How much sq ft and how to reduce building costs


In the Brooder
Mar 26, 2016
Hey everyone!

This spring I plan on building a proper coop and run but determining the size is tricky.

I currently have 11 chickens but plan on gradually increasing flock size to around 30 over the next couple years. They free range full time except when we go away on vacation. They get locked in the coop at night.

Everything I've read says chickens need 3-4 sq ft of coop space + 8-10 sq ft of run space. So for 30 chickens that would be 120 sq ft + 300 sq ft. That's a lot of space for chickens that are only locked up for 8 hours a day and 1 - 3 times a year for a few days to a week. Although in the winter they aren't keen on going outside.

Is it possible to have a slightly smaller coop and half or less that run size for my situation? Do roosting bars and nest boxes count towards the sq ft per bird?

The second question is how do you save on lumber costs? How/where do you acquire enough pallets/reclaimed wood? My sister told me about a place called construction junction where extra materials from commercial projects are for sale at a discount. Is anyone familiar with this?

My brother has the skillset to build this and has agreed to help. I'm just trying to determine the right size and how to build it for as cheap as possible.

Howard E

Feb 18, 2016
If there is anyway possible to find enough cheap/used/purchased lumber to do it, built yourself the full sized 10' x 16' Woods coop. It is house and run combined and was designed for up to 40 birds. They can be let out or confined as needed and it still works.

From a distance, a Woods house looks like a enclosed chicken house, but in reality, it is more or less a covered run, enclosed on three sides.

It is the gold standard of chicken houses.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Although in the winter they aren't keen on going outside.
There you go.
Cabin Fever in the winter coop is real and can be bad news.
Have been experiencing it here this winter...and I have 8sqft per bird in coop.
Stress levels drop fast when I get the run shoveled out enough for some outside time.


Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
South Park, Colorado, USA
I agree with @aart we had 2 colder and windier and snowier than normal days where the chickens refused to leave their coop. They are used to the winter, I live in the Rockies, but they flat out would not leave the coop, so I bent the rules and gave them food and water inside. This was the only time I noticed my particularly peaceful pullets had drawn blood. The girl at the bottom of the pecking order had a bloody comb. This is not normal in my flock. Cabin fever for chickens in a winter coop is a real thing.


In the Brooder
Mar 26, 2016
Thanks everyone!

This was the most helpful for determining space needs. Whatever I build is going to be much larger than necessary for my current flock. I think I will do some number crunching, pick a sq ft that makes sense for me and then as my flock grows see how many fit comfortably.

They are definitely bored right now. The sleeping coop is a bit small for them, but during the day they have the entire first floor of the barn, and some are even sneaky enough to fly up through hay drops into the hayloft. But I have one inside because she has no feathers on her head or back. Others are getting pecked at. The roo is rough and I'm debating culling him. Several hens (he has 10) are starting to lose back feathers. I've put up suet cakes, multiple feed spots, i put out a protein supplement mix in multiple locations every couple weeks, i just put up some cabbage pinatas. They have access to 3 stalls, their coop, hay, feed, water,lots of places to perch, and plenty of room to spread out if they don't go outside. Not sure what else to do. I think more sleeping coop space is needed and that will have to wait until spring/summer.
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