Providing your chickens with proper housing is absolutely necessary to keep your birds in good physical shape, contented and happy.
As a rule of thumb, for a chicken coop to be satisfactory for your birds, it must meet the following requirements:
- It must be predator-proof from all sides. Make sure that all openings are protected with the correct size of wire mesh – 15mm square so that so that predators can not reach inside the coop!
- Make sure that the area surrounding the coop is protected with wire-mesh fencing with the base buried at least 30cm below ground level to prevent foxes and rats from burrowing into the area. Rats would especially be drawn into the area because of chicken droppings.
- Make sure the coop is well ventilated (but not directly in the flow of air) to prevent respiratory diseases. Although chickens can stand cold weather they can not withstand being in the direct path of the wind.
- Make sure the coop is easy to clean.
- You should provide roosting poles for your birds because that is where they sleep! Make sure that there is adequate spacing so they don’t crowd out one another.
- Put 1 nest box for every 4 or 5 birds in a dark corner of the coop to encourage your chickens to lay eggs. Nest boxes should be a little bit off the floor but lower than the roosting pole inside.
- Make sure the coop is roomy enough for the birds to roam around when they are inside, at least 4 square feet per bird.
- There should be a waterer and feeder inside the chicken coop.
- For easy disposal of droppings, place a removable plastic tray under the roosting poles.
The last section of this e-Book has drawings and schematic diagrams of chicken coops you can build yourself that can house anywhere from 2 to 4 chickens but can be built larger to accommodate more birds if you desire.
The lists of materials are included but you can also use scrap lumber so as to keep your expenses to the minimum.