Need to know how many chickens you can put in a 4x8 coop? There is some simple math to work out how much space you need per chicken as follows:
- The minimum space you need per chicken in a coop is 2 square feet per bird.
- The minimum space you need per chicken for an outside run/pen is 8 square feet per bird.
Obviously, more space is always better. But, working with those minimum figures means you can house 16 chickens at an absolute maximum in a 4x8 coop.
I wouldn’t actually recommend cramming that many chickens in. I like to give my chickens 3 square feet each, meaning 10-11 is the number of chickens that size coop can house comfortably.
How Many Nesting Boxes Do You Need in a 4x8 Coop?
Once you know how many chickens you’re going to house, you’ll need to know how many nesting boxes to put in.
The rule of thumb regarding the number of nesting boxes you need is 3-4 hens per nesting box.
So, if you’re going to keep 10-11 hens in your coop as recommended for a comfortable number, you’ll need 3-4 nesting boxes.
If you want to know more about how many nesting boxes you need per the number of chickens in your flock, please read this post.
How Much Run Space Do You Need for a 4x8 Coop?
The amount of space you need for your outdoor enclosure, which is called a run or a pen, depends on how many chickens you’re keeping in your coop.
As I mentioned above, the minimum amount of space you should provide is 8 square feet per chicken in an outside run. But again, more is better and I always aim for 10 feet per bird.
So, if you are going to keep 10-11 chickens in your coop, at an absolute minimum you’ll need to provide them with 88 square feet. With 110 square feet being a much more comfortable amount in my opinion.
Free-Range Is the Best Option
Of course, allowing your chickens to roam free-range is the best option. Free-range chickens are typically a lot happier, and there are some other benefits:
They’ll munch insects - This is good for their health and does you and your yard a favor reducing the numbers of pests and insects. It’s a win-win.
Chickens are happier - There is no denying it, chickens are happier given the space to roam free. Don’t feel bad if it’s not an option for you, they’ll be happy in their enclosure too. But if you can, you should always let them roam free.
Tastier eggs - There is no denying it, a happier and healthier hen lays a tastier egg. Free-range eggs taste better, and studies have shown they are safer and more nutritious.
Related - How long do you need to keep chickens in their coop before allowing them to go free-range?
Potential Problems With Overcrowding Chickens
The more chickens you keep within the same space, the more potential there is for problems.
Some of the main issues with overcrowding chickens include:
Chickens are social animals, but they need to own space to go about their business. They need space to clean themselves in a dust bath, patches of land to forage on, and space to exercise without bumping into another chicken.
When chickens are overcrowded they start to fight and peck at each other. Which can lead to bullying the weaker flock members, and often results in serious injuries.
Like most animals - and us for that matter - poor living conditions cause stress. Sometimes chickens will internalize this and become sick, one of the first signs will be a floppy or pale comb.
Sometimes, however, they will become aggressive to other chickens as I mentioned above. Which can be disastrous if fights break out when you’re not around to do anything about it.
No one wants an unhappy flock, otherwise what’s the point is keeping backyard chickens? I know it’s always tempting to get one more chicken, but you have to put their health and happiness first!
Sanitation and Disease
Chickens aren’t high maintenance by any stretch. But cramming too many chickens into a small space is going to be a nightmare to clean up after.
Plus, you increase the risk of the disease spreading. You’ll have to be more strategic with your waterers to avoid contamination and keep on top of their feeders.
Basically, it’s going to create you a lot more work and be a less enjoyable experience for both you and your chickens. Doesn’t sound like such a good idea now, does it?
Related - How often to change the bedding in your coop.
I know how addictive it is keeping backyard chickens and that feeling that you always want just one more….but you have to think what’s best for your chickens.
Don’t go over the top in the other direction though, you should always have at least three chickens.
As I pointed out above, I think the best solution is to provide 3 square feet per chicken in a coop, and 10 square feet for their enclosed outdoor space.
You can get by with a little less, but I feel this is the optimal amount of space to keep your flock happy and healthy.
Image credits - Photos by The Brewers and William Moreland on Unsplash