Originally Posted by vasher
I've been combing over old books online to find photos/drawings of chickens around the turn of the century--some breed appearances changed a little, while some have changed a lot. I found a small book on home flocks from 1909 that has chapters discussing how much space chickens should have and found them quite applicable even now:
That's a lot of room.
But also these quotes:
This makes sense to me from a dog background; giant slothy breeds like OE mastiffs do fine (energy-wise) in dinky apartments while keeping something active but compact like a Border Collie cooped up all day is pretty dicey. But this goes against advice I've seen suggesting that the smaller the chicken breed, the less space they need in comparison to larger ones. I wonder if this book's remarks on breed temperaments falls in line with personal experiences with different breeds. Y/N/Maybe?
Think of it this way, while a mastiff may not be a very high energy dog, he still takes up a lot of space, just sitting around. For a giant breed, everything has to be bigger to accommodate the larger size. While both mastiffs and toy breeds do well in small living situations, a mastiff is going to take up more of that space. His bed is going to be bigger, a week's worth of kibble is going to take more storage space, his bowls are going to be bigger.
It's the same with very large breeds, like a Brahma, compared to a Leghorn. The Leghorn doesn't take up as much space on the roost, and doesn't need that much space to get up onto a roost, so the general guideline is about 4 sq ft of coop space. A Brahma is going to need a lot more room to maneuver. Most are about twice the size of the average Leghorn, but the space they require is only about 5 sq ft per bird in the coop.
And not every individual is going to be happy with the 'minimum'. My Barred Rocks need a lot more sq footage than my Australorps, even though they are the same size. The Australorps are happy to just putter around the yard. But the Barred Rocks are the ones that actively forage. They are insatiably curious and into everything. Without 8 hours of free range time each day, they can get very cranky.