It really depends on what breeds you plan on keeping. White egg layers are smaller, lighter built birds. They need 4 sq ft in the coop and 10 sq ft in the run. If you get larger, dual purpose brown egg layers, they will need about 5 sq ft in the coop and 12 sq ft in the run per bird. If you get very large breeds like Brahmas or Giants, they will need even more space.
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Remember, that is just a guideline. Depending on your chickens, you may need more room or less chickens. Some chickens get along better than others. Just be prepared to reduce your flock or increase your pen if needed.
Our coop is a 8' x 18' (half 8 x 9 used for chickens, other half is storage) walk-in, the run is 8' x 16' walk-in. I have 6 chickens. The most I would add are 3. The size keeps the hens happy and management in general easy.
thank you for posting this thread. i have a 8 x 8 chicken house with an acre and a half they are going to free range in. then i can move them out front to the other acre and a half pasture to rotate them. right now i have 24 chicks at 2 days old. thinking about bringing that total to 32. they will be average 6# size and all have friendly dispositions. will this be really pushing our limits. (64 sq ft is actual space- egg boxes, roosts all have additional space) thanks
I didn’t see this thread when it was active or I might have commented then. I don’t believe in magic numbers for space for chickens. We keep them in such different conditions, different flock make-ups, different climates, for different goals, with different management techniques that there cannot be one magic number that covers all of us. It’s not that there is one magic area where everything is absolutely glorious but if you take away one square feet it all goes to crap. I find the more I crowd them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the less flexibility I have to deal with issues when they do come up, and the harder I have to work. The more pace you can provide them the easier it is on you, but that doesn’t mean less space won’t work. You might follow the link in my signature for things that I think make a difference.
People like to think in isolation too. What is the right amount of space in the coop and what is the right amount of space in a run. Chickens don’t think like that. With chickens it’s how much room do I have when I need it. That can be the coop by itself, the coop and run, or the great outdoors. That’s where your management techniques and the weather come in.
If your chickens are cooped up in the coop for long periods of time when they are awake they need a lot more room in the coop than if they have access to outside space. If you lock them up at night for predator protection (highly recommended) but sleep in on a Saturday until noon before you let them out you could be in trouble with them really packed in there. If you have a predator proof run so you never really lock them in the coop or you commit to opening the coop up at daybreak 365 a year, you can get by with a lot less room. If your weather is such that they are trapped in the coop a lot, you need more space in there. Do you often get blizzards that will keep them in the coop for days at a time?
You also have to decide how you will use the coop. If you feed, water, and have nests in there, you need to set it up so they are not pooping in those things from the roosts. If they are packed in too tightly that can be a challenge. They poop a lot from the roosts. The more birds you have packed in a tight space, the more the poop builds up. You have to work harder managing that poop.
Suppose you commit to packing them in tight like that and wake up early every morning to let them out, and you find that a fox, bobcat, dog, something is killing your chickens. What do you do? Some predators can be hard to deal with, they take time. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could leave your chickens locked up safe in a coop or coop and run while you deal with that predator?
2 square feet per chicken is commercial conditions. Chickens can be kept in that type of space but you have to take extra precautions. They often clip the upper beak in chickens kept like that so they don’t eat each other. They normally feed a wet mash so they can eat. A clipped upper beak makes it hard for them to catch a grasshopper if they free range. They generally don’t keep mixed flocks in those conditions. They ae typically flocks of nothing but hens all the same age. If you will have roosters, broody hens raising chicks with the flock, or plan to integrate new chicks in the future as replacements your space requirements go up.
Can you get by with 32 chickens in an 8’ x 8’ coop? Yes you might be able to. It will depend on your flock make-up, your management techniques, your weather, and other things. You’d be living on the edge where a hick-up could cause you some grief, but it is possible. Personally I’d want more room or fewer chickens.
I wanted to update that our 26 girls are happily pastured all day on an acre and living comfortably in their 8x8 house at night. Almost all laying daily now. We are getting from 18- 24 eggs a day! Boy are they delicious! We love having chickens and are in the process of building out part of our barn 9x24 space just for new ones. Any tips on itegrating the new flock with the current flock in the same acre pasture would be greatly appreciated!? The current coop is separate from the barn in the same pasture so they will be mingling for sure.
When integrating groups of chickens, it works best if you can set up a run to keep both flocks separate, but still close enough to interact. This gives both groups a chance to get to know each other without feeling threatened. After a few weeks, you can let them start mingling together, but make sure there are several food and water stations to prevent 'guarding' behaviors.
When the younger reach maturity, normally about the time the pullets start to lay, they may mingle a lot more but there is a reasonable chance they will continue to form two separate flocks. Whether or not you have roosters can make a difference in this.
It will be interesting to see what eventually happens. When they start to lay, the pullets may lay with the older hens in their coop or may lay in their own. Since they roam like that it’s always possible they could hide a nest. It’s possible some chickens may switch coops that they sleep in, maybe an individual, maybe several. But in a situation like that, integration should not be a big problem.