For those who haven't owned chickens yet, this is a mysterious number and a big worry to get right to make sure henhouses are big enough keep the birds, healthy, content and productive. Having a great poultry coops plan is a start but you need to rough idea of size of henhouses needed before you can choose the right one.
I have seen all sorts of crazy henhouse square footage allowance numbers online, even as low as one square foot per chicken!!! We have seen 2 feet by 18 inch battery hen cages that used to house 3 poor hens. The actual square footage needed in poultry coops is a sliding scale, a guideline. More is obviously better, but keeping henhouses building costs down is a limiting factor.
Here's some information based on our experience and research so you can make your own decision for your poultry coops situation. Square footage needed depends on....
- Number of chickens
- Amount of time they will be in the coop, is there an outside henhouses run?
- Climate - if winter means deep snow & they stay in henhouses 24/7
- Size of chickens - Standard large fowl or bantam miniature chickens
- Temperament - how active or flighty or docile the chickens are (allow an extra 30-50% for flighty Mediterranean and laying breeds-some of the bigger docile chickens seem just as happy in a smaller space)
Storeys Guide to Raising Poultry recommends poultry coops with 2 to 3 feet square feet per chicken for broilers and 2-2.5 square feet per brown egg layer. They say size of poultry coops depends on type and number of birds to be housed. Our heritage large fowl (some docile, some flighty)free range in summer. They stay in henhouses from December to March. For them 5 feet a square foot is a minimum for the henhouses, with 10 feet per chicken if possible for winter. They certainly need less space in the summer and just use the henhouses for roosting then.
For breeding poultry coops, arks or chicken tractors where there is an enclosed run and poultry coop all in one, we allow 5-10 square feet per chicken with the area of run and poultry coop added together. Some people allow less area and we consider an absolute minimum for is 3-4 square feet per chicken for a short period of time, say a few weeks.
As far as bantams, it seems space allowances in poultry coops are roughly half for standard sized hens. For poultry coops runs and pens, 4 square feet for a bantam is recommended and 8-10 square feet of run for large fowl standards. We usually just count them as standard size as we just have a few banties.
I hope these poultry coops size guidelines are clear. We usually round up the henhouses square foot numbers for a given number of birds, because what you save in building materials by making a henhouse smaller, you may spend in time, medication, replacing birds and lost production of eggs and meat if they are overcrowded and get sick.
I hope this helps you chose the best henhouses plan for your yard and flock. There are so many to choose from here once you know how many laying hens or meat chickens you want.
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