How Many Square Feet Per Chicken?
What Size Chicken Coop Do I Need?
Other than feeding them and making sure your chickens have plenty of water, there's nothing more important than making sure that they have a happy, safe environment - one that allows them the room they need to grow and produce the eggs we love so much.
The size of your chickens' home - their chicken coop - directly affects the behavior of your birds. If there is not enough space, you could have a lot of fighting, causing injury or even death to some of your birds. You want your chicken coop to provide enough space for each bird to carve out its own place but not so much space that there is not enough body heat being generated to keep your flock as a whole warm enough.
Determining how many square feet per chicken a chicken coop needs to be is the first, most basic thing that you need to determine. Although you may read that each bird only needs 2 square feet of space in some places while others think that your chickens need as much as 4 square feet of space per bird, we've found that 3 square feet per chicken is the minimum that works well for hens of all sizes. 4 square feet is even better!
Chicken Coop Size - Doing the Math
Although the math is pretty basic, some people get it backward and totally miscalculate the size coop they really need. Most chicken coop manufacturers specify the length and width of their coop in inches. You need to convert those inches into feet BEFORE you can calculate the minimum area a chicken coop needs to be. To do that, just divide both the length (in inches) and width (in inches) by 12.
(length'' ÷ 12) = length in feet
(width'' ÷ 12) = width in feet
IMPORTANT: You MUST convert inches to feet BEFORE calculating the area in feet and determining the number of chickens a coop can accommodate.
Now that you have the dimensions in feet, figuring out the number of chickens a coop can comfortably accommodate is simple math. It is length (in feet) times width (in feet) divided by three (the 3' per chicken minimum).
(length' x width') ÷ 3 = maximum number of chickens
If you want to give your chickens a little more "elbow" room, you would divide by 4 instead of 3 for 4' per bird.
Other Factors That Can Affect Chicken Coop Size
As important as figuring out the minimum square feet a chicken coop needs to be to house your flock, there are other considerations that are just important. There needs to be enough room for your birds to sleep and you'll need to have the correct number if nesting boxes if you want to keep your hens happy and your eggs plentiful. Finally, whether or not there is a chicken run and whether or not it is covered can greatly influence the size coop you really need.
How Many Chicken Roosts Do I Need?
Everybody needs their sleep - even chickens! A chicken roost is where your birds will sleep so there must be enough roost space available for each of your chickens to sleep at the same time.
Really, the amount of roost space your chicken coop has determines how many chickens you can have more than anything - even more than your coops square footage.
How much roost space you need depends on the size of your chickens. Smaller breeds need as few as 8 inches per bird while large hens require up to 12 inches of roosting space per bird.
Most pre-made chicken coops have roosts that run the entire length of the coop. If your coop is 5 feet long and has 2 roosts, it has roughly 10 feet of chicken roost space, so it can easily accommodate up to 10 chickens.
How Many Nesting Boxes Do I Need?
Curiously, although chickens can be a bit territorial when it comes to their personal space, they don't seem to mind sharing nesting boxes with other hens at all. As long as the boxes don't start overflowing with eggs, you can get away with relatively few nesting boxes.
You only need one nesting box for every 3-4 hens. The boxes should be 1 square foot in area and can either be separated or a long run of interconnected boxes.
Does Adding a Chicken Run Allow Me to Have More Chickens?
Chickens usually only use the coop to sleep and to lay eggs. The rest of their time is usually spent outside the chicken coop. All chickens need some outdoor time. Being cooped up all day is not healthy. They need to forage, peck, preen and just get away from the other chickens for a little "just me" time. Plus, being able to relieve themselves outside gives you less to deal with when you clean the coop.
Ideally, chickens can go "free range" and graze all over your yard. Unfortunately, not all yards are adequately fenced-in, offering protection from predators. That's why adding a chicken run to your coop can be so important.
To keep your flock healthy and happy, it is generally recommended that you should have 10 square feet of chicken run space for every bird. If you have 5 chickens, that's 50 square feet and 10 chickens will need 100 square feet, etc.
Now, that additional outdoor run space doesn't necessarily affect the amount of square feet your indoor chicken coop needs to have, but it can if your outdoor chicken run is covered. A covered chicken run (especially in southern climates) allows your birds to escape the elements a bit more which may allow you to have a few more chickens, provided there are still enough nesting boxes and adequate roosting space.
We've tried to make it pretty easy to see if the chicken coop you are considering is the right size for the number of hens you have. In the top navigation bar of this site, just hover your cursor over "Chicken Coops" and then select the number of birds that you have from the chicken coop size ranges. At the top of each one of those size ranges, we break down the exact square feet you need for each number of birds.
If you're still unsure what chicken coop best meets the needs of your chickens, definitely check out our helpful buyer's guide - What's The Best Chicken Coop For Me? It answers even more questions you may have about the kind of coop you really need.
Of course, you can always Contact Us, too. We love helping people find the perfect chicken coop for their home!