Chickens 101: The Coop

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 16 July 2020

Taj Mahal backyard chicken coop

Like their owners, chickens need a safe, spacious environment where they can roost (sleep) in peace, graze around to their hearts content and comfortably lay their eggs (maybe their owners don't need this one!).  There are a few basic factors to consider when house-hunting for your brood, and also tips to follow to maintain the new lodgings once the move-in process is over.

How many kinds of chicken coops are there?

Coops come in all shapes, sizes and structures.  What coop you should choose depends on the lifestyle you have planned for your feathered friends.  Are they going to be free range chickens wandering outside to their hearts content?  A smaller pen like the The Taj Mahal will be more than enough for a warm resting place in the evenings.  But if you work 9-5, maybe you're looking for an option that gives them a decent enclosed grazing space. If that's the case, an option like The Penthouse or The Mansion with a large in-built roaming area would be ideal so they have plenty of room to graze.  Timber is by far the best building material for a coop, not only for its resilience, but for its excellent ventilation properties.  Like any normal house, timber keeps the heat inside the coop when its a bit nippy outside, and keeps it nice and cool on those hot summer days.

Where’s the best place to put my coop?

Prime position for your coop is somewhere that's half-shaded, half sunny - so your flock can enjoy the best of both comforts.  If you don't have ready access to shade, you can purchase a coop cover, or a removable roof.  Also take into consideration the amount of space directly outside the coop - if your chickens are free range, you want a decent sized area for them to roam around in without feeling crowded by their fellow birds.  A claustrophobic chicken is a stressed one, and the more birds you have, the more space you need.

If the optimal spot in your yard for catching the sunlight changes, detachable wheels can be added to easily move the coop.

What foundation should I put it on?

If you've purchased quite a sizeable coop like The Penthouse, moving it around can be something of an effort.  Large coops should be placed on a concrete slab or solid surface - this makes it impossible for any nasty predators to burrow under and prey on your flock.  But not everyone has a coop sized concrete slab in their yard - any flat surface will be more than enough.

It sounds like an oxymoron but hens love to dust bathe  (see How To Keep Hens Healthy) - it's a crucial part of their beauty routine and their own special way of fighting off parasites and other diseases.  Its essential that there's a space inside or near the outside of the coop where they can indulge in their daily dust day spa.

What is bedding and what should I use for it?

We don't mean mini-mattresses and pillows - bedding or 'litter' is the material that you sprinkle over the ground of the coop and their roosting/laying area - essential for keeping it clean as this is what the chickens use for their toilet!  It is also used to absorb any excess moisture which can be a breeding ground for disease.  There are many different options that are commonly used for bedding - hemp, sand, straw, dirt, wood shavings, the list goes on.  Each are very effective and easily accessible, but vary in cost so make sure you take into account the size of the coop and the price per metre.  Sand is effective in the run, but again, consider your budget and the space you need to cover. As long as its easy to dispose of and replenish in the coop. We suggest hemp bedding for its absorbency and cost.

It's essential to the everyday happiness of your chickens that their coop is a hygienic, spacious area for them to enjoy.  By following these tips you'll ensure that your chicken has the best cushy coop to rest its feathery head each day - you'll be rewarded with healthy hens and a fruitful bounty of eggs.

Getting the best coop to keep your flock happy and safe is a daunting task with so many options. To build or to buy? Do you know how many nesting boxes & perches you need? Do you know how much space you need & why? Choosing the perfect coop requires the right knowledge and equipment. You don't want to have all the gear and no idea!

Cluckily for us, our friends at Chickenpedia have created a Coop Sweet Coop course filled with advice and information to help your search. Find out all the options when buying or building a new coop including the best materials, sizes and locations. This extensive course will give you the confidence to make the right decision on a suitable and safe home for your feathered friends. This is why I recommend Chickenpedia to all my readers!

Click here to check out their beginner-friendly courses today!

Sources and further reading