In the Brooder
- Aug 10, 2020
Thank you so much for the info!! We definitely need to build way bigger than my hubs originally expected. Thankfully he is all about making me and the chickens happy lol.Plan on 4 square feet of floor area per chicken in the coop, and 10 square feet per chicken in the run. More space fine, less is not. Most styles of feeder and waterer take up space too, so allow a few square feet for them.
It is usually best if you can walk into the coop easily--so make the door big enough, the roof high enough, and so forth.
Plan on 1 linear foot of roost per chicken. Chickens like to roost on the highest available thing. So make sure the roosts are higher than the nests, higher than the feeder, and so forth. Don't make the roosts too skinny. A closet rod or a 2x4 can make good roosts. (People dispute whether the 2x4 should have the 2" side up or the 4" side up. Each side says their chickens are doing fine.)
Nests are often about 1 foot each way (length, width, height). Plan for about one nest per four hens. Nests can be above the floor (so they do not take up floor space), but make sure there is a board or perch in front for the hens to fly to, so they can step gently into the nests without breaking eggs.
Think about bringing bedding in, and cleaning it out. Can you use a long-handled rake or pitchfork without bumping the wall? Can you bring a wheelbarrow in? Or at least put it near the door?
Think about bedding piled on the floor and scratched around by chickens: you probably want the door to swing outward, to be sure you can open it to go in! And you might want a board across the bottom of the doorway to keep the bedding from falling out. But you want that board to be easy to remove at cleaning time (maybe one screw in each end.)
It is convenient if you can make a smaller coop within the bigger one (section off one end, or a space under the nests, or something like that. The smaller coop can be used for brooding chicks, for isolating a bully or a victim, for letting a broody hen hatch her eggs in peace, for introducing new birds to the flock, and many other things.
Natural light is good, therefore windows are good.
Ventilation is very important, but fasten hardware cloth over openings to keep out predators. You could even consider making one or two walls entirely covered in hardware cloth instead of solid material, for summer ventilation; and then have panels or tarps that can be put up to block wind for winter.
Some predators can go through small openings (weasels), some can reach through small openings to grab chickens and rip them to pieces (raccoons), some are strong enough to rip off hardware cloth that was stapled in place (raccoons, dogs), some dig, some climb, some fly. And then there are bears, that can just rip apart anything you've built. Learning what predators are common in your area can help you design an appropriately strong coop.
If you do not know what predators are in your area, I would build for dogs and raccoons and hope for the best. Dogs dig and some are fairly strong, raccoons climb and can reach through small holes and crawl through medium holes. If you exclude those two creatures, you will probably keep out almost all other predators too, except possibly bears.
I've probably missed a few points, but those are what I see as the basics.
My personal favorite coop was 12 feet by 12 feet inside. The ceiling was 8 feet at the low side and 12 feet at the high side. It had double doors (4-foot total opening) on each end. The top of the nestboxes was right under a glass window, so the chickens could stand there and look out. It was in Alaska, so the chickens had to stay inside all winter, which made all that space really useful.