How to Plan Building Your Own Chicken Coop
If having free-range chickens in your own backyard is your dream, it may not be as complicated as you may think. There are many elements to take into account when building a chicken coop, but with a small amount of planning, you can ensure your chickens will be happy in their new home. You don’t need to spend a fortune on constructing the chicken coop, and neither do you need to be a professional carpenter. Here are some tips to help you along your way:
• The chicken coop should ideally be located on higher ground. This will reduce dampness and puddles accumulating whenever it rains.
• Consider how much space you have to build the chicken coop in. If you only have a small amount of space, you will have to settle for only a few birds. The recommended amount of space per bird is 2 square feet inside the chicken coop and 10 square feet per bird in the chicken run.
• Plan your chicken coop on paper before you start to build, or download a blueprint from the internet. Remember to leave space for a door large enough to allow you access to the inside of the chicken coop.
• Building windows into the chicken coop will help with ventilation. If these are on the south side, the coop will be warmed by sunshine all year round. They can also be left open during warm weather.
• Remember to include nesting boxes in a warm, dark area where the birds will be encouraged to lay their eggs, and perches they can use for sleeping on.
• When purchasing your building material, do not forget wire for the chicken run, straw for bedding and trays for food and water. You do not necessarily have to buy everything. With some imagination, material from around the house can be recycled to form part of your chicken coop. Make sure no toxic material is used, however. Try to source untreated wood if you plan on building it yourself.
• Slope the roof of the chicken coop so rainwater runs off easily. If you use shingles, it will help weatherproof the building and provide insulation.
• Slope the tops of your nesting boxes also, otherwise the birds may start roosting on top of them. A sloped floor will make cleaning far easier, as water will run back out the door, bringing dirt and excrement with it.
• Either use sliding glass windows or cover the opening with wire. This will prevent predators getting in but allow light to get through.
• Use chicken wire to build the outdoor run and encircle the chicken coop. If you bury the fence 1 foot underground, predators will be unable to dig underneath to get in. If you live in an area with hawks, etc, you may want to consider covering the top of the chicken run with wire also.
• Place strong latches or padlocks on the doors and windows. This will allow you to ensure your chickens are secure inside and prevent theft.
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