Whether you’re raising a chicken farm for eggs or meat, it’s very challenging work that is also quite rewarding in the process. Chickens, depending on the breed, and how many hens and roosters there are in the coop have different needs that all need to be met to find balance in the flock and ensure that everyone is living happily and prospering. One of the ways to ensure happiness and health in the flock is by ensuring every chicken has enough space, but depending on the size of your flock, this can be a challenging task to perform.
If you’re new to raising chickens, you must be wondering how big the coop should be, as well as the outdoor area where chickens spend their days. These are all things that need to be considered early on when starting a chicken farm, and buying your first chickens.
Still, even experienced farmers have struggled with deciding how big a chicken coop should be once there are too many chickens in the flock and not every hen or rooster has enough space. Another indication that you need a bigger coop is noticing that your chickens get sick more often.
Being limited in space means that chickens will easily pass parasites and other germs to other chickens leading to them getting sick easier. Lastly, there are behavioral consequences in placing them into a smaller coop, like having two or more roosters that will get in fights more often.
Providing enough space for chickens is of utmost importance for every coop, but how much space do chickens need in the first place? In this article, we’re going to discuss how much space chickens need when it comes to free-roaming, resting in the coop, and laying eggs.
Follow the guide in the paragraphs before, and you’re guaranteed to build a spacious coop that will meet the needs of your chicken flock, ensuring both good mood and health. Read on!
Why is Space Important to Chickens?
Whether you’re just considering the size of a coop or the outdoor area, or both, it’s important to note that individual chickens won’t need significant space to roam and spend their days. However, just like humans need their “me” time where they can feel free and relaxed, so do chickens, and that’s of great importance for their reproductive systems and overall mood.
Having dedicated space for chickens ensures that they will be happy and prosper, be able to lay eggs effortlessly, and won’t grab the attention of overly territorial cockerels and roosters. Below are reasons why the overall chicken space affects the mood and stress of chickens.
Space is important to chickens because:
- It makes them less stressed: Even though chickens are very social animals, they still desire their personal space, especially when laying eggs that are on top of that fertilized. When they’re not closely surrounded by other chickens, they will feel more relaxed and less stressed, and be more productive in the process.
- Reduces fights: Just like being overcrowded affects the mood of chickens, it’ll also make them more likely to fight. Chickens are prone to bullying one another, pulling their feathers, and going as far as eating their eggs.
- It improves their health: As mentioned earlier, chickens that are overcrowded and standing too close one to another can make parasites pass easier from one chicken to another. Having enough space can prevent bacteria and parasites from causing disease in multiple chickens.
- It is easier to clean: Having more space means that the waste will be distributed across different locations in the coop, and be easier to clean in the process.
How Much Space Do Chickens Need?
While chickens won’t demand too much space, it’s still necessary to provide them with adequate living space so they can stay active and happy, both inside the coop and outside. You will see that they’re the most satisfied when they get enough space for living.
Understandably, you won’t always be able to build or buy an enormously large chicken coop, but in that case, you should opt for owning fewer chickens. It’s better to have fewer chickens with good egg production and meat quality than overcrowd the flock’s living space and make them miserable in the process.
To provide adequate treatment for the chickens, it’s necessary to follow some general rules. While you won’t be making a palace for them, you will still be able to provide them with a respectable lifestyle without breaking the bank and giving away too much space on your farm.
It’s necessary to remember that chickens will spend most of their time outside, in an enclosed space that should be adequately big for them to free roam outside. Although they spend less time in the coop itself, it’s important to highlight the guide for both coop and outdoor enclosure, so continue reading.
Chickens won’t spend the majority of their time inside their coop. They’ll mostly be on the run, within the enclosure except during the nights and winters. That being said, they can enjoy the larger spaces outside but still have some decent space inside, to feel comfortable and remain in good mood.
Keep in mind that some chickens are larger than others, which means that some other chickens will require more space than others. Smaller chickens can take up to two feet per chicken. However, larger and big chickens will require more space like three square feet per chicken in the coop.
The largest chickens such as Plymouth Rock need anywhere around 4 to 5 square feet of space in the coop. When you do the quick math calculations of the space per each chicken you will be able to calculate the most suitable coop size for your chickens. You can either guesstimate the size or calculate the size of the coop per 10, 20, or how many chickens you want to keep in one coop.
Another thing that you will have to consider is the weather. If you live in a place where winters are cold and temperatures reach below freezing, you will have to consider that the chickens will spend more time inside. That being said, you will need to provide an additional few square feet per chicken.
Smaller chickens will need about 5 to 6 square feet per chicken, medium-sized chickens will take up to 8 square feet per chicken, and the largest chicken will take up to 10 square feet to have sufficient space for relaxing.
If you still feel confused, you can use this Chicken Coop Size calculator and add all the parameters that you can consider. That way, you’ll know how much space exactly your chickens will need.
During the spring, summer and even fall months, your chickens will be on the outdoor runs within the enclosure and spend only nights in the coop. It’s healthy for chickens to run outside, play and bask in the sun’s rays. Still, each chicken will need its dedicated space, especially if you have more than one rooster – you want to ensure that it won’t get aggressive.
If you live in areas where it’s constantly warm, then you should rather focus on the outdoor enclosure than building a large chicken coop because chickens will only sleep in it during the night. When building the outdoor enclosure, consider that each chicken will need at least 10 to 12 square feet of space.
However, it’s worth mentioning that chickens will enjoy even bigger space if you can provide it for them. That way, they’ll avoid fighting and each chicken will respect its space and not annoy other chickens unless they feel like communicating.
Roosting bars are an important asset for every chicken flock, so it’s something you should consider buying or building for your flock. Roosting bars represent elevated bars where chickens go to sleep in the coop. The higher they are the better because jumping on them represents an important part of chickens’ survival instinct. To survive, they had to seek higher places.
This habit has remained even now, after domestication, which just goes on to show how important it is for you to establish enough space for roosting. Every chicken should use at least 7 to 12 inches of space for roosting. It’s also worth mentioning that nesting boxes should be there as your chicken will lay eggs and brood over them.
Things to Consider When Choosing Living Space for Chickens
Creating sufficient space for your chickens is super-important, but there are also some other factors to consider when creating a living space for your chickens. Read on to find out more.
If you’re building a large coop ventilation won’t be too much of a problem. Still, you will need to ensure that the coop has some form of ventilation or at least a windbreak. Chickens tend to get messy and if you don’t have a habit of cleaning their coop regularly, the odor may even start to disturb them.
That being said, ensuring that the chickens have proper ventilation in the coop is of utmost importance, according to a report. Not even having enough space will help if there is simply not enough fresh air for them to live comfortably.
Depending on how many chickens you have, you will nearly always have at least one hen laying eggs per day. If you have more chickens, they will likely lay more often. Whatever may be the case, you need to provide sufficient space for your hens.
If you have more than five hens, you will have to provide a nesting box for every third or fourth chicken. That way, there’ll be a nesting box for every 3 to 4 chickens. That way, you won’t have to worry about egg production.
Sufficient Amount of Food and Watering
If you have many chickens you will also have to provide enough feed and water options for them. You also have to consider their personal space and provide dishes with feed and water that will be sufficient and proportional to the number of chickens you have and their personal space needs.
This is especially important if your chickens eat treats. It’s important to distribute the treats evenly and ensure that each chicken gets enough so they wouldn’t get in a fight and become aggressive over treats and territory trespassing.
One of the most important things you should consider when building a chicken coop for chickens is that it’s large enough for all chickens to sit in it comfortably and not be exposed to outdoor predators such as foxes, coyotes, and even wolves. Not providing enough space for each chicken’s individual needs means that they will search for that comfort elsewhere, and become more vulnerable and exposed when the predator chooses to strike.
Don’t forget that another big thing to consider when determining the chicken coop size is the temperament of the chickens. Roosters can be quite territorial and aggressive while hens can be quite assertive and sometimes hyperactive.
To prevent bullying and even territorial fights between the roosters it’s of utmost importance to keep them separated and provide sufficient space for every chicken in the coop. You don’t want to see feathers flying everywhere.
Disadvantages of Large Chicken Coops
Generally speaking, having a large chicken coop is not considered a disadvantage. It’s always better to have a smaller flock inside of a larger chicken coop, than a large flock inside a smaller chicken coop.
It’s worth mentioning however that you will need to spend more time cleaning the coop than if you were dealing with a less spacious coop. Nevertheless, that still means the chickens will have more space and won’t be suffocated by ammonia. On the other hand, you can turn their waste into compost for deep littering methods to keep chickens warm in the winter.
The larger coop will get colder in the winter, however, which means that you’ll have to invest in some heating methods, although the one mentioned earlier is a really good method to keep the chickens warm.
Nevertheless, farmers will still prefer giving their chickens more space, than keeping them small and overcrowded.