Chicken Coop / June 5, 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.
Once you have decided on the size coop that you are going to build you should then decide whether you want a portable chicken coop or if you would prefer a static ark. Portable chicken coops gives you the flexibility of being able to move it around to wherever you want to locate it. This can be good for people keeping chickens behind a fence to protect from predators. The fenced in perimeter area around the chicken coop will get worn to bare earth quite quickly as hens will eat much of the vegetation in the fenced area. Therefore being able to move your chicken coops around would be an advantage here. Also a portable coop can be easier to clean depending on the flexibility of the water source you will be using for its cleaning.
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.