How Much Run Space per Chicken? A Good Rule of Thumb for the Minimum Amount of Outside Run Space Your Chickens Need (In Square Feet)

How Much Run Space per Chicken? (Minimum Square Feet)

Unknowingly, most people don’t give enough square feet per chicken in an outside run, which can have some drastic physical and mental health disadvantages.

So if you’re going to keep your chickens in their coop and run, here is a rule of thumb: Give a minimum of eight to ten square feet per chicken in an outside run.

This is a rule of thumb because bantam breeds are smaller chickens and require less space than regular-sized chickens. Yet, if you get hefty meat birds, they may need more space.

The measurements below are the bare minimum of how much space chickens need in a run.

Chicken Breed/SizeOutside Run
Standard8 square feet per bird
Large10 square feet per bird
Bantam4 square feet per bird

Just to be on the safe side, try to give your chickens more space than you think they’ll need. The extra space will really help them be happier and healthier.

Example: How Much Run Space Do 6 Chickens Need?

Standard Chicken Size:
8 square feet needed per chicken x 6 chickens = 48 square feet (minimum)

Large/Meat Chicken Size:
10 square feet needed per chicken x 6 chickens = 60 square feet (minimum)

Bantam Chicken Size:
4 square feet needed per chicken x 6 chickens = 24 square feet (minimum)

Example: How Many Chickens Can You Have in a 10×10 Run?

10 feet x 10 feet = 100 square feet

Standard Chicken Size:
100 square feet ÷ 8 square feet needed per chickens = 12.5 (12 chickens maximum)

Large/Meat Chicken Size:
100 square feet ÷ 10 square feet needed per chickens = 10 chickens maximum

Bantam Chicken Size:
100 square feet ÷ 4 square feet needed per chickens = 25 chickens maximum

More Run Space for Each Chicken = Less Problems!

Run 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 Spacious 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 Run Space per 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 Every Chicken Needs Extra Run 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.

Summary: How Much Space per Chicken in a Run

  • Unknowingly, most people don’t give enough square feet per chicken in an outside run, which can have some drastic physical and mental health disadvantages.
  • If you’re going to keep your chickens in their coop and run, here is a rule of thumb: Give a minimum of eight to ten square feet per chicken in an outside run.
  • Just to be on the safe side, try to give your chickens more space than you think they’ll need.
  • 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.
  • If your run is too small, chickens will forage everything and you’ll be left with bare dirt and irritated chickens because they’ll have nothing to forage.
  • 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.