Question on the "four foot rule" for coop population

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Intheswamp, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    South Alabama
    I got to thinking about coop size and have a question.

    The "4-foot rule" means actual floor space doesn't it? In other words, if your nestboxes jut out into the floor this takes away floor square footage doesn't it?

    Same thing for feeders and waterers...they take away from total square footage, too? Roosts?

    Figuring a 10x10 foot coop and guesstimating on the area used for the different "appliances"...

    100 square feet (sq ft for 25 chickens)
    -4 square feet for four nest boxes
    -3 square feet for feeder(s)
    -2 square feet for water(s)
    -12 square feet (2'x6') for roost/pan area
    79 square feet remaining which is enough for 19.75 chickens.

    Does this seem right?

    Thanks for any feedback!
  2. Chickenmaven

    Chickenmaven Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 6, 2009
    Four feet is a must IMHO, if you are gonna keep them in the coop all the time. But, I think you get to wing it (pun intended). There are so many other factors to consider. Will they have access to a large run? Are they free-ranged? Are you gonna have only hens? (My roosters are awfully contentious...)
    It is lovely to think that you are planning & planning BIG! [​IMG]
  3. riderbecky

    riderbecky Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2008
    Ottawa Valley

    I see your point but I look at it this way. The roosts are off the floor and the chickens have access to under the roosts. The same goes for the nests. I made a pvc feeder which is attached to the wall and takes up almost no space. So really the only thing taking up room is my water fount and the rubbermaid bin I put the feed in. I'm not sure I'd count it anyway as they jump up on it.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:It depends how your coop is set up. Usually roosts are well above the floor, chickens can walk comfortably underneath, so doesn't subtract from useable floor space. (OTOH if you have a droppings area underneath, that is screened off and inaccessible to the chickens, then it *would* reduce useable area). Similarly, nestboxes are usually high enough that chickens can walk underneath; but if yours aren't, then yes, they impinge on living area.

    The relevance of feeder and water space IMO depends on their size in relation to the size of the coop. One waterer and one feeder are not going to make a meaningful difference in the useable acreage of a 10x12 coop; whereas in a 4x4 coop they take up quite a large proportion of it and so *do* affect usable area.

    Also remember there is nothing magic about the number "4" specifically [​IMG]


  5. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Ed - you are right on in your thoughts. But the above two posters are also on the right thinking track too.

    After having the personal experience of having exactly the amount of chickens I "could" have with the 4 sq. ft rule and then having a severe two day blizzard which kept them locked inside that entire time... I actually decided that I need more than the 4 sq. ft. rule here - just because of potential weather snafus that keep my chickens locked inside for days. During the two days mine were locked up I had the first ever feather pecking issues take place. So, I take it to the extreme and give my chickens even more space. Now, I have a big outside run that gives my chickens 30 sq. ft. per chicken and mine actually free range everyday all day unless I'm gone (which is rare). But, it was when they had to be locked inside that I saw the real problems.

    Go bigger... you'll never regret that decision and you'll have happy chickens.[​IMG]
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm with Chirpy on this one, if your birds have to be inside a lot, then give them MUCH more space...even if it's only a few days a year like in Alabama, and pay attention to ventilation issues. Ours have 15 sq ft per bird indoors and they get along fine...[​IMG]
  7. gmzamz

    gmzamz Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 24, 2009
    Monticello, MN
    According to chictons law of floor space 4 square feet per bird, however, according to roosteins theory, bigger = BETTER! [​IMG]

    By the way, explain how your coop can hold 19.75 chickens!!!!!

    -chirpy, it kinda stinks how up here in minnesota we can have 144 square ft MAX!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. Tad

    Tad Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 16, 2008
    South TX on the border
    I am in deep south Texas, so cold weathers not in my equation but when I built my pen/run i made an 8X16 area for nest boxes and feeders and water and roosts...and a 16 X32 run area, with a large pull up door between..comes out to 28 feet per bird...and its a little tight ....had to cull heavy to decrease picking, I have 18 birds in that set up 1 dominique roo, and 14 sussex hens 1 seabright roo and 2 seabright hens. they are just starting to lay.

    i guess what I am trying to get at is the more space the better.
  9. BFeathered

    BFeathered Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2008
    North Texas
    I'm planning a 4x4 coop with nest box(es) protruding outside the coop, with a 10x10 fenced run area. But... I'm also planning to let them free range at least 3-4 hr /day, and since I live in TX, the weather conditions shouldn't be prohibitive. Also, the coop will be elevated to let them use the space below during wet weather. Since I'm only going to have 4 birds, I hope this is good... [​IMG]
  10. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    South Alabama
    Wow, I posted two or three different questions in a few forums and I have had some great responses!!! This place is great!!!


    I think that what I'll do is try to figure on 5 sqft per bird and build the coop as large as I can. I'm hoping to have a somewhat large run...maybe 75'x25' with shading over part of it (I've got some old holely tin that would be good for some shade. When I can be around I'll let'em free range in the pasture and around the yard.

    gmzamz....the ".75 chicken" in the coop is when you go out to the hen house after the preacher failed to show up for dinner and you felt compelled to try to finish off the whole chicken by yourself.

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