The design of your Chicken Coop is very important. There are so many styles and designs of chicken coops, it can all get very confusing. Do you buy one, and if you do what is a good design? If you make your own, how do you know you have everything you need to keep your chickens healthy. A good way to start is to make sure your chicken coop fits the basic principles outlined below. Whether it is the most luxurious or the most basic chicken coop you won’t go wrong if you follow these tips.
A chicken coop can be very simple as this mobile coop above.
If you don’t have much space then you need to restrict your flock to two or three chickens. Chickens need between one and two square foot each in their chicken coop and between two to four feet each in their chicken run.
Bantams need less space and the larger breeds need more, so the size of your hens does matter. If you don’t take this into consideration you risk your chickens getting diseases and fighting each other. If you can let your chickens roam during the day in a large enclosed area then all the better. Just make sure that they are locked up in their coop at night.
This is so important as chickens are extremely vulnerable to all types of predators. From dogs and cats to wild and feral animals that may live in your area, they will all love to get a hold of your chickens. Foxes especially love chickens and because they can climb fences, the coop must be completely enclosed and be secure along the bottom, so that predators cannot dig their way in.
Here is an example of a very secure chicken coop and run, totally enclosed with bird aviary wire.
3. Protection from heat and cold
If you live in a cold climate having insulation or a light may be required in your coop to keep your chickens warm. Recent studies have proven that chickens will lay much more consistently if they are kept warm than those who are not This may sound a bit too expensive for some people so a cheaper way to get around this is to buy a heap of straw bales amd when winter comes place these around the outside of your coop. This will prevent drafts and also insulate your coop really well. If you live in a hot climate your coop will benefit from being either shaded by a tree or by a building.
Fresh air is vital so along the top of your coop have a thin strip of bird wire that allows the coop to receive fresh air but not cause a direct draught onto your chickens. Do not have your vents down the bottom of your coop as they will create a draught directly onto your chickens. Toxic fumes can build up inside an unventilated chicken coop from the chicken manure so this is very important and is something that can often be overlooked.
This Chicken Coop has excellent ventilation at the top of the coop with bird wire making it secure.
If you are only going to have a few chickens and you have decided on a mobile chicken coop then the floor can be just the ground the coop is placed on. As you will be moving the coop around the chickens will be quite happy with the new grass they get every time they are moved. A dirt floor covered in straw or hay is also acceptable in a fixed coop but it has the disadvantage of allowing rats and mice in and can be difficult to keep clean. A concrete floor is the best and will keep out rodents and is easy to clean. Straw or hay is still a good idea to put on the floor as it soaks up the manure and apart from providing warmth the combination of straw and manure produces fantastic compost.
This fantastic chicken coop has a concrete floor, bricks around the bottom so no predators can dig their way in, great looking nesting boxes and a roost.
6. Nesting Boxes
Nesting Boxes for your Chicken Coop need to be at least a foot long by a foot deep. Wooden boxes are the best but they could also be made out of plastic if necessary. Place them at least a foot off the ground and if necessary have a wooden ramp so the chickens can get into them. To make it easy to collect the eggs you may want to make a box with a hinged lid that you can open from the outside of the coop. This means that you don’t have to go inside the coop to collect the eggs. This can save you a lot of time and means that your children can collect the eggs without letting the chickens out. Put some straw, hay, woodshavings or even shredded paper in the boxes so that the chickens are comfortable and the eggs don’t crack.
These nesting boxes have a hinged lid on the outside of the coop so that you can collect the eggs without going into the chicken coop.
Chickens roost at night so you need to provide them with a roost to sleep on. Roosts are best made of wood and can be made from small tree branches, wooden poles, dowel, or even an old wooden ladder. Just make sure that the chickens are able to hang on with their feet and that they can sit there comfortably. Metal roosts are not suitable as they can get freezing cold in winter and very hot in summer.
Automatic feeders are very handy, or you may choose to scatter the hens food daily in their run when you collect their eggs. This has its advantages as there is little waste. If you are going to buy an automatic feeder you may want to place it in the chicken coop to minimise rodents who will love to share your chickens food and also the local bird population who won’t be able to resist a free feed. For this reason I also like to use bird avairy wire rather than chicken wire as the aviary wire has much smaller holes and other birds won’t be able to get into your chicken coop. It is also good to hang your feeder from the ceiling about six inches from the ground. This also will reduce waste, discourage rodents and stop the chickens from scattering the food far and wide.
If you need a chicken feeder click on the link below.
The Automatic Feeder hangs from the ceiling.
Fresh water is vital for keeping your chickens healthy. They need their water checked daily especially in hot weather. You will need a bowl that is deep enough for the water not to heat up too quickly but shallow enough so that the chickens are able to reach it easily. It also has to be in something large enough so that they can’t tip it over. Having an automatic waterer is a good idea but you still need to regularly check that it is working properly and that your water source is reliable. Another hint if you are raising baby chicks. Their water bowl needs to be very shallow as they can drown if their bowl is too deep.
This automatic waterer has two nipples that release water when the chicken presses on it.
Your Chicken Coop should have a place for the birds to roost, good drainage, nesting boxes, a feeder, a waterer and enough space for the number of birds you are raising. You can have a permanent chicken coop. a mobile chicken coop, a premade chicken coop, a homemade chicken coop and they come in all shapes and sizes.
Click on this link for more Chicken Coop Designs.