Choosing the right chicken coop can be an overwhelming undertaking if you’re just starting your journey as a backyard chicken enthusiast. There are so many different types of coops available for purchase; how do you know which one is right for you?
Most first-timers don’t have the time, skills, or expertise to build their own from scratch and to save time, effort, and money, as well as to deliver your chickens a home they will thrive in, purchasing a pre-fabricated one can be the best alternative.
What to Consider When deciding on a Chicken Coop
You need to do some planning before you choose your coop. This includes considerations such as:
Things Specific to the Coop
- Coop size – how many chickens do you intend to house? Will the coop adequately accommodate them? You should ideally have at least one square meter per bird.
- How much time will your chickens spend in their coop? They need more space if they spend most of their time in the coop.
- How easy will your chosen coop be to clean?
- Is the coop well-ventilated?
- Is the interior of the coop protected from wind, rain, summer sun, and hail?
- Does the coop have adequate insulation?
- Does the coop have doors that open inward? This is important so chickens can’t escape easily.
- Can you keep the coop warm in winter and cool in summer?
- Can you install a safe light-source for winter?
- Is the inside of the coop secure against predators (foxes, snakes, dogs, etc)?
- Is there plenty of roosting space? Are the perches higher than the nesting boxes?
- Are there cosy nesting boxes? You need at least one box per four hens.
- Can you access the eggs in the nesting boxes from outside the coop?
- Is access maximized? Think ramps and steps both externally and internally to nesting boxes and perches.
- Can the birds easily access their feeders and waterers in the coop?
Why are Chicken Coops Elevated?
Your coop needs a solid floor. It should also be elevated off the ground. A high and dry location is not only easier for you to access for egg collecting, feeding, and cleaning; it is also safer in terms of keeping potential intruders out and minimizing the risk of flooding in heavy rain. An elevated location also enables better ventilation in summer.
Where is the Best Place to Put a Chicken Coop?
It needs to be in a fenced yard protected from neighborhood dogs. Your chickens will probably become accustomed to your own family pets (and vice versa) but will perceive other domestic pets as strangers and threats.
Is it fixed or mobile? A mobile coop is good for larger spaces and can be moved to suit the weather conditions. Your birds can be moved to free-range on fresh grass regularly.
A fixed coop requires more consideration…
Which direction should a chicken coop face?
- It should face north, to maximize winter sunlight hours. This minimizes the amount of heat you need to supplement during the cold months.
How far away should a chicken coop be from the house?
- Locate your coop according to your local building code. You need to be as far away from neighbors’ homes as possible to minimize the likelihood of complaints.
Should my chicken coop be in the sun or shade?
- If you have deciduous shade trees, under them is a great spot as it will be shaded in summer and exposed to sunlight in winter.
By choosing the right coop for you, your chickens will thrive and be very happy and healthy. After all, it is their safe home for each night, where they sleep and lay. Yes, it is an investment – but one which is a one-off if you choose wisely, and it will reap rewards far into the future.