Chicken coops- Everything you need to knowEveryone’s looking into chickens these days. Let’s admit they are pretty fun, not to mention pets that make food! Getting chickens is the easy part, but keeping them... well let’s just say it takes time and patience. In this article I’ll give suggestions on different sturdy and effective coop designs, keeping the cost low, and other little things that can surprisingly make your job a whole lot easier so you can enjoy your chicken raising experience!
Buying or building?~
First off you need to decide if you want to buy a coop or build a coop. This might depend on where you live, what your budget is or simply what you like. Here’s some suggestions in helping your decision.
• No work is needed, pick it up, then set it up and your done!
• Huge time saver!
• Most manufactured coops are overly priced.
• A lot of the times people build them cheaply and then sell them for outrageous prices just to make money.
• You get to decide everything: design, size, color and materials.
• If built properly it will be sturdy and can withstand natural elements.
• Budget friendly- With home built coops the only thing you need to buy are materials.
• One disadvantage would be time, it does take some time to build these, it all depends on the size of the coop too, the bigger it is the longer it’ll take.
• One more thing is you run the risk of injury if not wearing the proper safety equipment.
Factors to take into consideration~
The size of your flock•
The minimum is 2 to 3 square feet per chicken inside the chicken coop, and 8 to 10 square feet per chicken in an outside run. For bantams the size would be half as much. More square footage is better. Not having adequate space requirements for a flock of chickens can cause stress, pecking, unhealthy living conditions, disease and sometimes even death.
Your living environment•
The type of coop you want, might not necessarily be the best choice for where you live. Having a practical coop that can protect your flock from the elements is essential in chicken raising.
In colder environments-
You’ll need to provide your chickens with the proper protection from: snow, ice, wind, rain and other elements.
• First, make sure your whole coop has a roof over it, including the run. Think about it, your chickens will be outside all the time, if there isn’t a roof over the run it will get wet, muddy, be snowed in... the chances of them wanting to venture outside of their coop will be slim to none, plus it will create a lot more work for you. Having a roof over the run also provides protection from flying predators.
• Get a heat lamp. A heat lamp will help provide warmth when it is really cold, plus it might even kick up their egg production a little.
• If you live where there is a lot of wind gusts consider getting a tarp and hanging it over the sides of your chicken coop.
• Another good way to keep your chickens warm during the winter is to insulate their coop, to prevent them from freezing during the night when the temperatures drop.
In warmer environments-
You’ll need to provide your chickens with the proper protection from: heat, flash floods, and sometimes colder nights.
• First thing is you want to make sure your coop has proper ventilation. (All coops should have good ventilation but with warmer environments it’s more crucial.) Having good ventilation will prevent your coop from becoming an oven and roasting your chickens. During the summertime it can get pretty hot and when it gets hot, chickens can over heat easily and die... good ventilation is a must.
• Next have your coop in a safe spot where you know it will be protected from unknown weather conditions, like behind your house or a building.
• If you live in an area where it might flood, put your chicken coop a couple feet off the ground.
• In extreme heat make sure there is a reasonably good amount of space that they can go to for shade.
• Sometimes people even set up misters for their chickens to cool down in the hot weather.
Before you can begin building your coop you need to figure out what design you want. Based on what we’ve already talked about is essential for a chicken coop, I’ll give you some ideas.
If you want a small and simple flock you’ll have a variety of coop designs to buy or build, but always remember you don’t want your coop to be too small. Chickens need space to run around no matter how many of them you have. And remember to make sure it is properly secure to protect your chickens.
A medium sized flock is well balanced, not too many not too little. It provides enough eggs for you and maybe occasionally for some of your friends. Here’s some coop designs for a medium sized flock.
With a large flock you could have a variety of breeds and egg colors to choose from, and you could make some profit on them. Here’s some coop designs for a larger sized flock.
Sometimes we may just want to do something different. Here’s some neat designs that are rarely seen.
Keeping the cost low~
Ok, so we’ve gone over that most manufactured coops cost a lot of money, but how can you prevent going over your budget when building a coop? Here are some suggestions.
• Take some time to think about your design. Do some calculations and see how much materials you’ll “actually” need. If you get too many, you go over your budget; not enough and you have an incomplete coop.
• Use some pieces of scrap wood you may have lying around as long as it’s usable and is safe for the chickens.
• Ask your friends if they have some materials they aren’t going to use.
• Craigslist or another website can be helpful when looking for free stuff.
• Wait for materials to go on sale.
• Do some extra research on how to save money on materials, there are some great articles out there.
Making your job easier~
When building a coop we all tend to ask ourselves, ‘how can we make our job easier?’, but how can you make it easier in the long run? Here are some extra suggestions and ideas.
Chickens are very, very dirty! They poop everywhere, kick up dirt everywhere, and of course make a mess of their food! Well, I don’t have a solution to the poop or dirt, but I do for their feeder system!
An automatic feeder system. A lip on the bottom prevents them from kicking food out and getting inside, so the only thing they’ll be doing is eating. It’s an effective way to save food too. Another advantage is that you won’t have to fill it up as often as you regularly would. All you need to do is dump in a bag of feed, and just enough will come down in the lip for the chickens to eat. I have an automatic feeder on both my coops, and it works fantastic, plus I hardly have as much work as I did before. You can see some other features in the pic. above. You can buy them or make your own.
Now some people might say that it’s harder to deal with the waterer than the feeder, so why not do an automatic water system too?
An automatic water system, prevents the chickens from getting any dirt or poop in their water and like the feeder system, it is healthier and safer for them. Tubes carry the water to drippers which the chickens can learn to drink from. You can make your own or buy one.
Having a slidable cleaning drawer can also come in very handy. Instead of manually removing the bedding from the bottom of the coop every time you clean, now you can just pull out the bottom, dump the bedding, put new bedding in, and presto your done!
Bedding is also an important part of keeping your chickens happy and healthy. On the coop floor the bedding will provide a soft surface for your chickens to walk on and will absorb droppings and odor.
Some good types of bedding are hardwood shavings, pine shavings and aspen shavings.
Whether your getting chickens for the first time or have had them for awhile, I hope this article has helped you in some way with your coop.
Chickens are so much fun to have, and with the right knowledge and resources... you can do anything with your coop!
Thanks so much for reading everyone!