Do you want to build or buy a chicken coop? Whether you are just getting started raising backyard chickens or you are an experienced chicken owner, it is important that you prioritize the care and comfort of your chickens. Keeping laying hens has many benefits, but it will be hard to take advantage of them if your chickens are uncomfortable. Plus, it is a great way to protect your investment. The happier and healthier your chickens are, the more they will lay for you. The better protected they are, the less likely they will fall prey to predators like cats and foxes.
Even if you plan on buying a coop, check out these tips on the essential elements of any chicken coop:
Dimensions: Every chicken will need about two square feet of floor space, so plan your coop accordingly. Some larger breeds of chickens, like Jersey Giants, may even demand an extra foot or two of space per bird.
Nest Boxes: Chicken coop nesting boxes should be about one square foot, and there should be a box for about every three chickens. When looking at nesting boxes for sale, it is always best to choose sturdy materials that suit your needs. You may want to look at plastic or metal boxes, which can easily be sanitized and cleaned. Roll away nest boxes can also make egg collection more efficient.
It is also important to provide at least two inches of clean nesting material for your nesting boxes, such as shavings or straw. Shredded newspaper, while convenient, is cautioned against because it retains excess moisture and could promote bacteria growth in your coop.
Coop Ventilation: Ventilation is even more important than insulation. Make sure there are openings near the ceiling for air circulation. Chickens enjoy moderate temperatures but are perfectly capable of surviving the winter as well.
A Door and a Floor: A door can be as simple as a piece of plywood on a frame with a latch, but it should be designed to be big enough for you to enter and exit easily with your eggs or a chicken in your arms. And while a dirt floor is perfectly fine, if you do build a wooden floor, make sure that it is at least 6 inches off the ground.
When looking at chicken coops and nesting boxes for sale, or when building your own, don't forget to take these design elements into consideration!