Chicken Coop / June 7, 2018 / Maryellen
How big? You need to plan ahead for the size of your coop. Each hen needs a minimum of 4 square feet inside and outside the coop. If you get Bantams figure about 3 square feet per hen since they are smaller. Overcrowded chickens tend to peck at each other which can start a host of problems. For cold weather you want the spacing to be adequate so the chickens can stay warm. Have a quarantine area. A separate area to keep new birds for a week or two allows you to keep your flock healthy. Its also a good area to separate a hen if she becomes ill until she recovers. You can also separate the occasional over-aggressive hen that is pestering the other birds. Make sure the coop is wind and water tight. Your chickens need protection from the elements to stay healthy. They like shade during the heat of the day but also need protection from cold drafts. Use closeable windows for ventilation or a line of screened vents built into the top of north and south facing walls.
Once you have decided on the size coop that you are going to build you should then decide whether you want a portable chicken coop or if you would prefer a static ark. Portable chicken coops gives you the flexibility of being able to move it around to wherever you want to locate it. This can be good for people keeping chickens behind a fence to protect from predators. The fenced in perimeter area around the chicken coop will get worn to bare earth quite quickly as hens will eat much of the vegetation in the fenced area. Therefore being able to move your chicken coops around would be an advantage here. Also a portable coop can be easier to clean depending on the flexibility of the water source you will be using for its cleaning.
Electrical light is a great idea but you have to make sure that the installation is well hidden and wont become a pecking target. The other thing you have to remember is that with electrical light your bills can get really high so my recommendation is to always search for natural solutions. You have to remember about creating a chicken house of the right size. You should estimate how many chickens you are going to keep and based on that choose an appropriate plan. Each chicken requires from 4 to 5 square feet to feel comfortable. If you are unable to find a perfect fit for your flock always choose bigger coop. Small chicken coops will force your birds to crowd on a very limited space and that can cause disease spreading and in some extreme cases cannibalism.