Chickens need a coop or henhouse where they can roost at night, safe from predators and out of the wind and rain. Whether you buy or build your own coop, providing adequate space is essential. Overcrowding can increase the risk of health problems and lead to unwanted behaviors such as feather pecking or eating eggs.
The amount of space required in a chicken coop depends on the size and number of birds kept in it. With large fowl, the minimum is 12 inches by 12 inches per bird, and 8 inches by 8 inches for bantams. Allow space for ventilation as well, which is essential in all coops. This is especially true if it's a small house that has low air volume. Provide decent air holes or shuttered windows, and because hot air rises, position them just under the roof.
Idyllic Nest Boxes
Nest boxes for egg-laying hens should be 12 inches square, and 8 to 10 inches deep for large fowl, but a little smaller for bantams. If nest boxes are too big, more than one hen will try to get in them at a time, resulting in broken eggs. Provide one box for every three to four hens, and fix boxes to the outside of the coop to maximize space inside.
Room to Perch
For roosting, provide 12 inches of perch space for each bird, along with room for the birds to stand up. Perches should be about 2 inches square with rounded tops; if too narrow, they can cause discomfort.
- Choosing and Keeping Chickens; Chris Graham
- Raise Happy Chickens and Other Poultry; Victoria Roberts
- The Right Way to Keep Chickens; Virginia Shirt