Build Your Chicken Coop Right The First Time

To start the process, your first decision is choosing the right coop. Sketch the design you have in mind for your coop. If you live in town, check on zoning regulations that may apply. If you have close neighbors, make sure your chicken coop design fits the aesthetics of your neighborhood.

Your chicken coop will need weekly cleaning and sanitizing. Build your coop to make this cleaning as quick and easy as possible. If you slope the floors slightly toward the door, hosing out your coop becomes a snap. Also, don't install a door threshold. No threshold means you can hose everything straight out the door.

A note about cleaning - place a rather small mesh screen on the ground at the door when hosing out the coop. The screen will catch the chicken droppings while the water simply runs through. Makes disposing of the droppings very easy.

A word of caution - be very careful about putting fresh chicken droppings into your compost bin. Chicken droppings are high in ammonia. Do some research before you add chicken droppings to your compost bin.

Make your chicken coop a safe haven for your birds. Your coop will need to protect your chickens from the elements, and from hungry predators.

For optimum health, poultry, just as humans, require draft free fresh air and oxygen. Build your coop with good ventilation features. Windows and doors that open easily. Proper roof ventilation is also an excellent idea. A good ventilation system will eliminate the dangerous buildup of ammonia, carbon dioxide, and moisture.

Moisture is an enemy to chickens in summer or winter. As long as chickens are dry, with plenty of fresh water to drink, they can handle most weather conditions, heat or cold. However, you should insulate your coop against winter cold. Insulated walls, floors, and ceilings are a must. In addition, you want to make sure your coop is sealed tight against winter winds.

To prevent standing water around your coop, build on high ground, if possible. Additionally, place your coop in a sunny spot with windows on the sunny side of the coop. This will aid in keeping the coop warm and dry.

Chickens attract a lot of hungry predators, raccoons, possums, skunks, dogs, cats, etc. Build your coop tight, no cracks or openings in the floor or lower walls. Snakes love eggs. A tight coop will prevent snakes from entering.

Some animals will try digging under the coop or fence. To prevent this, bury chicken wire about one foot deep.

If you're looking for optimum egg production, think about installing a light, or lights in your chicken coop. Connect a timer to the light source. Long days and short nights make chickens very happy. Happy chickens lay more eggs.

Speaking of happy chickens, well fed and watered chickens are also happy chickens. So make plenty of fresh food and water available to your chickens.

However, be careful where you place the feeders and water sources. Chickens love to get their feet in their food. Their natural instinct is to scratch for their food. If feeders are placed too low, chickens will instinctively scratch while they're eating and scatter feed throughout the coop. So place feeders, and water sources about the same height as the chicken's backs. This way, they can't get their feet in their food and water.

Whether you're building a large or small coop, these same design principles apply. With a little planning and forethought, you can build an economical chicken coop that will keep your flock safe and happy. Your chickens will then reward you with a beautiful egg supply year after year.

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Article Posted: July 2, 2012

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