Chicken Coop / June 9, 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.
Use appropriate building materials. Wood on the bottom of the coop that is in contact with the soil will eventually rot. Redwood and cedar are rot-resistant and excellent choices. Pine is cheaper and may need replacing in the future or require treatment. Be aware that preservatives put on wood might be poisonous to chickens. Use metal fiberglass or wood shingles for the roof. Perches. Chickens need to perch off the ground at night. You can be creative making perches from broom handles natural branches or 2x2s rounded and sanded (1x2 for bantams). Figure 6-10 inches of perching space per hen or 6-8 inches for bantams. Nesting boxes. Provide 1 nesting box for every 4-5 hens. They will often share a nest. Build the boxes where you can reach in through a hinged door for easy access to collect the eggs.
You have already taken care in protecting your chicken coops from drafts. At the same time you will need to maintain ventilation in the coop allowing free air movement throughout. The chickens inside the coop are quite safe with cold being kept out but at the same time they would need air to breathe. It is very necessary that the carbon dioxide accumulating inside your chicken coop be removed regularly replaced by fresh air in order that the chickens can breathe. There has to be ample movement of fresh air inside with cold drafts being kept away from entering the coop. You would want your chickens to be kept warm during the cold months and yet have solid source of ventilation during the hot months of the year. Placing your chicken coop facing the South would be a good idea where the coop may get Sunlight and air through-out the day.