Are you thinking about building a chicken coop? If you have never built a coop before you may be a bit confused as to where to start. Here are a few tips I have discovered along the way from building my own that may help.
Here are 10 tips when building a chicken coop of your own:
- Provide shade. A coop placed in direct sunlight will heat up and cause stress for your hens. Some afternoon shade will help keep your hens cool. Also, if the hens will be confined to a pen, shade is essential to keep them stress free and consistently laying.
- Provide plenty of ventilation for summer and winter but no drafts on the birds themselves in the winter. A draft will cause the feathers of your birds to flutter, ventilation will not. No breeze should ever blow on hens in the winter. Ventilation is needed even in winter to keep moisture from building up in the coop. Moisture will freeze and frostbite can occur on combs and wattles.
- Situate nest boxes on the shady side of the coop to keep the hens cool. If building nest boxes that extend to the outside of the coop, typically to save coop space, be sure they are not in direct sun. The nest boxes should not be allowed to heat up which will cause stress and affect egg production.
- Situate nest boxes on the ends of the coop to avoid rain and snow falling on it. For nest boxes extended outside the coop, place them on end walls to avoid water and snow from dripping from the roof edge onto them.
- Situate doors and nest boxes where easy access is allowed in winter. Think about how you will keep the snow clear to access the coop during the winter. Situate doors and external nest boxes so you do not need to do more shoveling than is needed.
- Line bottom of nest boxes with rubber to minimize eggs breakage. Special nest box liners are also available. The rubber gives a softer spot for the eggs to drop and minimizes breakage.
- Provide curtains for the nest boxes for privacy. Nothing fancy is needed; just something to block the view of hens inside the box and other chickens outside. Curtains should be made of plastic or other waterproof material to minimize the need for laundering. Mites and other insects can and will hide in the curtains and material that minimizes this is essential.
- Build nest boxes no higher than 3′ from the floor. This minimizes the harsh landing of a hen jumping to the ground which may result in injuries.
- If providing a run, use hardware cloth at the bottom and bury it curving outwards at least 1 foot underground. This will deter predators like foxes and coyotes from burrowing under the fence.
- Be sure to allow enough floor space for the number and type of breeds you have to minimize crowding and pecking. I always provide much more floor space than is recommended but a coop that is much too large for the number of birds you have will be hard to “heat”. The heat comes from the birds themselves and an oversize coop will be much colder than one the correct size or a slightly larger one. Room to move when the hens are confined in the winter will reduce boredom and pecking.
Situate the coop near a water supply if possible or at least where a hose can reach.
Locate the coop near electricity if possible. Heated water is very nice during the winter to keep the water from freezing every night.
A mechanical timer (the kind in a waterproof box) can be used to control the power to your water heater and lights.
Leave a comment with your tips!
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