Are Chicken Coops Big Enough For Several Chickens?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Awestruck, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Awestruck

    Awestruck Songster

    May 15, 2012
    I looked at some chicken coops on the Internet, but the most they can house is 8 chickens. What do people do when they have a dozen or more chickens to house? Do people keep the chickens in the house at night, or do some people not have chicken coops? I don't know very much about chickens yet, but would like to learn. If we get property, I would like to have some chickens and I want to do it right, and be fully prepared before I get them. Thanks!

  2. RodNTN

    RodNTN Hatchaolic

    May 22, 2013
    Serving Jesus
    My Coop
    Most people do have chicken coops, but when I was new to chickens I just housed them in a big dog kennel. But I wouldn't suggest this since predators were constantly getting in and it doesn't keep the cold and rain out (I put a tarp over it and added hay but doesn't help) Could you possibly build a coop? And a chicken coop that holds up to eight chickens isn't enough space a dozen or more chickens.
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    They normally build a big enough coop to house the size of flock they would like to keep. Those coops advertised on the internet SAY they can house 8 chickens but they are usually far, far too small to do that and still keep the flock healthy and happy. Chickens need a lot of room to roam, to move about and do chicken things...if they don't have it, they tend to have social abnormalities such as bullying, picking feathers, cannibalism, etc. Not to mention, the more crowded the coop, the more likely they will pass along disease and parasites to one another.

    A dozen chickens will need a coop at least ~and I do mean AT LEAST~6x8 ft. in dimension, but would do much better with one that is 8x10, with an attached run of 10x12 ft. And even that is just minimal space for living a half way decent existence as a chicken. Better yet if they can free range all the time so they aren't confined to the same soil all their lives. If they have to be confined to the same soil, it's nice if they can have a deep, deep litter system on which to live so it can provide healthier footing.
  4. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Songster

    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO
    Most of the coop kits aren't worth the money. They're too small and too flimsy to last. I'm building an 8x16 coop. Basically a chicken coop is a secure shed designed for significant ventilation. Everything else is just accessories for chickens (roosts, nest boxes, etc.) and design ideas to make things easier for the chicken-keeper.
  5. CliffB

    CliffB Songster

    Oct 5, 2014
    The prebuilt kits are great for grow out pens or bantams. Otherwise they are generous with their estimates.

  6. AkChris

    AkChris Chirping

    May 20, 2014
    SE Alaska
    For a bigger flock you can either build a larger coop yourself or hire a handyman to build one. Another popular choice for a larger flock is to buy a prebuilt shed from one of the big box stores, hardware store, or feed store, etc. It's not too hard to add nesting boxes and roosts to a shed to convert it into a coop. There are lots of these type coops on here if you look in the coop section you get lots of ideas.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You are getting some good advice here. There are so many differences in our management techniques, climate, flock make-up, and goals that there are no magic numbers of square feet per chicken that fits us all. We are all unique and have unique requirements.

    Don’t buy any pre-built coop or use a coo kit until you post a link to it on here and get comments. Many of them are poorly made, use cheap materials – especially hardware, are not really designed for chickens – they take something for pets add a roost and nest and say it is for chickens, and they practically never house anywhere close to the number of chickens they say they can. There are a few decent ones out there but very few.

    You are practically always better off building your own if you are looking for more than about four hens. Some, not all but a few, of those could work for four hens but not eight. Even then you normally have to increase the ventilation. I think AkChris gave excellent advice.

    You can follow the link in my signature to get some of my ideas about room, and I suggest you read these articles before you select a coop to build and where to build it.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    For twelve chickens my minimum would be a coop that I can walk into and stand up comfortably. If you build it so that you have enough room to comfortably work in there with nests and roosts it will be big enough for twelve. And since most new building materials come in standard 4’ and 8’ dimensions you can usually save yourself a lot of cutting and waste if you take that into account in your design. It gets more expensive to provide enough room but no one ever complains about having too much room. And as Bee said, too little room can lead to bullying, picking feathers, cannibalism. Can. It’s not guaranteed but I find the tighter I pack them the more behavioral problems like this I have to deal with, the harder I have to work, and the less flexibility I have to deal with issues. Go with something big enough to make your life easier.
    1 person likes this.
  8. birds4kids

    birds4kids Songster

    May 15, 2015
    The mailorder/retain "coops" may claim a certain number of birds but reality would be halve that number and then only use it for that many bantams and then consider it disposable after a year or two because they are poorly constructed.

    I have two chicken tractors the larger one is a 4x6 coop with a 5x10 run, made them detachable so I can move as separate pieces. Over winter the 6 large breed egg layers have been pretty content but I think they will be a lot happier once the snow is gone and I can move them around the yard. I had them is something smaller but would not dream of giving them any less space again.

    I have 5 silkie bantams in a 4x4 coop with 3x8 run and that seems to work might be able to add 1-2 more birds since the silkies are so docile and small.
    I had the egg birds in the smaller tractor longer than I care to admit as they grew up, they hadn't developed any behavior problems YET but just watching them move about I don't think I would ever keep 4 large breed birds in them any length of time even though it meets the 4sq.ft per bird coop rule it would only be 6sq.ft per bird for the run. Might keep them entertained in summer if I moved it ever single day to new grass to dig through but in winter I think it would get ugly mess and behavior wise.

    Guess where I am going is agreeing with Beekissed in post 3 6x8 coop minimum for 8 large breed birds though I could see a 8x8ish run if it were tractor style and movable or they were going to spend a decent amount free ranging most days.

    Tractors also depend on soil type and move frequency, if sandy with thin grass they will demolish it fast. If clay with thick grass it can keep them entertained a lot longer.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by