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Design Tips And Options For Chicken Coops
To give you backyard chickens a home, the style of the housing should be based on a foundation of character, to provide comfort for the residents. Some of the options include conventional chicken coops, and off-the range kennel, and an open range. In this article, we'll discuss the design basics you need to know when buying or building a chicken coop.
What to Consider When Looking for the Best Chicken Coops
- Protection: The primary reason for getting a coop is protecting your backyard flock from weather elements, hungry predators like weasels and hawks, as well as your neighbor's dog. Ensure that the coop can provide ample protection to the chicken.
- Material: the construction should be of economical building material, which is easily available, if you opt to build the coop by yourself.
- Balance: Look for a coop that strikes a perfect balance between open ventilation and enclosed shelter. It should also be big enough for all your chickens.
- Strength and Durability: the coop's structure should be strong enough to withstand unfavorable weather, including winter storms and summer winds.
- Maintenance: the coop should be easy to clean, and pocket friendly to maintain.
Location of the Coop
For most people, the most ideal location for a coop is within view of their window. Beyond this, location scouting should essentially answer the following questions:
- Does your state have any rules about where coops can be built? Keep in mind that some cities have regulations in place about the distance of coops to buildings, neighbors, property lines, or roads.
- Is the spot flat? It will be much easier for you when working with a flat area.
- Is the environment calm and comfortable for the chicken?
- Does the location have good drainage?
- Is the location close to the needed utilities like electricity, water, and feed storage?
- Is the location great for providing sun and shade for the birds?
Chicken coops can generally be categorized into two major types, portable chicken coops, and permanent chicken coops.
- Portable Coops
Chicken tractor coops usually don't have a bottom, and can be moved around the yard or a field to provide the chicken with fresh bugs, grass and seeds. The structure is built similar to a wheelbarrow, with wheels and handles for mobility, hence the other common name for this type of coop - tractor-style coop. The style is ideal for a small flock of chicken that live in big yards. Regularly moving the structure allows the birds to explore new areas, fertilize the lawn, and feed on the insects.
For those who want a large movable coop, chicken wagons are a great option, more so if you have rotational pastures. The wagons usually have 4 wheels, and come with a ramp where the birds to enter. You can easily move the wagon into different paddocks or other areas of the yard.
- Permanent Coops
Permanent coops are the traditional, colonial style coops, that have an attached wire run and are designed to remain where you first build them. Also known a chicken sheds, they are the most common type of chicken coops. This design is usually the best option for those with limited amount of space for the chicken, and can work well for both rural and urban areas. They are also generally easy to maintain and regulate, and provide both outdoor and indoor access. Permanent coops are also the easiest to predator-proof.
Overall, each of these options can be customized, merged, or updated to build a coop that will work best for your backyard. Just as with your house, the aesthetic qualities of the coop will come down to your personal preferences, location, and goals.
As you probably already know, chickens need a lot of space to run around and stretch their wings as they like. In fact, the more space you give your chicken, the more healthier and happier they will be. in general, each of your backyard chicken should have a minimum of 2 sq. ft., unless you want to raise bantam chickens that only need 1.5 sq. ft. per chicken. Avoid cramming more chicken into the coop than it can hold. Overcrowding the birds will make them more susceptible to health problems, including disease and cannibalism.
Proper lighting ideally gives your chicken a sense of well-being, which is very important to stimulate egg production among the layer chickens. Placing the windows strategically in the coops will ideally provide them with natural sunlight, additional warmth during the cold months, and ventilation during the warm months. For the fall and winter months, you might want to consider installing electric lighting, such as suspending a bulb above the feeding or watering area.
Of course, your chicken naturally enjoys sleeping on the roost while perched off the ground. A perfectly sized roost is like a perfect mattress for your chicken. To give them the best sleep possible, ensure that the roosts are about 36 inches or less off the floor, and that each roost is spaced about 14 inches apart.
The inside air of a chicken coop can easily become stagnant or stale, especially if the setup doesn't provide sufficient ventilation. Aside from the nasty smell for both you and the chicken, the stagnant air could build up unhealthy fumes. You can prevent such problems by creating proper ventilation, by placing small windows along the south or east side of your chicken coop to allow for a fresh breeze.
If you want to raise the chicken for their eggs, then having a private place for the layer chicken to lay their eggs would be a welcome addition. Of course, no one likes to do such business in public. Have at least one properly sized nest for every 3 or 4 layer hens, otherwise they will become stressed and not use the nest. The nest should be about 1.5 times larger than for the other hens, for optimal egg laying.
Make sure you have nesting boxes for easy egg removal, and don't forget to create space for the chicken keepers. Having a coop that is tall enough for a person to stand and access every corner comfortable will make the bird care more enjoyable.