How Much Space Do Chickens Need?
If you're raising chickens, one of the first questions you'll ask is, "How much space do my chickens need to be happy?" The ideal size of your chicken coop will depend on a lot of factors. How big are your chickens? Are they fully grown? Will they have an outdoor run?
In general, it's better to provide too much space for your chickens rather than too little. Chickens can become a little cranky if they're cooped up too close for too long.
Indoor Chicken Coop Sizes
A good rule of thumb is that regular-sized chickens benefit from at least three to five square feet of coop space per chicken if they have access to the outdoors.1 Preferably, you'll provide space on the larger end of this size range.
The exact recommendations vary based on your chicken's size. Small chickens, like Bantam breeds, can be housed in a coop as small as two feet per chicken if they're free-range.2 Medium breeds like Leghorn would need three square feet of coop per chicken, while larger breeds like Plymouth Rock would need at least four square feet.
So, what size chicken coop will you need for ten chickens? If you're going with the minimum of three feet per medium-sized chicken because you have an outdoor run too, this would add up to approximately 30 square feet for a chicken coop.3 Try to plan for more if you can. Some people recommend 60 to 80 square feet for ten mature chickens, which would be equal to an 8x10-square-foot chicken coop.4
If the weather is very cold or if your chickens won't have access to roam outside for another reason, then the coop space needs to be larger than the examples above. A small breed like Bantam would need five square feet per chicken rather than two. A medium breed would need eight rather than three, and a larger breed would ideally have ten rather than four.5
You can even find chicken coop size calculators online for a little extra help. These tend to estimate a little higher than the minimum sizes, and some give different estimates depending on if you have a yard, a coop, or a run.6
Outdoor Runs and Roosting
If you can, you'll want to give your chickens a chance to roam outside. If you have mild weather and can let your chickens spend time outdoors most of the day, then you can get away with a smaller indoor chicken coop for them to sleep in at night.
Try to plan for at least 10 square feet of outdoor space per chicken. But really, the more space you can provide, the happier your chickens will be.
In addition to outdoor space, your coop should have roosting bars—preferably at least eight to 12 inches per bird—so they can sleep comfortably at night.7 You can have wooden perches or use a Thermo-Chicken Perch that's heated for the colder months.
You'll also want to provide a nesting box for every three to four hens. When it's colder, consider putting a heated pad inside.
Chickens Need Their Space
You might have noticed that much of these sizing recommendations have ranges, and they all indicate that it's better to have a coop that's too large rather than too small. If you have the space, just go with the larger sized coop.
But why is that?
When chickens are cooped up in close quarters for too long without space to move around, they can get a little cabin crazy. They might become aggressive and start pecking each other and even pulling feathers. Stressed chickens might even lay fewer eggs. In general, it's much better to provide too much space than too little.
When planning your chicken coop, aim for the biggest size your space allows. If you can provide room for your chickens to have some outdoor time every day too, that's even better. Just like people, chickens need a little personal space to call their own. Your chickens will be grateful. In return, you can expect lots and lots of delicious eggs.
- Steele, Lisa. "Flock Talk: How Much Space Do My Chickens Need?" Hobby Farms, 7 May 2018, https://www.hobbyfarms.com/flock-talk-much-space-chickens-need/.
- The Hen House. "How to Choose the Right Size Chicken Coop for Your Chickens." TheHenHouseCollection.com, https://www.thehenhousecollection.com/blog/chicken-coop-size-selection-guide/.
- Miller, Carrie. "Coop Size and Chickens Per Square Foot." Community Chickens, 4 March 2019, https://www.communitychickens.com/coop-size-and-chickens-per-square-foot/.
- The Hen House, https://www.thehenhousecollection.com/blog/chicken-coop-size-selection-guide/
- Claborn Farms. "How Many Square Feet Per Chicken?" ClabornFarms.com, https://www.clabornfarms.com/blog/square-feet-per-chicken/
- Mile Four. "Chicken Coop Size Calculator." MileFour.com, https://milefour.com/blogs/learn/chicken-coop-size-calculator.
- Steele, Lisa, https://www.hobbyfarms.com/flock-talk-much-space-chickens-need/.