Chicken Coop Must Haves
Chickens don’t have the luxury of hiring the area’s best contractors. Instead, they rely on you to acquire or build their homes for them. To keep your poultry happy and healthy their living conditions need to be “up-to-code”. Just as a clean and enjoyable home environment goes a long way toward making your life better, so does the coop to the chicken!
Two things can really ruin your chicken’s day; predators and disease. Thankfully, there are ways to protect against both of these things!
- Let’s stop those predators first. Foxes, wolves, coyotes, dogs and hawks are all excited by the idea of a box of chicken. An unprotected chicken coop is the KFC of the animal world. Make sure the chicken wire you select has a tight enough mesh to prevent animals from reaching in and make a mess of your chickens. Mesh wire or chicken wire with 1-inch square holes should work fine.
- Don’t let rodents in! If your coop doesn’t have a hardwood floor, it will susceptible to rodents getting in. These unwelcome visitors are usually attracted to feed and droppings. Rodents are burrowing creatures and need to be blocked in 1 of 2 ways. Either install a wooden floor or bury a surrounding mesh fence at least 12 inches deep around the walls of your coop. That should keep those pesky rodents out!
- Make sure the air in the coop can circulate. If the air isn’t moving there is an increased chance of your chickens developing a respiratory disease. Don’t make it so cold that the winters freeze them out! Play with it until you get the air circulation just right.
- Make sure it’s easy to get in and clean to help prevent diseases.
Once you make sure your chickens will survive predators and disease, it’s time to make sure they’re comfortable. This will encourage egg production, increase feed rate and give you prettier chickens to look at!
- Give the chickens some roosting poles to sleep on. Make them about 2″ wide with rounded edges, and give each bird between 5-10″ side to side and 1-” between poles if you need more than 1.
- Have 1 Nest Box to encourage egg-laying for every 4-5 chickens. Raise them off the ground several inches, but lower than your lowest roosting poles. Put them in a dark spot that’s “out of the way”. This caters to a hen’s instinct to lay her eggs in a safe and protected place.
- Give them some space! A good rule of thumb is 4 square ft. per hen if they roam around freely during the day, and 10 square ft. if they are permanently confined.
Easy for You
Make sure that your coop allows you easy access to care for your chickens. You are their caretaker, so take care of them right!
- Make sure the feeder and waterer are easily refillable and kept clean. You should hang these 6-8 inches off the grounds and keep.
- Include a removable “dropping tray” under your roost poles so you can quickly capture and remove waste.
- If you have an exterior chicken run, make sure you have an accessible entrance that doesn’t require you or anyone else climbing over. In the case of an emergency, you want quick access or a quick way out. Use the same 12-inches below ground technique that you used for the coop to prevent rodents and predators getting in.
Happy chickens make more eggs. And if you’re going to eat the chickens, they tend to be plumper providing more meat. If you have any questions about raising poultry at home, then get a hold of us! We have knowledgeable staff and all of the supplies that you will need to keep your poultry operation smoothly!