Keeping healthy backyard chickens means making sure their coop addresses space requirements both inside and out.
GRIT Editor-in-Chief Hank Will talks with Purina animal nutrition specialist Dr. Mikelle Roeder about chicken coop space requirements to keep your flock happy and healthy.
Ultimately, the amount of space your flock needs depends on the size of the chickens. In general, at least 4 square feet inside the coop and 10 square feet outside per bird is adequate. Making sure your birds have enough space can reduce bullying and egg-eating behaviors.
Nest boxes can be made of wood, plastic or metal, and shouldn’t be too large: 1 foot deep by 1 foot square is plenty of space. Avoid placing nest boxes against a north wall, to protect them from cold in winter. A landing board at the entrance keeps bedding in the nest boxes and makes it easier for hens to get in and out of the boxes. Gathering eggs is easier if you can access the nest boxes from outside the coop, too.
Provide wooden roosts with approximately 9 inches of roost space per chicken, spaced about a foot apart. Metal and plastic roosts are liable to be too slick for your chickens to grasp, and metal roosts are cold in winter. If you use dimensional lumber for roosts, be sure to round off any sharp corners to protect the birds’ feet and avoid health problems later on.