The first question I think of is how many square feet per chicken in a coop? Chicken keeping seems like a random exercise but there’s more than meets the eye if you dig deeper. At the beginning I thought raising chickens means keeping them in a temporary shelter without considering the underlying factors that determine their well-being. And one of the most important factors is the amount of space in square feet that each chicken needs. So, if you are venturing into this hobby for the first time, then you need to learn more about this crucial factor.
So, the questions that should be lingering at the back of your mind should be, “how many square feet per chicken in a coop?” This depends on a number of factors. But key among them is the breed and of course the size of the coop itself.
Your chickens will look healthier and happier if they are comfortable within their surroundings. This means you should provide them with enough space to avoid overcrowding and pecking amongst themselves. A nice coop means a lot to the survival of your birds.
If the coop is smaller compared to the number of birds you are keeping in there, there will be a quick build-up of manure and consequently, high levels of ammonia will be experienced. This is not acceptable if you truly care about your flock of birds. Ensure that each chicken has enough space and that is exactly what we are going to look into.
What are the Factors that Influence the Square ft for each Chicken in a Coop?
Here is the minimum amount of space in square feet for each bird depending on the breed, age, the minimum number of chickens per coop, grazing and living conditions, weather conditions, cleaning, and water.
- If you are intending to keep different breeds, then it is important to know the size that each breed will require. Indeed, the size will depend on the nature of the breed under your care. For instance, heavy breeds do not require the same space in square feet as the light or bantam breeds. Let’s look at the required space for each size of chicken breeds that you are likely to come across:
- Heavy Breeds
- In this category, you will find breeds such as Buff Orpingtons and Barred. Given that they are considered to be heavier breeds, their living space should have dimensions that go hand in hand with their sizes. To begin with, their chicken coop should be 4 square feet for each bird kept there.
- In other words, you should provide each of your heavy breeds 2 by 2 feet to give it adequate space in the coop. These are only measurements for heavy breeds that are left to forage in the course of the day and then housed at night.
- On the other hand, you should know the amount of space for each heavy breed of chickens under confinement. In this case, you would prefer providing each bird with 10 square feet of space in a coop to make them comfortable throughout. For example, if you are raising 5 birds in a single coop, you will have to give them enough space of 5 by 10 feet.
- Light Breeds
- A good example of a popular light breed of chicken among different chicken keepers is the White Leghorn. Due to their smaller size compared to the heavy breeds, they will require less space for each bird. Chickens that forage the whole day and housed at night will need a minimum of 3 square feet for each bird. In this regard, 10 birds will occupy a 4 by 8 feet coop.
- But when it comes to the light breeds under confinement throughout, the situation is totally different. Each bird will need at least 7.5 square feet of space in a coop. If you have 6 chickens then a 5 by 10 feet coop will be appropriate for them.
- These are smaller than heavy and light breeds, so they won’t take up a lot of space in a coop. This explains why bantams are increasingly becoming popular among chicken owners. For those that are left to forage during the daytime, it is recommended that you provide them with 2 square feet of space per chicken.
- But for the confined ones, you may want to adjust the minimum amount of space for each bird. Therefore, you should ensure that one chicken has at least a space of 5 square feet. This translates to 5 by 10 feet coop for a minimum of 10 chickens at one time.
- It is not right to only keep chickens of a certain age in your backyard. Keep in mind that you will find yourself faced with chickens of different ages starting from the chicks all the way to older hens and cocks. For that reason, you should know the amount of space needed by chicken in their respective age-sets. Chicks, however, will require less space compared to adult chickens. In this regard, you are supposed to start with about 0.5 square foot for each chick and keep on increasing this space as they get older.
Minimum Number of Birds in a Coop
Most chicken keepers are of the opinion that each chicken requires a minimum of 2 to 3 square feet in the coop. Also, they suggest that one chicken should have between 8 to 10 square feet for outdoor enclosures. While all these remain as suggestions in theory, in practice it can be a little bit difficult when it comes to determining the correct amount of space for each bird in all situations. For that reason, here are a few questions that you need to find their answers when determining the space for your chickens in relation to every situation:
- Are you pasture raising or free-ranging your chickens during the day, keeping them in a run or just confining them to their coop?
- What are the weather conditions around your area?
- How frequent are you planning to keep your coop clean?
- Are you planning to keep water and food indoors?
- How many nesting boxes are you going to include in your coop?
- How much space are you setting aside for the roosts?
Once you get the right answers to these questions, it will be easier for you to work out space in square feet per chicken regardless of the number you are intending to keep.
- Grazing and Living Conditions
- If you are going to pasture-raised or free-range your chickens, then they will need less space as opposed to keeping them indoors or in an enclosure. The main reason for doing so is to minimize aggression among your chickens by not confining them in small spaces for a long time. The more space they have to roam about the better for them.
- Weather Conditions
- t is natural for chickens to stay indoors during extreme weather conditions like raining or snowing. In this respect, they will require enough space to move around and flap just in the same way they would do when free-ranging. Apart from that, harsh weather conditions will render their outdoor spaces inhabitable and thus not ideal for their well-being. For instance, muddy conditions can subject your birds to more risks of contracting diseases or sustaining injuries. In summertime they may experience high humidity and heat, thus making them uncomfortable throughout. That is why you should have first-hand information on the amount of space each bird will require when kept inside the coop.
- The more chickens you keep in a coop, the more manure you should expect. In this case, you should not mind keeping the coop clean on a weekly or even daily basis. That explains why you should use a minimum of square feet per chicken to make your cleaning work effortless. But you can add more space to your coop to accommodate more manure and urine.
- Water and Food
- It is wise to know the exact amount of space in square feet per chicken for you to plan accordingly. But keep in that your birds will need some basic essentials for their survival. Water and food are a must-have for your birds to grow well. Include in your calculations a few square feet within the coop for water and food. This space should be enough for water and food containers including roost and nesting boxes areas.
- Related Questions
- How much space will you need for your ten chickens? Let’s say you have ten mature dual-purpose birds and you want to house them in a coop. Provide 6 to 8 square feet per chicken to give them ample room. That translates to about 60 to 80 square feet in total. This space will be adequate for your flock of 10 birds.
- What are the likely problems that can result from overcrowding the chickens in a confined space?
- Some of the notable problems that could arise from overcrowding your birds include the spread of diseases, build-up of manure, poor air quality, higher stress, less movement and increase in aggression.
As usual, you need to take the rule of thumb seriously when calculating the space needed by each chicken. The rule suggests that you should provide your birds with at least 4 square feet per chicken while giving them enough fresh ground as often as you can once per day. With proper spacing, your chickens will thrive best in their living space.
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Backyard Chickens FAQ