Chicken Coop / February 9, 2018 / Maryellen.
You have made a great decision and will soon be on your way to reaping the benefits of raising chickens; not only do they produce healthier than "store bought" eggs the make great pets. It is important however to make sure you build your chickens a good home. After all the coop you build for them will be where they lay their eggs and a vital protector from anything that may threaten your chickens. Building a chicken coop is much better than purchasing one already prefabricated. Not only will building your own allow you to personalize it with your unique style you can build it to fit your brood of chickens perfectly you can ensure quality of the craftsmanship and you will save a lot of money! There are some very critical errors that people make when they build their coops. Follow these 5 helpful hints so that you avoid the errors that people often make and build a strong backyard chicken 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.
Predators. Raccoons dogs skunks owls and hawks-all love a good chicken dinner or a pre-dawn egg breakfast. Dig a trench 1 foot around the perimeter of the coop lay in chicken wire and cover with dirt to keep predators from digging under your coop. Make latches secure from nimble raccoon fingers. And protect chickens overhead with chicken wire away from the hawks and owls. Keep it clean. Plan your coop for easy to clean maintenance. Use the manure in your compost pile for valuable nutrients for your garden. Clean your chicken coop frequently to keep smells bugs and neighbor complaints to a minimum. Pre-plan how you are going to get inside the coop. If its hard to get into youll avoid cleaning it which will result in a buildup of manure. Use leaf litter pine shavings or chopped corn cobs for bedding. Your chicken coop design can elaborate and grand simple and plain or anything in between to complement your home and neighborhood. The main point to remember is that the coop needs to protect your flock keeping them dry secure and comfortable. Following the tips on choosing the right chicken coop will ensure that backyard chickens continue to be accepted in more cities bringing self-reliance back to the individual.
Speaking of walls the chicken coop walls should have proper insulation installed which will help keep the chickens dry. As long as chickens are dry they can handle cold climates very well but humidity plus cold weather will cause health issues for your poultry. Therefore insulated walls are a must! If you want a good source of light and warmth for your chickens during the cold months of the year and a solid source of ventilation during the hot months then be sure to install the chicken coop windows facing the southside where they will receive direct sunlight throughout the day. On another note if your goal is to raise chickens that will produce great eggs all year round then you should look into an electrical source of light. You should be able to easily install an electrical light at the height of the chicken coops ceiling which will help keep your chickens warm and help them lay better chicken eggs throughout the year. One ceiling light should be enough for a small scale chicken coop for larger chicken coops though try to install one electrical ceiling light per every 30 - 40 feet.
Choose the site best for your coop. The site needs to be well drained-you dont want your chickens standing in mud! Expose the coop to the south to provide good sun. Keep in mind the prevailing weather patterns in your area. Face the door so the coop is protected from the rain and wind. Complement your home and yard with the right chicken coop design. Matching the design of the coop to your house or neighborhood makes it pleasing to look at and promotes backyard chickens to your neighbors. Remodel an existing structure into a coop. You can turn a garden shed a playhouse the kids outgrew or another outdoor structure into a chicken coop with a little creativity tools and materials. You can even turn a corner of your garage into a chicken house and build a run outside.