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Some Thoughts on Coop Design
 
If your chickens are kept in some kind of pen enclosure here are some of the things that your pen will need:
 

  • A covered, dry place to hang or set the feeder.  If you have a movable pen, you will have to remove a feeder and waterer before moving the pen if you don't hang them or attach them in some way to the pen.
  • Easy human access to feeder and waterer
  • A roost or perch at least 1 1/2 inches wide.  Each bird should have 1 foot of roost space and the roosts should be at least 1 foot apart and 1 foot from the wall.  Chickens sleep on the roost.  A roost can be a board or branch.  If a chicken is loose in a natural setting it will try to sleep in a tree branch or up high on a fence.  If a chicken is in a pen there may not be enough room for it to fly down from a high roost without hitting the side of the pen so the roost needs to be low enough for the chicken to jump down.  I have been putting my roosts at about 3 feet high in my smaller runs and sometimes lower for the big breeds if the space is limited.  In front of the 3 foot roost I put a 1 1/2 foot high roost to help them get up.  I was putting my roosts higher, because they like to sleep high, but found that I was getting some leg and foot injuries from them jumping down.
  • A nest box area that is seperate from the roosting spot and is ideally a bit lower than the roost.  You do not want your chickens to sleep in the nest boxes. If they get started with this you will have very dirty eggs!  Chickens poop where they roost.
  • Pen should have a minimum of about 8 square feet per large breed chicken.
  • Pen should have an area where the chooks can get out of wind and drafts.
  • Predators can rip right through regular chicken wire.  On most of our coops we use the heavier 2" X 4" welded wire.  If we are putting young birds in it we will put 1" chicken wire over the top of the welded wire up to 3' high because the small ones can get through the 2" x 4" size wire.
  •  Rats, weasels, and mink can get through 1 inch chicken wire so 1/2 inch welded wire hardware cloth is good to use if those predators are present.

  • If you decide to put a heat lamp in your coop for extreamly cold weather or for very young chicks, make sure it is very well anchored and has a safety chain attached so that if it is knocked loose it can not fall into the bedding or against anything that can burn.

 

I am still working on this page. More later.