Square foot per chicken question

Erin80

Songster
Apr 16, 2017
756
837
221
Do silkies require less space because they are small? Just curious. I've read 3 square feet per chicken for regular birds, and 2 sq ft for bantams? I won't be maxing out my coop either way, but just wondering!
 

PD-Riverman

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 14, 2012
5,007
1,302
406
Conway SC
Do silkies require less space because they are small? Just curious. I've read 3 square feet per chicken for regular birds, and 2 sq ft for bantams? I won't be maxing out my coop either way, but just wondering!
Do they JUST roost in this coop or have to stay inside it a lot with food and water, nesting box etc?? Like snowed in at times etc. See mine only roost---no feed, no water and no nesting boxes and no snowed in. As soon as it starts breaking day mine are let out in the run, etc. My coops are well vented and they have roost poles like steps. Mine is tall and my chickens do GOOD with less than 1sgft for roosting. That's Less than "one" square foot of floor space---I do not pay any attention to what the "book" says, I been raising chickens for more than 50 years and Mine Do Great with less than 1sqft of floor space using step roost!! A 50sqft coop will easily hold 75 to 80 on those roost poles. Now I would Not try that if the coop was 3ft tall and the chickens had no way to get away from each other, was not vented good and For SURE NOT if they stayed in it a lot.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,140
38,104
1,096
southern Michigan
More space is always better! Silkies can't really fly, so won't be able to roost, so more floor space is good. Three or four sq. ft. per bird will be good in the coop, and more in the run. Mary
 

PD-Riverman

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 14, 2012
5,007
1,302
406
Conway SC
Silkies can't really fly, so won't be able to roost, Mary

Hey Mary. I have had silkies for a long time---got my first back in the 1980's. All of mine roost---right up to the present. I had 3 different pens of them some time back. As I stated above I use step roost. Some people have roost poles 3 to 4 ft high that the chickens have to fly up on----no they can not do that.

Another question, wouldn't it make a difference in the sqft per chicken if they ONLY roost in the coop(go in close dark, come out at breaking day light--no food or water in the coop) compared to some that have to stay in the coop a lot or have to live in the coop months at the time from being snowed in etc?
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
Yeah, I don't subscribe to sqft per bird in coop either. It's a management system that matters. If it works then it works. Our birds are healthy and very happy with near free range areas for "runs" and roosting space in coop with external mounted nesting boxes. Feed and water under coop.
 

PD-Riverman

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 14, 2012
5,007
1,302
406
Conway SC
Yeah, I don't subscribe to sqft per bird in coop either. It's a management system that matters. If it works then it works. Our birds are healthy and very happy with near free range areas for "runs" and roosting space in coop with external mounted nesting boxes. Feed and water under coop.
My concern with this is a lot of people hear all this sqft per chicken Bible Stuff and get worried/upset because they got 1 chicken to many or do not even get chickens because of the cost to build a big coop for a dozen or two chickens that they want to Only Roost in the coop---feed and water under or outside. They are told they need 3 to 4sft inside, but the person telling them this does not go into details about if the chickens live in the coop or just roost in the coop. I have had 90 chickens roosting ONLY in a 56 sgft coop with step roost poles---following the sgft rule some state I should have 288 to 360 sqft--imagine I got to have a building 12x24 or 12x30 just for my 90 chickens to go in and roost at dark--no feed or water or nesting boxes in mine----LOL. My 90 did good in my 7x8ft well vented coop with extra space if I wanted to add a few more. I have roosted up to 8 hens for a long time in a modified $60 plastic dog house from Lowes with never a problem. I feel this Bible for coop size needs to be re-written with new recommendations on sqf footage for "Roost Only" coops for the people that rarely ever see any snow--that never has to lock their chickens in for a long time. Its Crazy.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
We have to understand the original intent of those numbers was a safeguard for newbies thinking they could cram 5 birds in a 10 sqft coop and never let them out or have the coop on stilts and only that same 10 sqft of "run" under it. Clearly that's no enough space. There is a definite difference in management styles. You and I are in the give 'em run space camp as they want to be is outside scratching and pecking from sun up to sundown then they just roost so don't need space. And that works perfectly.

I'm in a very cold climate and how we accommodate the birds is park the coop in front of a lean to. Then wrap tarps or plastic one side of lean to and continue the wrap two sides of coop that's raised on skids. This in effect creates a makeshift Woods style winter coop. They've a large covered area with one side open facing South and the ground is covered with hay. Same roosting coop space yet a winter area for the extreme days. Normal winter days 20's and up they roam the snow shoveled paths to favorite hang out areas under shrubs that are also bedded with hay. In essence my birds are provided a ton of protected space in winter without the major costs of building a permanent coop. And my birds have the advantage of a small coop on skids that is used in unison with electric poultry netting to move forage area.
 

TominWa

Songster
Apr 16, 2017
217
489
136
Montesano Wa.
My Coop
My Coop
I don't understand this constant debate. Its such a common question and there seem to be two camps. One, cram as many birds into as little space as possible. The other, give them as much space as possible to keep them happy.

I know they are just birds, I'm realistic. But then again I'm not heartless. To me it is more of an ethical question. Is it really that hard to nail some boards together and staple some wire to them? Just my opinion, but if it is...maybe keeping animals isn't for you.

I am watching my neighbors chickens while they are away. Six birds crammed into one of those feed store pre fab coups. I honestly feel sorry for those birds.

Give them some space and let them lead their little chicken lives.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
I don't understand this constant debate. Its such a common question and there seem to be two camps. One, cram as many birds into as little space as possible. The other, give them as much space as possible to keep them happy.

This is a common misconception. "Cram birds in" and "bigger coop is happier." Many think this and the fact is if you read what my camp of management style is saying then you'd understand. They are roosting only in a small space. Then have far more space during the day than most birds. Quite happy and healthy.

Don't get me wrong. If you're a person that sleeps in until 10 am then my management style is not for you. If you don't provide a ton of run space with cover, preferably shrubs then yeah, the coop space starts to add to the equation of where the birds will hang out in the day. There are far too many variables to state with authority that your coop needs 4 sqft per bird and if you don't provide that we'll call PETA. It's absurd and misinformed.
 
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