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How Much Room Do Chickens Need?

how much room do chickens need

Before we ever entertained the idea of keeping chickens in our garden, we were long under the impression that you need lots of lands to keep chickens- ideally, at least an acre of grass.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case (unless you are planning on keeping thousands of them!), and you’d be surprised by the actual amount of room chickens need.

The number of rooms chickens need really depends on a few key points. Firstly, are you intending to allow your chickens to free roam?

Secondly, how many hours of the day do you intend to keep your chickens in their coop?

Finally, how many chickens do you intend on keeping?

Let’s start with the first question…

How Much Room Do Chickens Need? Do I need Lots of Land to Keep Chickens?

In short, no.

Clearly, this depends on how many chickens you intend on keeping, so let’s use a little example.
I’d guess that most people who want to keep chickens for the first time would look to get around six, so let’s use six chickens for this example.

Now let’s also presume that the chickens are kept in a coop during nighttime and are left to roam during the daytime.

The short answer would be that six chickens would need a coop that’s at least 18 square feet and a run of at least 90 square feet.

So in total, that would mean you’d need just under 110 square feet to keep six chickens. [source]

We give our chickens a lot more room than this, and we will discuss our setup later, however as a bare minimum, 110 square feet will get you started.

So to answer our original questions: “Can I keep chickens in my garden, or do I need acres of land?”. Providing you have at least an 11-foot by 10-foot garden, you can easily keep chickens in your backyard.

However, if you put 12 chickens in this field below, we’re sure they would be the most faithful hens you’ve ever seen!
Do I need Lots of Land to Keep Chickens
Now let’s dig deeper into each of your choices…

How Big Does A Chicken Coop Need To Be?

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To clarify before we answer this in detail- a chicken coop is the chickens’ house where they go to roost in the evening (or during the rain!).

This does not include their run or any other space in which they can roam.

Inside a coop, you will find the floor (which we cover with sawdust and straw) and a roosting/perching space.

The actual chicken coop needs to be at least 3 square feet per chicken. So following on with our example of six chickens, the coop needs to be at least 18 square feet.

Now you might think with chicken coops, the bigger, the better? Well, this certainly isn’t the case.

Large chicken coops with only a small number of chickens can actually be bad because the chickens can’t generate enough heat to keep the coop warm.

The other key item inside the coop is the roosting/perching area.

how much room do chickens need
This is where your chickens will sleep, and you need to make sure that each chicken has 10 inches of perching space.

So in our example, you would need a roosting pole that is 60 inches long (5 feet).

You will probably find that your chickens need less roosting space than this because they will huddle together very closely during the night- however, again, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

How Big Should A Chicken Nesting Box Be?


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In addition to a coop, you will need to ensure you have enough space to fix a nesting box to the back or side of your coop.

You can either have a large ‘open-plan’ nesting box or separate individual nesting boxes. We have a single ‘open-plan’ nesting box; however, we are thinking about changing this and providing the girls with individual nesting boxes to give them some more privacy.

Regardless of your choice, you will need a foot cubed of space per chicken in your nesting box.

So continuing with our example, you would need a nesting box six feet long by 1 foot deep for six chickens. And if you have the option, try to make individual nesting boxes. Your girls will thank you for it later!

To learn more about nesting boxes and what to do with your freshly laid eggs, read here.


how much room do chickens need

How Much Space Do Chickens Need To Roam?

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In terms of roaming, each chicken, at a minimum, will require 15 square feet. So if you have 6 chickens, you will need around 90 square feet (6×15).

This isn’t much land at all. A ten-foot-long by a nine-foot wide strip of grass would meet this. But, if you want to make your chickens happy, the more room you give them, the better!

We wouldn’t leave our chickens with only 15 square feet each- we make sure our chickens have at least 25 square feet.

Now, where and how you allow your chickens to roam is up to you. You can choose to create a run, tractor (portable run), or just allow them to free roam in your garden.

It’s up to you, and each has advantages and disadvantages.

How Much Space Do Chickens Need To Roam
But just as a quick word of warning, if you intend to keep your chickens in a run- try to make the run portable because during the winter, it will become boggy, and it isn’t fun changing their bedding every evening.

Because they are filthy…

Also, if you give them more room to roam, they will have more fun. We gave our 12 chickens over 3000 square feet to roam in, and each day is like a huge adventure for them!

Reasons To Give Your Chickens More Space Than They “Need”

You may have seen the way some chickens in commercial operations are kept. They are in tight quarters, beak to beak (or lack thereof), and they are pumped full of antibiotics.


Because when chickens don’t have enough room to be chickens, they pass diseases back and forth.

Small spaces are prone to attract mold, mildew, and bacteria and cause upper respiratory infections, among other things. These types of conditions also promote the spread of parasites amongst your flock.

It’s polite to treat your chickens like you would any other beloved pet by giving them room to stretch their wings and work out their pecking order as nature intended.

If you’ve built a structure and have found the area to be damp, and the droppings are piling up, it’s time to consider an expansion before your chooks get sick.

How Much Space Does A Chicken Need To Be Free Range?

All of this talk about how much room chickens need leads us to an interesting debate here at The Happy Chicken Coop.

We were struggling to decide exactly how much space a chicken needs to be classed as ‘free-range.’

We can look at legal definitions. For instance, in the EU, a hen needs a single square foot of floor space inside and around 13 square feet of outdoor space.

However, the law doesn’t stipulate how often the chickens need to go outside- it’s at the farmer’s discretion.

And in the US, the Department of Agriculture defines free-range as a chicken having access to outside, but it doesn’t stipulate how much space they require or how long they need to be outside…

But, taking commercial farms to one side- in terms of backyard chicken keepers, what counts as free-range?

We’d class free-range as chickens that each has at least 25 square feet of outside space. Ideally, this would be without a run keeping them in.

However, this isn’t practical because foxes and other predators are trying to catch them.

So there you have both the short version and the long version to exactly how much room chickens need.

Leave us a comment below, letting us know what you think counts as a free-range chicken…

140 thoughts on “How Much Room Do Chickens Need?

  1. Do chickens need alot of grass and leaves. Should I have different types of chickens seperated . Shoul I keep my rooster seperated from the hens. Thanks for the tips.

    1. They don’t need a lot of grass and leaves, providing you are feeding them a healthy varied diet.
      The separation issue, depends on the breeds. Most ‘modern’ breeds now will get a long with each other just fine. But make sure you don’t mix large breeds with small breeds, because the smaller hens will get bullied!

      1. I have large and small breeds mixed and they do very well. I think the key is not to have more than two of any specific breed of large chickens in your flock.

        1. Yes, thank you for sharing that. I’m currently looking to get 3-5 breeds (1-2) of each and your comment is really helpful.

          1. My coop is twelve by eight, with a plywood floor. I was going to go with pine shavings, but now I’m thinking of sand for the ease of cleaning. Floor joists are two by six with sixteen inch centers. Thoughts?

      2. Chickens must be able to forage naturally to improve their life quality and diet. They CAN’T be expected to eat the same food every day and get all the nutrients they need

          1. I was hoping to show a picture of our finally completed coop but alas…so I will just say my husband busted his butt and our chickens are thrilled and trilling like happy hens. We have thrown some scratch corn mix in the run as well as some fresh plucked grass my 5 yr old picked. I cant say they have been the easiest animal I have raised BUT watching them is entertaining and somehow relaxing LOL

    2. In keeping different breeds separated depends on your plans. For instance we plan on breeding rare and endangered heritage chickens. In order to keep the breed clean you will need to separate them at some point

    3. Yes, chickens do need lots of grass and leaves, but also chicken food (look up “chicken feed”). It is not necessary to keep different types of chickens separated, and you should keep your rooster separated from the hens unless you want a lot of chicks.

    1. You can get a single chicken, however I would recommend getting at least two- this way they aren’t bored and isolated!

    2. No I used to have chickens and they get very stressed in small spaces and have very short life spans so i think no

  2. Hi. I was reading your blog and have a question. I have three Rhode Island reds in my backyard. We have a coop suitable for 5 – 6 chickens and we built an extra run, that is probably 8 feet by 4 feet. Right now they are allowed to roam in the backyard during the day, but they are really tearing up the grass and of course they poop everywhere. We really can’t enjoy our backyard. I was thinking of just getting rid of them, but I want to know if it would be just wrong to keep them in their coop / run all the time? What do you think?

    1. Hi Kati,
      I think this will always be a personal decision however I can offer some opinions.
      Does the additional run move around your garden or is it fixed to the coop? Whilst it is a relatively small run you only have three hens so it isn’t tiny. I’d recommend slightly expanding the run and making it portable so you can move it around your garden. This way when they tear up a section of the garden- you can move them onto the next patch so the other patch gets time to grow back…
      Hope this helps!

      1. You could build a chicken tractor to put them in. Google it or look it up on YouTube. There are different types. Many are fairly easy and inexpensive to build.

    2. I have 2 chicks in a coop and run that is about 10′ X 8′. Try are in the most of the day, and I let them into the wider garden for a couple of hours in the evening.
      They will then wander back to roost fore night before dark.
      I find it’s a good compromise as limits the mess in the garden, yet gives a bit more interest to the chickens day.

    3. We have 3 Rhode Island Reds and our run is 12×6 which is 72 square feet. Since we are north we cannot always let them roam around the yard. We usually hang things for them to eat/play with. Like we use a cabbage as a tether ball and we have extra perching areas and I am thinking of adding a swing this year. We also give them a flat of different sprouts to help with fresh greens. Sprouts are easy to grow and very healthy for both us and the birds.

  3. Hi we just recently bought two chickens, a hen and a rooster and since we havent found a good place to put them at the moment since we live in Canada and its winter, is it ok if we put them in a small space approximately the size of a medium box

  4. I have 6 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Buffs. I have a coop that is 4×5′. They will be allowed out in the run during the day, and will use the coop obviously at night and to nest. Is this big enough?

    1. It’s quite a tight fit, but providing they have enough roosting space within there it will be OK. Just make sure they have plenty of space to roam during the day.

      1. Nice article👍🏻 We are fortunate to have a big farm and be able to free range. Even still our flock of 35 stays on the few acres directly around our house. I think the most important key to REAL free ranging(pasture raised) is having a very good rooster or four😋 We have only lost 1 chicken in the last 2 years(a rooster protecting the flock). It can be a risk but they are sooo much happier and healthier having limitless space to forage!

  5. I have a cochin that recently starting laying tan eggs instead of brown. I have a total of 4 chickens that have a 6′ X 4′ coop and 25′ X 25′ pen so I think I have enough space – read an article that said sometime when they have mites the color of their eggs change – how would I know if they have mites?

    1. The best way to check if they have mites is to give them a physical inspection. Pick them up and really rummage through their feathers to spot any infestations. I have also sent you an email with a useful article!

  6. I have enough space to allow them to roam, but we constantly have hawks overhead and I know there’s at least one fox in the area (not to mention neighbors’ dogs). I’m assuming it would be better to keep them in my fenced (sides and bird netting) 15×30 blueberry garden? Will they eat my berries, or will they help them (fertilizer and bugs)?

    1. Hi Hank,
      If you have hawks in the area, to be on the safe side I would always recommend keeping them in a fenced area. They will certainly help your garden and keep the pests away, but will also go after the blueberries! You’re best bet is to fence off the blueberries to keep them safe,

    2. They’ll only eat the low berries. They won’t eat higher than they can jump ! It’s kind of funny to watch them jump, grab a berry then land ! LOL !!

  7. We have not got hens yet but I was thinking of getting 3-4 leghorns to begin as we want eggs I was hoping to then expand to 10 hens and was wondering if 2 chicken coops would be OK as I am making the first chicken coop myself it is about 4ft by 4ft and the run will be roughly 120 square feet and is two nesting boxes enough

    1. Hi Nessa,
      This sounds big enough for 4 leghorns definitely 🙂
      If you want to get 10 hens though, you would need to expand the run. The coop size isn’t massively important providing their is enough roosting space and nesting boxes- it’s the run which is the most important.

  8. Hi, I have 6 chickens and a fair amount of space. I have a coop for night and they are allowed out on the paddock each day. I am planning to grow a herb garden just for them and am planting red clover and alfa alfa as ground cover. Would I also need to supplement them with feed or will they be able to forage enough food for themselves?? I want them to be healthy and happy but to raise them as naturally as possible (and as such want to avoid feed as I don’t have a source where I can procure non gmo organic feed nearby). Thanks for your help and all the information you have provided!

    1. Hi Trish,
      It sounds like your hens are treated like royalty!
      Even if your hens free-range it’s still hard for them to meet their dietary requirements. Have you considered making your own feed Trish?

        1. Too much trouble..and you might miss important nutrients like methionine. Easier to have Modesto Milling send you organic, non corn, non soy feed, even Amazon will send to your door! Then you can get specially formulated seed mix Of chicken forage plants from places like Natures seed, plant flats every couple weeks to give fresh, awesome greens! So far my girls prefer stuff like red or rainbow chard, broccoli, apples, it’s funny’ they prefer the greens over strawberries! I seeded their run with Natures Seed intermountain west chicken forage, and they’ve loved scratching it up. I’ll probably have to go to pine bark mulch, but I wanted to see how long they took to to defoliate it!

  9. Me and my family are thinking about getting 2 rhode island reds. Would it be okay if I let our dogs and our kids out in the backyard to play with them? will they peck at them?

    1. Hi K,
      If you get your chickens as baby chicks and socialise them, providing your dogs aren’t aggressive, they will be fine 🙂

      1. I got baby chicks and kept them in my shower for several weeks. I put a piece of plywood across the opening and my labrador dog could put his head over the top. I took him with me each time I checked on them. I would say “let’s go look at the babies.” He became very protective and now he ‘herds’ the adults if they roam further than he thinks they should. When I got the 2nd dog my first one trained him and does not let any other dogs near them. It’s all in the beginning.

  10. We’re in mid-stream building a chicken coop. The coop is about 8×10. We live in Montana where 15-20 below temps are not uncommon for weeks at a time, never getting above zero. Do I need to insulate the coop and is there an optimal temperature to shoot for in the coop?

    1. We are not as far north as you are but I did insulate all the walls of my coop except the southern wall. I had no trouble with the coop staying a good temperature and only had to add a lamp (secured well to avoid fire) when the temp dropped below zero. my girls were out almost every day this year and I only had to bring them in during the Polar Vortex.

    2. I’m in salt lake, I double walled and insulated. There’s no good reason not to..it helps ameliorate all temp extremes, makes additional heat if necessary much more effective. I just got two large Sweeter Heaters, the overhead infrared ones 11 by 40 inches, 150 watts, they work fantastically! Also, being insulated you can use as a brooder as well in the future.

  11. I am soon getting 12 chickens and i have a 8 by 11 sized coop. do you think they will get too cold in the winter?

    1. That sounds like a good sized coop for them 🙂
      Nope- just follow our winter guide and they will be fine!

  12. We just got 3 chicks/teenagers I would say. Any suggestions on how to train our Dog not to chase them once we start letting them out of cage during the day hours. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristina,
      I haven’t had to train dogs not to chase my chickens as my girls are within their own fenced run.
      When I first got my chickens, I took my dogs over on a lead up to the fence (several times a day) so they could get use to the chickens. After a few days of this they seemed to settle down and not fuss with them!

    1. Hi Bob,
      Grass is certainly the first choice, but as long as they have a ‘natural’ surface to scratch and roam around on they be ‘ok’. Just make sure to keep them occupied and active!

  13. Hi we just got our coop and it is 7×8, we had it delivered, but it is facing north, is that bad? it is about 7 feet from our house th coop and run would be 7 feet away along the front of our house , is that too close?

    1. Hi Sheri,
      The direction isn’t a problem no.
      It’s a personal choice- being that close you will be able to hear them roaming and going about their day which some people enjoy and other don’t…

  14. Hello, I have 6 chickens-1 welsummer, brown, bluebell, leghorn, light Sussex and a Norfolk grey. Their run is 4.5 foot wide, 13 foot long and 6 foot high. Is this big enough? They free range our garden every other evening for a few hours and at weekends if we are at home are out near enough all day, or at least part. Their coop is 2.5 foot wide, 3.8 foot long and 2.1 foot high. Is this also ok?

    1. Hi Charlotte,
      The run is a touch small however if your hens are free ranging in the evening then it isn’t a problem 🙂
      With the coop as long as there is at least 2 nesting boxes and 6 foot of roosting space then it will be fine for them!

  15. I have 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 American Easter Eggers, 2 Silver-laced Wyandottes, 2 Black Australorps and 2 Barred Rocks. They have an outdoor area under a ring of trees completely in shade with fencing creating a 60′ diameter circle. Coop in middle. coop is smaller, 3 12″x12″ nesting boxes on each side. 3 bars for roosting in middle, each 4 ft long so I guess that’s 12 ft of roosting space. Coop not counting nest boxes is like 4 ft by 5 ft. I put a small container of food and water in it at night. And they have large containers for both out during day and are let out every day. They will not be big enough to lay eggs until November. Writing this on July 24th. They hatched June 14th. They were in the coop inside from age 3 weeks w heat lamp. Carried them out and built fence 1 week ago. My question is, as they get bigger, will the coop be big enough? and how old should they be before I turn them loose in the yard? (Have 8 acres) How far will they roam and will they return each night?

    1. Not diameter, circumference. and it’s closer to 70 ft. which is just under 390 square feet for area.

      1. Hi Jason,
        The coop does sound a touch small for when they are fully grown but it doesn’t need extending as they have a large amount of space to roam in.
        You can normally let them roam at around 7-8 weeks and you will need to keep an eye on them during the first few times they roam to make sure they come back at night!
        Good luck 🙂

  16. Hi there! I’m thinking about getting a couple of Jersey Giants because I heard they have good temperaments. I’ve never owned chickens before, but I know they’re a large breed. How much space would you recommend for them to have, both in a run and in a coop?
    We have an acre of land where they could free range, but my sister (who is my next door neighbor and on the same property) had some of her chickens attacked by dogs. Would it be best to keep them in a run? Our property doesn’t have fences.

    1. Hi Holly,
      If there is any risk of predators then yes, I would keep them in a run.
      The smallest size you could have is 30 square foot, but the bigger the better for them!

  17. I have 25 chickens Rhode islands, black sex links and barred rocks. I am getting ready to fence in my field which is about 200 ft by 90 ft. If I use 5 ft fencing can I let them roam free without clipping their wings? I live next to a highway and don’t want to lose them.

    1. Hi Jefferie,
      You can certainly let them free roam whilst they are pullets and young hens. However, once they mature and their feathers grow you will need to clip their wings to stop them flying over the fence.

  18. I am new to raising chickens. I have 3 leghorn laying hens and one guinea hen. The guinea is being harassed by the other hens. Should I separate her from the others or just let them establish a pecking order?

    1. Hi Annette,
      It depends on how much they are being harassed. If it’s just the normal occasional pecking and bullying with no damage being done then you can leave them to establish the pecking order.

  19. Do you have to train hens to lay in their boxes? I had chickens free rangevyears ago and it was easter every day hunting eggs on 5 acres.
    I will get new birds soon and would like them to lay in the boxes. Any words of wisdom?

    1. Hi Linea,
      You shouldn’t need to train them providing you make the nesting box comfy for them.
      You can also encourage them by using ‘dud’ eggs and place them in the nesting box.

      1. We keep them penned in in the morning, and only let them roam in the afternoon/ evening. This way, they lay “at home,” and come back into the pen and coop at dusk. When we used to have completely free range, some of them would lay in the nests, but some always decided the hollow tree down the road was better, or a dozen and more other spots. Just like Easter daily searching for eggs before breakfast. And then there were the ones who managed to hide their nests and show up with a flock of chicks. And some decided to roost in trees instead of coming back to the coop at night. Keeping them contained for night and morning works way better, if you want the chickens safe, and easy-to-find eggs in the nests.

  20. We have 12 ladies, barred rock, orpingtons, easter eggers
    I want to build a mobile coop/tractor. Easily 3 acres of grass/yard to move them around.
    Currently my garden 1/2 acre isn’t fenced. I got the chickens for my wife (and the poop, gardening is my passion)
    If I plan to move it daily and never let these ladies roam free. Too many issues with “lost” hunters and their dogs during deer season, hawks etc.
    Should I still stick within these parameters? I plan on building an A-Frame or triangle style. Obviously the coup should be the same size, but if they are getting moved around daily do I still need the 15sq ft for the run on the bottom?

    1. Hi Cameron,
      If they are spending their daytime in the mobile coop then you don’t need to worry about building a run on their permanent coop.

  21. I am in the beginning stages of owning chickens. I live in a small town and just found out (after 5 years of living here) that I can have chickens. I am only looking at two, maybe three. After reading your Top 10, I am looking at the Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, or Golden Comet. I have two dogs but I have trained them to leave my resident rabbit alone. The also keep a healthy distance from George The Hedgehog. Would any of the above breeds be less anxious around the dogs? Thanks for all the great information you provide!

    1. Hi Nedra,
      Congratulations! When are you planning to get your chickens?
      All breeds will tend to be anxious around dogs however a less skittish breed such as RIR would be better 🙂
      Good luck and be sure to contact us when you get your hens,

  22. I am looking to get about 4-5 Golden Comet hens, and am planning on letting them be pretty much free-range chickens. However, I would like to know if they are free-range, should I still give them feed? If so, how much should I give them and how often?

  23. Hi I was thinking of making the kids old cubby house into a coop and having a run attached to that. When i’m at home they can roam in back yard. My question is if they are in the run and the coop door is open will they go in them selves and will i need to lock the door?

    1. Yes they will take themselves back into the coop when it’s time to roost 🙂
      Also, yes you need to lock the door- more to keep the predators out than keeping the chickens in…

    1. Hi Ed,
      It depends if the run will have a roof cover or not? I would generally recommend around 4ft!

  24. Hello my name is Tiffaney. I live in a housing development with ample space in the backyard and a privacy fence. The city is trying to have me get rid of my 1 rooster, stating I don’t have the room in my backyard. Is there anything that can be done for me to not lose my chicken? He is a backyard chicken breed and very well taken care of. Spoiled in fact hahaha. I’ve had him for about 7 months now and this is the first time anything has been said.

    1. Hi Tiffaney,
      The first thing I would do is check your local town laws and ordinance.
      If you are in breach of these it’s going to be hard to keep him, but I have seen news articles on people who did manage to overturn their local laws!
      Best of luck,

  25. Hello my name is Lucy and I have a small chicken coop (5 square feet) with a 12 square foot run attached to it. My garden is pretty big. if i bought 3 chickens, how often would you recommend i let them out for?
    I live in Australia too, Is there anything I should put in my coop or can do to make sure they are ok in the hot summer? (sometimes 110 degrees fahrenheit!!)

    1. Hi Lucy,
      I would try to let them out as often as possible 🙂 Make sure to read my article on summertime to keep them cool!

  26. I bought myself a house at the end of last year, and my greatest wish was to have chickens in my garden! I have just built myself a coop (I’m a 57 year old lady!) and am almost ready for my girls!
    I have a very nice sized back garden that is fenced and gated. I’m a nurse, and when I work, I leave home at 6am, and don’t get home until 7.45pm. Is it safe for me to let them wander around my garden when I’m not there, or should I keep them in the coop unless it’s my day off?
    Thank you for all of your invaluable advise.

    1. Hi Susan,
      As long as it’s properly fenced and predators can’t get access they will be fine 🙂
      Though the first few times I would stay at home and keep an eye on them!
      Best of luck,

  27. I have 23 chickens in a 1680 square foot portable fence. I would live to free range them but can’t because of other aminals getting them. My question is with this much space do I need to supplement their diet with laying mash? And how often would I need to move the location of the fence if I didn’t feed them much feed?
    I hope that makes sense. Thanks.

    1. Hi Ruth,
      I would always recommend feeding them laying mash regardless of how much roaming space they have. This is becuase if you want your hens to lay well they need protein. Protein, is something they struggle to get a lot from when ‘living off the land’.

  28. I have nine chickens and an 8×4 run, it seems to tiny for them. The garden is big enough for them but they eat everything in sight. I could let them out in the yard but I am afraid they would run into the road or get caught by a coyote or a hawk. Is there something else I could do?

    1. Have you looked at chicken tractors Abby? You can even get them with mesh floors to stop predators such as Coyotes digging underneath…

  29. My wife and I are considering getting chickens and might have a larger space to put a few coops in. If we can we’d like to have the coops share open space for one large run. Two questions: 1-How well do “separate flocks” mingle, and 2-Are chickens smart enough to know which coop and flock they belong to so they can go to the correct “home” each night? Thanks.

    1. Hi Chris,
      In short no! I wouldn’t recommend splitting the flocks. Is there any particular reason why you want to split the flock?

      1. We have around an acre which in theory could hold hundreds of chickens. But we can’t handle that many. Maybe a couple of different coops to help us better manage 50-60 until we get used to it. (Starting slowly mind you, but settings things up far in advance would be necessary for more critters.)

        1. Ah ok I see.
          Personally I would try to house them all together, otherwise it could cause trouble with the pecking order. If this isn’t possible I wouldn’t let them roam together…

  30. Hi Claire,
    We are a small family intending to keep maybe 3 chickens.
    We have been given 2 smallish coops/nesting areas. Both meet your suggested mins and are not easily moved.
    We will have 1 enclosed run about 6ft x 15ft (with an outside mobile tractor also).
    Is it OK to build both coops inside the run or will 2 cause issues (and we recycle one) please?

  31. Are there any particular breeds that wing clipping would not be necessary, provided the fencing is 5-6 ft tall?

  32. Great article, it had nearly everything, however I was wondering what is the max coop square foot size per bird before it becomes to large for them to heat it

  33. Me and my little sister are getting chickens an d I was taking notes and I got over a full page thank you guys for the great article

  34. Hello! I am new to the chicken world. We built a 5×6 coop (which includes 5 nesting boxes off to one side, leaving 4×6 for roosts. We also have a 20×20 fully enclosed run. I am also planning on giving the. Access to another portable run during the data, allowing access to grass.would this be enough space for 10 chickens? I have 4 silkies, 2 Cochins, 1 welsummer, 1 ameraucana, 1 Barred rock and 1 Easter egger.
    Is it ok for them to roam on buffalo grass field? Or should the grass be mowed down first?

  35. My son is getting into 4H and wants to do chickens. Which is fine by me but I grew up in Oregon where our winters were like here in Eastern a Washington. We are looking at chickens that do well in the winter and want to give them the opportunity to be free range but how does one do that when there’s so much snow on the ground? Will we have to keep them inside for mos Tod the winter because of the weather?

  36. We just acquired 17 baby chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery. 4 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Barred Rock, 2 SILVER LACED WYANDOTTE , 2 Pearl-White Leghorns, 2 W. C. BLACK POLISH, 2 SPECKLED SUSSEX, 2 LIGHT BRAHMAS, and (1) chick that was thrown in free from the hatchery, but we don’t know what kind she is. My husband was supposed to order 6-8 chicks…and then next thing I get an email confirmation for 17 baby chicks.
    Our current coop has an inside measurement of approx 3.4ft x 7.3ft with a height of about 5ft. It also has 6 nesting boxes that are 1ft square each. I am concerned that the coop size is too small for this many birds. We are getting ready to build a fenced in run also that will be attached to the coop. We live on 10 acres, so birds will be free to roam, but we do have hawks and coyotes that we will have to watch out for. we plan on letting them free range for a couple of hours during the day and then putting them in their coop/fenced in run at night. Wondering what you would recommend we do for this many birds as far as adding additional coop space. Also how big should our fenced in run be?

    1. The coop is definitely too small. Now, can you get away with it? Perhaps… only through letting them free range all day and simply sleeping in the coop and laying, but your risking all the issues that arise with crammed quarters. If you built your coop on a 4×8 standard, which it sounds like with inner 2×4 walls giving you 3.4 feet, I would recommend taking one wall and doubling it with another standard 4×8 on the wall that does not have the nesting boxes. I have done this before, you can connect both together and connect them through a 2×2 ft cutout if necessary.
      Your fenced run in, the larger the better. I have done a 4 x 16 for 20 chickens so when they cannot free range they still have some area for dust bathing and scratching and it has worked out well, considering they free range most of the day.

  37. We have 13 chickens, which are about to become laying age. We have a 6×6 coop with laying boxes and roosting bars, and our coop is potable. The problem is the size of the portable run, which we plan on making 4×7, and moving it to fresh grass, which we have plenty of, every 2-3 days. Does that run sound reasonably sized?

  38. I’m a first timer in the mountains of AZ at an elevation of 6,000 feet. I have 4 barred Rocks and 3 Leghorns. Rocks were pullets, Leghorns were straight run and about 2 weeks smaller. At 16 weeks the Rocks are as big as the leghorns in height. But weight? The Rocks are about 3 pounds. The Leghorns are at least 6-8 pounds apiece. I assume their mass explains their huge legs. Or have I done something awful to my Leghorns?

  39. My setup is a coop for the Rocks that is comfortable for the 4 of them, complete with 4 boxes. The Leghorns have a separate coop bigger in scale to better match their size and the heat they generate. I have a total of 12 feet of roost bars both in the coops and in their runs. I don’t let them run on their own in the yard unless I am with them, because we have Great Horned owls, hawks of several flavors, and both bald and golden eagles. I have a 12’X12′ red sailcloth over their free space so they always have a shadow cover if not the safety of their coops. Just as an FYI and hello!

  40. Hi what is the best time to let the chickens out of the coop in the mornings? I’ve been letting them out at 7am, do they get distressed if you leave them in longer? Thanks.

    1. Pecking can occur and depending on your nesting box cracked eggs can sometimes be an issue because of constraints. Sunrise and sunset is the rule of thumb. We sometimes because of circumstances leave them in an hour or so longer and they are ok, but they can get feisty and start picking on eachother.

  41. I have a hen that is walking up right and acts like she can’t see sometimes. She is one that comes from Switzerland. I got her from someone that said she was egg bond. Since then she has laid four eggs. I have had her for about three months now.What do I do.

  42. Hi, I’m a first time hen owner to be. I am getting three hens. We have a shed sized coup with a three partition nesting box and an outside run space of 36 square foot. I think we overdid the size of coup. Do you think we should partition it off or leave it for when the hens need to be indoors?

  43. I have never post before, I try to post this Thur , but I guess it did not work. so I hope it works this time.
    how do I know when it is ans
    how much apple cider vinegar do I add to their water.

    1. I would try about a tea spoon per litre of water only 5 days a month..any more than this is not useful.

  44. I was considering getting 8 more chicks this year, as we had lost 4 of our girls to a bobcat.
    We keep our ladys is a 33×33 fenced area with a 8×8 barn currently. In order to make our space more secure with a covering, they will now only have a 33×8 outdoor space but still have the 8×8 barn.
    Is this too small to keep 15 chickens? If so how many can we accommodate?

  45. Hi
    I had 2 rescue chickens for a long time (started as a 4 but lost 2 over time) when 1 died leaving 1 on its own recently I decided to rescue some more. Just over a month ago I got 4 rescues. The 4 new rescues have been bullying my existing chicken. I have tried separation but it hasn’t work. My original chicken hardly comes out of the coop at the moment. I haven’t been able to observe much as before work they are just getting up and when I get home it is dark and they are in bed. My neighbour sometimes comes in the day and gives them treats and says they 4 are relentless on the 1. Any suggestions about what I can do?

  46. Hi, We have a purpose made, concrete dog kennel that is 4 feet x 5 feet. It is inside a fenced area that is 10 feet by 8 feet and has a concrete floor. Is this a suitable space for up to 4 x chickens ? I have read a previous post that stated he lets his chickens have free reign of the garden for 2 hours before dusk. If this is acceptable I will probably do the same. What should I put down on the concrete floor for the best ? Is 10 x 8 big enough ?Thanks, Paul.

    1. We have 25 Speckled Sussex, which is a standard size bird, in our coop we use a 2×4”s flat side up. I believe chickens are more comfortable sleeping on a flat surface. When I had bantams I placed the 2×4 on it’s side, narrow side up. I hope this helps.

  47. I am wondering if anyone can tell me how to re-introduce a chicken to the flock after months of separation due to a bad leg? The leg is healed, but the flock looks at her as an intruder. I let them all free-range in the yard when it is nice out. Please advise!

  48. I had a Bantam rooster mate with the only 2 hens I have (both silkies) We hatched 5 eggs from them but one hatched 4 days late & was being pecked bad so we removed him & have been raising him inside. Yes he’s a rooster. They’re 5-6 weeks old now. I’ve tried all I’ve read to introduce him to his siblings and the adult silkies but it’s not working Because we are raising lil roo in a 100 fish tank alone my husband came home with a 4 week old brown sexlink pullet because he feels sorry for the lil roo who he said needed a playmate! LoL They do GREAT together but now I REALLY need advice on introduction & get my husband to stay away from the store! LoL
    Thanks for any and all help!

  49. I have not yet bought my chickens yet, I want to make sure I do all the research I can. I was planning on having a good run for them and let them out in the backyard when I am home and can watch out for any predators. Is this okay for them? To have both a free range backyard and a chicken run lifestyle? Thanks!

  50. Hi! We have just started with chickens, but my in-laws have always had chickens. My husband has grown up with them, but I haven’t. We have an assortment of different kinds & I have no clue what they are. My husband built a small run of about a 10×10 with a concrete floor where he wants to put nesting boxes. I however think the space needs to be larger or have a chicken tractor because there’s no greens where they are now and we can’t let them out because we have 2 male labs. Any suggestions? I just wonder if they’ll get sick staying in the pen all the time with now way to roam during the day. Also the area he wants to put the nesting boxes is not complete closed off. I think we need to invest a bit more but he’s not worried. Please help me figure out what to do next.

  51. We believe ” free-range” chickens can come and go as they please during the day in a chicken run or out roaming around a barn yard. They should be confined at night for their protection from predators. We have 25 Speckled Sussex. Their coop is a 8×16 converted refrigerated truck box. At night they are closed up for protection, during the day they can go where they please around the barn yard.

    1. Hi Amber,
      Chance are your chickens may need more space, or food spread out a bit, so there’s no feeling a need to compete for what’s available. (of course this is without knowing your dementions or situation). From all the videos and googling, and articles read, this seems to usually be the case. I have 4 hens, a 50″x 60″x 5′ coop, and a 9’x10′ run, and chunnel playground space. I let them out for a portion of the day to forage and play too. They are very much amigos, with one definately dominant and 1 constantly testing her, 1 as adventurer, and 1 as everyones gal pal. maybe this will work for you? Good luck.

  52. Hi. We have 4 hens that free range on 1200 square feet all day. We have just built a run for them for when we go on holiday so they’re safe. It is 35 square feet. I’m concerned it’s too small. But it is only for temporary use. 2 weeks at the most.

  53. Hello, We are getting about 12 chickens. We built a 12’x12′ outdoor enclosed run. a 4’x8′ 4’high roosting coop and a 4’x4′ 4’high laying coop next to the roost. Iam trying to decide on separate laying boxes or just an open hayed room. open to suggestions?

  54. hi Kati,
    I have four in about the same size run and a large stationary coop. The run grass has died and I use expanding wood pellets & pine. An idea I saw and implemented was a ‘Chunnel’, chicken-tunnel. This gives them fresh grass and areas to explore. Chunnels can be made very simply- wire arches and stakes, and can also migrate or branch out in any direction. Mine goes from the run to a wall of day lilies and hostas, and another off that one that just has green grass and sun. While we are at work I know they can explore and get grass and are safe.
    Maybe and idea for you?

  55. Right now I have 6 hens and a rooster and will probably end up with around 10-12 hens. They free roam on about 6 acres of our property right now, but I want to get cows and move the coop a little further from the house for poop reasons. Would a 10’x10’ coop be too big? I’m gonna fence in about 30’x30’ but still plan on letting them out quite a bit. Will my cows trample them? Should I have a lot of dirt for them or can it mostly be grass?

  56. I am building a coop out of scrap lumber and not counting the nesting boxes that will hang out of it, I am making it a 5′.4″ x 3′ that will fit in our yard and still have space for a run. That’s just the coop size. My question is how many chickens would safely fit into that space without it being overcrowded? My lady wants as many as possible that we can hold without making them cramped.

    1. We built our coop out of scrap plywood from a job. I decided to make it the dimensions of a sheet of plywood 8’ x 4’. We have 4 nesting boxes and 12’ of nesting poles in that pretty small space, but 16 of our chickens sleep very comfortably in it. If you have enough well planned roosting space I’d think you could fit at least 8 chickens comfortably. They like being pretty cramped to sleep and to lay😂 We free range so I can’t comment on run space.

  57. A rooster came to our house and stayed. My effort to build a coop failed, so he stays in a dog cage at night. I have 5 acres to roam and he likes going to my neighbors during the day.

  58. I currently have a large aviary set up (15ft x 20ft) in my fenced-in yard where I’m housing two fully-flighted rescue pigeons (might be weird, but I love them). I’ve been looking into the possibility of adding a couple of hens to my happy bird family, and I’m concerned about having chickens in with the pigeons. From reading above, I don’t think space would be an issue, but I’ve heard stories about chickens going after smaller birds and I definitely don’t want any incidents. I guess my question is: is it even a possibility to have chickens and pigeons in the same enclosure? I’ve seen some hens that are actually a little smaller than my guys, but I don’t want to bring in any birds that I’ll have to anticipate rehoming.

  59. Hi,

    I just gobbled up this page. thank you.

    One piece of informatino I cannot find anywhere I’ve looked so far is :

    Ho much ground space (on grass or wooden area) does a chicken need to feed from the land exclusively?

    thank you.

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