Chicken House / May 27, 2018 / Maryellen
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.
Light. You need light in your chicken coop to stimulate egg laying. Particularly if you want your hens to lay eggs all year round. As a rule of thumb you should have 1 light every 40 feet inside you chicken building. If you are just building a small chicken coop it will be sufficient to have a single light above the watering/feeding section. As a bonus the light(s) will also be a source of heat for your chickens in the colder months. Perches. Your chickens have a natural instinct to perch so you must provide them with appropriate perches otherwise they will perch on nesting boxes feeders and anything else around the coop. This would then lead to these important areas getting covered in droppings which is certainly undesirable. It is as simple as using broom handles for your perches. Again it is important that your chickens have adequate space on the perches so as a rule of thumb allow 8 inches of perch space per chicken. To make it easy to keep the chicken coop clean slip some trays under the perches so the droppings land directly in them you can then pull the trays out to clean them.
Once you have settled on coop size you want to make sure your chicken coop designs meet your other needs. Unless you plan to purchase these separately you will want to make sure the plans also include sections on building your own feeders and nesting boxes. This simple detail is often left out of most plans. Most people do not know this but its important to position the coop strategically. In choosing the right position for a semi-permanent or fixed option make sure the area will have the right amount of sunlight and is not directly in the direction of the wind. You will also want to make sure that your placement keeps predator threats to a minimum. Most people neglect this fact when choosing chicken coop designs but lumber costs will make up about 90% of your building expenses.