DESIGNING AND PLANNING YOUR CHICKEN COOP
Your chicken’s housing can be as simple or fancy as your imagination, and your budget allows. The birds will dictate the essential criteria.
- Choose the size first. You need 2 square feet per chicken floor space and one nest for every three hens. The nest boxes should be about one-foot square. Allow extra space for large breeds like the Jersey Giants. Read more about the sizes of various chicken species and find out the size of the chicken coop.
- Sketch the chicken coop, with measurements on paper.
- The ground where the co-op is to be built could also be helpful in terms of its position in relation to the sun (southern exposure means greater sunlight); nearby buildings (will you add it to a car park or barn?); and the need for a run, fenced or not. Construct the coop on a high terrain to avoid water and mud problems!
- It will help if you remember to include a door and a floor in your plan. A door can be as simple as plywood on a one by two frames, with hinges and a simple latch— make it wide enough for you to comfortably go in and exit with your eggs in your hand or a basket. A dirt floor is essential. But if you build a wooden floor, plan to raise it from the ground by six inches. If your time and resources allow, a third option is poured concrete. Consider also whether you are providing electricity: a low watt bulb will prolong the day in winter months and maintain constant production figures for eggs.
- Ventilation of Coop is more critical than insulation. Plan to have air circulation openings near to the ceiling. Plan to also add a few 11⁄2-inch dowels in the upper part of the coop, which will allow the chickens to roost off the ground at night.
BUILDING THE CHICKEN COOP
- Take your plans to the lumber yard when you are finished. Someone can help you to assess the stock and equipment that you need. Plan a two-by-4 frame for the chicken coop and use plywood for the walls. The roof can be a plywood sheet or merely a piece of sheet metal with roofing shingles.
- A run of 5×20 feet will keep a flock happy—6 to 8 hens. If you have a room, more space is better. When predators are a problem in your area, dig 6 inches deep under the coop and set a layer of chicken wire to foil diggers, such as foxes, dogs, and skunks. Standard2-inch wire allows Mink and Weasels to slip through. Instead, use two2-inch offset layers or one-inch cable to keep them out. Plug any holes in the walls of the coop too.
- It would be best if you rudimentarily accessorized the chicken coop. Waterers keep the poultry from kicking their supplies of water. Install one for every 3 or 4 chickens. Get a feed trough that’s long enough to feed all chickens at once (or get two smaller ones). Have a sufficient number of wood or straw shavings on the floor to place a6-inch floor layer and a few on each nest box, and the chicken will have a perfect home. Switch beds roughly once a month or if it looks flat.