Requirements for Building a Coop
A coop is what you normally call a chicken’s house. It’s their kingdom! A hen’s castle. So you have to make sure to keep their house maintained at a four star accreditation for this will help the chickens grow healthy and happy. Therefore, to keep it the way it should be, there are specific requirements to cope up with to build a coop that will satisfy both you and your chickens. You, the poultry owner, of all people should understand this.
#1 Coop Security and Predator Protection
Regarding its design, the coop must be secured from any kind of predator. Every single angle in the pen – sides, below and above, must be structured to withstand the wrath and longing of predators who are always on the lookout for a free meal. When selecting a wire mesh, be sure it is the right one. Predators are more than one. They scour within the area of your coop unnoticed just waiting for the time when they can attack. You have to make sure that the coop is impenetrable because some predators like raccoons just reach out for their prey, easily.
In connection with requirement number one, this is a continuation. Aside from predators, you have to secure the coop from those nasty rats. They burrow through the ground and come up from below. If the coop floor is not blocked, these rodents will slip into the hen’s quarters. Rodents are attracted to the food you’re giving your chickens and the droppings they excrete.
What’s more devastating is that these pesky rats love eggs. So whenever laying season comes, they gather too. Want to get rid of them? Good idea. But prevention is better than cure. That is why preventing them to come into the pen is better that getting rid of their presence completely. All you need to do is construct a floor within the pen, otherwise, bury a fence about 12 inches deep around the hen’s house. Be sure that the materials you will use for the fence and the floor is thick or hard enough for them to impossibly bite through.
#2. Proper Ventilation
Ventilation of your chicken coop can be tricky. It cannot be not be drafty or breezy but must have proper ventilation. In the summer the coop will tend to be hot so you do need air flow. But during the cold, blustery winter months, it needs to be tight but not so much so that condensation build up.
#3. Roosting Is Important
Roosting perches must be provided for your hens to sleep on. A good perch will be approximately 2-inch wide rounded edges. The common rule of thumb is to allow an 8 to 10 inch space between every bird, however my birds are always jammed tight together even though there are open roosts. This keeps them cozy in the winter but hot in the summer. Be sure and provide easy access to the roosts as in ramps or tiered perches. If you have older hens, provide wider perches that are lower to allow for their arthritic joints.
#4. Nesting Boxes
I assume that since you have chickens, you want to collect their delicious eggs! So unless you want your hens to lay eggs every where, you will need to put nest boxes in the coop to encourage egg laying. They like dark quiet places to lay their eggs and if they don’t like the nesting boxes, they will hunt up somewhere else to lay. The general rule of thumb is one nest box is equivalent to three to four chickens, however I can tell you from my experience and that of numerous friends, you can throw that out the window. I provided 10 nesting boxes and the silly hens fight over four favorite nesting boxes. These are the old boxes I ever find eggs in! Be sure and located the boxes off above the ground. Mine prefer them to be higher rather than lower.
#5. Adequate Space
You probably know how many hens you “plan” to keep but I can tell you from experience, you always end up with a few more. Keep in mind how many chickens your area allows you to keep. If you can only keep 6 hens, then only build a coop big enough for them. Generally speaking, you have to allow at least 3 square feet for every bird. There should also be space where the feeder and the waterer can hang to which is 7-8 inches above the ground. If you look at the chicken coops you find online, most of them are really only big enough for 2 to 3 hens so be careful if you buy one online. They are always smaller than they look when they are put together in your yard!
When buying or building a chicken coop, keep in mind that you need easy access to the inside. You are the one who will be cleaning the coop, picking up eggs and feeding the chickens. Do you enjoy getting down on your hands and needs to collect eggs or change food and water? Many of the coops I have seen are so small that they are a nightmare to work in. So keep that in mind BEFORE you buy or build a coop that you just absolutely hate!
I personally prefer to have someone help me make my own chicken coops. They really aren’t that complicated, especially if you have someone with basic construction knowledge. You end up with a chicken coop that meets YOUR needs and that is unique. You probably won’t spend any more on a custom made chicken coop than you would a prefab one that really isn’t what you need.
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