If looking after chickens is part of your job or passion, you need to make sure they have more than a source of freshwater and delicious food in order to live a long, happy, and stress-free existence. Chicken coops should be your number one concern if you want to provide your birds with a welcoming environment, and what better way to do it if not by checking some online reviews of chicken coop kits to see exactly what you need.
A decent coop can cost several hundreds of dollars, depending on its size, materials used, and the complexity of the design. However, if you’re willing to put to work your hands, you too can build a beautiful and welcoming hutch where your chickens can feel at home. Here is how to start your DIY project and finish it with minimum costs.
Consider the overall experience
Before bringing your tools out of the garage and searching for free plans to use as inspiration, you need to understand the importance of a chicken coop. It is more than just a shelter and a roof over your bird’s head in the wintertime.
A chicken coop is a house where your bird will spend most of its existence, so it is your duty to make it as welcoming as possible. After all, a happy chicken is a healthy one. Continue reading to find out what makes a good home for your hens.
Decide on the proper size
The rule is that a single chicken needs around 4 square feet of space coop, so picking the right size depends on the number of birds you plan on housing as well. However, if you’ll keep them inside the premises at all times, you will need at least 10 square feet of space for each chick to allow stretching and walking.
Keep in mind that overcrowded areas will make your birds feel anxious and even depressed in time. In addition, the coop will be filled with feces and will get dirty faster, meaning you’ll spend more time cleaning it and keeping it in good condition.
Most coops sold online measure around 60-70 inches in length, which is enough to house up to eight chickens at once.
Technically, you can offer less than 3 square feet for your chickens without putting their health or emotions in danger, but only if it’s outdoors. All animals need to spend as much time enjoying the weather outside as possible, so don’t forget to let them roam free in your backyard when the temperatures allow it.
Choose the proper location
After deciding on the size of the coop, you need to also consider the proper location in your farm, garden or backyard. You should opt for a spot that gets enough natural sunlight but isn’t exposed to it all day long – chickens need shade as well, especially in the hot summer days.
You should avoid windy and exposed areas as well, as they might test the construction and damage it in time. Therefore, placing the coop under a tree or in a place close to a barn or a garage would be a good idea.
Keep in mind that birds smell and, no matter how often you’ll clean the coop, you won’t be able to get rid of the odors. Therefore, you shouldn’t build the coop too close to your house or your neighbor’s.
The level of noise represents another aspect that you need to pay attention to. Chickens can get easily stressed and shouldn’t be exposed to noisy or loud sounds for extended periods. It would be best if they would live in a peaceful place, surrounded by natural sounds instead of constant car honks and noises caused by vehicles or electric tools.
Last but not least, consider placing the coop in an accessible place. Even if you install automatic feeders and provide your chicks with plenty of entertainment options, you’ll still need to check on them at least twice a day. Thus, make sure you can easily reach the hutch.
What should your coop contain?
Although there are countless of blueprints and designs available for free, you can choose to build your own chicken coop and provide all necessary elements for a happy life.
Some of the mandatory elements of a coop include a nesting box, doors or windows that ensure easy access and excellent ventilation, as well as a waterer and a feeder big enough to accommodate all birds.
Depending on your budget and building skills, you can also add a perch area, outdoor fenced areas, poop boards, and a dust bath box. Lighting is also welcomed, especially during the winter time as it can boost the production of eggs.
A perch area is perfect for chickens to sleep on, while an outdoor area covered with fences will keep your chicks happy. Poop boards should be placed below the perching area to ensure easy cleaning, while a dust bath box will keep your birds clean and healthy, removing all parasites.
Last but not least, make sure the coop has enough windows and doors that allow easy access inside and outside the house. Ideally, each coop should come with separators to place every chicken inside, and each separator should feature a small access window or door.
If this is not possible, make sure that there are at least two main access doors and a detachable roof for emergency situations.
Materials used for the construction
While metallic cops still exist, they only provide the basic features and won’t be able to keep your chickens warm and shelter from extreme weather conditions.
Thus, we suggest opting for constructions made of wood that are sturdy, reliable, and provide a welcoming feeling. Wood is also great for retaining heat and preventing your chickens from getting cold in the wintertime. In addition, it allows proper air ventilation and will keep your birds away from direct sunlight, heavy winds, and rain.