More and more people want to raise chickens. This trend isn’t just in rural areas but in urban ones, too. Folks want to get back to a more organic way of living and eating. If you are a would-be chicken farmer, then it’s time to get your ducks (or dare we say chickens) in a row. Your first big task is to build a chicken coop.
The Scoop on Coops
You need to ask yourself a few key questions upfront to help you refine your game plan:
- How many chickens do you want to keep? This will determine the size of your coop. A flock of at least three hens would need a 4×8 foot screened-in run as well as a 4×4 foot critter-proofed coop where hens can lay eggs.
- Do you know where you’ll build or place your coop? You need to place it in an area where it will have adequate shade during the hot summer months and ample sunlight during the cold winter months. Near a tree that drops its leaves in fall is perfect.
- Do you want to build a coop from scratch or do you want to repurpose an existing building? Recycling an existing structure will save you money but it will still need to be altered to meet the needs of the flock. If you build one from scratch, you may want to purchase detailed chicken coop design plans that will take you through the project step by step. There are plenty of “free” plans out there; just remember – you get what you pay for!
Now that you have determined the size, placement and construction design of your coop, you are ready to begin. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Raise it up – Make sure the floors of the nesting area are raised to help keep chicken feet dry during rainy weather. Galoshes are not an option for these “kids.”
- Let there be light – Egg production is affected by the amount of light the flock is exposed to. This is why production is down during winter months. To counter this, install a light inside the coop. Use a warm light source and not a blue/white one.
- Feather that nest – Give the flock warm places to nest. One idea is to use a plastic storage bin with the lid on it. Cut a hole in one end for the chicken to enter through and a second hole on the back so you can reach in for the eggs. Be sure to line the inside of the bin with hay for warmth. The plastic bin makes it easy to pull the nest out, clean it and return it back to the coop.
- Keep the critters out – Raccoons and other predators are smart so protect your flock with metal latches that cannot be easily opened. Be sure to lock your coop up at night to keep them safe.
- Free to roam (sort of) – Yes, you want chickens to have ample room to roam but you can’t watch over them all the time. Building a screened in run will keep them safe and provide you with peace of mind.
- Can we vent? – Good air circulation is essential to keeping your flock in robust health. Place screened in gaps between the walls and the roof to allow heat to escape and air to enter without causing drafts.
- You have to use the coop, too – Sure, the ladies are a little on the short side, but unless you want to crawl on your hands and knees to retrieve their eggs, you might want to consider your comfort in the design of the building. You will be entering it frequently to feed, water and clean.
- Let’s decorate this hen house – You will be looking at this chicken coop for a long time so you might as well make it look nice. Consider painting the outside or adding hanging plants. Let your imagination run wild.
Once you are finished with your incredible chicken coop sit back and relax. Bask in the knowledge that your chickens are happy and living in a condo creation that you built. Just ignore the ugly stares you may be attracting are from your dog! (Note to self – next project: new dog house).
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY yard projects. From circular saws to nailers and staplers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.