The Coop

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What the importance of the chicken coop?

A chicken coop, whether new, used or self-build, is an important investment which will help you maintain your birds in good condition, providing an environment which stimulates healthy laying conditions. It will likely be much more expensive than the birds it holds and with a little care and forethought it will serve you well. In practical terms it should provide shelter from the wet but be well ventilated and be capable of keeping predators at bay.

When purchasing a chicken coop, you need to consider many things, from the number of chicken you are going to have to the amount of space available in your garden or backyard. You will need to learn more about the different types of chicken coops and their features to find the one that best fits your chickens needs as it will be where they spend approximately one third of their time.

This cheeky young hen has strayed into the human coop.

Building good housing for the chickens isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You could buy a pre-made coop online but building one may also be fun and rewarding. So, grab a pencil and sheet of paper and start recording your ideal hen house. For instance, are you planning to own a fixed coop or one that will move around your yard or property? For those who have a more compact backyard, you might want to think about a mobile coop that you could move about the yard if required.

Types of Chicken Coops:

Chicken coops differ from each other by their materials. Plastic coops are easy to clean and they come with sturdy mesh. One leading producer of plastic coops is Omlet. They provide coops and runs in various colours. In addition, their coops are easy to move around. You can also find plastic chicken houses of recycled plastic, called Eco coops.

These coops usually feature thick plastic. They are typically flat packed and therefore easy to clean and secure against badgers and foxes. With wooden chicken houses, the wood costs mainly determine their price. The wood should not be too thin if you want your chickens to be secure. The wood may also require some special treatment in order to protect it from red mites and other insects as well as the weather.

Why choose a portable chicken coop?

Most people probably prefer a static chicken coop but there are times where a portable chicken coop is necessary. For example, you may need to move the coop to different parts of your property throughout the year due to light or temperature issues, or if you transport your chickens often then a portable chicken coop may be necessary and convenient.

There are plenty of pre-built chicken coops which can be easily moved around and for those of you who are looking for online chicken coop plans to build your own then you will be pleased to know that there are many portable chicken coop blueprints available.

As with a static chicken coop, you’ll want to ensure that your portable coop allows the chickens to move about freely as well as have plenty of ventilation and easy access to food and water. If you plan to move your chicken coop often, be sure it’s built on a strong axle and can be move without too much trouble.

Moving a chicken coop to different parts of the yard should allow easy access for the chickens to fresh pasture. Remember to keep your chickens safe wherever you position them with chicken wire or the like. This ensures that predators are kept away from your cute little chicks!

Depending on the size of the mobile coop, you may consider one that you can tow at slow speeds. Towing is ideal as it is less effort than trying to push a structure around. You will not want to alarm or upset the birds so transporting the coop as smoothly as possible is the main focus.

One of the more popular techniques people are using to build a mobile coop is to find a set of high quality blueprints. There are many websites online these days that offer a range of chicken coop designs so it’s a good idea to do a little searching online. If you’re not confident building it yourself from a blueprint, you can seek out pre-built portable chicken coops to make your life easier.

In order to make sure that you have the right chicken coop for you and your chickens, make sure that you choose the

Calculating Chicken Coop Size:

Manufacturers estimate how many chickens a coop can fit, but you should always buy a slightly bigger one if your garden allows it. Your chickens will feel more comfortable with some extra space, especially when there is a pecking order amongst them. Also, remember that the manufacturers may over-estimate the number of chickens that fit inside one coop. You should have a minimum of 30 by 30 centimetres of inside floor area for each bird.

The perches should be at least 40 centimetres long for large birds and 30 centimetres for medium birds. In addition, be sure to provide one nest box for every four hens.

This young hen is happily perching on a homemade roosting bar. It was cut from a Hazel coppice. 

Chicken Coop Buying Checklist:

If you remember the checklist for buying a chicken coop, you should end up with a quality product. When purchasing a wooden chicken house, look for thick wood with a pressure treatment. In addition, make sure that the fittings are galvanised to prevent rust. You should be able to remove the perches, nest boxes, and dropping boards for easy cleaning. The perches should be higher than the nest boxes. Look for adequate ventilation, so the chickens avoid health problems from ammonia, but avoid draughts because your chickens might get cold.

The kind of chicken coop you intend to buy will depend on a number of things including:

1. The amount of land you have available - If you live in an urban environment you're likely to have less room to house your chickens and will probably need to keep them under more control is you allow them to range. It would make sense to choose a chicken coop of a more compact design. 

Smaller coops, whether made of wood or plastic sometimes include an integral or attached chicken run. These are usually supplied as separate movable units so that the feeding area can be rotated. As chickens seem to have the ability to turn the lushest grass into bare earth within a few days. With urban sites protective fencing around the coop is not such a priority provided as there is less risk from some predators.

2. The number of chickens you need to house - The size of the coop is usually determined by the number and size of chickens you intend to keep and there is a formula for working this out. For bantams allow 1 square foot of floor space and 8 inches of perch per bird n top of 4 square feet and two feet of perch. For example six bantams would need 10 Sq foot of floor space and 6 foot of perch.Double this for large fowl. You will also need 1 nesting box for every three hens you keep.

3. The amount of time you have at your disposal - You need to be realistic about your commitment to looking after the chickens once you'have bought them. Some coops are more time consuming to look after than others. Those that need more looking after tend to be better for the chickens. For example, wood coops take longer to clean and keep free from infestation, but most observers believe they provide a better environment for the chickens. And although plastic coops are easier to keep clean, they are much smaller by design and don't share the natural qualities of wood.

4. Your available budget - You need to balance the practical requirements of looking after chickens with the need for a structure that looks good in your garden. If you're prepared for a bit of DIY, the cost of building a basic shelter and wire mesh enclosure is not that dear. As soon as you decide on a higher level of specification:

If you live in a rural environment and have access to more extensive grounds, there are more choices. If you're prepared to dedicate a large outdoor area to your chickens, you may decide to create a permanent run. If you do, you'll need to build an enclosure with good, strong fence posts and mesh fencing, dug-in to prevent burrowing by foxes. Another option is electric fencing. Although more expensive, this kind of fencing is highly efficient and fairly easy to install. If you decide on a smaller area, you have the option of buying an integrated coop with indoor and outdoor areas combined in the same structure.

* Thicker wood for the wider variety and stronger predators you get in the countryside.

* Sturdier plastic which is generally has a smooth surface making it difficult to get a grip on.

* Electric or weld mesh fences

These costs begin to escalate. Although you're spending money now, remember that the investment is capable of providing you with an absorbing and productive hobby for many years to come.

Types of Chicken Coop Available to Buy

There are a number of variations in design and materials. Coops are either self-contained (including a run area as part of the structure) or are formed from two units:

* Chicken house

* Movable run

Your decision will largely depend on the ground area you have available, as discussed in the section above. The two most common construction materials are plastic and wood, with elements of wire mesh common to both types.

Plastic coops:

Coops Made Out of Plastic are becoming increasingly popular and can be bought as moulded units or packed flat for self assembly. There are quite a few different models and accessories but most have comparatively small run sizes although some can be extended.

Some incorporate a mesh skirt around the base to keep predators away. It's essential to make sure these units are positioned on flat ground to avoid creating gaps, which might be exploited by predators and vermin. Another tactic is to place bricks or paving slabs on the flap to keep it well pinned down.

Advantages of plastic coops:

  • Are easy to clean out.
  • Present less of a risk of red mite infestation.

Accessories include perches and nesting boxes, but also some intriguing new products such as extreme temperature jackets which fit round the outside of the hen house. It's also possible to buy waterproof covers for chicken runs which offer protection from wind, rain and even snow. Chicken coops are also available made out of recycled plastic. These are robust and well designed, and it's not difficult to assemble them from the flat packed panels supplied.

Disadvantages of plastic hen houses:

  • Damn they are expensive
  • Tend to be small.
  • Get very hot inside in full sunshine. 

Coops Made of Wood

Traditional wooden coops have many advantages but their value depends on the quality of materials they're made of.

The real benefit of wood is that it breathes and moves with the seasons. Compared to plastic, wood fares better in extreme temperatures in that the natural ventilation it provides avoids the risk of suffocation in the summer or frost damage in the winter. A wooden coop is not susceptible to condensation as a plastic one might be. This has as much to do with the wooden ones being somewhat bigger than their plastic brethren.

To be fit for purpose, the best wooden coops are built from timber which has a minimum thickness of 19mm and made into solid, pressure treated tongued & grooved interlocking boards. Thinner boards may weaken the structure of the coop and could affect the way doors open and close. Roof material should be made of sturdy timber, corrugated steel or Onduline which is a heavy duty corrugated plastic.

I have always avoided roofing felt if i can as it leads to red mite infestations. Well fitting interlocking board will lessen the risk of infestation particularly with an effective cleaning regime using a proprietary red mite eliminator.

Ventilation is something else you need to be satisfied with. Air should flow without their being a draught, inlets and outlets should be at 90 degrees in the sides so as air does not blow straight through.

* Chicken droppings release ammonia which should be cleared by airflow though the coop.

* This result can be achieved with a combination of adjustable low-level inlets and high level vents. They do need to adjustable so as they can be closed down a little in winter and opened up for max cooling in summer.

* The inlets need to have slats or mesh facings to keep predators out. Sturdy is the key here and with small enough holes to keep the mice out.

Building Chicken Coops

A great hen house always begins with the right planning and also the better you are able to design your coop to accommodate the chickens.,

Getting a mobile coop might be better for more compact categories of chickens.

Worthwhile hen house begins with planning and thinking about the requirements of the chickens so they live a contented and productive existence.

Your chickens will have to have shelter and protection from predators.

As with all poultry, your chickens will need enough space to move around in without feeling cramped. You have to remember that your chicken coop will take up a relatively defined area in your back yard so ensure that you have enough space to commit to keeping chickens.

The beauty about a chicken coop is that you can build one anywhere. Simply ensure that there is enough light, shelter, warmth and ventilation. You will also need to take into consideration enough room for a chicken run which again should be fenced in to keep the predators at bay. 

As a general rule, a bigger chicken coop is needed for more birds. You also need to make sure that you can keep the location as dry as possible in that their immune system is easily compromised in wet areas.

Your roost should have a design that will serve your purpose for growing chickens. If you want to grow chickens for the eggs, then you need specific compartments for the nests. If you want to grown chicken only for the meat or feathers, then you do not have to worry about building nests. Whatever the case may be, you should be able to keep the roost dry at all times.

Tips To Building A Chicken Coop The Easy Way

The exact number of nests should be as close as possible to a third of the number of egg laying hens. With at least two nesting boxes. two nests will do for up to six hens and three or four for twelve chickens.

Nest must be low down in the coop and the roosting bar should be high up. This help prevent the chickens from roosting in the nesting boxes at night and soiling them.

In order to make sure that you have the right chicken coop for you and your chickens, make sure that you choose the right chicken coop. Draw up a list of what you want and look at other peoples designs.

Fortunately for those of you looking into building chicken coops and runs, there are a number of different designs and plans to accommodate those looking to raise chickens.

It’s a good idea to already know where you plan to house your fowl as well as the number of chickens you plan to rear. 

The internet is a good place to either find inspiration, plans, or pre-built chicken coops. You might enjoy the building process or prefer to have one already put together if you’re not much of a handyman. Whichever route you take, the pre-build or hand-made route, you’ll want to make sure your coop is well-structured and can handle the seasonal weather. It’s important your chickens feel safe and comfortable as they will be more productive on a consistent basis.

You can often find kits online and in brick and mortar businesses that specialise in coop design. These kits come ready to assemble allowing you to get the housing up as quickly as possible. They often come with all the hardware so erecting the coop shouldn’t take too long. You want to make sure that if you do buy a kit, it’s not only sturdy but also provides ventilation and easy access to clean out the nest areas.

It is a good idea to have a budget in mind before purchasing the material needed to build your coop. If you’re willing to do most of the work yourself, you may only need a good chicken coop blueprint but if you go with something a bit more pre-made, then be sure you’ve done research and sought out reviews to make sure you don’t waste time and money building an ineffective, poorly design chicken coop. 

Cheap is not usually better!

Thinking of building a DIY chicken coop?

If you’ve never had a flock of chickens and are considering it, then you might actually enjoy the process of building a DIY chicken coop.

Raising chickens can be a lot of fun, and good planning ahead of building your chicken coop will certainly help make the process that much more enjoyable. Whether you buy a blueprint to build a coop yourself or purchase a pre-built pen, once you get everything set up and become accustomed to having chickens running around in your back yard, you’ll see discover the joy of rearing chickens. Chickens are renowned for having their own personalities and both you and your family will enjoy learning these and seeing your chickens enjoying life and producing many fresh eggs.

Building a DIY chicken coop doesn’t have to be complicated. As a matter of fact, if you are comfortable using basic hand tools and have access to lumber or have the resources available to purchase some, then you shouldn’t have a problem building an entire coop within a day or two. However, before even considering a blueprint or building the coop itself, think about the ideal size of your flock so you can build the appropriate sized coop.

You’ll want to have a good idea how many chickens you plan to house in advance. You want the chickens to be able to roam around and not feel cramped as well as take into consideration feeders and the ability for the chickens to eat and drink without any issues.

You don’t need an overly large chicken coop but you want to keep it as large as possible. Also, cleaning up the chicken poop is particularly important if you decide on a small pen. Be sure the DIY chicken coop you build keeps your chickens safe from predators. Putting up chicken wire, fences, or even solid fences will offer added protection for your flock.

Funnily enough, chickens like a lot of light so the angle in which you build your coop is also important. Light provides heat/warmth during the colder months and chickens like to roam around in the warmth.

Before building, have a well-thought out plan of all aspects chickens need to live a happy and productive life.

In order to make sure that you have the right chicken coop for you and your chickens, make sure that you choose the right chicken coop plans.

Happy chickens are comfy chickens. When looking into building the perfect chicken coop look for plans that have windows and shutters which will allow ventilation for your chickens and a chance to see the outside world! With this in mind you are off and away to an excellent start.

Furthermore, chickens prefer light, obviously sunlight is the best and natural source of light for your chickens. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to make use of bulbs if sunlight is not always available. You need to keep the chickens cool on hot days and warm throughout the cold winter months. Use bedding materials such as straw wood shavings or sand to allow your chickens to make a nice comfy nest.

Finally, make certain your hen house design is a sturdy structure. You should think about obtaining a strong wire mesh that not just keeps your chickens inside a controlled area and atmosphere but can also help to keep potential predators out. Always plan in advance before building your hen house and when you buy either chicken coop blueprints or pre built chicken coops online, make sure to search for reviews to ensure that others are satisfied with their purchases.

What about a second hand coop.

What to look for when assessing the condition of a second-hand coop:

* Hen house

* Chicken run

* Flooring

* Price and value for money

The Condition of the Used Coop Including Hen House, Chicken Run and Flooring

If you've decided on a plastic coop, visually inspect both the interior and exterior to check for undue surface damage. On the interior, there's bound to be pecking or scratching damage to the lower areas of the walls. Make sure this is not critical otherwise it could weaken the structure of the coop.

On the exterior, look out for any significant wear and tear. Check for fading and chipping. If the house is of panel construction, make sure that any joints or fixing bolts are secure and rust-free.

* Check that any mechanical parts, principally the door fastenings, are in good working order and without significant play. Has it been looked after and the hinges oiled?

* Check that the internal flooring of the hen house is in good order and that there are no holes large enough to attract vermin. If a chicken run , whether integral or stand-alone, is included in the purchase price, look out for gaps in the wire mesh, particularly any that are close to the ground. Make sure that any wooden fence posts are rot-free.

* If there is damage but all other aspects of the coop are acceptable, use the cost of replacement as a bargaining tool.

* If you've decided on a wooden coop, carry out the same visual checks but pay particular attention to all joints including tongue-and-groove overlaps, and look for any evidence of past or present red mite infestation. 

How to Buy Used Chicken Coops on eBay:

As well as assessing the overall condition of the coop, try to establish with the buyer a credible reason for selling. This isn't essential, but may give you additional peace of mind and help you to negotiate a better price.

Decent pictures are essential here. if the seller isn't giving high quality images they are probably hiding something.

Now that you know which chicken coop you want you can find them quickly and easily on eBay. To start shopping, go to the Pet Supplies category then the Poultry/ Hatching/ Incubation portal. Click on the Chicken Houses sub-category portal.