside. Need to raise area to 10 square feet, so then you are looking at 15.


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