chickens
chicken management
stocking density
By stocking density I mean how many chickens can kept in a given area in relative comfort and harmony

minimum space requirements

The minimum space required to keep  chickens in a healthy and happy state varies depending on :-
  1. The size of the chickens.
    EG bantam chickens need less space than large meat chickens.
  2. The age of the chickens.  Chicks and juvenile chickens need less space than adult chickens.
  3. Whether the chicken numbers remain static or fluctuate throughout the year.   If you let hens raise broods of chicks with the intention of eating those chicks when they reach adulthood a flock may swell to as much as three times the size of the regular flock in the interim before all the chickens raised for meat are eaten.
As well different publications and websites on keeping chickens give conflicting minimum space figures.  In an attempt to simplify the formula I have come up with a figure based on the averages of a number of these sites.  These figures are for mid sized utility thickens.  If your are running layers or bantam chickens you could probably reduce these chicken to area ratios by 20%. 
  1. Perch length             25 Centimetres (10 inches) per chicken
  2. Coup area                  1.2 Metres2 (4 Feet2)
  3. Outdoor run area      1.2 Metres2 (4 Feet2)
Though I stress these are minimum space figures, idealy if would be better if you had more space per chicken than these minimum figures.


Space chicken ratio for my chicken run
It is difficult to directly compare my compltet chicken run with these figures as I have a deep litter run attached to the coup.  While my coup is relatively small the chickens have access to this deep litter run at all times, plus part of this run is under cover and extra perch space can (and has in the past) be added in this section.  For this reason I count both my coup and deep litter run as a single space when comparing with the above general space ratios.

  1. Perch Length - 5.4 m (18 ft)
  2. Combined Coup/Deep Litter Run--18.4 m² (60.4 ft²)
                                       A.  Coup                   4.8 m² (15.7 ft²)
                                       B.  Deep litter run   13.7 m² (48.2 ft²)
  3. Main run---------------------------------------44.4 m² (48.2 ft²)
  4. Extended run area-----------------------146 m² (179 ft²)
    Chickens have only ever been given limited access to this area, usually only for a couple of hours at the end of the day.  Sometimes they get almost daily access to this area, at other times they are denied access to it for up to three months due to a crop being grown in this section.
These days I usually only run about six chickens using the Staggered Replacement System, however in the past I used to have anything up to sixteen chickens.  But these high numbers were seasonal as they were when I was raising young chicken for meat.  The the Summer it would be up to sixteen chickens but by the following winter the numbers would be back down to six to eight. 



SPACE PER CHICKEN FOR MY CHICKEN RUN
SECTION TOTAL AREA CHICKEN NUMBERS
6 12 18
Perch Length 5.4 m 90 cm 45 cm 30 cm
Combined Coup/Deep litter Run 18.4 m² 3.1 m² 1.5 m² 1 m²
Main run 44.4 m² 7.4 m² 3.7 m² 2.5 m²
Extended Run (only occasional access) 146 m² 24.3 m² 12.2 m² 8.1 m²