Anyone new to chicken keeping would likely ask how much space do chickens need or how many square feet per chicken. Most chicken owners want to know this to decide coop size as per the flock size. From the two, it is always safe to provide too much space than too little. Chickens get cranky and feel suffocated when cooped up too close for too long.
Understandably, chickens prefer freedom over confinement. They will be their happiest self when given enough space to roam and play.
If you do not have a spacious coop or room, start small, only keep a handful of chickens to accommodate the place.
The space of a chicken coop or room will determine the flock size. Most owners care too little about the space requirements and often end up having too large a flock for their needs and space.
Being cramped in a place for a prolonged period leads to ugly behavior and stress. Here’s how many chickens you should keep as per the square feet of the living space.
How Many Square Feet Per Chicken?
An owner has to determine the square footage to finalize the size of the chicken living space. Instead of inviting stress, cannibalism, pecking, and diseases, more square footage is better. Chickens stay healthy and happy when given enough room to live.
The suggested space for standard or large-sized chicken is 4 square feet for coop and 8 to 10 square feet for outside pens.
These are just estimated figures varied by several factors like flock age, breeds, climate, season, and management of free-range garden time. Heavier chickens take up more space than the smaller ones.
Coop space should be large in areas where the weather is cold most part of the year.
Then, smaller chickens or Bantams would require 5 square feet per chicken.
Whereas medium and large breeds would require 8 and 10 square feet respectively.
Rule of Thumb
As per the minimum rule of thumb, a chicken requires 2 to 3 square feet of space inside the coop. For outside run or foraging, each chicken should be provided with an 8 to 10 square feet of area.
It is not a black and white answer but these space measurements vary depending on the chicken size, weight, and breed.
It is not always this easy or simple to determine the size of the coop as per the square footage given above.
Free-Range Space Per Chicken
Chickens are not always kept cooped up in a room or living space, some owners allow them to free-range.
The free-ranging space would be undoubtedly large for chickens to forage and feed themselves.
A chicken would require 250 sq ft to 300 sq ft of free-range space. Use about 250 square feet per bird when it is planned to create permanent runs and fencing.
Run Size Per Chicken
The run should be well-thought-out and carefully designed to keep the chickens occupied with many fun activities.
Create it with an array of high perches, walkways, and platforms to keep them busy all day long.
For Bantams and smaller-sized chickens, at least 5 square feet of space is required per bird.
Standard chickens would need 8 square feet of run size per hen. Whereas, the large chickens would take up 15 square feet.
Thinks to Consider When Determining Square Footage Per Chicken
Conditions differ from flock to flock, so, it is impossible to use the same square footage for all situations.
The results of putting chickens in an overcrowded space are not desirable at all. A flock owner has to provide a nice balance of space and ecosystem for them to flourish and grow.
You need to rethink space requirements as per the flock size and different factors influencing it. Analyze different situations and plan accordingly.
- Space requirements would be different for free-range and confined chickens.
- Consider yearly weather conditions, temperatures, and average perception before building a coop of a specific size.
- Take into account coop cleaning, nesting boxes, roost space, and keeping the feed and water indoor
Factors Influencing The Chicken Space Size
The following factors should not be overlooked when determining the size of the chicken space.
- Size – Each chicken’s size and weight influence the coop space greatly. For instance, Bantams are going to take up less space than standard and large chicken breeds. Large-sized chickens would require more space to move around.
- Temperament – Some breeds are more violent than the others, so, cramping them in a small space would not be a good idea. A flock of Silkies is friendlier than the flock of Asils. Silkies can live in harmony whereas Asils need to be constantly monitored.
- Accessories – If the flock has to spend all the time in the pen and are not allowed to free-range, you will need to distract them with different activities like leaf piles, perches, flock blocks, cabbage pinatas, hay bales, and other objects.
- Weather – Chickens will spend more time in the coop in areas where the weather is cold. So, do not constrict the living space.
To sum up, chickens need adequate space to be their healthy, happy self. They should be allowed to move around freely in their personal space. Cramped coops are not an ideal situation for chickens and bring the worst in them.