Chicken House / June 1, 2018 / Maryellen
Light. You need light in your chicken coop to stimulate egg laying. Particularly if you want your hens to lay eggs all year round. As a rule of thumb you should have 1 light every 40 feet inside you chicken building. If you are just building a small chicken coop it will be sufficient to have a single light above the watering/feeding section. As a bonus the light(s) will also be a source of heat for your chickens in the colder months. Perches. Your chickens have a natural instinct to perch so you must provide them with appropriate perches otherwise they will perch on nesting boxes feeders and anything else around the coop. This would then lead to these important areas getting covered in droppings which is certainly undesirable. It is as simple as using broom handles for your perches. Again it is important that your chickens have adequate space on the perches so as a rule of thumb allow 8 inches of perch space per chicken. To make it easy to keep the chicken coop clean slip some trays under the perches so the droppings land directly in them you can then pull the trays out to clean them.
Ventilation. Chickens sweat. Sounds strange but it is true. Your chicken coop needs ventilation to keep your chickens cool in the warmer months and to allow the chickens perspiration to evaporate and escape the chicken coop. You should make sure your chicken coop plans include ventilation in the form of vents in walls or small windows but you also dont want it to be too drafty. You need a nice balance. One way to achieve this is to have the vents on the side of the chicken building that DOES NOT face the wind. This is typically the east or the south. This will also allow fresh oxygen rich air to flow into the hen house and the stale air and moisture to escape. Chickens can handle the cold but not the wet so it is vital to the health of your chickens that the moisture can escape.
Nesting Boxes. If you are keeping chickens for the eggs your coop needs to have at least 1 nesting box for every 5 or 6 female chickens. The nests should be comfortable and dark so your hens feel safe in them. You should put straw or wood shavings in the nest boxes and make the boxes at least 4 inches deep. If the boxes are not deep enough your chickens may fight and pick each others feathers. You should keep the nesting boxes clean at all times so the eggs remain clean. Hens should be trained not to sleep in the nesting boxes because if they do they will soil the area with their droppings. You should not have a problem with hens sleeping in the nesting boxes f you have given your chickens adequate perching space. If you find some stubborn hens that do want to sleep in the nests close them off at night.