Choosing a Chicken Coop-What You Need to Know

Choosing a 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; By choosing the right coop, 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.

Benefits of Choosing a Chicken Coop That has Everything your Chickens Need

Before settling on a chicken coop, you should make sure that it guarantees these benefits.

Choosing a Chicken Coop For the Backyard
  • Protects chickens against predators during the day and at night
  • Protection from harsh weather conditions
  • Offers a safe place to roost
  • A perfect feeding and watering area
  • Comes with great places to lay eggs
  • A place to confine the flock
  • How easy will your chosen coop be to clean?
  • 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?

What to Consider When deciding on a Chicken Coop

1. Where to Put the Chicken Coop

The first consideration when buying a chicken coop is where it will be located. It’s recommended to choose a coop depending on how much space you have.

If you have a huge backyard, you have the luxury of buying one of the largest coops.

Remember to check if there are existing local regulations on setting up a chicken coop. Some counties specify the distance between a chicken coop and your house and also neighboring houses. 

2. Breed and the Number of Chickens

Another key consideration when buying a chicken coop is the breed of chicken you are rearing and the number. If you are rearing large chicken breeds such as the Brahma, Jersey giant, and cochin, then you will need a bigger chicken coop.

For small chicken breeds such as silkies, Dutch bantam, Belgian D’Uccle, and Cochin Bantam you can go with a small-sized coop.

If you are rearing a breed that is not very cold hardy, you will require a well-insulated coop to keep them warm.

Remember to check the local regulations if there is a limit on the number of chickens you can keep.

Consult the local authorities to validate these restrictions since they keep on changing.

3. Types of Chicken Rearing

The other key consideration is the type of rearing. If you are practicing free-range chicken farming and have a large backyard for the chicken to roam, you can do well even with a small chicken coop.

If the chickens will be confined then you will need a large coop to provide the flock ample space to roam.

4. Chicken Coop Styles

When shopping for a chicken coop you will come across different styles. The most popular types include

  • Tractor or movable coop style
  • Quacker coop style
  • Lean-to coop style
  • A-frame coop style
  • Combination coop style

Here the choice will depend on the breed, number, and your personal preference.

5. Consider the Weather Conditions in Your area

If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters you will require a coop that is winterized. This is on top of making sure you are rearing a cold hardy chicken breed.

Some of the features to look out for include

  • High-quality insulation
  • Straw bedding
  • Space for supplemental heating options
  • Heated food and water dishes
  • Heat tape to wrap the coop during winter
  • Well-positioned ventilation

6. How Easy is the Cleaning Out of the Chicken Coop

Nesting Boxes for Egg Laying Chickens

Look out for a coop that is easy to clean. Most coop designs have dropping boards that collect poop especially when the chickens are roosting.

Some models have removable dropping boards allowing you to remove them for cleaning when they are extra dirty.

Other models will have hooks for hanging a wall sticker or bags making it easier to clean the walls. A spacious coop with a wide door also makes it easier for you to access when cleaning or collecting eggs.  

Key features of a Chicken Coop

7. Build Quality of the Chicken Coop

When it comes to the coop itself, the first consideration should be the build quality. Build quality refers to the workmanship, design, and quality of parts, which determines durability.

The most important determinant in build quality is the manufacturer. In the US some of the best coops are made by the Mennonites and Amish builders.

There are also other awesome brands that make good chicken coops. However, the market is flooded with low-quality coops that fall apart after a few years.

When checking the build quality consider

  • The manufacturer
  • The sturdiness. How strong is the coop?
  • The type and thickness of wood used
  • If all metallic parts are rustproof
  • Types of locks
  • The type and construction of doors and windows
  • Quality of workmanship. Look at the small details.
  • Can it withstand harsh weather?
  • They type of paint or stain

8. Size of the Chicken Coop

As I explained above the size of the coop will depend on the breed of chicken you are rearing, the number, and the size of your backyard.

Ideally, every chicken should have at least 4 sq feet of floor space. Bantam breeds should have at least 2 sq feet of floor space.

9. Feeding and Watering in the Chicken Coop

One of the key parts of any coop is a well-constructed and positioned feeder and drinkers. They should be placed away from the roosting area to make sure they don’t get into contact with poop.

Some models have raised and hanging feeders and drinkers to prevent the entry of dust, dirt, and bedding.

The feeders and drinkers should also be easy to clean and placed in an area that is easy to access for both you and the chickens.

10. Nesting Boxes for Egg Laying Chickens

If you are rearing egg-producing chickens, the coop should have nesting boxes where the chickens can lay eggs.

These boxes should be placed away from the roost to prevent poop from getting in. Also, they should be spacious to accommodate even big chickens.

The number of nesting boxes depends on the number of chickens. The most recommended is 1 nesting box for every 4 chickens. Each box should be about 1 foot wide and 1 foot high.

Preferably the nesting boxes should be accessible from the outside. The nesting door should also stay open when you open it.

11. Roosting Perch for Chickens

Chickens on Perch in Coop

This is the area where chickens sleep. The perches should be higher than the nesting boxes. They should also be made of wood and big enough to support the birds.

Roosting perches provide almost a similar sleeping environment to that of birds in the jungle. This also protects the birds from bacteria on the floor that can cause diseases.

The perches should be about 1 foot from the walls. Every bird should have about 12 inches of perching space.

The perch should be made of 2” x 4” board or wood, with the 4” side facing up. The 4” surface provides a generous space for the birds to perch so that they can cover their feet with feathers.

12. Flooring in the Chicken Coop

There are different types of flooring for chicken coops. Wooden, concrete, and dirt. Most coops have a raised wooden floor providing additional security from predators. The ideal height should be about 3 feet from the ground.

However, wooden flooring is harder to clean.

13. Chicken Coops Should be Well Ventilated

A coop should also be well-ventilated to allow for adequate movement of air. This allows for the exit of ammonia which comes from fresh poop. Poor ventilation can lead to frostbite during winter, respiratory health issues, and even death.

Look for a model that has adequate ventilation that can be opened and closed depending on the weather. This allows you to open all of them when there are many birds.

Ventilation should be covered with a hardware cloth to deter predators.

14. Price and Brands of Chicken Coops

The price of chicken coops ranges from $150 to $3000. On the lower end are low-quality coops that cannot withstand the test of time. You will get a good coop starting from $300 provided you pay attention to the manufacturer and customer reviews.

Other features to look out for on a chicken coop include

  • Lighting
  • Dust bath
  • Secure latches
  • Aesthetics
  • Electrical connections for a heated water bowl and auto door
  • Wheels for a movable model
  • Removable walls or roof. This is not a must.
  • Automatic door
  • Weatherproof and leak-proof roofing

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.
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