Thinking about keeping some chickens in your backyard? Well then you’re going to need a chicken coop. Constructing a chicken coop doesn’t necissarily have to be hard but will require a bit of planning ahead. Also no matter how elaborate or simple you choose to make you chicken coop there are alway a few basic guidelines to follow.
One thing to keep in mind when building a chicken coop is that the more room the birds have the better. Chickens with more space preform better than those kept in small cages a lot of times. If you don’t a ton of land to build a chicken coop thats massive its fine. A general rule is to give 2 to 3 square feet of room per chicken.
Another major consideration is giving your chickens enough ventilation. If your coop is too stuffy and isn’t properly ventilated the fumes could build up to toxic levels. Placing the vents on the south and east sides of the coop will provied good air flow as well as protect from cold drafts. If you live in a warmer climate area you may want to place the vents on the north and south sides where the roof meets the walls. This will keep out wild birds who may carry diseases. Remember a well ventilated chicken is a happy chicken.
The next thing to condider is insulation. This is important to keep the chickens from over heating in the summer and freezing in the winter. Putting 1.5 inches of styrofoam between the walls and ceiling should do the job. During the summer you can put tin foil ontop of the coop to reflect the sunlight and also paint the walls white because it absorbs less heat. In the winter you can stack hay bales around the north wall of the coop.
Another factor to consider when planning the design of your chicken coop is how to keep out vermin. Dogs and foxes may try and dig under the coop to get in and eat the chickens. Snakes, mice and rats can also be a problem if they get into the coop. This can be countered by using a concrete floor. This can be expensive but dirt and wood floors are less secure against invaders. If you don’t have the money for concrete, wood is a better choice than dirt.
Also you will need to install a roost for the birds to sleep on. It should be made of smooth lumber or sturdy, thin pipes. Its important to make them the right size becuase if they are to big or to little the birds won’t be able to grasp it well. Also make sure there is enough room for all the chickens on the roost.
If you plan on letting your hens lay eggs you’re going to need nests. A nest should be around 12×15 inches long and 13 inches deep. You should provide litter or another soft material to keep the eggs from cracking. To get the hens accustom to nesting in the boxes put them on the floor for the first two weeks then move them up 17 to 19 inches. To get them to lay their eggs in the nests, make sure the nests are in a dark area away from the main activity of the coop.
Another thing your chicken coop will need are feeders and waterers. The main factor here is to make sure you have enough room for all your chickens because the chickens on the lower end of the pecking order will get pushed away if there isn’t enough room.
The last thing your coop is going to need is a door. In fact, it should actually have two doors, one for humans and another little door for chickens. The human door should be large enough so that you can carry in supplies such as feed. The chicken door should be around 10 inches in width and 13 inches in height. It should have a latch on it also. If your coop is high enough off the ground you may need to construct a ramp from the chicken door to the floor.