How Much Space do Hens Need

Happy Chickens - Plenty of Space

‘How much space do hens need?’ is one of the questions we’re asked again and again. Prospective poultry keepers, sensibly, want to be sure they have enough room to keep their hens before they get them.

It’s surprising how little space you need to keep some hens at home and enjoy super-fresh eggs. Just 3 hens, depending on breed, could provide a dozen eggs a week for the family.

Their space is made up of 2 parts: the chicken coop and space to exercise.

What size hen house do I need for my chickens?

Do keep in mind that the hen coops we’re talking about are used as a bedroom for your birds and provide access to nest boxes for them to lay in. They’re not designed to keep the birds in all the time.

One accepted rule of thumb is to allow a minimum of a square foot per bird assuming you’re letting them out to get exercise. So a small house around 7 square feet would hold 4 or 5 hens in comfort. Don’t forget that larger breeds require a bit more space than smaller ones or bantams.

Many houses are raised off the floor and provide sheltered run space under the house. This is a very efficient use of space.

Sheltered Run Space Under Coop

Sheltered Run Space Under The Coop

More information on chicken houses.

How much exercise space do chickens need?

For home or ‘backyard’ chicken keepers there is no set rule for this but a minimum run around 20 square feet or 1.8 square metres would be enough for 4 hens. That’s just 5 feet by 4 feet.

This is less space than a commercial free-range hen would be allowed but those rules are designed to allow the pasture time to recover. You may well be able to move your run or even allow your birds to range outside the run when you are there to square off any foxes.

Studies have shown that commercial free range hens don’t tend to wander too far from their shed, so despite being allowed 10 square metres per bird in the regulations, they often keep together in a far smaller area.

In a small run you can improve your hens’ conditions immensely by providing interest for them. See this article on keeping your hens happy.

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