Chicken Coop / June 8, 2018 / Maryellen.
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.
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.
Choosing which size chicken arks to build is a very important consideration and will depend on the number of chickens you intend to keep. There are small medium and large chicken plans to suit your build. A mistake that many first timers make is they build a coop which is too small for the number of chickens that they have. If you cram too many chickens into a small chicken ark your birds will not be comfortable and therefore will be less likely to lay the number of eggs that they would provide if only they had sufficient space. It is better to err on the side of caution and use plans for a larger coop than you think you will initially need and then you have the option for the future of adding more birds at a later date.
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.
Electrical light is a great idea but you have to make sure that the installation is well hidden and wont become a pecking target. The other thing you have to remember is that with electrical light your bills can get really high so my recommendation is to always search for natural solutions. You have to remember about creating a chicken house of the right size. You should estimate how many chickens you are going to keep and based on that choose an appropriate plan. Each chicken requires from 4 to 5 square feet to feel comfortable. If you are unable to find a perfect fit for your flock always choose bigger coop. Small chicken coops will force your birds to crowd on a very limited space and that can cause disease spreading and in some extreme cases cannibalism.