If you are planning on keeping chickens in your backyard, you must look after their welfare and give them adequate shelter and protection. Building a well-designed chicken coop and ensuring that your backyard is fenced is the best way to keep them safe from harm. A good chicken coop should have a source of food and water, a protected run for exercise and enclosed areas for nesting and roosting. Your chicken coop should also provide your birds with reliable protection against predators, which can climb into, dig under, or fly over your coop.
Remember you don’t have to build a coop from scratch. You can convert a disused children’s play house into a comfy coop for your birds or use chicken coop plans – which makes building a house for your feathered friends far much easier. Here’s ow to build a chicken coop.
Useful Tips for Building a Chicken Coop
Firstly, there is no one single perfect design for chicken coops, but the best coops share similar basic designs. Here are the most important considerations, whether you’re building one from scratch or using a chicken coop plan.
Plan carefully for the eventual number of birds you intend to rear. Allow between 2 and 4 square feet of space per bird. Remember it would be easier to begin with a bigger coop compared to having to extend a small coop later.
Make sure your coop is raised in order to prevent your wooden floor from rotting, allow the birds some space underneath to escape from rain and sun, and prevent predators from digging up through the floor. You can use a wooden framework, cement blocks or bricks to raise your coop to your desired height.
Use a tough, durable flooring material that is easy to clean, such as plywood covered with vinyl linoleum.
Avoid using materials that mold or mildew easily as your bedding, such as hay. You should also avoid using sand, as it can harbor pathogens and doesn’t insulate from cold. Pine shavings and straw make excellent bedding.
Make sure your coop has enough ventilation to allow fresh air to get in and moisture to escape from the coop. To ensure optimal ventilation whilst keeping predators out, cover your coop’s windows and vents with a 1/2 – inch hardware cloth.
Chicken enjoy sleeping on the roosts. Use wooden boards or other wooden material to construct roosts. Avoid plastic (which can be slippery) and metal (which gets too cold during winter) materials.
You’ll need to construct nesting boxes on which your chickens will pay eggs. Plan for one box per 4 birds, and ensure that each box is about 13 inches square. The nesting boxes can be at floor level or slightly raised, but not above your roosts.
Dealing with Predators
Fit your coop with a predator-proof lock to keep away predators. Raccoons can easily undo slide deadbolts and latches, so consider using a locking eye hook as it’s safer. You’ll also need to fit your nesting box lids with a secure latch, as well. By keeping these factors in mind while building or shopping for a coop, you’ll end up with a great coop for your feathered friends.