How big do I need to make my chicken Coop?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Oct 3, 2010
Im getting some chickens so need to build a coop.

I have a bunch of wood I bought for this very purpose 3 years ago! I finally got it all out and am determined to actually build it now. Ive really started to think in detail about the design and have realised some of the things I bought will be tricky to work with.

I goy fairly big timber sections of 3x2" and 2x2" and am a little stuck with how to do the joinery. People have recommended lag bolts, but laying them on top of each other to bolt will make all the junctions a rather odd shape which seems kind of impractical. Screwing them together seems kind of innappropriate for thick pieces like this.

Im also rather confused about size. I only intend to get 3 birds. So looked up ready made coops for 4 or so birds, for inspiration and idea on the size.

I saw this which was recommend for 4-8 birds and was 1.2metres wide, and the coop section something like 0.7metres tall. I based my ideas on something like this but have not been confident enough in the sizes to get building. Ive never kept birds and dont know how much room they need to be comfortable. I visited a petting zoo which had chickens to get an idea, and noticed most of the chickens were small enough that they could sit on a roost without their heads hitting the ceiling. But noticed some of the cocks were so massive, that their heads would touch the ceiling while standing on the floor of the coop.

It was a rainy day, and I noticed that the chickens actually like to shelter inside the coop. Something I hadnt considered, I thought they would only sleep indoors.

i want to keep size to a minimum as Id like to move it around to different positions of small garden occassionally. But I noticed recommendations on websites like this were many multiples of the sizes I had in mind. Ive seen 3-4 square feet per bird suggested. This is so much more than I thought, and makes me think I dont have the means to keep chickens at all. Thats about three times bigger than what I had in mind.

Im looking for some advice on compact chicken coops, basically as small as I can get them without distressing the birds. They will get to roam free in the garden during the day. Does anyone have pictures of small coops they have built?

I would greatly appreciate some joinery ideas/techniques for for joining 3x2" pieces of wood to 2x2".

I also have to decide whether to make the walls out of sterling board (already have lots of it), plywood (can buy but is expensive) or fence slats (cheap and best looking).
If you are in a place where the weather is bad a lot then the open floor space of the building should be 4 square feet per bird. If they wont be out running your yard then the run should be 10 square feet per bird. You can get away with smaller but thats what I recommend. I do keep 6 in a 9 by 5 foot total coop with a 2 by 3 building but my weather is good almost all the time
I'll try and see if I have my pictures abailable. I have a simple 4x4 coop and a 10x4 covered run. Let me go check and see if the pictures are still on my page.
Ive seen 3-4 square feet per bird suggested. This is so much more than I thought, and makes me think I dont have the means to keep chickens at all. Thats about three times bigger than what I had in mind.

So you had in mind keeping a chicken in about 1 square foot of space? Unless you get a bantam or a very small breed of standard chicken, the chicken's body itself will take up most of 1 square foot of space.

Chickens confined that closely with other chickens tend to peck at each other from being overcrowded. And really, it doesn't require that much more in materials to give them adequately sized housing. For 3 chickens, a 3' by 4' coop would give each bird 4 square feet.​
Right, I guess this confirms that I am completely inept at maths.

I thought 4 square feet per bird mean 4x4' of floor space per bird.
4 sq feet per bird x 3 birds = 12 sq feet or a structure 3 ft x 4 ft, which is not large at all. I keep my small flock of standard buff rocks in a coop that is 4 x 8 ft (32 sq feet). I have 7 hens and a very large rooster and that gives them 4 sq feet per bird. My run is 12 x 32 or 384 sq feet and my birds are very happy with this.

edited to add: You don't mention what part of the country you are in and that does impact what materials you should use. If you are in an area with cold winters, I wouldn't recommend using slats, but plywood works fine. My coop is raised about 18 inches off the ground to keep critters from digging in and that has worked nicely for me. I keep it bedded with about 10" of pine shavings and that keeps it nice and warm in the winter. It is 4 feet high in the back and slopes to 3 feet in the front, so the rain rolls off very well but the rooster still has nice head room. i framed with 2x4 for the floors, walls, and ceiling. The whole thing is sturdy enough to support my weight (for when I clean it) plus all the birds and the weight of the shavings, the feeders, and the waterer without problems.


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You also must consider the actual size of the birds, such as my blue Orpingtons, which seem to need more than the 4 sf per bird. I have a 28 sf coop for my blue Orp rooster, over 13 lbs, and his three hens and it seems crowded when they have to stay inside during the day. I'd never put seven of those big birds in that space, though for seven of most standard large breeds, it would be okay.
Oh! Lightbulb moment! No wonder you thought that was a huge space requirement. Glad we were able to clear that up!
Thanks a lot everybody, your comments have been a great help.

If any of you have some pictures of homemade small compact coops. It would be great to see.
We have 4 chickens and our coop is around a 4 x 4 on a lawn garden cart that we can easily move around. The girls seem to be happy in there and spend equal time in the coop and in the pen. We let them out when we are home or after work for a few hours. We have a food tray screwed to the wall to save space.


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