Figuring the square-footage of a coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by berkeley_chicks, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. berkeley_chicks

    berkeley_chicks In the Brooder

    Sep 19, 2008
    Hi all-

    I've raised chickens for a couple of years now, and my flock keeps expanding, to the point where I now have 17 hens -- and they need a new coop! Their current coop is too small, with 5 nesting boxes and two roosts, and we would like to expand to fit everyone more comfortably. We'd like the coop to be as small as possible, to keep building costs down and to maximize the yard space. Our hens only use the coop for roosting and laying eggs. The coop door is on a timer, and from dawn to dusk they spend their time in their large 20x30' yard. Our northern-california climate is really mild; in the occasional rain-storm, they have several areas in the yard to stay dry. Their food and water are kept outside of their coop.

    Given those factors, I have two questions:

    1) Will an 8x4' coop be big enough for my 17 birds? We will have exterior nesting boxes adding another 16 sq ft. That brings the total square footage to 48 sq ft. -- around 2.8 sq ft/hen. I know this is smaller than recommended, but they still have more than 30 sf ft/hen outside to roam in.

    and, more philosophically...
    2) When calculating "square footage", is it fair to add "vertical" space, such as their roosting perches? I don't want to "cheat" my calculations, but it seems like vertical space should count for something. The enclosed area of our coop will be about 4' tall with room for two roosting perches.

    Looking forward to hearing your responses. Thanks in advance!
  2. kfchickenlady

    kfchickenlady Songster

    Apr 28, 2010
    Quote:I have 14 hens locked in an 8x8 coop lately because of the constant rain and gross poopy mud in their run, just letting them out to free range in the pasture when its not raining. They need every bit of the room in that coop, and I couldnt see cutting that space in half with even more chickens. I never thought mine would be have to be locked out of their run, so wasnt worried about space, but if you have somewhere for them to roam under cover when its raining, maybe it will be ok. I dont have any roosters in there either, or mean hens, that might make a diff. Next summer you can bet Ill be putting sand in the run and covering it!
  3. The answer to your question is dependent on your situation. No the perches and such are not included in Square footage, only the floor space. If your climate is mild and they truly have indoor/outdoor living as you state then I personally think that is fine. Many people are sticklers for numbers and state that each bird needs four sq. ft of space inside the coop. Everyone is entiltled to their opinion but those are just guidelines and because chickens don't have access to these guidelines perhaps they will not know the difference [​IMG]
  4. mchl

    mchl Chirping

    Jul 30, 2010
    I would sugest going as big as you can afford finnancialy and room wise because flocks tend to expand or mine keeps getting bigger all the time
  5. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    If your birds will be in the coop primarly for roosting, it's probably more important to figure out how much roost width you are going to be able to provide for them. Too little roost space means the more night time squabbling, pecking and stress. Try to allow about 1 foot of roost width for each chicken as a guideline.
  6. berkeley_chicks

    berkeley_chicks In the Brooder

    Sep 19, 2008
    Thanks everyone! This is great input. I'll make sure they have enough covered area in the yard for when it's rainy out, and enough roosting area in the coop to be comfortable. And Mchl, I know what you mean about the ever-expanding flock... they are an addiction!
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    When calculating square footage for chickens, you're supposed to calculate it using the floor space, then subtract any floor space used by nest boxes, feeders or waterers. What's left is the free floor space usable to the chickens. That's the number you use to calculate how many chickens to put in a coop.

    If you use the space in a taller coop to add a second floor, platform or larger shelf that's large enough for them to walk around on, while still allowing them to walk underneath, then I think you could add that to the total square footage.

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