How Much Space Do Chickens Need: Keeping Your Chickens Happy & Healthy
by Dakota Storage Buildings, on May 15, 2023
Personal space is essential, even for chickens. A backyard chicken coop that gives your flock adequate freedom to roam and stretch their wings is essential for maintaining a healthy flock. However, every flock needs different amounts of space, so some coops differ. Keep reading to learn more about proper coop sizes for a happy, healthy flock.
Common Problem That Can Come From Too Small of a Coop
It turns out that the size of a flock’s coop can directly impact your birds' health. If the coop it too small and overcrowded, multiple issues can arise. Let’s look at some common issues that can arise with small backyard chicken coops so you can make sure your flock stays happy and healthy.
Parasites and diseases can run rampant when multiple chickens are kept in a confined space. With a small space, there will be little room to avoid poop on the ground. Making sure that your birds will have adequate space will let them be able to walk around without tracking their filth with them. Parasites like mites breed in close proximity, so they can wreak havoc when multiple birds are in a small space. When these parasites attach to birds, they can drink their blood and cause anemia. Ensure your hens stay healthy by giving them space instead of living on each other.
Feather plucking and peaking are common when birds are kept in close quarters. More dominant birds will take over the coop and begin to pluck feathers off hens and peck until they see physical damage. This aggressive behavior can leave a hen hurting and bleeding after an encounter with another bird. Some hens can even die when aggressive behavior gets out of hand. Make sure you are protecting your flock by providing a safe, large coop.
Nesting boxes are a critical part of any coop. These features give birds a safe and designated space to lay their eggs peacefully. If there are not enough nesting boxes for your flock, they will begin laying eggs anywhere and everywhere. If an egg is on the ground, the chances of it getting broken are high. Your hens may even begin eating the egg – a difficult habit to quit. To keep your egg supply safe and easily accessible, ensure at least one nesting box for every four hens.
Do Chickens Need That Much Space?
You may think chickens are small animals, so they only need a little space to roam. However, that is a false assumption. Like any other animal, chickens want space to run freely, stretch their wings, and play. Forging is one of their favorite pastimes, so providing adequate space for them to explore is crucial. If they are only left inside a small coop all day, you will find that it will create negative results. Your birds’ health could decline, and you may notice certain birds becoming more aggressive. Tending to a sick hen or dealing with pecking may be more hassle than providing more space for your flock from the beginning. Keeping your chickens happy and healthy is crucial; a proper-sized coop is the first step.
How to Calculate the Space
Chickens are social animals, but if their coop is too small and they live on top of one another, it can cause health problems and aggressive behavior. The required space for your chicken coop depends entirely on the number of birds in your flock. The more chickens you have, the more space they will need. However, it is more complex than buying a small coop for a small flock and vice versa. You must calculate the exact number of square feet your chickens will need. Otherwise, you could accidentally end up with a too-small coop.
Every chicken breed is different, but standard breeds require 4 square feet of space within a coop for each bird. If you purchase an enclosed coop, ensure the chicken run has the necessary space for the birds to run and stretch their wings. Standard breeds need 8 square feet for each bird in their run.
Standard heavy chicken breeds have slightly different space requirements. Since these birds are larger, the space requirement doubles for these breeds. They will require 8 square feet per bird of space inside the coop and 16 square feet of space per bird for the run. If you want a healthy flock, you must uphold the space standards.
Small Backyard? No Problem!
Having a ton of land is not a requirement to raise chickens. If you are starting with a standard small flock of six chickens, you will only need a coop that is 24 square feet inside with a run of 48 square feet. All in all, you only need 72 square feet of space for your birds. We know you probably do not have a coop in your backyard, so finding a coop that is big enough for your flock is essential. Asking yourself if you have the space to raise backyard chickens is important. If you answer yes, it is time to hunt for a chicken coop. Backyard chicken coops are not one size fits all. Numerous size options exist, so you can find a coop that best fits your flock. Simple multiplication can help you know which size coop you must invest in.
Another alternative is choosing a free-range coop. This option may be best for you if you have a smaller backyard and do not want to take up a large portion with enclosed backyard chicken coops. With a free-range coop, chickens can roam about your backyard freely instead of having a chicken run. While you must ensure you are not close to a busy road and remove any hazards in your yard, a free-range coop gives your chickens the outdoor space they crave without sacrificing your whole backyard.
Get the Perfect Sized Coop
Raising backyard chickens is an exciting adventure and can look different every day. You are not expected to be a professional before purchasing your first hen. To help you start this new journey, we have created a free resource to give you more information about backyard chicken coops. If you are ready to learn more about how to raise chickens and keep them healthy, download our guide, Evaluating Best-fit Chicken Coops, today!