Raising Backyard Chickens for Eggs. Part 3 – The Coop

Your chickens have grown and thrived in the brooder and it is time for them to go out to their permanent home.  By this point they have gotten too big for the brooder box, your spouse is tired of the smell and constant dust from all the flapping, and luckily they can tolerate the outside temps.  So its time to move your chickens outside.

Chickens in Chicken Run

A coop can be just about anything. Most people use a small building.  Some construct or purchase a small coop.  Still others use a barn, and I have even seen an old dilapidated car turned into a chicken coop. There are many options and no one right answer, but there are some necessary things you need in a chicken coop.

Small Chicken Coop Building
Small Chicken Coop
The most important aspect of your chickens’ new home is security. They need a home that will protect them from predators. How you accomplish this will depend on your situation. Whether it be a building that locks up tight at night or an open barn with high roosts in an area patrolled by a good dog, doesn’t matter as long as the chickens are protected from predators while they sleep.

Chickens want to roost as high as possible while they sleep.  You will need roosts up off of the ground or floor of your coop or they may try to find a higher place to roost outside the coop at night.

Chickens on Roost
Chickens Roosting

Most people use the coop as a safe place for the hens to lay eggs.  For this, you will need to add nesting boxes. You really need at least one nesting box for every 3 laying hens. They will share boxes but at some point, a hen will want to lay an egg while another hen is using her favorite box. After much complaining about not being able to use their favorite spot, she will usually use another box if its available.

Coop Nesting Boxes, Feeder, and Water
Nesting Boxes, Feeder, and Waterer
The coop can also be used as a place to keep food and water out of the elements and always readily available for the chickens. There are hanging feeders and waterers made just for this. Hanging them so they are up off the ground helps keep bedding and chicken poop out of them. I have found that a hanging waterer gets bumped and splashed out on the floor. As my coop has a wooden floor this was a problem. We now keep the waterer outside of the coop in the run. This isn’t a problem as we have a completely enclosed run attached to the chicken coop and we close our chickens up at night and open them up early in the morning. This adds another layer of security from predators and we always check on our chickens at least twice a day.

The coop should help keep the chickens protected from the weather.  Chickens do no like rain. A good coop must protect them from the rain.  Chickens are amazingly resistant to cold but do need protected from cold drafts. However, the coop also needs ventilation to allow ammonia to escape.  Having windows and gaps to allow ventilation is very important but be careful not to create too much of a breeze through the coop.

Predator Proof Coop Windows for Ventilation
Windows for Ventilation

Raising Backyard Chickens Series:
Part 1 – Getting Baby Chicks
Part 2 – The Brooder
Part 3 – The Coop
Part 4 – Feed