5 Important Considerations for Building a Chicken Coop

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Raising chickens? Here are some important things to consider when building a chicken coop.

Raising chickens is a great way to create your own sustainable food source. But before you run out and buy some cute little chicks, you’ll need to make sure you have a safe place for them to live.

You will need to make sure your coop is predator-proof, has adequate ventilation and shelter, and provides your chickens with a good, secluded place to lay eggs.

You will also want to consider whether your chickens will be “free range” within an area of your property, or penned within a smaller enclosure. (Remember that healthy eggs come from healthy chickens, which means they need to be allowed to forage on grass for at least part of the day.)

When it comes to building your chicken coop, here are 5 important things to keep in mind.

Plan for the Flock You Hope for, Not the Flock You Have…This is the biggest point to take in before breaking ground on your coop. When we first got chickens, we started out with four hens and a rooster. The next thing you know, my husband decided he wanted a variety of chickens in his flock. Then he wanted a variety of different-colored eggs.

I turned around twice, and we had gone from 5 chickens to 25 chickens. That is a big difference.

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One thing you need to let sink in now is that chickens are the gateway farm animal. So go ahead and build your feathered friends a home.  But be sure to plan for the inevitable sized flock that is bound to join them.

The Bigger the Better

This point goes right along with the first one. When building a chicken coop, the bigger you build it, the better off you’re going to be. Each of your chickens will need at least 4 square feet. This doesn’t sound like much, but if you plan for the flock of the future, you’ll soon realize you need plenty of space.

If you are planning on keeping your chickens cooped at all times, they will need upwards of 10 square feet of coop space per chicken.

Space is one of the most important aspect to consider in raising chickens. Overcrowding can lead to illness and poor egg production. Neither of these things adds to a positive chicken keeping experience….

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Location, Location, Location

Real estate matters — even to the birds. Well, not really. Your chickens would be happy in the prettiest of coops or a little shack, as long as it met their needs. The location of the coop does matter, though.

Chickens get really hot in the summer. Some breeds handle the heat better than others, but you will notice that they will constantly be on the lookout for shade during the summer months….

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My point here is that, if you have a place to put their coop where your chickens can have adequate shade, go for it. If not, be sure to have places of shade within or under the coop.

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Sleeping Quarters

Okay, so chickens don’t have bedrooms. They do have roosts, though. Each chicken will need 8 to 10 inches of roosting space.

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…Roosts don’t have to be fancy. They really are just flat pieces of wood that the chickens sit on to sleep. If you want to make it a little easier for your chickens to roost, try rounding the wood a little at the top, so it is more comfortable for them.

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Chickens Like a View

No, your chickens aren’t secretly hoping for an ocean view. They don’t even care about the windows. But their health depends on it. This was something I wasn’t aware of at the beginning of raising chickens.

We ventilated their coop thinking it had more to do with keeping odors down than anything. It does help, but the reason coops need proper ventilation is to give airflow….

A chicken has an extremely delicate respiratory system. When they develop a respiratory issue, it can literally kill them in a matter of days. Sometimes hours. So you want windows.

You can achieve proper ventilation in multiple ways. The first is by adding windows and then placing mesh wire over the holes for protection….

…As long as around one fifth of your coop is vented then you should have happy chickens. Try not to go over one-fifth because too much of a draft can cause your chickens to develop frostbite during colder months.

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For more chicken coop building tips, see the full article at MotherEarthNews.com

 

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