More and more homeowners are raising chickens for eggs. Architectural chicken coops have sprang up everywhere. But what determines a good coop is how it functions. The important factors lie inside the chicken house and with the health of its inhabitants. Coop plans need to be based on the type and number of chickens that are to be raised. Chicken numbers are determined by space limitations and how many eggs are needed.
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Coop construction can be simple. The framework can be made of recycled wood, concrete blocks and chicken wire. A wooden plank floor will be easier to clean. Do not use wood with knot holes or cracks. You will also need to build a fenced outdoor chicken run. A chicken wire roof over the run will further secure the coop. Even free run chickens need to be kept inside at night. Intruders find all sorts of ways to get into coops and steal chickens. To discourage digging predators, bury chicken wire underground at the base of the walls and the run. Your coop needs a good roof to keep it dry. Damp conditions encourage bacterial and fungal diseases. You can install vents for better air circulation. Build a nest box for each hen. Determine box size by the size of the chickens you plan to raise. For most breeds roosts and nest boxes should be 3-to-4 feet above the ground. Build the coop door tall enough for you, and easy to pull closed behind you. Add at least one window for light. Think clean, dry and secure.
About Choosing Hens
A small coop is better off with bantam chickens. They are half the size of standard chickens, and lay medium-sized eggs. They are gentle and a good choice if children will be in the coop. Araucana and Americauna hens lay blue and green eggs. These breeds are sometimes dubbed "Easter Egg Chickens." They might only lay an egg every other day, while standard-sized hens like Rhode Island reds lay one large brown egg each day. Larger chickens tend to be more aggressive, but if you have space and need to rely on regular egg production, they might be the better choice. Calculate the number of eggs you need to determine how many hens to purchase. You will need a larger coop to house roosters. You will want one rooster to every ten hens. Check your city ordinance to see if you are allowed to have roosters.
Other Coop Amenities
Wire your coop for electricity. You will appreciate lights when rushing out to check on a noise in the coop at night. Even more important, light effects egg laying. Chickens begin laying in the spring when daylight hours are longer. To avoid this break in egg production, you can leave lights on in the evening. Lights also add warmth to the coop in winter. Chickens can get frostbite, so a heat lamp may be needed in cold climates. You may also need heating elements to keep the water from freezing in winter. If you are into high tech, or travel often, you can also install automatic waterers and feeders.
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