Square feet per bird

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Stamper, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. Stamper

    Stamper Songster

    Apr 1, 2009
    So I've been reading 4sf of coop space per bird is what you should plan for your coop.... however, this seems very large. Is this really standard for home coops or is this luxurious?

    It seems so common to have much less space, especially in mobile coops. I want my chickens to be happy and healthy but I don't want to build a huge structure.

    So what's the scoop? How many people really allow that much square footage? Can you count roost and nest box space towards the 4 sf or is that in addition?

    Also, does anyone know the sf requirements for ducks and geese?


  2. Lady Lavendar

    Lady Lavendar In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2009
    The 4sq ft per chicken is a must! This takes into consideration inclimate weather conditions such as snow or heavy rain when the chickens will be unable to go outdoors. Also, you do not want to crowd your birds as I have heard they will fight. I do not know about ducks or geese.
  3. SoccerMomof7

    SoccerMomof7 Songster

    Apr 13, 2008
    See I was wondering the same thing. I need to build another coop this summer and was wondering how big to make it.
  4. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Stamper, I don't know what region you live in, and that will have some bearing on your answer. I personally do not think that 4 ft. per bird is anything close to luxurious. However, if you live in a warmer climate and the birds have a large outdoor area (free range or run), then you can get away with a smaller coop. Especially if they are only going to go in to eat/or sleep. I don't know, but I don't think you incorporate the roost and the nest box(es) into the square footage measurement.

    I don't know how many birds you're planning on getting, but you can't really build all THAT big if you want your coop to be mobile. It gets heavy really fast.

    On the other hand, I live in a cold climate. I gave my hens *significantlty more* than 4 sq. feet per bird because when it's bitterly cold outside, they need to be kept indoors. If they were to be cramped, it causes behavior problems as well as ventilation issues. I'm sure someone with a whole lot more knowledge here will pipe in and elaborate on this. All I know is that when the snow was a-blow'n here in MN this past winter, I was VERY glad that I had allotted for ample space inside my coop.

    Good luck!
  5. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    4 sq ft is just a rule of thumb. If they hardly ever spend anytime in the coop, like for roosting only, they dont need as much space. But if they spend alot of time in the coop, then they may need more than 4 sq ft.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The 4sf per bird is a rule of thumb for small backyard flocks. It considers access to food and water as well as poop load the coop can carry with standard management practices. It also assumes that the chickens can get outside most days but that they may have to spend sometime inside due to inclement weather. Where chickens spend long periods of time inside, 10 sf per bird may not be enough. Some of it depends on the temperment of your birds as well as some of your management practices. That's why some people can get away with less and some have problems with more. The major problem with crowding is cannibalism.

    Chickens are basically ground dwelling birds. If they can get under your nesting boxes, then the nesting boxes do not count as taking up space. Roosts are not on the ground so they don't count.

    If you feed and water outside, give your chickens plenty of space outside and have a climate where they can stay outside all day, and have your nest boxes outside, thus just using your coop as a roosting area, yes you can get away with a whole lot less. That's often what chicken tractors do.

    Hope this helps.
  7. derby

    derby Songster

    Apr 18, 2008
    Boonsboro, MD
    I think you need to assess how you are going to use your henhouse and run. My actual house allots 2.5 square feet per bird, but they only roost in there. They have a run open to them every waking hour that is 8 square feet. So at that point, they have a total of 10.5 square feet each. And again, mine are never confined to the run for more than a day. Probably 5 days out of the week, they are free to roam the yard. They probably roam the equivalent of 3 acres on those days. They choose to go outside most every day except the very windiest or in heavy sleet. On those days, they would just as soon cozy up together on the roost.

    Yes - it's best to give them as much space as possible, but it r thinking it through helps.


  8. pkeeler

    pkeeler Songster

    Jul 20, 2008
    Chickens are kept in much less than 4 sf/bird conditions on many farms. So, it certainly isn't a minimum and is probably closer to luxurious than minimum. As many have said, if your chickens can get outside, especially free range, you can get by with much less. However, while the construction cost of the coop will drop being smaller; I would think the maintenance costs will go up. More chicken density is going to lead to more cleanings and more purchases of bedding. While, if you have enough litter, you might not ever have to change it (although this is new thinking and most owners change litter once a year at least).
  9. Stamper

    Stamper Songster

    Apr 1, 2009
    Wow! Thanks for all the quick replies!!

    Just to add a few details...

    I live in a very moderate climate. It's basically 50 or 60 degrees all year. Some days get as low as 30 and some get up to 80, but they are few and far between. The ground never freezes.

    The dimensions of the coop are 16'x6' but I will probably only allow the birds to have 10x6 and have the end be a storage area for food and human access to nest boxes. I want to get maybe 8 hens, 4 ducks and 2 geese. So at 60 sf that would allow a little more than 4sf per bird, but not much.

    The coop would just be for night. They are going to have an very secure outdoor run attached to the coop that will be about twice the size of the coop. That will just be to start with. As I have the money, I am going to expand the yard around the perimeter of my garden. They have to be very secure because we have a serious predator problem, and thus, large fenced areas will be very expensive!!

    Thanks again for all the quick feedback. Hope this information helps [​IMG]
  10. Stamper

    Stamper Songster

    Apr 1, 2009
    Oh, I also forgot to say that my coop is not mobile.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by