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keeping chickens: all you need to know

Building a chicken coop

Building a chicken coop for the first time? Here are some tips:

 

Building a chicken coop

 

If you are considering building a chicken coop, you first need to understand a chicken’s needs.
A good chicken house will offer your poultry three things:

1) Shelter from the elements
2) A suitable place to lay eggs
3) A secure area to roost

 

Shelter

If your chickens live outside, they will need to brave the elements. Your chicken coop will need to offer your birds somewhere they can take refuge from both the wind and the rain and get out of the mud.

 

Egg box

Chickens like to lay where it is dry and well-ventilated. It is also widely recommended to make laying boxes dark but this is more to prevent egg eating or other chickens having an experimental peck at a laying chicken’s exposed soft bits!

We’d also recommend allowing for a soft base in the layer box, putting down straw or shavings will reduce the chance of egg breakage.

 

Roost

Although chickens do like to roost on perches in a coop, they don’t have to. Chickens are just as happy sleeping in a rabbit hutch-style ark as they are roosting in a shed conversion.

Sleeping chickens continue to defecate throughout the night and for that reason it is very important that the sleeping compartment is both easy to clean and well ventilated.

You can buy everything you need to build your own chicken coop here.

 

 

Building a chicken coop: example

 

Here’s an example of one of the chicken coops which we recently put together. It sleeps 4 Black Rock chickens and a Barnevelder cockerel but I reckon we could get a couple more in.

 

homemade chicken coop

 

The side closest to the camera can be removed so that cleaning out the egg-laying sections is really easy. The eggs can be reached the same way or through the top.

Here’s a view inside the coop. It doesn’t have a perch as such but what it does have is a wire mesh floor which pretty much acts as a perch, as the chickens can grip onto it with their feet and feel that they are above the ground. It is self-cleaning, as the chicken poo gets walked through it and it also gives good ventilation.

 

inside the chicken coop

This is the egg laying section.  It doesn’t have to be big, our 4 hens share perfectly happily, though if you have more you will probably need a slightly bigger section.

 

nest box

 

 

It’s hard to say how much it cost to put together because we built most of it out of wood we scavenged from previous chicken coop construction projects. I’d say the materials cost under £100 but of course there was quite a bit of time that went into making it too.

 

Buying a chicken coop

 

Not everyone has the time or the inclination to build their own chicken coop. If you have plans on getting some hens but don’t fancy hours of hammering and sawing, simply buy a coop instead. There are plenty around – your local agricultural merchant will probably have some or else you can buy chicken coops and houses online.

 

Some chicken pens are quite permanent, like this large chicken run from Wells Poultry. You wouldn’t want to move one but they are more sturdy and secure than a lighter, mobile pen. It has wire on the underneath to stop predators and pests digging their way in. Just pop a coop in and you are away.

 

large chicken run

 

As for the coop, one like this would be fine:

 

Chicken coop

 

Converting a shed into a chicken coop


You might find that a cheaper alternative to building or buying a chicken coop is to buy a shed or use an existing shed and convert that instead. We did just this when we got some new hens and they didn’t want to roost with the existing flock in the chicken run so we didn’t have time enough to make a new chicken coop.
We simply bought the shed online, cut down a few saplings and used branches to create a few perches running widthways across the shed.
This is the shed we bought from online store Garden Buildings Direct:

converting a shed into a coop

 

One Response to “Building a chicken coop”

  1. All About Chickens» Blog Archive » Raising chicks for the first time Says:

    [...] is easy to provide, I always build my coops on legs so that they double up as shelter, but a crude lean to would do just as well. The most [...]

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