I think I may have underestimated...Help from those in the know,please

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by magic maker, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. magic maker

    magic maker In the Brooder

    May 5, 2010
    I am a chicken newbie. I bought 5 chicks and they are now 18 weeks old. I am terrible at math and have difficulty figuring out the whole"so many square feet per chicken" room rule. Mine are in a 10x10 modified dog run. They get flock raiser, grit, fruit, veggies, mealworms and greens. Will this be enough room for them or is it overcrowded? I don't want a game of chicken "Survivor" being played out! [​IMG]

    Also, just let me say that chickens are a ridiculous amount of fun and I am really enjoying BYC! [​IMG]
  2. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    You have more than enough room, stop worrying!!! [​IMG] That's PLENTY of room as either a coop or a run, but which is it? 10 x 10 is 100 square feet, which is enough for probably 20 - 25 birds if it's the size of the coop, or 10 - 12 birds if it's the size of the run.

    One thing to keep in mind, if you have equipment or boxes etc that take up space in an area, you need to subtract the space it takes up from the 'living area' number. It's not an exact science though, a little here, a little there, a bird or two fewer or extra, probably won't break the bank.
  3. magic maker

    magic maker In the Brooder

    May 5, 2010
    Thanks so much! It's a 10x10 run, with a 3x4 raised coop in one end, so they go under the coop, too. The coop's sides go all the way to the ground except for the front, where they like to hang out in the shade. [​IMG]
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    10 ft by 10 ft = 100 square feet. You need 10 sq ft per chicken in a run, thereabouts. 100 divided by 10 is 10. You could keep 10 chickens, max.

    The "rule" for a coop is at least 4 square feet per chicken. Works the same way: X ft wide times Y ft deep = Z. Divide Z by 4. That tells you how many chickens you could keep in the coop. Say the floor space of your coop is 4 feet wide by 3 feet long/deep, that's 12 square feet. Divided by 4 square feet per chicken, you can keep 3 chickens in it.

    Hope that helps!
  5. bigstack

    bigstack Songster

    Jan 4, 2010
    Texarkana, TX
    Yep!! 10 sq ft per bird in the run and 4 sq ft per bird in the coop is the minimum recomended space! More is always better. The more space you have the happier they will be and the less likely for illness!

    Good Luck and God Bless!
  6. PriceFamilyFarms

    PriceFamilyFarms Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    Henderson, NC
    just as the others have posted, you have more than enough room for the run. The coop is too small for 5 birds (unless they are bantams?). Is there a way you can expand it?

    One of these days I'm going to sit down and figure out how many chickens I can fit in 42 acres... [​IMG]
  7. Morgan7782

    Morgan7782 Dense Egg Goo

    Mar 22, 2010
    Sacramento CA
    Quote:THAT'S the kinda chicken math I like!!!! LOL!
  8. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    OK, others have said your coop is too small for 5, and it may be but it sounds like they are outside a lot in a secure run, and if all they use the coop for is to roost, it's probably fine. As was said, more room is better, but if they are very secure in the run, and have outside access, it's probably ok. If they are 'trapped' inside a lot due to bad weather etc, it probably is too small. Chickens really are adaptable, don't panic, just try to expand it if you can.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I agree with Portagegirl. You have 20 square feet per chicken. That is a lot. Whether or not your coop is too small depends on a lot of things. Lots of people have less than the room you do in the coop per chicken and do fine. The main question is how much time do they spend locked in the coop with no access to the run. If the answer is not much, don't worry. If they spend several waking hours locked in there, you might have a problem.

    The 4 square feet per chicken in the coop with 10 square feet per chicken in the run is a rule of thumb that is intended to keep everyone from Anchorage Alaska to Miami Florida, from Perth Australia to Edinboro Scotland out of trouble. It is intended for flocks of 4 to flocks of 84. Real life is not that rigid. I wrote up something about space for chickens a while back that I'll paste below. It may help you or make you feel better.

    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 they run.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: