Q re: square feet per hen -- coop and run


8 Years
Mar 7, 2011
I have not seen a solid number regarding square foot minimums for coops and runs. My backyard chicks will not be able to run free most of the time. I have a space that is 4x19 feet to devote to their home. I've seen recommendations of 2-10 sq ft (per hen) for the coop and 4-10 sq ft (per hen) for the run.

I live in a mild climate. Lows year round range from around 40-50, and highs range from 50-70. It's rainy here: 64 inches/year.

My run will be protected from the wind, against a garage wall. Here is what I'm thinking:

6 hens
Coop: 4x5 feet = 3.33 sq ft per hen
Covered Run (open on one end and the front): 4x14 feet = 9.3 sq ft per hen

Looking for wisdom from you, my chicken friends.



Dec 11, 2009
I've read that for standard sized hens, no less than 4 sq ft per bird in the coop, 10 inches of roost space, and no less than 10 sq ft/bird of run space. SOme will say that it is better to err on the side of a little more space than a little less. It really depends on the temperment of the breed. Being overcrowded can bring out the worst in anyone!


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
You will get no "solid" number because it is not a single unambiguous thing, not like "the freezing temperature of water" or "the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard".

It depends on situation and, to a very large degree, TASTES.

I would suggest taking this BYC 'dogma' of 4 sq ft per chicken indoors and 10 sq ft per chicken in the run with a grain of salt. Other groups of people have their own just-as-firmly-held DIFFERENT dogmas, and it is not clear to me that one is right and one is wrong.

The best I can tell you is this. More crowding = harder to manage and more chance of cannibalism and other problems. Cannibalism cannot always be corrected just by removing one or two chickens, sometimes it requires starting over. The more your chickens will choose to be indoors, and also the more-active and more-grumpy your breeds are, the less crowding it takes for that to happen, but there is a large "chance" element.

Personally, having kept chickens at 4 sq ft apiece indoors plus ample run and at everything up to (and, actually, beyond) 15 sq ft apiece indoors plus ample run, I would never give them less than 10-15 sq ft indoors apiece plsu ample run, because they BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY. The lower stocking density comes with much happier less-stressed more natural- and individual-seeming behavior. This has nothing to do with climate -- the times I've had them at the higher densities e.g. 4 sq ft of indoors plus run, have been in *summertime*.

BUT, everyone has their own reaosns for keeping chickens, and their own ideas about what's okay.

Also, in a few climates chickens genuinely never WILL be indoors except to sleep and lay eggs (then, run size becomes the more important factor).

The most solid recommendation I can make is this.

Build as large as possible, and put as few chickens in there as possible. Easier management, happier chickens.




9 Years
Nov 27, 2010
Northen Va
It is confusing..and a lot of different considerations..what I take into account most is the personalities..lol

Some are just so darn easy going..others, peck city, and need the room..more room..etc

But on average it's probably

4 sq ft ineriorly and 10 outside

Iam going to have so many chickens by the time this is all said and done..or really far more at one time then another..due to trying to figure out, what I choose to keep and what I choose not too

Knock Kneed Hen

California Dream'in Chickens
9 Years
Feb 15, 2010
So. Cal.
This is what I went by initially. I had a mixed breed pen. There were no major issues except when keeping a roo, just because the hens couldn't get away from him if they wanted to. I found it to be a bit tight, made the upkeep a little more involved than what I wanted. I reduced my LF, added a couple of bantams and now I'm happy with my flock and the work it takes to maintain my coop and run the way I like it. I have a 9 x 9 sq. ft. coop and a 10 x 20 run just as you described yours to be. I have 13 LF & 2 bantams (1 is a cockerel, going to try to see if this works better....don't know yet). I wouldn't want more in there. I clean the poop board daily and rake the run every other day.

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