Raising chickens for fun, meat or eggs can be done by anyone with a small location for the chickens to eat, drink, and sleep in safety. A secure location can be an unused shed in your garden. Converting a shed to a coop is easy, but needs to be done with the chickens' comfort, health and safety in mind. You will need to install a new door dedicated to the chickens because a large shed door will let other birds and animals get in to eat the chickens or their feed. If you have layers, you will also have to install a small lamp on a timer to maintain 12-plus hours of light during the winter, perches and nests.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Tamper-proof latch
- Water dispenser
- 2.5 x 5 cm (1 x 2 inch) perch
- Insulation (optional)
- Window (optional)
- Vent (optional)
- Wood sheeting (optional)
- Outdoor light
Clear the shed and sweep the floor to be sure that it's free of nails or glass pieces. Make a small, 40 cm x 40 cm (16 inch by 16 inch) door between two studs of the shed. Use a drill to cut a hole large enough for the jigsaw to get in and cut the door out. Install a tamper-proof latch on the door.
Install a window if the coop does not have one. Cut a hole between two studs and use the same technique as in Step 1 to make the hole. Caulk the edge of the window so rain won't enter the shed.
Install perches at various heights in your shed, and install enough so that each chicken has 20 cm (8 inches) of space. Install the perches on the opposite side of the large door so that they do not get in the way of refilling water and feed. Cut two 1.5 m (5 feet) long, 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) pieces of timber, and nail them to the wall at a 45-degree angle. Use a 2.5 by 5 cm (1 by 2 inch) piece to make the perches by nailing them horizontally on the 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) piece of timber every foot, starting 30 cm (1 foot) from the ground.
Install an outdoor outlet inside the coop. Plug a programmable outlet timer between the outlet and a small outdoor 25W lamp. Program the timer to turn on at 6 a.m. and turn off when it is light, and turn on when the light fades and turn back off at 8 p.m.
Install the feeder and water dispenser near the chicken door to be sure they eat and drink enough. Hang the feeder and water dispenser from the ceiling or from a hanger made of 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) timber. Get a small straw bale or bags of wood shavings to use a bedding and spread it on the floor.
Tips and warnings
- Chickens should have 0.18 square m (2 square feet) of space in the coop if they are free to go outside or 8 to 10 if they are confined.
- During cold months, you can leave old bedding in the coop and cover it with a layer of new one. The new bedding will cover the smell of the old one and will emit heat while it composts.
- If your climate is too hot or too cold for the coop to remain between 12.2 and 26.6 degrees Celsius (54 and 80 degrees Farenheit), you should install insulation in the shed. Cover it with OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or other types of wood sheeting to be sure that the chickens do not peck at it.
- Do not keep the light on all night. This will make the chickens peck at each other.
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