How much head-room do they need in the coop?


8 Years
Jan 11, 2012
So we were given about 24 hours notice that we were receiving a flock of 11. They'll be a flock of 7 soon. No, we're not eating them, they're going to another family.

We had to slap up a quick coop for them. Now we're wondering if this can become their permanent coop, or if we'll need to modify, expand, or just plain build a different one.

The floor dimensions are 4' x 7'. It's an A-frame, so it has 4.5' height up to the peak.

My concerns so far are:
- because things are so tight up there under the roof, the roosting space is a bit "snug", and they seem to have difficulty spreading their wings to get on and off the roosts. Is this OK, it should we try to straighten the walls and put a shed-roof on there instead to open things up? How tall should it ideally be?

- since the hens are 2 years old, I'd like to get 3 or 4 chicks this Spring to have fresh layers lined up, while allowing some of the ladies to retire. this would bring the total back to 10 or 11. The hens are outside ALL day long, but still, even with the walls straightened and more head-room, wouldn't it be too small for a flock of 10? So far, with 11, there's been no picking, but it's only been a week, and they haven't been stuck in the coop due to bad weather yet.
with a roost about 10-15 inches off the ground, let them be able to comfortably be able to stand and lift their head up. hopes this helps!

Lots of Love,
Cami Wammi Bammi
thank you! Yes that does help. It seems so obvious. They can all stand up on the roosts without hitting their heads. Now I just need to be sure to have enough floor space for them all. With the cold winds we've been having lately, I've been pretty happy to have a small/snug coop. They're staying warm in there at night, all huddled together.
If they free range, don't give them an over the top coop as far as space goes-I did because I have 2 terriers, a small yard and just doesn't work out for free ranging so I gave them ALOT of inside coop space. and they don't use much at night because 1 they are huddled on the perch 2 they're on the floor huddled in a ball with each other, because they are their own heat source. Like maybe a foot per chicken if you have like 5-8 but if you have like 15, it might not work out :) and its ok if they don't spread their wings when they jump off the roost, my hens just plop off (its not very graceful, but hey they get down with out hurting themselves ;) )
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Sounds like something my Leghorn and her RIR sidekick would do.. My leghorn had to find a new sidekick when we had to put hers down... :/
Not only do they need head room, but enough space above them for the moisture they make to rise and vent out above them. Make sure to put in a vent above their heads so the moisture from breathing and poop does not fall back down on their combs and give them frost bite.
I have 12 hens in a coop that is 3x8' plus nest boxes that hang out the sides. Definitely not ideal when the weather is bad but they have all day access to what has become a mostly covered run (12x24 - tarp over part, part in under their raised coop) and free-range time as often as possible - that seems to be fine with them. You definitely need to address ventillation if you keep the existing coop and if you have much bad weather, more inside space may be necessary.
Make sure you've got ventilation. A low inlet and high outlet to mix fresh air in. Birds are naturally protected from cold and will huddle together when very cold, a good wind shelter and protection from predators is all they need. If inadequate air flow is when problems arise. One thing folks do that don't provide heat in winter is to provide a fatter roost so the toes are covered by down when sleeping; I use a few 2X2". Space wise I think you;ll be fine as long as your girls only use the coop at night or pass through to nesting boxes. Most members here go for 4 sqft per bird but many of them heat in winter and have birds shut in coop in winter. 2 sq ft per bird is more the minimum if they are outside during days. Last year in winter we had 7 birds in 16 sqft coop, honestly we could have added one or two more, they never used the coop during day as we provided them a run with tarp on top and three sides for severe day shelter.

First time trying to use my old uploaded pictures in this new forum....lets see if this works...
The link works, guess I'll have to figure out how to get picture to display from web loaded...but I digress.

What I was really pitching was for you to not supply heat. I see the light in your A-frame and wanted to add that if you do heat then your chickens will not acclimate to go outside (or yours that are cold ready will start acclimating to the warm coop) so you'll need a bigger coop than you have. That means you'll need a heated water dish or rubber bowl to give unfrozen water several times a day. but you'll not need to build another coop.

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