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Clay In Iowa

11 Years
Oct 9, 2008
Near Wilton Iowa
I think this is my 3rd post. So A rousing "Howdy all" is still appropriate.

Any way I started off in the "raising baby chicks" ( hmmm, are there adult chicks??) thread and got some good advice. Now I have some questions more appropriate for the Coop crowd.

1- How much space do 30 chickens need for an indoor coop If I plan to keep them inside during the coldest 6 or 8 weeks of the winter? It's cold here in Iowa and we live out in the middle of a corn field on top of a hill ( really that's not an exaggeration). The wind is brutal all winter and the wind chill can be deadly. So I'll let them out to stretch their legs from time to time when it's sunny or on warmer days. I'm planning to have an area 10'x30' inside but can increase that if needed. I'm currently working to insulate and getting power to the coop so I can add a heat lamp for those really cold nights.

2-How big an area for a run should I expect for 30 chickens If I want to give them room to forage. I can add 3 doors to the coop (W,N and S) each leading to a run in excess of 1000 square feet. If I rotate them weekly in the summer will that be enough area to keep them in fresh forage. I hope to have a range house for them in the spring with enough yard and pasture (5 acres total) to forage they will be fat and happy in no time, but with two young'ns it may not get done this year.

I really like the idea of them foraging for at least a portion of their food. I think it will keep them happier and healthier and will make for far superior eggs and if I get the itch better tasting meat.

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Hatching Queen - Got Fudge?
11 Years
Sep 10, 2008
North Central Missouri boonies

I always heard 1 sq foot per chicken....don't quote me on that but that is my rule of thumb.

Just remember to varmit proof the run and such. Put very small wire at the bottom so they cannot stick their grimey hands in and grab your little precious babies!!!!!


The Crazy Chicken Lady
Apr 22, 2008
upstate SC

I use the 4 sq ft per chicken and still feel it is a bit cramped for my guys but they go out and free range during the day so I don't worry overmuch.

Chickens hate the wind. It robs them of their warmth very easy so they need a wind breaker, if possible.

Don't be surprised if they eat all the grass down in no time. I never had to mow the courtyard this summer at all because the chickens all ate right in front of the barn, though now they are having to wonder up to the house more for fresh grass. Good for me, I don't want to mow!
But 1000 sq ft is a good range for 30 chickens.
Good luck!


12 Years
May 24, 2007
Hi and Welcome to BYC!!

The general rule of thumb is 4 sq. ft. inside space for every standard size chicken. You want to make sure you take into account the space that their waterer(s) and feeder(s) and nest boxes take up so add extra. If you have Bantams you can go with 2 to 3 sq. feet of inside space per chicken (I'd suggest the 3 ft.)

Because you already know that your chickens will be locked up inside for weeks during the winter I highly suggest you go with as much larger space as you can for them. Chickens that are too crowded get bored and stressed and then start to feather peck at each other and their health can decline.

The general rule of thumb is 10 sq. ft. outside space for every standard size chicken.

I found that a great activity for my chickens in the winter months (when locked up) is to give them a flock block or two or three, inside the coop on the floor. They love to peck at that and it truly stopped the feather pecking that I had going on. A flock block is a 12x12 inch square block of seeds that they can eat. You can get them at most feed stores or have them order some in for you.

I always heard 1 sq foot per chicken

Whoa! That is way too small of an area for any chicken. If that is what you have for your chickens you should consider adding several square feet for each chicken if possible.​


11 Years
Apr 16, 2008
Southern Iowa
I'm in Iowa also! I think you definitely need more indoor space than 1 sq.ft. per bird. They poo a LOT more than you might think, and when they're inside in those freezing winter days we have, it piles up fast. ick. It will get seriously messy in a coop that's too small. I unfortunately have no way to heat my coop, so in those really super cold days we had last winter, I just put some vaseline on my roos' combs, fed them some corn, and everybody was fine. My birds did not like to come out on the snow at all! I had to shovel for them to get them to come out. So if you don't want to mess around with that, I would recommend a covered run. You can really cut back on the feed bill by allowing forage space, so if you can let them wander your whole acreage, I'd let them. Mine do, and I've never lost one to a hawk, dog, coon, or anything.

good luck!

Picky Chicky

11 Years
Sep 22, 2008
Holly Grove, VA

I've heard the 1 bird per 4 sqft, but I'm telling myself that's for standards only...

My coop is 4x6 which means if I go by my rule I should have a max of 6 chickens... I think I'm getting 8 to 10 bantams since winter is coming - I want my girls warm and toasty.


11 Years
Sep 15, 2008
Big Sur, CA
I woudn't worry too hard about a heat lamp if you have a large flock like that...their warmth will help keep the coop temp up as long as it's not drafty...but running power to it is a must to keep waterers thawed and to have a light to keep up production when it's really short days. I think you should build it big, since they'll have to spend alot of time inside...go with your plan...I'd also suggest a covered run, so when its raining, but not too cold they can be out in the fresh air. Then if you can fence a large pasture type area with 2x4 fencing dug in a little ways they could be out in that in good weather during the day. Predators are a pain, but racoons don't really come out in the middle of the day so try to keep out dogs/coyotes during the day...and give them something to run under away from hawks...
Oh and welcome...this place is too much fun!


Hatching Queen - Got Fudge?
11 Years
Sep 10, 2008
North Central Missouri boonies
Whoa! That is way too small of an area for any chicken. If that is what you have for your chickens you should consider adding several square feet for each chicken if possible.

I heard that not what I do, my guys and gals get a little less than half of a 60' X 30' barn to roam inside. I only have 15 chicks in there. So I think they have plenty. Don't you?

Guess I should have left my answer to the experts rather than just taking a wag (Wild A** guess)
Thanks for straightening me out. I have the expert answer now!!!! LOL

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