1. brandybrooke

    brandybrooke Hatching

    Sep 1, 2010
    Hi all!

    I am new to chicken raising, and in the planning stage. As soon as the coop is built we're going to pick up some 4-5mo hens and a rooster (either RIR or barred rocks I think) My question is this: I know that chickens need about 4' of space per chicken, but does that include just the hen house, or the run too? Thanks for your help! Brandy
  2. ducks4you

    ducks4you Songster

    Jan 20, 2009
    East Central Illinois
    Go to the Coop Designs link (top of the page) and start reading. Everybody will be happy to answer your posts and your questions, but it helps to look at coops that are in use. I spent one whole winter studying these before I started my coop. [​IMG]
  3. Before you build, (broken record here) check Craigslist. There are always doghouses, sheds and playhouses for sale or free. Check out our coop, made from an insulated doghouse, and the run is our old deck wood. We replaced the roof on the house, put it on a hinge and viola! An almost free chicken coop!
  4. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Songster

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    The standard is 4' per bird in the coop and 10' per bird in the run. But always build bigger than you think you need!! I sit here looking out at my coop planning for how I'm going to expand it next year...even for just 4 birds.
    And, welcome to BYC, by the way...[​IMG]
  5. gmendoza

    gmendoza Songster

    Mar 23, 2010
    Rock Hill,SC
    Yay Chicks! :

    The standard is 4' per bird in the coop and 10' per bird in the run. But always build bigger than you think you need!! I sit here looking out at my coop planning for how I'm going to expand it next year...even for just 4 birds.
    And, welcome to BYC, by the way...[​IMG]

    I think your guess-tamated 10' is too much per bird.So if you do the math,then by your calcs if you have two chickens,your run will be 10'x5'.Lots of unnecessary room just for two birds.

    Standards are just that.Someones standards.I find my birds use less space than they have.They get 2' square in the coop and 4' square in the run and they still have a ton of space.I have 25 chickens.

    It all depends on size of birds too.you wouldn't give so much space to a bantam,nor squeeze in a heavy breed in a cramped space.

    Our coop has high roosts so that the bantams and games can fly up high,so space calcs don't matter.The others cant get that high in the run so they have alot more ground space.​
  6. MaKettle

    MaKettle Songster

    Welcome to the forums!

    You will consistently hear from people that the standard is 4' per bird in the coop & 10' per bird in the run. I consider myself a newbie, as this is my first year raising chickens but I will say this....My birds have about half of that "standard" space & do just fine, though this is something that I am ALWAYS fretting about! [​IMG]

    To utilize the 6' of height that we have in the run, we installed roosts so that they could get off of the ground & use some of the empty space...I've seen a chicken on them 1 time in 3 months. I find that most of the time, they lay all together & use much less space than they are given. The same goes for the coop...we installed high roosts so that they can walk around on the floor or use the roost...just last night,in fact, I found 3 of them huddled together on the ground & the other 2 huddled together on the roost...

    I think the trick is to watch them closely for pecking, missing feathers, etc. So far, I have had none of those problems. Also, will you let them free range? I think that space becomes less of an issue if they have some time to free range each day.
  7. gmendoza

    gmendoza Songster

    Mar 23, 2010
    Rock Hill,SC
    Quote:I agree with you MaKettle.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Actually, for 2 chickens, 10 square feet each means a 4' x 5' run, 20 square feet total, not 10' x 5' or 50 square feet total. That would also assume a 2' x 4' coop in addition, but I'd find that too small. I would have a whole lot of trouble getting a nest box, roost, feeder and waterer in a 2' x 4' space.

    The "standards" used on this site are intended to cover any one from Anchorage, Alaska to Miami, Florida to Denver, Colorado; from Perth, Australia to Aberdeen Scotland to Lagos, Nigeria. They are intended to cover people with 3 or 4 hens squeezed in a backyard coop and run and people with a lot of chickens, flocks of just hens and flocks with roosters. It is intended to cover all full sized breeds, whether they take to confinement well or not. They are intended for people unfamiliar with chickens that don't want to spend a whole lot of time researching. Some people just want a clear, short, simple answer. If you follow the guidelines you will seldom get in trouble with space.

    A lot of people violate these standards and don't have any problems. You can mitigate the need for extra space by certain management techniques. Several times, when I have sufficient information I have recommended less space than the standards, but that depends on knowing enough about the specific situation to make an informed opinion. Commercial operations don't follow these standards. I know I'm being extreme in the following comment but I'm going overboard to make a point. We do not as a matter of course trim beaks so we can squeeze them closer together. [​IMG]

    I did a write-up on my opinion on space requirements a while back and will copy it below. I don't have a degree in "chickens". This is just my opinion on what makes up the requirements for a backyard flock of chickens.

    As long as you have enough height for the roosts to be noticeably higher than the nest boxes, height does not matter to chickens. They are basically ground dwelling birds, so the ground area is all that really matters space wise. I said it does not matter to the chickens. It does matter to me if I have to work in there. It matters quite a bit.

    If the nest boxes are high enough off the ground that the chickens can easily get under them, then nest boxes do not take away from the space available. The tops of the nesting boxes does not add to the living space either although they may occasionally be up there. Ground level is what counts.

    Some of the things that make up the space requirement are, in my opinion:

    1. Personal space for the birds. They have different personalities and different individual requirements. Some are very possessive of personal space and some can share.

    2. Access to feeder and waterer. The general recommendation is that they all be able to eat at one time, but access to the waterer is also important. Part of this is that they seem to like to all eat at once but not necessarily drink at the same time. Part of it is that a dominant bird may keep others from eating or drinking, especially with limited access.

    3. Being able to put the feeder and waterer where they will not poop in it when they roost.

    4. Roost space. They not only need to have enough room to roost, they need to have enough room for them to sort out who gets to sleep next to whom and who gets the prime spots. They also need enough room to get on the roosts and get off them. When they get on, they may jump from some midway support or fly directly to the roost, but either way, they like to spread their wings. And some chickens seem to enjoy blocking the entry points if there are limits. And when they get off, mine tend to want to fly down, not jump to a halfway point. They need room to fly down without bumping into feeders, waterers, nesting boxes, or a wall.

    5. Poop load. The larger area they have the less often you have to actively manage the poop. They poop a lot while on the roost so you may have to give that area special consideration, but mucking out the entire coop can be backbreaking work plus you have to have some place to put all that bedding and poop. In my opinion, totally cleaning out the coop is something that needs to happen as seldom as possible.

    6. How often are they able to get out of the coop. The more they are confined to the coop, the larger the personal space needs to be. The normal recommendation on this forum is 4 square feet per full sized chicken with a minimum of 10 square feet of run per bird. This additional requirement outside is sometimes not mentioned. How often they are allowed out of the coop may depend on a lot more than just weather. Your work schedule, when you are able to turn them loose, what time of day you open the pop door to let them out or lock them up at night, all this and more enters into the equation. The 4 square feet recommendation assumes they will spend extended time in the coop and not be able to get in the run. What that extended time can safely be depends on a lot of different factor so there is no one correct length of time for everyone.

    7. Do you feed and water in the coop or outside. The more they are outside, the less pressure on the size of the coop.

    8. The size of the chicken. Bantams require less room than full sized chickens. This has to be tempered by breed and the individual personalities. Some bantams can be more protective of personal space than others, but this is also true of full sized breeds.

    9. The breed of the chicken. Some handle confinement better than others.

    10. The number of chickens. The greater the number of chickens, the more personal space they can have if the square foot per chicken stays constant. Let me explain. Assume each chicken occupies 1 square foot of space. If you have two chickens and 4 square feet per chicken, the two chickens occupy 2 square feet, which leaves 6 square feet for them to explore. If you have ten chickens with 4 square feet per chicken, each chicken has 30 unoccupied square feet to explore. A greater number also can give more space to position the feeders and waterers properly in relation to the roosts and provide access. I’m not encouraging you to crowd your birds if you have a large number of them. I’m trying to say you are more likely to get in trouble with 4 square feet per chicken if you have very few chickens.

    11. What is your flock make-up. A flock with more than one rooster may be more peaceful if it has more space. I don't want to start the argument about number or roosters here as I know more than one rooster can often peacefully coexist with a flock, but I firmly believe more space helps.

    12. What is the maximum number of chickens you will have. Consider hatching chicks or bringing in replacements. Look down the road a bit.

    I'm sure I am missing several components, but the point I'm trying to make is that we all have different conditions. There is no magic number that suits us all. The 4 square feet in a coop with 10 square feet in the run is a good rule of thumb for a minimum that, most of the time, will keep us out of trouble, but not always. I do believe that more is better both in the coop and in the run.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2010
  9. @~rosecityfarmgirl~@

    @[email protected] Chirping

    Jul 17, 2010
    Welcome, brandybrooke! [​IMG]

    I just got my first chicken last week, so I just dealt with the space issue [​IMG] My coop is about 3.5' x 2.5', with a nest box that sticks out, and as of tomorrow (yay!) I'll have 3 birds in there - one Polish, 2 white Leghorns. My Polish doesn't spend much time in the coop, and is eager to get out in the morning. She spends most of the day in the run, so we made sure she had lots of outdoor running room - for 3 birds, we have a 5 x 12 area. More is always better, because who likes being 'cooped up' [​IMG] but if space is an issue, use the 'guidelines' that everyone talks about, or check the Coop Design page to see how big other peoples' runs are compared to the coop size. We designed ours so that if we need to, we can extend the run and attach another coop (but don't tell my fiance LOL! He just built what I drew) [​IMG]
  10. brandybrooke

    brandybrooke Hatching

    Sep 1, 2010
    Thanks so much! The chickens will be allowed to roam most of the day unless I have to go somewhere (put up at night cus of preds). We have about 10ac in WNC so there's plenty of room! I definitely want them to be happy, so I'm gonna try and (and convince hubby) build as much as we can afford! We have tons of scraps laying around the yard, so hopefully we can utilize that.

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