Building a chicken coop can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It’s a place where your feathered friends can lay eggs, roost and keep safe from predators. However, like any project, there may be some things you wish you had done differently. As a chicken owner, I’ve gathered insights and advice from others who have built their own coops. In this article, I will share one thing that I would do differently or wish I had done when building my chicken coop.
Made it Bigger!!
Building a chicken coop can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to get it right from the start. One of the biggest mistakes many chicken owners make is not making their coop big enough. This is something I learned firsthand when I built my first coop. At the time, I thought it was spacious enough for my small flock of chickens. However, as my flock grew, I quickly realized that my coop was not big enough to accommodate their needs.
The lack of space can lead to a host of problems for your chickens, such as stress, aggression, and poor health. Overcrowding can also cause poor air quality, which can lead to respiratory problems in your chickens. Chickens need plenty of space to move around, stretch their wings, and engage in natural behaviors like scratching, dust bathing, and perching. When they don’t have enough room, they can become bored, depressed, and even start pecking each other.
That’s why, when I built my second coop, I made it bigger. I wanted my chickens to have plenty of room to move around, even as their flock grew. This time, I factored in the chicken math, knowing that my flock was likely to grow. The extra space has made a huge difference. My chickens are happier and healthier, and there is less fighting and aggression.
Of course, making your coop bigger is not always as simple as it sounds. There are several things to consider when planning your coop’s size, such as the number of chickens you have or plan to have, their breed, and the climate in your area. A general rule of thumb is to allow at least 3-4 square feet of space per chicken in the coop and 8-10 square feet in the outdoor run. This means that if you have six chickens, you should aim for a coop that’s at least 18-24 square feet.
Keep in mind that bigger is not always better. You don’t want to build a coop that is too big for your chickens, as this can also cause problems. If the coop is too large, it can be difficult to maintain a warm and cozy environment for your chickens, especially in cold weather. You also want to make sure that your coop is easy to clean and maintain, regardless of its size.
Less Nesting Boxes and More Roosting
When I first built my coop, I made the mistake of adding too many nesting boxes. I thought that each chicken needed its own box, but I quickly realized that they often preferred to share. Instead, what they really needed was more space to roost. I noticed that they would pile on top of each other at night, trying to find a comfortable spot to sleep.
Since then, I’ve learned that chickens only need one nesting box for every four to five hens. On the other hand, they need at least 8 inches of roosting space each. Roosting is important for chickens because it provides them with a safe and comfortable place to rest at night. It also helps them regulate their body temperature, as they can fluff up their feathers and tuck their heads under their wings.
By reducing the number of nesting boxes in my coop and adding more roosting space, I noticed that my chickens were much happier and healthier. They had more room to move around, and they were able to roost comfortably without overcrowding each other. Plus, cleaning the coop became much easier since there were fewer areas for them to nest and lay eggs.
So, if you’re building a new coop, make sure to prioritize roosting space over nesting boxes. Your chickens will thank you for it!
Protect the Floor
When building a coop, it’s important to think about the flooring to protect the health of your chickens. A raised coop is ideal as it prevents rodents and other pests from nesting underneath, which can lead to unsanitary conditions and health risks for your chickens. By raising the coop, it also keeps the food and water elevated, making it more difficult for rodents to access.
In addition to raising the coop, it’s important to fence the area around it to prevent predators from digging their way in. This is especially important if you live in an area where there are a lot of wild animals such as foxes, raccoons, and coyotes. By fencing the area, you’ll create a barrier that prevents predators from getting in, keeping your chickens safe and secure.
Using linoleum on the floor of the coop is also a good idea as it’s easy to clean and prevents bacteria buildup. With chickens constantly walking around and pooping, it’s important to have a surface that can be easily cleaned and disinfected to prevent the spread of disease. Linoleum is also a durable material that can withstand wear and tear from your chickens’ claws and beaks.
When it comes to roosts, ladder roosts are a popular option among chicken owners. Unlike deep litter roosts, which can be difficult to clean and maintain, ladder roosts are easier to clean and provide more space for your chickens to roost. With ladder roosts, chickens can roost at different heights, which can be more comfortable for them, as they can choose the height that suits them best.
Ladder roosts are also great for larger flocks, as they can accommodate more chickens. Plus, they provide a better view of the surrounding area, which can make your chickens feel more secure. When building ladder roosts, it’s important to space them out properly so that each chicken has enough room to roost comfortably. Additionally, make sure the roosts are stable and secure, as chickens can be clumsy and may fall off if the roosts are not stable.
Door Accessibility and Height
One of the things that chicken owners often regret not doing when building their coop is considering door accessibility and height. A door that opens all the way across the bottom of the coop is important for easy cleaning. With this kind of design, you can simply remove all the bedding and debris without having to struggle with small openings or corners. This will save you time and energy, making it easier to maintain the cleanliness of your coop.
Moreover, it’s important to ensure that the coop is tall enough for you to stand up straight. This will not only make cleaning easier but also help you avoid back pain or other discomforts that could arise from constantly bending down. Additionally, chickens are sensitive animals, and if you’re constantly leaning over to collect eggs or refill feeders and waterers, they may feel threatened or uncomfortable in their own space. So, it’s important to prioritize height when building your coop to ensure both you and your chickens are comfortable.
Shelf with Sand for Easier Cleaning
Adding a shelf with sand under the roost can provide numerous benefits for your coop. Not only does it make cleaning up after your chickens easier, but it also helps to keep the area clean and hygienic. The sand serves as a natural absorbent material, soaking up any droppings that fall from the roost. This can significantly reduce the amount of time and effort needed to keep your coop clean.
Furthermore, sand helps to keep the area under the roost dry, which is important for the health of your chickens. Moisture can create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens, which can cause a range of health problems for your birds. By using sand as a natural absorbent, you can help to keep the area dry and prevent bacteria buildup.
In addition to its functional benefits, a sand shelf can also provide a fun and stimulating environment for your chickens. Chickens naturally love to scratch and dig, and the sand can give them an area to do so. This can help to keep your chickens entertained and happy, which can lead to healthier and more productive birds.
Electricity and Automatic Doors
When building your chicken coop, it’s important to think about the long-term needs of your flock. One thing you may regret not including in your coop is electricity. This is especially important for those who live in areas with extreme temperatures, as it can be used to power fans in the summer and a heated waterer in the winter. Additionally, electricity can be used to power lighting and other accessories to make your coop more comfortable for your chickens.
Another thing that can make life easier for you and your flock is an automatic door. Not only will it save you time, but it will also ensure that your chickens are safe. Automatic doors can be set to open and close at specific times, which means you won’t have to worry about manually opening and closing the coop every day. This can be especially helpful if you have a busy schedule or if you plan on being away from home for an extended period.
Building a chicken coop can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to plan ahead and consider all of the elements. Making your coop bigger, prioritizing roosting space, protecting the floor, using ladder roosts, having accessible doors, adding a shelf with sand, and having electricity and an automatic door are all important factors to consider. By considering these elements, you’ll ensure that your chickens have a safe and comfortable place to live, and you’ll make your own life easier as well.