Coop Sizing Justification


In the Brooder
8 Years
Dec 29, 2011
Hello, so i'm pretty sure i know the answer, however i think i'm trying to justify the madness that has become housing 6 small chickens. I had settled on a quaker style coop because I like the look and we are in a residential area and it will be seen. I had planned on a 4x4 but then got to thinking that is prob too small. I can only have 6 chickens per code ($100 offense per chicken over) so the flock will not be expanding

so they had a 4x6 which i thought would work 4ft per bird, not too bad for little silkies. then i saw for a $100 more I can get a 5x6, then for just another hundred I can get a 5x8 (thankfully that is as large as they make them, haha)

so as i safe to assume the larger the better as it will be all around easier and better for the birds?
There is no clearcut answer to your question about what size the coop needs to be. There area lot of different factores involved. I will agree that the bigger the better, at least to a point. And it is total space available, outside as well as inside, that is important. You cannot just talk about the coop space without considering run space.

I'll include a write-up I did on space a while back. Since you are going to have those little Silkies and you cannot expand your flock, a lot of it won't apply to you. Since you seem determined to justify a larger coop, you might find something to help rationalize your decision.

The critical things to look at are your climate and how you manage them. I'm assuming your Silkies are bantam sized, not full sized. Chickens do need a certain amount of space, bantams less than full sized chickens. If your climate is such or your management techniques are such that they are stuck inside the coop a lot and don't have access outside for most of their waking hours, they do need more coop space. If they can get outside most of the time and mainly are just in the coop for sleeping, laying, and maybe eating and drinking, it can be much smaller. With six Silkies and adequate run space available most of the time, the 4x6 would probably do nicely.

Anyway, here is the write-up. It was written with full sized fowl in mind.

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.

13. Do you want a broody to raise chicks with the flock? A broody needs sufficient room to work with or you risk problems from other chickens.

14. The more space you have, the easier it is to integrate chickens.

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.
thanks for the reply, yes they are batam silkies, so not very big, I am going to have a covered 8x15 120sq ft run for them (also the largest the town will let me have without a variance, strict town)

i am in rhode island so we do get cold, during the winter it drops below freezing, I was going to get an auto chicken door so they will have access to the run during the day. the entire run is going to have a roof on it

my plan at least for now was to have most if not all of the eating and drinking outside the coop, except when the weather get's bad
Other than space limitations on your site and cash on hand, I can think of NO reasons why it would be better to get a smaller coop rather than a larger one. You mentioned keeping food/water inside during winter, which really cramps up a small coop. Both of my coops allow for much more than 4 sq. ft each inside, and I wish I had MORE space for them at this time of year (it's not an issue spring/summer/fall in my area, since they're barely inside). Although silkies are a mild mannered breed, mine still pace to be allowed outside the run - they love as much space as you can give them, in or out.

The ONLY benefit I see of the smaller (6 x 4) coop is that, if you ever wanted to sell your coop, it could be transported in a pick-up truck, no trailer needed. That is something to consider.
I have 4 pullets in a roosting coop that is about 3.5x3 that gives them about 3 sqft per bird in the coop. the run is attached that has a sqft of about 33 sqft. almost 9 sqft per bird. it may not be ideal but it was all I could do. they do range in my yard all day everyday, rain or shine. they all seem very happy. You can check out my page to see pics if you wish
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You guys are killing me, my coop is 3X4 and I have 8 chickens in it. They just sleep in there and the bottom is the nesting boxes, then a shelf to sleep on. I know they need more space but hubby is being a but and says no, but I been collecting supplies and this spring they will be getting a house and the pen will just be the run, even he said today he would hepl me expand LOL

he does not jet get Chicken math
I just made a list of the birds I want

this is going to be great, cause I can care for 24 as easy as 8 RIGHT LOL

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