Chicken Coop / February 13, 2018 / Maryellen.
Choose the site best for your coop. The site needs to be well drained-you dont want your chickens standing in mud! Expose the coop to the south to provide good sun. Keep in mind the prevailing weather patterns in your area. Face the door so the coop is protected from the rain and wind. Complement your home and yard with the right chicken coop design. Matching the design of the coop to your house or neighborhood makes it pleasing to look at and promotes backyard chickens to your neighbors. Remodel an existing structure into a coop. You can turn a garden shed a playhouse the kids outgrew or another outdoor structure into a chicken coop with a little creativity tools and materials. You can even turn a corner of your garage into a chicken house and build a run outside.
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.
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.
To protect your chickens from predators the best thing to do is to bury your outside runs with chicken wire all around the coop about 1 foot deep. This will prevent some very hungry predators such as raccoons cats and even dogs from digging underneath it. You may be wondering how to build a chicken coop that will not only keep your chickens locked up and protected from bad weather and predators yet receive the proper ventilation it requires. If so then you already understand the importance of draft free air movement from within the coop. Chickens much like humans need fresh air and oxygen. The same goes for the removal of unwanted excessive moisture and carbon dioxide. A chicken coop with ample air movement and proper ventilation will help remove the ammonia build up and dampness that may grow inside its walls.
Pre-fab coops are more expensive but easier and quicker to get up and going with your chickens. Just order and the coop will arrive ready to be moved into your yard. You can also order "some-assembly required" kits. Build it yourself. If you love woodworking or want to learn building your own chicken coop can be a great project to hone your skills. You can purchase chicken coop plans and blueprints online. Once your neighbors see your hand-built coop they may set you up with woodworking projects for them! Chicken Tractor- No youre not hitching your chicken up to a plow but the concept of working the soil is the same. A chicken tractor is a movable coop that allows you to move your chickens over fresh grass in your yard every day. They eat the bugs and weed seeds scratch at the soil and fertilize it. And they give you omega-3 rich eggs to boot. Its a win-win situation.