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How Much Space Do Chickens Need To Be Happy? What You Need To Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Raising chickens can be a fun challenge for people who want to give homestead life a try. Chickens are easier to handle than larger livestock like goats or pigs. They can also be raised for egg production, meat, or even as feathery pets. Even though chickens are not large birds, they still need space to move around. But how much space does a chicken need to be happy?

If your regular-sized chickens have access to space to run around outdoors, aim to have at least 3-5 square feet of indoor space per mature chicken. The roaming outdoor space for your chickens should be at least 10 square feet of space per mature chicken. Other factors contribute to your chickens’ happiness and comfort, but space – both indoor and outdoor space – should be high on the list.

chicken divider

Why Do Chickens Need Space?

When people think about chickens, the amount of space they have to move around comfortably usually does not come to mind. People who do not know much about raising chickens might think that the other four-legged farm animals are more deserving of space. However, a lack of space can harm chickens. If you own several chickens in a small area that does not allow them to move around freely, they can become aggressive. This aggression can lead to pecking at each other or pulling out feathers. Even if you have a single chicken, they can become stressed being in too small a place, and they could pull out their feathers. This stress can also lead to the chickens producing fewer eggs. Giving your chickens space to move around both indoors and outdoors is essential for their physical health and mental well-being.

chickens on fence
Image Credit: Cparks, Pixabay

Does The Size of The Chicken Affect The Amount of Space They Need?

The size of the chicken does affect the amount of indoor space they need. Smaller breeds of chickens, such as the Silkie breed, require a minimum of 2-3 square feet of space per chicken. Medium-sized breeds like the Leghorn will need at least 3-4 square feet of space per chicken. Aim to have 4-5 square feet of space per chicken for the larger breeds, like the Jersey Giant.

The amount of outdoor space will remain the same for all sizes of mature chickens: 10 square feet per chicken. If you are not able to provide your chicken with outdoor space, then your indoor space must be larger than the minimum requirement to ensure your chickens get the exercise and space they need to be healthy.

Number of Mature Chickens Minimum Indoor Space per Chicken Based on Breed Size Minimum Outdoor Space per Chicken
1 chicken Small: 2-3 square feet
Medium: 3-4 square feet
Large: 4-5 square feet
10 square feet
5 chickens Small: 10-15 square feet
Medium: 15-20 square feet
Large: 20-25 square feet
10 square feet
10 chickens Small: 20-30 square feet
Medium: 30-40 square feet
Large: 40-50 square feet
10 square feet

Related Read: 10 Best Chicken Coops – Reviews & Top Picks

What Else Do Chickens Need To Be Happy?

In addition to a minimum of 3-5 square feet of indoor space and at least 10 square feet of outdoor space per chicken, they need other things for their happiness. Chickens need a place to roost at night. Roosting bars need to provide about 8-12 inches of space per chicken so they do not get crowded. Nesting boxes are also necessary for your chickens. Usually, 3-4 chickens can sleep in a single nesting box. If you own chickens in an area that gets cold during the winter, you must provide additional warmth for them. Put a heating pad in the nesting boxes. Consider getting a thermal roosting perch for your chickens as well.

new little chicken divider

Final thoughts

When planning out both indoor and outdoor spaces to house your chickens, having more space than less is the best decision for your feathered friends. Inadequate space can lead to aggression and stress among your chickens, while more space gives them plenty of room to exercise and relax on their own. No animal enjoys being cooped up in tight spaces, and that includes chickens.


Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.