Chicken Coop / June 5, 2018 / Maryellen
When you build a chicken coop you must consider how will you keep the floors clean in your coop. First you will need to cover them with a good material for the chickens to dig and scratch as they naturally do. Hay is unfortunately not ideal for this. Second you should build the coop with the floors slightly sloping towards the door. This way you can spray the hose in the coop and the dirt on the floor easily slides out to the ground below. You will have a clean coop and no puddles of water in the coop. Building a chicken coop is to protect your flock. The purpose of your coop is to protect your chickens from the element and outside predators but you also need to give them proper ventilation. Free movement of air inside the coop is very important but you do not want to freeze your chickens with a draft. Chickens are like humans they can only perform at their optimum levels if all of their basic needs are met first in this case protection and oxygen.
Insulating the walls will not only keep your chickens producing eggs but it will prevent your chickens from getting sick. If you build a chicken coop obviously the water and the chicken feeders need to be in a place where your chickens can easily access them. It is important to be very careful in selecting a place to put the water and the feeders.Chickens can make a big mess of things because of their natural instinct to scratch and dig. It is very frustrating to see water and the chicken feed you just put out all over the floor. To prevent this place the feeder and the water at the height of a chicken back. Ideally the chickens will have to stretch their necks up to the food a little bit to eat and drink but they will not be able to place their feet in their food or water.
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.