Spring has sprung and chicks are chirping. Tis the season to plan for your new outdoor projects. If you’re considering chickens you’ll need to make some serious decisions about their long-term care. At the top of your list should be the coop.
The process of finding the right coop to suit you and your feathered friends is much like house hunting. You’ll likely cross a few off your list before you find the perfect one. What makes for the perfect coop, you ask? We’ll break it down, now.
Size: The size of your coop will depend on the number in your flock, size of the birds, and whether or not they’ll have access to free-range or an outdoor run. An average sized chicken who spends the day foraging through your backyard, really only needs about 2 square feet of floor space in the interior of the coop. Of course, the more space, the better, but your hens will be comfortable if you limit the space indoors with a lot of time spent outdoors. Build big, we’re sure you will love having chickens around so much, that you will come back for more. Make it easy on yourself and plan for it!
Height: If your eyes are on a coop that isn’t large enough for you to walk into, then consider an elevated floor plan. A coop on “stilts” makes cleaning a breeze. Just picture yourself on your hands and knees cleaning the coop…no thanks! You’re also saving the integrity of the coop floor by not allowing it to stay damp and rot. Finally, your flock will be better protected from pesky predators in their elevated watchtower.
Ventilation: A coop with poor ventilation is a death sentence. Ammonia can build up quickly causing health issues for your birds. Keep your flock happy and healthy by selecting a coop that allows stale air to be replaced with clean, fresh air. A vent on either end of the coop is ideal for air flow.
Bells & Whistles: Windows are an added bonus that allows sunlight in. It makes the interior seem larger and allows for better production from your hens who require 16 hours of light per day. Windows are also great on hot summer days allowing your coop extra ventilation. Choosing a real window vs a homemade window will better insulate your coop. Check garage sales or your local Habitat Re-Store for a good bargain. You can opt out of windows, but they sure make a nice addition to your coop.
Nest boxes are a must, but nest boxes that are accessible from outside the coop are a wonderful luxury. If your coop isn’t large enough for you to physically walk into, chances are you’re going to want to be able to collect your bounty from the exterior of the coop. Note: not every hen needs her own space. In fact, if you provide each hen her own nest box, you’ll find she will lay in someone else’s. Save yourself the money and plan on 1 box for every 7 hens.
Electricity is another feature that can make managing your flock a little easier but isn’t a necessity for your coop. Light is an important part of the egg laying process and electricity allows you to add supplemental light when the days get shorter. This will help keep your flock laying despite Mother Nature’s changing seasons. Speaking of changing seasons… If you live in an area where temperatures reach freezing, electricity will give you an outlet (literally) to keep your flocks’ water from freezing. Products like our Heated Poultry Fount and Automatic Electric Heater Base will keep the water from becoming solid ice but do require a power source.
Zoning Rules & Neighbors: It’s best to check your local zoning ordinances before you choose a coop. These regulations may dictate where the coop needs to go, how large it can be, whether or not you need a permit and if you can have a coop at all. Save yourself the hassle and make sure your plan checks out first. If you have neighbors close by, it’s advisable to stop by and get their thoughts on your project too. Though you may be doing everything by the book, your neighbors might not be fond of your new endeavor. By taking their opinion into consideration you are doing a great job at keeping the peace and saving yourself from their disapproval down the road.
Going to construct your own coop? We have the perfect coop building plans for a variety of flock sizes. These plans come via email within 3 business days. You will receive a full-color PDF of the plan you choose. It will clearly spell out exactly what is needed to construct a beautiful and functional coop. No prior construction experience necessary! Includes a complete tool and material list as well as step by step directions with scaled, color-coded photos to match. Not only do these plans provide instruction on building a spacious living quarters, they provide directions for an (optional) attached outdoor run.
What makes these plans so great?
Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, they’re functional too! Designed by chicken owners for chicken owners (and their chickens too, of course). These coop plans were designed with these important factors in mind:
- Maximized Floor Space – houses chickens comfortably
- Easy Maintenance – effortless cleaning
- Attractiveness – adds charm and character to your yard
- Quality – Sturdy, solid, long lasting in any climate
- Protection from Predators – virtually critter-proof
- Comfortable Chickens – dry, ventilated, draft free, yet private
- Common Materials – building supplies are readily available at most hardware stores
- Elevated Floor Plan – keeps predators out, make cleaning a breeze, provides shelter in run