When it comes to raising chickens at home, your chicken housing will play a crucial part to your success.
Your new chicken coop or hen house, will have to do several jobs:
- be strong enough to help protect your flock from the natural elements
- able to protect them from their predators
- and give them an area in which they will feel safe & secure at all times.
Over Crowding Your Chicken Coop
One very important factor in raising chicken at home, is not to over crowd your chicken coop.
Over crowding within the chicken coop can lead to a variety of diseases been spreed among the birds.
And lets face it, we all want to be safely able to raise healthy chickens.
When it comes to chicken housing, there are many things to consider, but one of the most important is size.
Overcrowding can lead to a variety of diseases as well as unruly birds.
A close friend of mine, once lost a whole flock of chickens due to over crowding his coop.
That's why I'd always recommend building your own chicken coop. You will have control over size and layout. Or simply follow one of these chicken coop plans.
2 to 3 feet per bird would be sufficient
Your new chicken housing should always be raised off the ground a little. This helps in many ways, for example:
- allows proper ventilation beneath the coop
- keeps certain types of predators at bay
- makes cleaning the bottom a lot easier, etc...
Coop Ventilation Is Important
A home built coop which provides plenty of ventilation is especially more important in warmer climates. It helps to keep certain smells at bay, which in return is good for both the chickens and the breeder (you).
A small word of caution...
While leaving enough ventilation, be sure not to make it too easy for unwanted predators, to get at your flock.
That's why I would always use a pre-designed chicken coop plan. As they have been tried and tested by people, who have been in the business of raising chickens for years.
These plans will also ensure that you have properly insulated the coop for your environment.
A proper barrier between the insulation and the chickens is also important.
As some of the more adventurous birds may decide to peck away at the insulation within the coop.
For this reason alone, a lot of the more experienced breeders will use some form of Styrofoam board instead using a fiber-based insulation.
Provide Nests For Laying Hens
A typical nest box plan will show you that a 12 x 15 and 13 to 14 inches deep would work just fine.
Initially, you should try and keep the nest boxes on the floor.
As this allows the birds to adapt to them and become familiar with them as their own.
And after a week or two, you can simply raise them up to the side of the chicken coop, usually 1 to 1 1/2 feet, but not much more is fine.
Consider the roost...
The roost is simply a wooden dowel like piece of timber, which the bird can sit on and sleep when needed.
Never place one roost directly over another roost (for obvious reasons), as this can and will lead to some very dirty birds...
Several roosts with one coop is very common, as some particular breed of chickens enjoy a little more space than others. Just like ourself's I guess.
All your birds will require access to water and food stations, so its important that these are incorporated into the design as well.
If you start to notice that your birds are fighting over food or water, then it is time to add more of these stations. Again these are already incorporated in my recommended chicken coop plans.
While the above may sound a bit complicated, it is not really.