Chicken Math -- Are we in trouble with coop size?


11 Years
Apr 8, 2011
I couldn't help myself. About 2 weeks ago I added to 2 bantams to our group of 8 full-size birds. We're about 2/3rds finished with our coop, which is 4x8 on the "hen house" side. Now I'm reading that we need 4 sq ft per bird ... I have 32 feet and 10 birds! AACK!! Is this going to be a problem? The run is probably about 150 sq ft or so--it winds around a bunch of trees and isn't square, so a bit hard to measure.

So what do you think? Are we in trouble here?

Oh! Okay ... we're in the Pacific NW. We don't get a lot of really cold or really hot weather here. In the winter we'll have a couple of weeks below freezing. In the summer, a couple of weeks in the mid-90's or so. But it IS wet here (probably no surprise).

The coop is situated up under a few trees, so it's sheltered a bit in the summer. In the winter it'll be more exposed.
Sounds like the size will be tight but ok. More of a concern is making sure they have enough dry area, can you cover your run so they can stay out of the heat, rain and snow. Giving them a choice to get wet is better than forcing them to choose between a tight coop and being wet, healthier too
Hmmmm, we can certainly cover part of the run, that should work! I'm just a bit concerned that during the times when the girls MUST be inside it'll be too tight. Will being in a tight coop cause behavorial or laying problems?
I am in the Pac. NW too. I always tell people 4 square feet in the coop too.

However, since you are all set up and all, I do have some things to say:

I keep all my chickens now in a shed. I have other coops but they are just shelters now. I have 30 chickens (some bantams and smaller breeds included!) in 60 square feet. There are no problems, since they just sleep, eat, and lay in there.


I have a huuuuuuge run. It is a whole huge garden fenced in for them to run in. Also I have plenty of structures and tarps for them to hide under when they wish.

So, if I were you, if they seem crowded in the run, spend your money to expand the run a bit- maybe another roll of fencing. Your chickens are probably fine in the coop with that number.

If overcrowded, problems can be pecking and even killing each other, more spread of mites and lice (and disease).

I just know that when I look at my chickens (like I did this morning) before I let them out in the morning that they are fine. Everyone is calm, has a place to stand patiently, in the shed, on a roost or the floor waiting to get let out.

You see, I have made my shed overcrowded before. It was when I had all large fowl in there. I have 7 bantams now, and a couple of smaller breeds mixed into the flock. When it was overcrowded, in the morning the ammonia smell was bad when I first opened the doors. So if you smell that ammonia smell in the morning, it is dangerous for your chickens' respiratory systems and they might get sick. That would need to be remedied.

The very fact that the birds you added are bantams makes it that much better.

The only tricky time is when we get that awful deep cold weather, and it has been bad lately the past few years. I put a couple of hutches in the shed at that time with 100 watt bulbs for them to huddle inside (and they do).

You might consider setting up a huddle box area outside (I have used pallets and tarps to make huddle areas). I have noticed that mine tend to not want to go back into the coop during the day if they can help it, and they will stand in the rain unless there is a tarp available.

It makes a great difference to them if they can just get out of the wind.

Here are two of my huddle areas (we get a lot of wind across the chicken yard):

Oh, I like some of this! The "huddle" areas are a good idea. I like the little A-Frame one that you have up. I need to look at that.

We've re-drawn some of the inner plans this morning to see if we can modify things a bit and add some space. The actual "building" is 8x8, but we had planned to use half of it for storage and access into the chicken side for monitoring food, water, etc. We're a bit challenged with access because there's a slope in front of the house. And, of course, we've already framed in and sheathed all of the windows, doors, roof based on the plan we already had. I'll have to see if later today I can scan the drawings ... and then scan our changes. I "think" we can add a 4x4 portion of the building back into the hen-house size, although hubby's not happy about modifying. Can't blame him -- he's worked hard on this!

So ... today is supposed to be dedicated to finishing all of the sheathing and laying the shingles on the roof. Our girls are now 6-weeks and anxious to get out! I'd hoped to have this completed over Memorial Day weekend. Gonna be tight!

BTW, we originally based our coop size from information given to us at our feed store provided by Purina. They say 2-2.5 feet per bird, so I thought we were fine. I should've paid more attention to everyone here on BYC!!!
It depends.

Also in the PNW. I have a 4x8 coop, with two levels and plenty of roost area. Also attached is a 10x25 covered run attached to a 25x35 open air run. I have 12 layers and a rooster, plus another 12 young birds that will be phased into the layer flock after I weed out the roos. I also have a separate segregation pen that provides additional shelter in the covered run. 5 turkeys also share the general area, and all are free ranged daily (except the toms) on 5 acres.

If all you have is a coop, too small. If you have a coop and run, and additional covered areas where the birds can roam and scratch, you should be fine. There is no hard and fast rule because every set up is different.

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