How many chickens in a 6x6?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jmbinfo, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. jmbinfo

    jmbinfo Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 10, 2010
    Just making sure I understand this correctly BEFORE I construct my coop. My plans call for a 6'x6' so that is 36sqft. 36 divided by 4sqft per bird min. = 9. So, I can have up to 9 chickens? Is that correct?
  2. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    thats the math, but I think it depends on the size and disposition of the birds too.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    YOu can have up to 9 chickens if your goal is to give them no less than 4 sq ft per hen.

    There is nothing whatsoever magic about that number '4' though.

    Depending on circumstances, it may occasionally make sense to give them even less i.e. just enough space for the roosts and no more; and it much much much more often makes more sense to give them more room, as much as you can bring yourself to give them. (In other words, as FEW chickens in there as you can manage to resign yourself to).

    Having kept them at 4 sq ft per chicken (indoors, plus ample run) and at everything up to 15+ sq ft per chicken (indoors, plus ample run), and after SEEING how very differently they behave with the larger space available, I will never keep them at less than 10-15 sq ft per chicken, personally. There is more to life than just the avoidance of high risks of cannibalism.

    However, if your major goal is just to have a liveably-low risk of cannibalism, I suppose 4 sq ft per chicken is a reasonable ballpark to be in <shrug>

    Fewer is always better, though. (Or, to put it another way, more space per chicken is always better)

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    If you have an outside run that the birds can spend most of there awake time in, then you could probably keep that many birds in a coop overnight. Just build enough roosting space for them all to be comfortable. If you have lights on in the coop during the shorter daylight hours, (to stimulate laying) you will probably find that some birds will be on the floor, other sitting on the roost, so it's really not all that crowded. Installing your nesting boxes, roosts, and dropping boards higher up, will give more overall floor space as well for them to wander around underneath them..

    I wouldn't go for more than nine birds in that space..
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Since you asked, it depends. The rule of thumb is 4 square feet per bird in the coop with 10 square feet per bird in the run. There are no absolutely hard and fast rules with chickens. They are living animals. This rule of thumb is intended to keep most people out of trouble whether they live in Anchorage Alaska, Miami Florida, or Denver Colorado. From Perth Australia to Inverness Scotland to Havana Cuba. It is intended to cover tiny little coops in for 4 chickens to coops for 50 chickens. Management techniques and climate can vary a bunch. Different chickens have different personalities. This assumes "standard" poop management techniques. There is a lot that goes into space requirements. The easy answer is that you can keep 9 standard sized chickens in a 6' x 6' coop if you have 90 square feet or more of outside space they can access most of the time. That may be all you want to hear and, yes, it should keep you out of trouble.

    I'll include a write-up I did on space requirements a while back. It might prove interesting.

    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.
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree with the arguments here. I have 7 standard sexlinks in one coop which is 10x10 plus added platform space. I used to have 12 in there, and it's much calmer now. [​IMG]
    In your space I'd keep 4 max.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010
  7. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I have an 8 X 12 coop with 15 hens 2 roos and 6 bantam pullets. More than would be advised, but I have no problems.
  8. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I personally long ago threw the space-per-bird recommendations out the window. In a 6x6 coop I myself would not keep more then three or four birds. I have 9 birds in a 5 x 13 coop with a big run attached and I wouldn't put anymore in there then that. I feel they just don't do as well when crowded and when they choose to stay in during bad weather I like them to have a comfortable place to spend the day. There's plenty of room to get away when somebody gets in a snit and I've never had a pecking issue.

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