Square Footage Per Chicken?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Huny, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. Huny

    Huny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2008
    Sunny Southern Arizona
    We are getting ready to endeavor on a huge poultry yard, with multiple pens and runs. We have over 50 chickens and adding more as they come out of the incubator. We will have about 40 egg layers of mixed breeds (no roos with them!) and we have 6 different breeds of show/breeding chickens, ranging from small Dutch Bantams, up to the biggest Buff Orpingtons I have ever seen.

    So my questions are as follows:

    How big of a run do I need for the egg layer pen? I have a shed we are converting into the coop that is 6x8 8 ft. tall. Do I need more space than that for 30-40 egg layers (for nests and egg boxes). How big of a run should I make? (*Is it ok to have this many birds in a group or do I need to knock it down to two or three pens of 15?)

    How big of a run do I need for 3-5 bantam show birds? I have the columbian rock bantams that I have kept in trios and most likely won't ever put together in the same pen (we had the roosters fight to the near death, it was horrible). I will also have a pen of 5 Dutch, a pen of 5 RIR Bantams, 5 Golden Polish, a pen of bantam cochins and two pens of Silkies. I was thinking of doing a small 2x3 hutch/egg box with a 3x6 run for the bantams and a 3x4 hutch with a 4x8 run for the full sized/larger bantams.

    I also have full sized Buff Orpingtons and Silver Laced Wyandottes which I feel need more space than 4x8 what do you think? I will have 3-10 of each of these varieties.

    Thanks everyone for your help, you're all so.....Helpful!
  2. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    Sq ft per bird in the coop is at 4sq ft each. But it also depends on how much time they will spend in the coop. More time more space needed. Sq ft in the run is 8 to 10sq ft.
    A 6x8 coop is only big enough for about 12 birds. You will need a coop that is at least 160 sq ft for 40 birds.
    Bantams require roughly half the space large fowl do.
  3. azelgin

    azelgin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2008
    S.E. AZ
    I am down south of you a few miles, so, I deal with pretty much the same weather conditions you do. Most folks on here recommend 4 sq.ft. of coop floor space and 10 sq.ft. of run. My coop is open to the run 24/7 and I do OK with about 3 sq.ft. per bird (23 SLW chickens @ 60 sq.ft.) inside. However, I would not want to go less. The nest boxes do not intrude into the coop space, so, I don't lose any floor space there. My run for this same coop is about 350 sq.ft., but, 1/2 of this has a roof. Shade is big deal around here for these guys (you probably already know this), so, I kind of wish that I had roofed the whole run. The chickens could care less about rain and snow. They crowd into the shade on all but the coolest days. I let them free range, otherwise, I would have to add more shade. They just run from shade to shade, like they are expecting to burst into flames at any second.

    My other coop is @ 5 sq.ft. per bird right now (30 birds @ 150 sq.ft.). It's definatly more chicken friendly inside. The run for this one has 12 sq.ft. per bird. I put 80% shade cloth on it, but, even with the dark cloth, they still either stay in the shadow of the buildings, or, stay in the coop. I feel that, if, I give them more shade, I could crowd the coop with more chickens.

    All I can tell you for sure, is I wish I had bigger coops and more shade.

    Good luck with your project. Make it bigger than you think it needs to be. It's always nice to be able to add more chickens, than to figure out how to make the extras fit into a smaller space.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    4sq feet inside and 10sq feet outside is the general guideline, but often it is best to start out with at least 2x that space as preventing picking and boredom is easier than curing it. If the run has trees, bushes, and bugs, they will be less bored than if it was a square of just plain dirt (which is what any grass will turn into very quickly even at 10 sq feet per bird).
  5. Huny

    Huny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2008
    Sunny Southern Arizona
    Ok so I was only going to use part of the shed (6x8) so it sounds like I will need the entire shed (8x25). That's not a problem. But what about the amount of birds? IS it ok to have that many together in the same pen?
  6. Roan

    Roan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2013
    West Virginia, U.S.A.
    I don't know if this will help but this gives an indication of what each chicken type needs in living space by comparison to other birds. Hopefully this will help you determine how many birds you can put together and allow them to live comfortably:


    Just click on the breed name and it will tell you everything you need to know about it, including its temperament and upkeep. It's a pretty good site. The only downside is that it doesn't give a recommended square footage per flock. For instance, RIR's require a larger amount of space than Plymouth Rocks but I don't know just how much space they need to be happy or even comfortable.

    4 square feet per bird isn't always accurate since different breeds need more or less "elbow room."

    LOL Okay so I just realized that this thread hasn't been active for 4 years. Anyway, this is still relevant info. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2013
  7. HBee

    HBee New Egg

    Apr 23, 2014
    Would the 4 square feet per chicken in the coop include the section for individual nests?
  8. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    The "square feet per bird" is the common area - so no, nest boxes, space occupied by feeders, waters, etc is not included as those areas are not "common use" areas
  9. barnaclebob

    barnaclebob Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2012
    4 square feet per chicken is a general guideline for small flocks. The more chickens you have the less area each one needs. For 30-40 layers that will have access to the outdoors every day you'll problaby be ok with less than 4ft/bird, maybe 8'x12'?. Put a rack of roosting bars on one side, and 8-10 nesting boxes on the other side.

    For the outside pen i'd be comfortable with 10'x20' but the bigger the better.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  10. Roan

    Roan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2013
    West Virginia, U.S.A.
    I've read that as long as the birds have access to an adequate outside area, the suggested minimum housing sf/b is 2'. So since your suggestion of 8'x12' for up to 40 birds gives them 2.4 sf/b, that sounds adequate.

    However, I'm not so sure about your assessment that the more chickens, the less sf/b needed as it would imply that at some point each bird would need 0 sf/b. And that would never be a good solution after all, chickens are not sardines. [​IMG]

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