Learn everything you need to know about starting your first chicken coop! In this article, you’ll learn about planning a chicken coop, choosing a flock, and caring for your birds. There are a lot of moving parts that go into raising a happy, healthy, productive flock of hens. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the information out there, but luckily, chickens actually aren’t that complicated. After all, humans have been raising them for thousands of years, so caring for them can’t be rocket science. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important things to know to help you prepare to take on your first flock. Chicken Coops Having the right chicken coop is the best way to ensure the health and safety of your flock. A good coop will keep your girls safe from predators, help prevent the spread of parasites and respiratory diseases, give them a place to sleep and lay their eggs, and shelter them from the weather. There is a wide variety of coops available to buy online, either as prefabricated pieces or ready-made kits. Alternatively, you can use chicken coop plans and build the coop yourself. Whichever route you choose, the key features of your coop will be the same.
- Perches - These are where your birds will sleep every night. To make them appealing, make sure they are the highest available surface in the coop - chickens feel safest from predators when they sleep high off the ground. Plan for about 8-10 inches per bird.
- Nesting boxes - Nesting boxes are where your hens will lay their eggs every day. They don’t have to be literal boxes, but they should be large, comfy, and easy for you to access; many coop designs have small outer doors that open directly into the nesting boxes. You should have at least one nesting box per three hens, but err on the side of more, not fewer, in case one of your hens goes broody.
- Vents - A good ventilation system will provide your birds with the circulating, fresh air they need to keep them safe from respiratory infections, which are common among chickens. Sufficient ventilation will also stop your coop from overheating in the summer. Every coop should have at least one pair of vents near the roof that stay open all year, allowing fresh air to circulate above the perches, so the birds don’t get too cold in winter. Depending on how hot it gets in your region, you can add as many other closeable vents as you need.
- Protection - Coops also protect your birds from predation. To do this, they need to be sturdily built and frequently checked for warping or cracks. It’s also a good idea to clear away any brush or long grasses near the coop that might provide a hiding place.