How to build a chicken coop for laying hens

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If you're thinking about constructing a chicken coop, you're in good company. Today, in the UK, around 750,000 people keep chickens. There are, however, a few things which you need to take note of. Do you have the time to devote to the task in hand? How do you build a chicken coop?

What are the requirements of the average egg-laying chicken? If you consider these questions to be a collective breeze, read on.

A home for your chickens

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Consider the size of the coop. Housing the animals comfortably will require a coop of roughly 1.5 metres (5 feet) in height, 2 metres (6.5 feet) in length, and 1.5 metres (5 feet) in width. It should have a sloping, wooden roof which will allow rainwater to run off. As for the construction, you're going to need screws, a screwdriver, and rot-resistant wooden boards. To construct the coop, the dimensions of the boards should accord to the figures above. The boards should preferably be made of hardwood and around 4 cm (approximately 1.5 inches) in thickness.

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The interior of the coop requires the construction of two items. The first is a roost. Chickens like to roost at least 0.6 m (2 feet) off the ground on perches around 10 cm (4 inches) wide. Approximately 22 cm (9 inches) of roosting space per bird is recommended. The ideal approach is to use a 2 m (6.5 feet) long piece of hardwood, with a width of 5 cm (1.9 inches). It should be rounded off at the edges so that the chickens can grip it. Then, screw to the interior, opposite sides of the coop -- at a height of 0.6 m (2 feet) from the ground -- two blocks of wood. Place the two ends of the roost on top of those blocks and secure them to the blocks using screws. The birds will now have a place to roost and a comfortable amount of space between each other.

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With the coop and the roost now completed, the next stage is the construction of the nesting boxes. Many people opt to use 5-gallon buckets as nesting boxes. Take the lid of the bucket and use a sharp-bladed knife to slice off around 20 percent of the lid. Then, affix that cut piece, via its lip, onto the bucket and lay the bucket on its side, with the trimmed lid at the bottom. Since the bucket will be positioned horizontally, the trimmed lid will prevent the eggs from falling out, but will also allow the chicken enough room to get inside. Drill two holes in the base of the bucket and use screws to fix the bucket to the wall of the coop. Insert straw to prevent egg breakage, and place a piece of cloth over the front of the bucket to give the chicken the privacy they like when laying. Your chicken coop is now complete.