A Chicken Coop Design for All Seasons
You’re planning on getting some chickens. Now you need the essential chicken coop. There are plenty of companies making them from small family firms with individual designs to ready-made coops from larger firms. Of course, you could even make your own.
Chickens are homely old birds – like humans their home affects their happiness and healthiness – so make sure you give them a good one, making it comfortable, warm and safe. Here are a few essentials to consider before you buy. Let us know if you have some more tips.
Ideally a coop should sit significantly above the ground using raised legs. This creates a light, airy space under the coop that will prevent rats and mice from colonising the space. If the legs are 20cm or more in height, then your hens have a nice shelter on rainy days, and a cool shady space when it’s hot.
The coop size
If you want your girls sitting pretty you need 3-4 square feet of space per chicken (perhaps more with larger breeds). If you are planning on having 3 chickens (and it is a good number to start with) then you will need 12 square feet of coop.
Make it safe
Ensure it is well made with no gaps or holes that predators can get in through. (You’d be surprised how small a hole a fox can squeeze through). Fit a ChickenGuard Automatic Coop Door Opener to ensure it is closed at night to keep predators out. See our article on Protecting your Hens from Foxes.
Chickens sit down to sleep so make sure perches are perfect and comfortable. They need to be wide enough – at least 3cm – and they should have rounded edges so that your girls don’t damage their feet. They should be raised off the ground to keep birds out of contact with droppings. Ideally perches should be higher than nest boxes. Make the perches long enough for your birds to huddle together when they choose.
Ventilation is vital but you will need to balance fresh air versus draughts. Ventilation holes or slots should be up or near the roof line. This allows warm damp air from your birds to rise and flow out. Good ventilation is vital for the health of your hens. If you are buying or having a coop designed then ask specifically where the ventilation holes are located.
Keeping your Coop Clean
You’ll need to clean out regularly, at least weekly, so make this as easy a task as possible. First and foremost, make it easy to access for you to clean it out.
If you can make nest boxes detachable it allows you to clean them out, periodically, or if an egg simply cracks in one. They should be higher than the coop floor – to give the girls some privacy – but ideally below the level of the perches.
This isn’t an exclusive list of tips, but hopefully it gives you a good start. Talk to a few retailers or Coop builders personally – they will give you some great ideas whichever way you choose to go.
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