Chicken Coop / June 9, 2018 / Maryellen
The size of our backyard dictates the number of chickens we can keep as well as the size and the shape of their home. Small backyards require better planning in terms of coop designs in order to maximize the use of small spaces. Unless we are just starting most of us understand the role chicken coop plays in maintaining health and safety of our chickens. Experts estimate that three-quarters of chickens health problems and diseases are easily preventable simply by providing suitable chicken coop and optimized living conditions. In addition even in urban areas chickens are target of many predators. Chickens entire safety depends on the chosen building plan and the resulting coop be it our own plan or the professional one.
Last year I decided to build a chicken coop with my wife. Her and I used to be obese and we decided to evaluate the foods we were eating. We decided that part of us getting even healthier was growing more of our own food and eating organic to avoid the chemicals that build up in our bodies. As part of this we wanted to raise chickens for the healthy eggs. After a little bit more trouble than we had asked for we finally did build a chicken coop. I wish that someone would have told me a long ago what mistakes to avoid. To build a chicken coop draw out a plan. Collect all of the materials. Select materials that will be easy to attain easy to work with and easy to clean up. Plan the functionality of your coop. The doors need to open inwards not outwards. If you build it the other way with the door opening outwards you chickens will begin roosting on your windows. Your chickens will spend a lot of time in the coop so they need fresh air designing a coop with sliding windows is a great way to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the summer.
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.