HELP ME SETTLE BATTLE over coop size. if you can... :)


9 Years
Jun 3, 2010
Holbrook, Massachusetts
Hello all. we have 6 new chicks,, 3 RIR 3 BR.

My wife has "contracted" a guy she works with who is a builder to build a coop that is 4X4.
I wanted to go 4X8, but she insists this is ridiculous.

ALSO, there is a good chance we may have to pull a permit to build a structure (which we're not planning on doing)
and we may be short of the minimum required land size to have chickens.. we're really threading the needle with this one.
So, she's thinking a smaller one will draw less attention to it, as the building inspector lives about a mile away. and drives by the house often.
Also he knows us, so there's a good chance he looks over the house as he drives by.

So help me settle this if you can.
will the 4X4 suffice? and if so what kind of HEIGHT should it have to provide ample roost space,etc.

Thank you all..
I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT WANT CHICKENS, and since, have become slightly obsessed, doing 2 weeks of solid research on coop size/designs,needs, etc.


Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
A 4 x 4 coop provides only 16 sq ft, and chickens need 4 sq ft of "floor space" apiece inside a coop if there's a run which allows for 6 sq ft per chicken MINIMUM outside space. If there will be no outside run, then the "per chicken" space in a coop is 10 sq ft apiece. The basics are: 4 sq ft coop space per chicken, 10 sq ft run space per chicken.

So, you can only keep 4 chickens in a 4x4 coop. Neither roost space nor vertical (cube) space count within the equation. Any feeders or waterers set on the floor will diminish total floor space.

Building a 4 x 6 coop would probably waste materials, so your DW needs to understand a 4 x 8 coop is absolutely necessary.


Well, if your chickens are large fowl, your coop would need to be at least 4 feet in height. That would mean the roost would only be about a foot above the floor. Poor things. They gotta stand up tall and flap their wings to settle down. Plus, each chicken needs a foot wide space on the roost; they won't use it all when they SLEEP, but they need the space to jump up and flap their wings and turn around and all that. You'd have to put TWO roost bars in, to accommodate six chickens, and they would need to be 18 inches apart... and if those bars are only a foot off the floor, the chickens would have to duck under them all the time, OR hop/fly up and over to get from one side of the coop to the other.

That would be a sucky coop to clean, much less build.

Yah, you have to go 4 x 8.


10 Years
May 26, 2009
Build it bigger. Period.

Chickens are addicting and you will soooo want more!! The previous answer was really good, and spot on about the minimum space required, but he forgot to add space for the chickens you dont have yet!!

Rustic Chicken

In the Brooder
9 Years
Jun 2, 2010
Build it bigger! That would not be large enough for 6 chickens. Plus, you could argue that if your build it larger now, then you won't have to add-on or build a second coop later.


10 Years
May 14, 2009
Aregua, Paraguay
I notice you live in Mass. This means you need to go with the 4x8 coop, minimum. You are in a cold climate and you have long winters. More room is definitely advisable. A run should provide 10 s.f. per chicken, but if you free range them, you can get away with less. I have almost 10 s.f. per chick in my run and they get pretty nasty come winter when they are stuck in there for weeks. Lesson learned - bigger is better! For height you could get away with 4' but I'd go with 6' so you don't have to crawl in there. That gets old fast!

As far as the permit thing goes - I have the same issues. Can you build BEHIND the house or out of view from the road? What about getting the permit (hide the chicks) and tell them you need a shed for lawn equipment. Why mention the chickens? If you go legal and get the permit for your "shed" then maybe even think about doing a 10x12 or larger. You may want to add a couple of chickens, or divide it into a coop AND equipment shed. You can never have enough room for "stuff" (chickens)
Property taxes go up a couple bucks a year for a shed, not much. Around here in rural PA they are THANKFUL for ANY building permit they can issue these days, even wood sheds! My, how times have changed.....


9 Years
May 15, 2010
You could get away with 2 sq ft. per bird for floor space...but such a small flock, I would think that a larger coop would be benificial to your egg production, if that's what you're looking for...


11 Years
Feb 6, 2010
Orange County
Like you,... I did alot of research, reading, and asking questions here on BYC, while building my pen/coop.
There are alot of knowledgable folks here that are happy to help, so maybe this can be a little of me giving back,..

I realize that you dont have the room to build a pen like I did, (12' x 24'), but I DID build a 4' x 8' coop within the pen.
I read everything there was to learn from, and I tried to take the designs, and ideas that seemed best to me, and then modify those ideas to maximize the useage of a 4' x 8' coop.

I currently have 6 standard size chickens, and can theroetically only have 2 more in that size coop.
But since I made use of every square inch,...
insured for proper ventalition,...
and put WAAaaayyy too many hours in thought and reasearch,...

I'm confident that 10 to no more than 12 birds could still be happy and healthy in the 4x8 coop.
That would ONLY be because of the extra large pen that they freely roam during daylight hours.

A 4' x 4' coop would be far Too Small, 6 birds, and I just dont see any way that the room could be maximized for them to be happy and stay healthy.
4' x 8' would be a MINIMUM recomendation in my opinion.

Here's a few pic's of my 4' x 8' coop while under construction...








Here's a link to then entire construction, if you are interested. It's a long read, but some good replies from other members here, to my many questions reguarding useage of space.
Enjoy, and I hope this will be of some help..

Happy Chooks

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Jul 9, 2009
Northern CA
My Coop
My Coop
You came to the right place. 4x4 is WAY too small.

Seriously, 4x4 is too small. Cramped chickens can lead to them picking at each other. You want happy chickens, with space to move around. My first coop is 6X8 and it's the perfect size for a smaller flock. There's plenty of room for the feeder/waterer and space to hide out on rainy days. (or snowy) You also need to consider that you are going to need at least 2 nest boxes, which preferably would be 12X12. That will take up a lot of space in a coop that small. And you need space for roosts with enough room for them to fly up to and down from. (roughly 12 inches per bird) Depending on how you build it, you can make it look smaller.

Here was ours during construction. The lower part in front is for the lid for the nesting boxes. (with the nesting box area built the way it is it appears smaller)

I never took a completed photo after construction, but here's a picture of it in the snow. (with my hen saying heck NO I'm not going out there!)


10 Years
Sep 4, 2009
Boise, Idaho
I have a 4x8 with 6 hens and with internal nest boxes taking up floor space, the size is perfect. 4x4 would be too small for six standard hens to really be comfy, unless its a warm climate with a big run.


An Official Milkmaid
10 Years
Oct 19, 2009
Sullivan County NY
GO BIGGER! Chickens are addicting and you will have more. Bigger is better. We are on our third coop. First one was 4x6 for 6 chickens. Had babies and course we then went to an 8x8. We have moved and just got more babies, up to 9 hens, 2 roosters and 13 chicks. We are now building a 12 x 12 coop.
I agreed with hubby that this is the last and final coop! There will be NO MORE chicks unless they are replacements. So...I say, go bigger!

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