When selecting chicken coop plans to build from you really need to consider more than just the look/aesthetics of the chicken coop designs. Sure, it’s important to have a nice-looking chicken coop that fits your overall backyard design but there are some other very important things that need to be incorporated into whatever plans you choose.
Space. There is a certain amount of space that your chickens need to be healthy and happy. You must allocate 4 square feet of floor space per chicken. Therefore, a flock of 20 chickens should be enjoying an 80 square foot chicken coop. Do not skimp on space. In fact, it is better to allocate more space if anything. If your chicken coop becomes overcrowded, your chicken’s quality of life becomes reduced and can cause feather picking and in extreme cases can even cause cannibalism. This is obviously an outcome you want to avoid so never overcrowd your coop.
Light. You need light in your chicken coop to stimulate egg-laying. Particularly if you want your hens to lay eggs all year round. As a rule of thumb, you should have 1 light every 40 feet inside your chicken building. If you are just building a small chicken coop, it will be sufficient to have a single light above the watering/feeding section. As a bonus, the light(s) will also be a source of heat for your chickens in the colder months.
Perches. Your chickens have a natural instinct to perch so you must provide them with appropriate perches otherwise they will perch on nesting boxes, feeders, and anything else around the coop. This would then lead to these important areas getting covered in droppings which is certainly undesirable. It is as simple as using broom handles for your perches. Again, it is important that your chickens have adequate space on the perches so as a rule of thumb, allow 8 inches of perch space per chicken. To make it easy to keep the chicken coop clean, slip some trays under the perches so the droppings land directly in them, you can then pull the trays out to clean them.
Ventilation. Chickens sweat. Sounds strange but it is true. Your chicken coop needs ventilation to keep your chickens cool in the warmer months and to allow the chicken’s perspiration to evaporate and escape the chicken coop. You should make sure your chicken coop plans include ventilation in the form of vents in walls or small windows but you also don’t want it to be too drafty. You need a nice balance. One way to achieve this is to have the vents on the side of the chicken building that DOES NOT face the wind. This is typically the east or the south. This will also allow fresh oxygen-rich air to flow into the hen house and the stale air and moisture to escape. Chickens can handle the cold but not the wet so it is vital to the health of your chickens that the moisture can escape.
Nesting Boxes. If you are keeping chickens for the eggs, your coop needs to have at least 1 nesting box for every 5 or 6 female chickens. The nests should be comfortable and dark so your hens feel safe in them. You should put straw or wood shavings in the nest boxes and make the boxes at least 4 inches deep. If the boxes are not deep enough, your chickens may fight and pick each other’s feathers. You should keep the nesting boxes clean at all times so the eggs remain clean. Hens should be trained not to sleep in the nesting boxes because if they do, they will soil the area with their droppings. You should not have a problem with hens sleeping in the nesting boxes f you have given your chickens adequate perching space. If you find some stubborn hens that do want to sleep in the nests, close them off at night.
Protection. You need to keep your chickens safe from all sorts of predators such as foxes, coyotes, hawks, raccoons, and rats just to name a few. The structure should be strong and no part of it should be able to be pushed over by a person. That is just the way I rate the strength of my coops…Could I push it over? If no, then it is strong enough. There should be no way for rats or foxes to get into your chicken coop to kill your chickens. make sure the fencing goes all the way to the ground. You should also put the wire fencing down under the ground for about 1 foot out from the wire fence. This means when a fox digs at a fence, they will simply hit the wire mesh and will eventually give up or try something else. Use mesh that raccoons can’t get their arms through. I recommend using 1/2 inch square wire mesh for all the wire mesh fencing on the chicken coop. This will keep your chickens safe and it also looks quite attractive. Remember foxes are quite wily so check over your chicken coop plans to make sure they are predator-proof.
If you keep these six elements in mind when you are selecting or creating your own chicken coop plans then you should succeed in keeping healthy and happy chickens that have the potential to lay 300 eggs each per year.
Chicken Coop Plans Designer and Builder for over 10 years.
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