If you’re starting to raise chickens, then your chickens will need some place to live. A chicken coop is an essential part of raising backyard chickens, providing your flock with a safe and comfy place to lay their heads. It is also an excellent way to get a healthy inventory of eggs that you couldn’t get otherwise.
But building a chicken coop is easier said than done. So, before you start building your coop, we have a few pointers you should keep in mind:
Decide How to Start
First, you need a plan of action. You don’t want to just start building the coop while improvising each step. That is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. What you need is a step-by-step instruction, or a blueprint of what you want to build.
If you have experience designing smaller structures, you can create your own guideline and go off of that. If you are less design-minded, there are plenty of premade chicken coop plans out there that give you a detailed, step-by-step walkthrough.
Additionaly, you should plan on where to put your coop in the first place. Chicken coops facing the south or east can help bring in sunlight throughout the year.
Make Your Coop Predator Proof
Most importantly, your chicken coop should be predator proof. This is especially important for those who live further out in the country. There are many predators out there who will go after chickens and their eggs, so precautions are needed. You can predator-proof your coop with sturdy screens on the doors, windows, and runs. To kick it up a notch, use galvanized welded wire instead of chicken wire for extra strength.
Give Your Chickens Space
Next, you want to ensure that your coop provides plenty of space for your chickens to sit and move comfortably. As a general rule, make it big enough so the birds have indoor and outdoor access at all times. Additionally, each bird should have at least five square feet of outdoor space and four square feet of indoor space (though this can vary depending on the size and breed).
And Give Yourself Space
Your chickens need their space, but so do you. You coop should be tall enough for you to stand straight at all times. Additionally, it should also have proper doors that give you easy access to walk into. This includes the roof over the general area and the runs.
Happy chickens lay lots of eggs. As such, you want to make the coop as comfortable as possible. The best way of doing so is to include nesting boxes. As a rule, try to create one nesting box for every four chickens, with each box a foot or two off of the ground. For easy egg gathering, create an external access point to these nest boxes from the outside.
Feeders and Waterers
In addition to nesting boxes, there are a few other items that you need to make your coop comfortable. For instance, a good feeder will give chickens easy access to food with a proper height that will make it easy for the chickens to eat without stress. The chickens should also have easy access to fresh water. If you have a larger coop with many chickens, consider adding multiple waterers.
You should also include plenty of windows for proper ventilation. Having fresh air moving throughout the coop can help prevent respiratory diseases that chickens are sometimes susceptible to. Have the windows above the perch for draft-free ventilation. Just remember to put protective wire over the windows to keep away outside predators.