We all know the story—a sneaky but cute little girl tries out three different types of furniture looking for comfort—not too big or too small, but JUST RIGHT. When you’re looking for a home for your flock of chickens, keep that little girl in mind--for your chickens to feel comfy, healthy, and happy, you need to make sure you’re giving them the right amount of space—both in their coops and in their runs. Let’s take a look:
While your chickens’ breed, size, personality, and the weather where you live will all play a factor, we here at OverEZ chicken coops recommend that chickens need a minimum of 2 square feet per chicken in a coop and 4 square feet per chicken in a run/outside area.
When you pick a coop for your girls, think Goldilocks:
While it’s important for your chickens to have enough room, a coop can be TOO large. Especially if you live in a climate with cold winters, if your birds have too much space they’ll have trouble generating enough heat in winter.
Think about it for yourself—it’s much easier to snuggle up to a friend and warm up in a little tent than it would be with the same friend in a big, empty warehouse.
How are chickens like grumpy teenagers? They want space! Stuffing too many birds into a small space makes for a flock of grumpy girls. Overcrowding encourages bullying, egg-eating, and health problems.
In winter, too much snuggling and not enough space will cause humidity (remember—moisture is the chicken’s winter enemy!) and will put the birds at risk for frostbite.
A coop that will make your flock of Goldi-clucks sigh with relief and go right to sleep will give them enough room to get around, allow space for different personalities, but still be cozy enough to let them gather together to create heat.
In our experience, that magic number isat least 2 square feet per bird.
When you start looking for that perfect coop, watch out for the manufacturer’s recommendation for bird count, especially on cheap, multipurpose animal shelters from overseas. Their advertising and labelling is often very misleading and flat-out wrong.
A recent search on Amazon brought up three coops. While the pictures of the coops looked nice, the dimensions told a different story.
Coop A advertised itself as 58”, but the dimensions for the actual living space were only 27”x17”--enough room for 1.7 chickens.
Coop B advertised at 69” and suitable for 3-5 chickens. Again, a closer look at the dimensions only showed enough space for 1.7.
Coop C advertised at a whopping 85” and suitable for 3-4 chickens and still only had enough space for 2.3 chickens. Yikes!
Why this disparity? All three of these coops included a run space along with a living space, so the manufacturers tried to pass off the run area as part of the roosting area.
Giving your girls time outside is important for their health and wellbeing—both physically and mentally. If you don’t have the space or desire to let your birds roam freely through your yard, or are concerned about predators, a chicken run can give a safe place for the birds to wander and explore while keeping the rest of your yard neat.
While there probably isn’t a TOO BIG chicken run—the chickens will be happy with as much space as possible—there is definitely a TOO SMALL. Any run with less than 4 square feet per chicken will not provide enough room for healthy birds.
If we look at coops a, b, and c from above, only one actually provided enough space for the number of chickens it advertised—and just barely. Coop C’s 21” x 84.5” run allowed enough space for 3 chickens (even though it advertised for up to 4 birds.)
If you ask us (and our chickens) all the coops we build at OverEZ are just right. With accurate, transparent sizing and bird recommendations, highest quality materials and construction, and easy-to-assemble coops and runs, your Goldi-clucks will the happiest girls on the block. Check out our coops, runs, and supplies atoverezchickencoop.com.