Backyard Chickens: Quick Links
How Much Room Do Chickens Need?
Unknowingly, most people don’t give enough square feet per chicken in a chicken coop or an outside run, which can have some drastic physical and mental health disadvantages.
So, in this post, let’s first take a look at the minimum space requirements chickens need for a chicken coop and run. Then we’ll look at what can happen if chickens don’t have enough space.
If you’re going to keep your chickens in their chicken coop and run, here is a rule of thumb:
Give a minimum of 2 to 3 square feet per chicken inside the chicken coop, and a minimum of 8 to 10 square feet per chicken in an outside run.
Of course, bantam breeds are smaller chickens and require less space than regular-sized chickens. Meanwhile, if you get heavy breed chickens, they may need more space.
The measurements below are the bare minimum of how much room chickens should have if they aren’t let out of their chicken coop and run during the day.
Standard to Large Chickens
|Chicken Coop||2 to 3 square feet per bird|
|Chicken Run||8 to 10 square feet per bird|
Bantam (Small) Chickens
|Chicken Coop||1 square foot per bird|
|Chicken Run||4 square feet per bird|
Just to be safe, always aim to give them more space than you think they’ll need. The more space you give them, the happier and healthier they’ll be!
Another great idea is to get a pen for your chickens, just so they can be outside their run for an adventure, while still keeping them safe from predators or traffic.
Chickens really prefer to roam around instead of being confined in a coop and run all day. Although sometimes it’s necessary to have them confined in their coop because of predators or traffic, I still think free-ranging your chickens makes them much happier.
A rule of thumb for free-range space is 250 to 300 square feet per chicken.
If your chickens don’t have enough yard space, be prepared for dirt spots all over your backyard due to over-foraging. You’ll also see a lot more poop on the ground, which means flies and smells that aren’t too pleasant.
I believe that free-ranging chickens should still have the same amount of coop space as non-free-ranging chickens. They should also have the same amount of space in their run if they’re going to spend any long periods of time there.
Personally, I give my chickens more than triple the recommended coop space requirements because I got them for both eggs and pets. I love to spoil them. (That’s why I built a large DIY coop, Design #7 in the Building A Chicken Coop eBook).
Chicken Coop & Run: More Space, Less Problems!
Space per Chicken vs Pecking Order
All chicken flocks have a pecking order. There will be chickens higher up in the hierarchy, and there will be the more submissive chickens on the lower end.
The less space your flock has in their chicken coop and run, the more likely it is that the more dominant chickens will bully the chickens at the lower end of the pecking order.
But if there’s an abundance of space, there will be less of a chance that your chickens will be cornered and bullied. It’s essential that chickens can run away from each other if there’s any conflict.
A Chicken Run Provides Room for Foraging
A larger run helps the bullying situation far more than a larger chicken coop because it’s the run area that gives your chickens the chance to forage. To keep your chickens entertained and less irritated towards each other, you want the run to remain grassy. The grass will provide bugs and other stuff to eat and entertain them.
If your run is too small, they’ll forage everything and you’ll be left with bare dirt and irritated chickens. If this happens, and you can’t move the coop, you can provide bedding for the run and throw some leftovers, seeds, or other treats in there so that the chickens can have fun foraging for the food.
Another great idea is to get a pen for your chickens (Amazon). A pen will allow them to be outside their chicken coop and run, while still remaining protected from predators and traffic.
Some Breeds Need Less Coop & Run Space for Each Chicken
If you don’t free-range your chickens at all, make sure to do your research on what breeds need less room to be healthy and happy. Some do better in confined spaces, such as Silkie Bantams, Australorps, Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, Plymouth Rocks, and Cochin Bantams.
Other Reasons Why Chickens Need Extra Space
Not giving chickens enough space can also cause stress, increase the chance of getting diseases, and even make bullying bad enough to cause death. The best thing you can do to keep a happy and healthy flock is to give them the largest run you can.
That’s it! I hope this post helped you out!