When many people first consider keeping chickens, they wonder what kind of housing their new chooks will need. While it is possible to keep baby chicks in easily obtainable containers, once they are a few weeks old you will need something much larger for your hens to call home. Welcome to the chicken coop!
Requirements for a Chicken Coop
To ensure your birds are happy and healthy, it's a great idea to keep them in a ready made chicken coop! But what should you be looking for when choosing a coop?
- Chicken Coop Security
First, you must ensure your coop helps to prevents predators. This is one of the primary advantages for keeping chickens in a proper chicken coop rather than letting them free-range all the time. Not only must the coop protect your chickens from the sides but also from above. Predators that may try to gain access to your chickens include foxes, hawks, cats and dogs. When looking at the chicken wire or wire mesh of chicken coops, it's best to go for at least 10 mm by 10 mm or smaller to prevent any type of unwanted visitor finding their way into your hen's home.
You might also be surprised to find that you need to protect your coop from access by rats and other rodents. This is because rodents are frequently attracted to the droppings and feed of chooks and burrow beneath wire mesh if you don't have a mesh floor barrier.
- Chicken Coop Ventilation
An ideal chicken house will also need to provide enough ventilation to prevent your chickens from developing any type of respiratory disease. Chickens are often particularly prone to such conditions. At the same time, your coop should not be too drafty. A coop with high points of ventilation is a good idea for colder climates.
- Chicken Coop Cleanliness
Chickens are naturally messy creatures but cleanliness is easily handled if you get the right coop. Removable floor trays and easy to clean perches are a must-have. Regular cleaning of the coop is important for the health and happiness of your chickens. A good rule to live by is making sure you give your coop a thorough clean once a month and a small clean out once a week. Have a peck at our chicken coop natural cleaning guide here.
- Chicken Coop Perches
When it comes to height, your coop should be large enough to provide roosting perches. This is where your chickens will sleep. Ideally, roosting perches should be about 5cm in width and should have rounded edges for natural grip. Allow enough space on your roosting perches for each chicken to have a minimum of 5cm of space on each side, more if possible.
- Chicken Coop Nesting Boxes
Make sure your chicken coop has a sufficient number of nesting boxes. You should have one nesting box for every four chickens in your flock. The nesting boxes will need to be raised a few cm from the ground or coop floor, but not as high as your lowest roosting perch. Most hens prefer for their nesting boxes to be somewhat dark and out of the way. If not, you may find your hens are reluctant to lay regularly.
- Chicken Coop Space
In terms of interior space, try to allow a minimum of half a square metre per chicken. This will give your chicken ample room to roost and nest. If your chickens are to be confined to a chook coop and chicken run and will not have any free range time, try to allow a minimum of one square metre per chicken. Of course, you will also need space in your coop for a drinker and feeder and room in your chicken run for boredom busting chicken activities and toys.
Learn more about choosing the perfect coop for your backyard chickens with our super helpful guide here.