Chicken House / June 5, 2018 / Maryellen
When selecting chicken coop plans to build from you really need to consider more than just the look/aesthetics of the chicken coop designs. Sure its important to have a nice looking chicken coop that fits your overall backyard design but there are some other very important things that need to be incorporated into whatever plans you choose. Space. There is a certain amount of space that your chickens need to be healthy and happy. You must allocate 4 square feet of floor space per chicken. Therefore a flock of 20 chickens should be enjoying an 80 square foot chicken coop. Do not skimp on space. In fact it is better to allocate more space if anything. If your chicken coop becomes overcrowded your chickens quality of life becomes reduced and can cause feather picking and in extreme cases can even cause cannibalism. This is obviously an outcome you want to avoid so never overcrowd your coop.
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.