Chicken Coop / May 31, 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.
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.
You should place windows in your chicken coop in a way that will allow your flock to get as much sun as they only can. Especially in the mornings. Most of the windows in your chicken house should be in a direction of the sunrise. Second use for windows is creating air circulation inside your chicken coop. They allow your chickens to breath with fresh air and save you from dealing with bad smells while you are cleaning the chicken coop. Failing to supply your chickens with an appropriate source of light will decrease their performance and cause them to lay eggs less frequently or during weird hours. So if for some reason you cant supply them with natural light try to substitute it with electrical. This however should be done under supervision of someone who knows how to build a chicken coop.
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.
Be sure to replace the water and the chicken feed daily. Build your chicken coop facing the south so that the coop will receive sunlight throughout the day. For the winter months when the days are shorter and there is less sunlight it is important to install a light in the coop. This is not difficult. They have lights that you can just stick to the walls at any local hardware store you do not have to be an electrician it is as easy as putting a sticker on a paper.Installing this light will be well worth the few dollars you spend to do it. It will keep your chickens warm and happy and keep your egg production up in the winter when most chicken farmers experience a fall off of production because the chickens get less light and warmth.