1. The Coops Basic Structure
Your chicken coop is essentially going to have two main parts. the first is the enclosed indoor shelter or henhouse. This is a place that should shelter your flock from bad weather and enclose them for the night. It will give protection from predators when they are asleep and most vulnerable. the henhouse should be big enough to provide 2 to 4 sq.ft. of space per bird.
The second part is the outdoor area or run. think of the run as their place to hang out; to eat, drink, bath, exercise and socialize with friends.if enclosed, you should provide 10 sq. ft. of space per chicken. if you birds are kept confined most of the time, allocate as much space as you can for your birds. they will be happier and healthier. It’s better to build a coop that is too big rather than one that’s too small.
2. Predator-proof Fence
The entire coop structure – the henhouse and run – must be enclosed to keep your chickens in and predators out. Fencing should be no less than 4 to 6 feet high (1.2 to 1.8m) to contain your chickens. Do not use lightweight 1 inch mesh wire for fencing. Flimsy materials like that is no deterrent to predators.
Fencing should be made of medium to heavy-duty materials intended for outdoor use. Livestock fencing or poultry netting are good examples. there are some light breeds which can fly over 6 foot barriers. keep them in by installing poultry netting over the enclosure.This also protects your flock from aerial predators like hawks or owls and other predators that can climb up and over the fence.
Be sure to bury the fence 6 to 12 inches below ground. This prevents predators from tunneling under the fence. Holes in the wire should be no larger than 1 inch. This prevents your chickens from sticking their heads out and chicks from easily slip through.
The next two features are inside the coop. they are essential if you are raising chickens for eggs, will let your hens hatch their eggs or raise chickens as pets. if you raise meat chickens or broiler these two features are not necessary.
3. Nesting Boxes
This is the spot where the hens come to lay their eggs and where you will find and gather them. you should have 1 nesting box for every 2 to 4 hens. the individual size of the nest box can range from 12x12x12 for average size hens to 16x16x16 for heavy breed hens. the nest box has to be bigger than a hen, allow headroom, and space to turn around. there should also be a “lip” in front of the boxes to prevent eggs from rolling out. they should also be covered in straw to protect the eggs.
Elevate the laying boxes off the ground to discourage chickens from scratching in them which could dirty or break eggs. some folks create easy access to gather the eggs without disturbing the hens. make the nest boxes along an outside wall so with a hatch to easily gather the eggs from outside the coop.
Chickens like to sleep up high of the ground. they feel safer. the roost height depending on the age and health of your chickens as well as the height of your coop. You’ll want the lowest roosts to be anywhere from 18 to 24 inches above the floor. Space them 18 inches apart. It is not recommended to have lots of roosts at different heights. Chickens like to perch as high as possible. This creates competition among the chickens for the highest spot.
Allow 8 inches (20 cm) of perching space for each chicken – 10 inches for the larger breeds.
Also, you want the roosts to be wide enough so the chickens can place their feet comfortably on them. Regular sized chickens require perches 2 inches across with rounded edges. no less than 1 inch across for bantams. the flat sides of 2x4s are very popular roosts.
5. Feeder & Waterer
There are variety of specially designed poultry feeders and waterers commercially available. Choose feeders and waterers that give your flock easy access while also discouraging mess and waste contamination. This prevents your birds from filling them with their poops and debris. It’s also easy for you to both fill and clean them. Position the bottom of the feeder and top edge of the chicken waterers at the top height of your chicken’s back.
These are the five main ingredients in your chicken coop. what you use for the coop, how you lay it all out and what materials you use it is really up to you. Like I said, you can go from buying one already assembled to just using some proven plans to… going Wild!