What are the basics you need to include in your chicken coop to make sure you chickens are happy and comfortable? Be sure to consider these before deciding on the design of your coop.
Give them space!
Chickens in a happy space are productive chickens. Make sure your chickens have at least 3 square feet each inside the chicken coop and around 6 feet in the run for each chicken. So once you have decided on the number of chickens you want to keep, you need to calculate the size of the chicken coop if you are planning on building a coop. Also know that you can come down a bird or two if you cannot find one of the size that you are after.
Let them breathe!
Don’t get confused between drafts and ventilation. Chickens need good ventilation during winter and summer. Typically ventilation should be placed near the top of the coop as warm air rises it can be removed through ventilation traps. Do ensure that there is sufficient fresh air entering near the bottom of the coop as well, to prevent the building up bacteria and condensation.
Give your birds privacy
Nestboxes should be in the lowest, darkest corner of the chicken coop. Chickens are quite secretive when laying eggs and prefer to do this in private. Try to have at least one nesting box per four chickens with straw or wood shavings for litter. Make sure the straw smells fresh and is not dusty as this will be bad for the chicken’s health.
Finally, make sure there is easy outside access to collect the eggs.
Put your birds on a Pedestal
Chickens like to roost on perches at night. You should allow 23-25cm per hen and ensure the perch has enough wide so the birds do not fall off at night. It is a good idea to have perches at the same height, otherwise the chickens will jostle for the higher perch. Chickens do about 50% of their poop at night so to make cleaning the poop from your coop easy to do, make sure there is an easy to remove poop tray under the perches.
Protection from Predators and the Environment
Chickens can be vulnerable to predators like foxes, weasels and stoat so make sure you choose a chicken coop design that is appropriate for your environment. If you live in a windy or wet area, the Chicken Coop must also be built to withstand the climate. If your area is particularly wet, it would be prudent to select a chicken coop design with a raised floor to avoid flooding.
Keep these basics in mind when looking for a chicken coop design for your backyard to ensure your chickens are healthy and productive!