How to build a chicken coop
Planning out the building of a chicken coop can cause many problems if it is not planned correctly. Here are some tips on what you will need, how much you will need of everything, and other things to consider when making a home for your chickens.
The most important part of building a chicken coop is planning out the right way to do it. It is important to remember what chickens need in order to be high producing and happy.
1. Wires for a lamp. Hens need fourteen hours of sunlight in order to lay eggs.
2. Fence. Barbed wire for the top so chickens can’t jump over the fence, mesh chicken wire, or electrical fence so that predators can’t get in.
3. Nails or screws
4. Wood for nest boxes. Plywood or regular wood for the outside walls.
5. Perches are best made out of rounded wood.
6. Aluminum or shingles for the roof.
7. The floor of your coop can be dirt. Just remember to clean it regularly to prevent disease. If you would like a higher maintenance coop, using concrete is the best investment.
8. Hay should always be kept in the nesting boxes.
9. Having a good source of light for chickens during the night time is helpful. This way, they will be able to produce eggs year round. Heat lamps often work best. This is because chickens need at least fourteen hours of daylight in order to lay eggs. One light on the ceiling of the coop is all the chickens will need.
10. A bowl or feeder for the chickens food and water.
Steps to building the Coop
1. Before even starting, you should know how big you want your coop to be. Each chicken needs about two feet square of living space, plus about four feet square each that is wired in so that they have a place for exercise. You also want to have a good area for the coop. If the building faces south, the birds will get the most sunlight. Begin by placing sticks in the dirt which will indicate the corners of the coop and pen, then tying a rope through all of the sticks. This will show the complete area that you will be using.
2. Dig a trench around the coop and exercise area. This is to lay the wire for the outside pen underneath the earth, and also to lay the walls into. Predators will often try to dig underneath the fence or coop in order to eat chickens. As long as your trench is at least one foot deep, and is covered with fencing or cinder blocks, predators will not be a problem.
3. Place fence posts in the area where you will be setting up the fence. Each fence post should be about two feet apart.
4. Set the wire in the ground and make sure that it is sturdy. Tie the fence to the posts with other wire or even string. Chicken wire is the best kind of fencing to use. It should go at least six feet from the ground surface. Tying a barbed wire lining around the top will also keep the chickens from trying to fly out.
5. Set the main foundation of the coop. Concrete works well and assists in keeping the barn clean, but is often expensive. Sometimes just making the floor go at a slant will make it easier to clean out.
6. Dig a gutter or a place for water to leak out of the coop. If it rains and starts leaking, or if the floor gets damp, the birds can get a chill and die.
7. Set the walls around the coop. Thick wood or plywood is the best type of material to use. They can be held in place by wood or rafters going nailed across the top of the pen. 2x4s is the best to use. Remember to leave a space for doors. The walls should be at least six feet high.
8. The doors can then go on. These can also be wood. Simply hinging them on one side of the wall will hold. It is better if the hinges cause the door to swing inward. Make sure that there are not a lot of cracks and open spaces. Causing a draft will harm the birds.
9. Put a roof of aluminum or shingles over the walls. You want as few cracks as possible so that the chickens will not get cold at night. Also remember to make the roof high enough to put perches for the birds. About six or seven feet off the ground should be tall enough. Nails or screws will hold either shingles or aluminum on.
10. Put locks on the doors to prevent theft.
11. If you can not put your birds in the coop every night, get millet, broomcorn, or sorghum to put in their pen. If predators decide to fly over, they can hide underneath these plants.
12. Take rounded wood (one inch in diameter) and place it across one part of the coop by nailing it into the outside wall. This will give the chickens a good place to perch. Each chicken should have one foot of perching material. Leave no more than four feet above the floor to put these in.
13. For laying hens, you will need to build nest boxes. You should have one box for every five hens. Each box should be about two square feet. The easiest way to make these is to take two thick pieces of wood and nail them into the outside wall so that they go across the area you wish to put the hens. They should be two feet away in height from each other. Then, take smaller pieces of wood, two feet square, and place them in the middle of the two pieces of long wood so that it makes a box. Make sure that the boxes are four feet above the ground.
14. Put a heat lamp in the corner with an extension chord to the nearest plug in. Every night, the birds should have light when the sun goes down.