Size & Welfare Requirements for Poultry Housing

Some guidance as to what size of coop is required for hens and other poultry along with some general tips. Based on The Poultry Club of Great Britain Welfare Guidelines.

chicken coopLocation of Chicken Coops & Poultry Houses

Secure from vermin, predators (e.g. mice, rats, foxes, magpies) and thieves. Remember foxes are as common in town as country. Houses raised above ground level are more secure from rats and mice chewing through the wall to gain entry.

Provide shelter from the wind and weather on exposed sites, including for waterfowl. Hedging or even hurdles can create effective wind breaks.

Site the house with its back to the prevailing wind, this helps prevent driving rain from entering via the pophole.


The poultry house must be well ventilated, ventilation is best sited near the apex to avoid draughts. Mesh screening over to keep out rodents and flies is a good idea. Adjustable venting to cope with weather extremes is a useful plus.


The house should have floor space of at least 12”(30cm) square per large fowl, 8”(20cm) square for bantams, depending on breed. This assumes the birds have access to outdoors during the majority of the day.

Remember this is a minimum requirement and it’s better to allow more space.


Perches can be provided for chickens over the age of 8 weeks old in order to keep them clean and free of damp conditions. All perches should be a minimum of 2”(4cm) wide, not round, to avoid twisted keels/breast bones.

Length of perches should allow at least 8”(20cm) per large fowl and no more than 24” (60cm) high for heavy breeds and turkeys

Waterfowl and chicks require a solid floor covered in dry litter such as shavings or chopped straw.


Position nest boxes in the darkest area. Allow one nest box per three hens. For large fowl these should be 12”(30cm) square per individual box, either partitioned or communal, with litter (shavings, straw or shredded paper, not hay due to mould)


Anything that makes cleaning easier should be considered a plus point. Houses where access to the interior is difficult can be difficult to keep clean and free of parasites like red mite.

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