Chicken Coop / June 3, 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.
Selecting the wrong place to build your chicken coop is a big error that people make. Chickens need space and it is essential that you put the coop in an area that is spacious and where there is enough space around the coop for you chickens to run and roam freely. Remember that the chickens need a lot of space to run but you also need to be able to have enough room to move around the coop to clean it and care for the chickens. It is not a good idea to build a coop where you do not have easy access around its perimeter. Also it is important that your chickens have enough sun light and enough shade. Most importantly build your chicken coop away from bushes and brush where rodents or snakes may live or seek shelter. You do not want any unexpected guests in your coop.
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.