People ask a lot of questions about building a coop
for backyard poultry.
First question is size.
How big a coop do I need to have?
Bare minimum, you want to have 1/2 to two square feet per bird.
Bigger birds, probably even a little bit more than that.
Make sure you keep the thing raised up off the ground so as not to be in contact with water or soil for an extended period of time and rot the building materials.
Inside that coop, you’re gonna need a couple major things.
One, nest boxes.
Nest boxes are where the chickens are gonna have privacy to lay their eggs.
They need to be about 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches.
That’s just approximate.
Have a slanted roof on the top so that they’re not roosting and defecating on the top of those things.
And make sure that there is some kind of convenient access for collecting the eggs.
A door from the outside is actually a really easy addition.
Also inside, you’re gonna need to have perches for the chickens to roost on at night.
You want to have about six to 10 inches of linear perch space per bird.
Two by two building material like furring strip or something rounded like closet rod is even better and makes an excellent perch.
If you can make it hinged or removable, it makes it a lot easier to clean underneath.
A coop’s also going to need openings, vents, windows, and doors.
Vents are gonna probably be towards the top in order to let hot air out during the summer.
That exchange of air is necessary to keep the inside of the coop dry and balance in the temperature.
The windows, preferably south facing, allow for winter sun in to keep the coop warm.
Have an overhang that keeps the summer sun out and keep the coop cool.
Finally, make sure that you have a decent door for the chickens to exit and for people to enter if that’s what you need.
You can even integrate the chicken door into the man door on the coop.
Make sure that the chicken door is something that’s really secure against handy predators like raccoons and mustelids like mink or weasels.
Also, make sure an openings to the coop like the windows and the vents, have a heavy gauge mesh that covers that opening even when the vent or the window is open.
Try to avoid chicken wire.
You’re gonna want to stick with something that’s a little heavier gauge like a 1/4 inch hardware cloth.
Feed and water is okay to have inside the coop as long as you’re keeping your bedding replaced when it gets wet or when the feed is spilled because wet bedding can rot and create problems.
Spilled feed can encourage rodents and other kind of things getting in your coop.
If those are gonna be an issue, keep those outside.
Lastly, make sure that you maintain some degree of visual appeal.
Especially when you’re in an urban environment and you have neighbors that have a chicken coop adjacent to their property or something that’s within view of of their door, you’re gonna want to to have something that doesn’t look too broken down or junky.
You’re gonna want to have a nice looking, attractive chicken coop that could be a talking piece for you and for your neighbors.
The chicken run should be five to 10 square feet in size for chickens, for larger birds closer to the higher amount.
You want the site to be relatively high and dry.
If it’s in a low spot that collects a lot of frost or collects a lot of water, that can wind up for messy conditions and poor quality of life for the birds and trouble for you when you’re trying to clean the thing out.
It needs to be built like Fort Knox.