This is a common phrase that refers to the space needs of your birds. Chickens, like humans, need a certain amount of living space to stay healthy, warm and happy. When they’re crowded into small quarters they react like humans do. They get moody, argumentative and have all kinds of health, stress and aggression issues. Space is the number one consideration for any chicken farmer, no matter what the size of their operation. Overcrowding your chickens can result in problems like feather picking, stress, bullying, fighting and even cannibalism.
What climate do you live in? If you’re in an area with harsh winters you’ll need to plan on an even larger than average coup because your chickens will be “cooped up” for much of the winter and will need more space to move around in. How many roosters do you have? The more roosters you have, the more space you need. Roosters are territorial and will need more space than your chickens to both move around and to protect.
When calculating how much space your chickens need, always use 4 sq feet / 0.4 sq meters per bird for coop space & 10 sq feet /0.9 sq meters for run space. For example, if you are going to have 4 chickens, your coop should be a minimum of 16 sq ft / 1.5 sq m. Chicken runs are supposed to provide space for your birds to get some exercise, so for a stand-alone run, 4 chickens should have 40 sq ft / 3.7 sq m of space. If you are building a coop with an attached run, the run will usually be smaller than a stand-alone one because it is there as an addition to the coop to provide extra space for your chickens (which is always a plus), so you should determine the number of chickens by using the coop dimensions, not the run dimensions. Remember – those are the minimums, any extra space will always be appreciated by your birds!