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With so much stress being placed on eating right and finding organic food and free-range eggs, it makes perfect sense to raise chickens in your backyard. There is no greater joy than collecting fresh eggs produced by your very own chickens.
To “raise them right” you need to keep your chickens safe, comfortable, and happy. This will ensure that your flock has good productivity and your eggs will be the best possible quality.
Chickens are happy creatures. They’re animated, curious, love interacting with people and even make great pets. They deserve to have a coop that will reward them for their service of providing you with your daily supply of eggs.
Why a Chicken Coop is Essential
While chickens are known to adapt to almost any environment, if you’re planning on collecting eggs every day, owning a chicken coop is a must have.
In many parts of the world, you’ll often see chickens running free and wild. As a matter of fact, it’s common practice in many areas. However, collecting eggs from these “free” chickens is almost impossible, as there’s no way to know where they’re laying their eggs.
That is one of the reasons we provide our chickens with a coop.
A good chicken coop will keep your chickens healthier and facilitates good management for their care. Below I’ve listed all the reasons that having a chicken coop is essential:
A coop will keep your chickens safe. The list of chicken predators is long. Even if you live in an urban area you will still find owls, cats, dogs, foxes, snakes, racoons, and hawks will eat your birds. You don’t want your chickens wandering into a street and getting hit by a car.
Providing shelter is a necessity. If you live in a climate that doesn’t have freezing temperatures, your chickens still need shade and protection from drenching rain and strong winds. Whether it’s heat or bitter cold, your chickens will be healthier and more productive if they have access to shelter when weather conditions are extreme.
A Place To Sleep
Chickens need to roost. A coop gives the ladies a familiar and safe place to sleep at night. The better rested your chickens are, the healthier they will be.
You need a place for the chickens to lay their eggs. In a comfortable and well-protected space, your chickens will be more likely to produce the most eggs. Proper nesting boxes reduce the stress for your chickens at laying time and make the eggs easy to collect.
A Place To Feed
Feeding your chickens is an art in itself. A coop with a good feeding system makes the job easier. There are many options for feeding your chickens. You want to ensure the food is getting eaten by the chickens and not other animals. A coop will help ensure feeding protection.
Keeping your chickens confined helps keep them out of gardens and off your porch. Even if you want to let them forage for part of the day, it’s nice to have a coop to confine them when necessary. When planting, seeding a lawn, landscaping, or fertilizing, you are not going to want your chickens out and about.
Different Styles Of Chicken Coops
Chicken coops don’t just have to be a matter of function; they can be stylish as well. You can add to your property’s appearance while keeping your flock safe and comfortable. It all depends on what the goal is for your coop.
You can create a basic dwelling that suits all the needs of your chickens. Or, you can visit Flyte so Fancy and look at amazing feats of poultry paradise.
If you want the best new products to put in your coop, you can check out Wayfair and purchase items like coop heaters, special feeders, perches, and just about anything else related to chickens.
What To Put In A Chicken Coop (6 Must Have Items)
There are the 6 basic necessities that all coops need. After this list I also share some of the must have extras for your coop.
But first, let’s look at the basic necessities for the chicken coop that are absolutely needed for your hen’s health and welfare.
1. The Right Size Coop
The first item on the list before you purchase or build your coop is to decide how many chickens you’ll be raising. There are different sizes of chickens, so decide if you want large, medium, or small chickens. For the standard breeds, you need 4 square feet of space per bird. You can add more space, but never less.
You will need room for nesting boxes, a roost, and places to put feeders. Keep these items in mind when you choose your design.
2. Nesting Boxes
Since the main purpose for raising your hens is to collect eggs, don’t skimp on the nesting boxes. Most chickens like to share nesting boxes but you’ll need 1nesting box for every 3 hens.
The nesting boxes should not be less than 12 x 12 inches. You can build a nesting box with any material you have lying around such as buckets, milk crates or even shelves or drawers. You also have the option of purchasing them pre-made like these Little Giant Nesting Boxes.
Create a nesting area that is dark and will make the hens feel well-protected. If you do, they’ll be much more likely to use the nests rather than find their own places to lay.
3. A Roost
An appropriate roosting spot is another chicken coop essential. Chickens love to sleep as high off the ground as possible. The higher up you can make your perch, the more the hens will like it.
Keep in mind these tips when creating your roost:
- Leave a few feet between the perch and ceiling so the hens don’t bump into the ceiling when they fly up to roost.
- Keep the perch a foot away from the wall so the hens can balance with their tail and head hanging off comfortably.
- Make room for everyone by allowing for 12 inches of space for each chicken.
- If you can, make different levels so those who age or don’t fly as well can still reach the perch.
- Stay away from slippery material for the perch like PVC pipe or boards with no rounded edges. The chickens will be most comfortable if they can wrap their feet around the perch.
4. Good Ventilation
Between the dust, ammonia from manure, and feathers flying around, good ventilation will allow your girls to breathe easier. Chickens have sensitive respiratory systems. Fresh air is essential.
You don’t want a drafty coop but a coop that ensures good air flow. You want the bad air out and the fresh air in.
During the summer months, the ventilation will help keep the coop cool. In the winter, you want the ammonia to be ventilated when it gets cold and the fumes from the composting bedding material become overwhelming.
If you use windows or vents, be sure to cover the openings with chicken wire or landscaping cloth so predators don’t enter the coop.
5. Make Sure The Coop Is Secure
Once your coop is finished, check for any gaps or holes. Predators will test it to the limits for vulnerable areas. Mice, rats, and snakes can enter through the smallest of openings.
A good idea is to place wire fencing, attached to your perimeter fencing, around the base of the coop and cover it with dirt or shavings. This prevents the digging predators from gaining access. When they try to dig next to the coop they’ll encounter the wire and their access will be denied.
The latch on the coop should be secure. If your three-year old child can open the latch, so can an animal like a raccoon.
Be sure your coop is water tight. If you have leaks in the roof, at the very least cover it with a tarp. You don’t want your bedding and nesting material to get wet. It’s a sure way to lead to health problems for your chickens.
6. Room To Run
Your coop must have access to an outside area where your chickens can soak up sunshine and exercise if you’re not letting them out during the day to free-range.
If you have small property and need to keep them confined at all times, provide a chicken run. The rule of thumb for a run is that every chicken has at least 10 square feet of space. More room is even better!
Consider covering the run with a roof of landscape cloth or chicken wire. This will prevent your girls from flying out and owls and hawks from flying in.
Fun Chicken Coop Extras
There’s an endless number of ideas for items you can add to your chicken coop. The best things are designed to assist with feeding treats, creating entertainment for the girls or even just fancying up the dwelling. There is quite a market for chicken coop accessories. Consider adding some of these fun ideas to your coop.
You can purchase treat feeders or make your own. Drill hole in a plastic bottle, fill it with meal worms or one of your chicken snack recipes . Hang it up and watch the girls go crazy.
Chicken swings are the latest rage. A swing can be a fun distraction and keep your hens engaged so they have less time to “hen peck” one another. Here is a YouTube video on how to make your own chicken swing.
Build A Dirt Bath
To build a dirt bath, simply make a hole in the ground or a sandbox type area. Fill it with sand and sprinkle some diatomaceous earth to make a dirt bath area that also kills lice and parasites.
Hanging Treat Holder
Chickens love eating bunches of grapes, pecking at corn cobs, heads of lettuce, cabbage and bunches of broccoli.
A Natural Perch
You can use stumps, branches, and anything that can be used as a perch at different heights around the run area.
More From The Hen’s Loft
- How To Store Chicken Feed (For Long Term and Short Term)
- Do Chickens Eat Ticks? (How To Control Ticks Naturally)
- What Animal Kills Chickens Without Eating Them?
- How to Keep Snakes Out of Chicken Coops (5 Tips!)
- How to Tell if Chickens Have Worms (And Treat Them Naturally)