What is the square footage rule per chicken?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by coder14, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. coder14

    coder14 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 25, 2016
    I have a 200 sq ft shed, 7 footish ceiling, with an attached 150 sq foot run. What is the largest flock you would keep in that setup?
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    The general rule of thumb is 4 s.f. in the coop/ 10 s.f. in the run/bird. That would state that you could keep 15 chickens based on your run. But your coop would allow more than that. Will you be allowing them to free range? If that were so, you could increase your flock size. How big a flock do you want?
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Shazam Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I don't like the recommended numbers, they often cause people to put too many birds into an area. Those are minimum numbers. I have about 800 square feet of shed with total free range, currently I have around 50 birds. They are okay at that level, I have multiple roosts and feeding places plus places where birds can get away from each other. Various pens to go into and fences to climb on. Recommended would be 200 birds, that would be a messy chaotic shed, I plan to add 25 more but that will in my opinion be at capacity and probably a bit over.

    I would recommend you start at 25-50 birds than see after a season whether your set up can support more behaviorally. You will also need to enlarge you run a bit.
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    A big consideration is your feed bill. You get a lot of chickens and your feed bill goes way up, and the work taking care of them does too.

    I would not put the max in there at first. Leave yourself some leeway, some birds do better than others, some flocks do better than others. If there is a top rule in chicken raising, it would be more space is better. Less birds means more space.

    I don't like to consider free ranging as a way to increase the number of birds you have, but for most set ups are the reverse with a smaller coop, and a larger run. I would think you could go 40 +/- birds pretty easily.

  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Agrees 4/10 is a bare minimum in most cases...especially if you live in a place with tough winters.
    Even if you free range a lot of the time, you may need to confine birds in cases of predator and/or extreme weather events.

    I assume you are just getting started....keep in mind while planning your housing, you'll need extra room to integrate new birds.
    Having a separate but adjacent area in your coop can be a huge benefit...for new birds/chicks, isolating mean or injured birds, broody hens, etc.

    What are your long term goals for chicken keeping?

    There are links to 2 great articles in my signature on Space and Ventilation....great basics for a beginner.
    2 people like this.
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I don't go by "square foot per chicken", either. I feel it's better to watch your birds. Crowded chickens will develop bad habits such as feather picking which could lead to cannibalism.

    Your goals for your flock have a lot to do with how much space you need to start with. Are you going to expand your flock? If so, you'll need to have extra space to begin with so you have room to grow. Do you want chickens for pets or mainly for egg production? Will you want to keep them as production slows down and have a chicken retirement home? Or, will you be replacing them as they get older? A retirement home will, of course, require more room if you're going to add younger chickens so you can have the eggs you feel you need. If you cull the older ones (and let me say right now that "cull" doesn't mean "kill" - it just means to remove from the flock), then you won't need quite as much space.
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by