If you are keeping chickens at home on the homestead, or you just have a few hens to gather their eggs, you will get better results when the chickens have everything they need. If you think the answer to this question is just food and water, then you have some stuff to learn! Read on to see just what will make your chickens never want to fly the coop!
So, what should be inside a Chicken Coop? Your chicken coop should include 9 specific items. These are nesting boxes, perches for roosting, a bath box, lighting, litter trays, sufficient insulation, sufficient ventilation (quality airflow), a raised floor, waterers, and feeders. All of these things will ensure your birds can live optimally, and ensure they get all that they need to remain healthy and happy.
While there are certain items that you will need, there is no hard and fast rule as to what a chicken coop should look like. It usually is based on your own personal preference and what you can afford.
Let us now take a closer look at why your coop is so important for your birds, along with a closer look at those necessary items.
By the end of this article, you will know exactly how to take the best care of your flock so be sure to keep reading until the end!
Importance Of Your Chicken Coop
Probably the most important choice you will make for your chicken flock is the chicken coop you will keep them in.
If you search Google or Pinterest you will find thousands of plans for everything from the simplest coop to huge, decorative coops with different levels.
How can you tell what is important, required and what is just nice to have?
We first and foremost must consider the purpose.
There are several main purposes of a chicken coop. You want to keep your flock safe from predators.
You also want to provide them with shelter while protecting them from the elements.
During cold weather, you want to keep them dry and warm, and during the hotter months, you want to provide them with shade to help keep them cool.
Your coop should feature a door that can be fastened shut and strong enough to keep predators away from your girls.
If your chickens are not free to roam your entire property, they should have an enclosed run leading from the coop that gives them access to fresh grass, dirt, sunny spots, shade, and dry spots to get out of the rain.
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What Needs To Be Inside A Chicken Coop?
There needs to be a minimum of 9 separate things inside your chicken coop…and don’t forget the chickens!
The inside of the chicken coop is your flock’s home. You want to make sure that it is healthy for the chickens, and it should be a place that they want to come home to every night.
These nine items have their own importance, and in their own way, each one contributes to the safety and health of your flock.
Chickens need to lay their eggs somewhere. The perfect place is a nice, quiet nesting box. This also means you know where to look for the eggs without going hunting. The ratio of chickens to nesting boxes is 4:1 if you are looking for your girls to be comfortable.
The placement of the boxes should ensure that chickens are not able to poop in them from above. For material to line the nesting boxes with, consider using chopped straw or wood shavings.
To keep them healthy, nesting boxes should be cleaned, and the material changed regularly to prevent bacteria from building up.
Perches For Roosting
Give your chickens a choice and they will always prefer to sleep in the air. They feel much safer being off the ground because their only defense when they feel threatened is to fly away.
Roosts should be at least two feet off the ground. Also, sleeping on the floor can leave your chickens susceptible disease and bacteria.
PVC and metal are not good choices for roosting material. Wood is the best to use.
Keep in mind that chickens instinctively go to the highest point available to them when it is time to roost, so make sure you place them high enough.
Additionally, all your flock should be able to comfortably get up there together so depending on the number of chickens you have you may have to brace the roost in several places for sturdiness.
Anyone who has ever spent any quality time watching their chickens knows just how much chickens love to take a dust bath.
While it may seem contradictory, dirt is what makes your flock clean. Chickens have over-active oil glands, much like teenagers with acne.
Rolling around in their dirt box allows chickens to get rid of the oil. It also serves to rid their bodies of insects like lice and mites.
These parasites are very harmful to your flock. They cause feather loss, itching, and anemia. If left untreated death will eventually occur.
For chickens to be happy and healthy, they require a certain number of hours of light per day.
Natural light is also nature’s way of regulating a chicken’s reproductive cycle.
In other words, a flock who does not get enough light could stop laying eggs entirely.
The best way to get natural light during the day into your coop is by having windows. There should also be time when your birds spend time out of the coop to roam, and to get some sunlight.
In the wintertime, natural light is not as plentiful so you will need to set up artificial lights in the coop.
They can be set on a timer so that your girls get the proper ratio of light to dark.
Chickens poop even while they are asleep. Honestly, they seem to poop almost constantly, and cleaning it up is a chore that no one enjoys.
Putting litter trays underneath their sleeping area is a good way to whittle some time off coop cleaning duties.
The more frequently the coop is cleaned out, the less build up of ammonia there will be in the air.
Litter trays are so easy to clean that there is no reason why they cannot be cleaned daily.
To give your compost pile a helping hand, remove the litter trays, and scoop them out directly into the pile.
Give them a quick spray with the hose and then replace them. When this is done every day, it takes only a couple of minutes.
You want your entire coop to have plenty of ventilation without it becoming drafty. Any small openings or cracks should be sealed to prevent disease carrying rodents and snakes from gaining access.
Insulation is an important addition to the coop to keep the temperature regulated. Depending on how cold it gets where you live both the walls and the ceiling should be insulated.
Heat will stay in during the winter and the coop will be cooler in the summer months.
Ventilation and Quality Air Flow
Have you ever walked into a chicken coop or barn and been overwhelmed by the powerful smell? This is ammonia, and just as it is no good for us to breathe, it is no good for your flock either.
Ammonia is released into the air from poop. Helping to control the levels of ammonia in your coop starts with making sure there is plenty of insulation.
You want to have vents installed that remove the contaminated air without the coop feeling breezy.
For most styles of chicken coops, this mean that the best position for the vents is somewhere near the top.
The purpose of a raised floor is to keep bedding and the floor itself dry. The air that flows underneath the floor wicks moisture away faster than with just a ground floor.
With a raised floor, there is also less of a chance that rodents, snakes, or other predators can gain entrance.
Feeders and Waterers
Last but certainly by no means least and the final ingredient to the coop are feeders and waterers. These should be appropriate the size and number of chickens you have.
When looking for the perfect place to locate them, make sure they are not underneath the roost, or they will be filled with poop. To keep them clean longer, consider suspending them off the floor so they do not get filled with shavings or other bedding.
Both these items should be easily accessible and available to the flock 24/7. C
lean them out thoroughly at least once per week to ensure no mould or bacteria is given a chance to grow. If you live in a high humidity area, during the summer you may need to do your waterers every day or two.
What Should You Put In The Bottom Of A Chicken Coop?
The floor of your coop will be made of either wood, concrete, or dirt. Plywood is an excellent choice. Then you must add in some type of bedding and pine shavings come highly recommended.
Birds do not pee – every few bowel movements it is mixed in with their poop.
That is why feces from birds is so watery – about ¾ of it is water. The white part of their poop is urates. The water that evaporates from the poop piles puts moisture into the air.
If you have ever cleaned a bare chicken coop floor, you are aware that wet poop is not simple to clean off. To manage the amount of manure in the coop, laying down bedding is the first step.
Pine shavings make the best floor covering. They are low-cost, easy to come by, and smell wonderful.
Since they are so absorbent, they form clumps in the damp spots. So your shavings are not wasted, use a pitchfork to sift out the manure.
Can Chickens Stay In The Coop All Day?
Chickens can stay in the coop all day. However, why would you want them to?
Chickens that go outside and get plenty of sunshine are happier and healthier than those that do not. Especially if you do not have the recommended amount of space for each chicken.
At least when they go outside, they can get some exercise and properly stretch their wings. Each chicken should two square feet of space for itself.
They can also naturally graze on the grass, and consume a healthy serving of insects and bugs, like worms – which provide many nutrients and much needed protein.
Beyond this, chickens are known to consume wild berries, like blackberries, if and when available. This can help to boost the variety and nutrition of their regular diet.
While not technically required, I do put some toys in my chicken run. I have attached plastic mirrors to the fence because chickens love to preen. I got these non-shattering ones from Amazon.
I also purchased some hanging bells on the recommendation of many chicken keepers. This particular bell-toy from Amazon has excellent reviews.
Toys help with boredom, keeping chickens entertained and mentally stimulated throughout the day.
When it comes to keeping chickens, your coop is one of the most important things to consider and invest in. It is of course, your chickens home for a large proportion of their lives.
While a chicken coop can differ in how it looks and it complexity, there are certain staples and things you will need to ensure your birds have everything they need.
Hopefully, this guide today has given you a greater understanding of what you will need to go out and buy, if you have not already. This will keep your birds safe, across all of the seasons, and the different weather each one brings.
Either way, never forget the importance of letting your birds out of the coop and to freely roam.
Exercise and free space is important for your birds and will enable them to naturally consume a number of health promoting foods – which are loaded with nutrients, protein and fulfills their need to partake in instinctual behaviors.
Just ensure it is safe for them to do so and that the area has been checked in advance. Make sure they cannot escape, there are no potential predators, and there is nothing that can do them harm etc.
From there, they can return to the optimized coop, in which you now know how to appropriately prepare.
The 6 essentials for a chicken coop are: space, ventilation, lighting, nest boxes, perches and litter trays. Though, they would also benefit from feeders/waterers, bath boxes and raised flooring, too.
A chicken coop does not necessarily have a floor, though most do. Floorless coops typically leverage the deep litter method and drain well naturally. However, these coops typically allow easy access for burrowing predators, are often challenging to keep clean, and allow for too much moisture in the coop. Flooring is therefore usually advised.
- Can Chickens Stay In The Coop All Day?
- How Often Should You Clean A Chicken Coop?
- The 2 Best Chicken Coop Plan Books That Anyone Can Follow
- The Best Chicken Coop Plans For 50 Chickens
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.