3 Tips so You Don't Choke when Building Your Chicken Coop.

Chicken coops seem like pretty easy structures to build.  Just throw some lumber and nails together, and voilà, you have a house that most hens would be thrilled to live in.  While it is fairly simple to build a hen-house, there are a couple of pitfalls to watch out for.  Resolving these issues will help your flock live longer, healthier lives, when they take over the coop you have built for them

Poultry Protection

The first problem I see builders having with their chicken coops is that they lack a method of protection for the flock when the birds free-range during the day.  It is great to allow your birds freedom to roam around your yard for food.  But, you also want to offer them some forms of protection against predators, especially if you will be gone all day with nothing watching over your flock.  Sometimes you can have other animals guarding them, but you might think about building a covered run that your chickens can get shelter from.

I have seen six hens snatched up by hawks in one day.  That was half of a small, backyard flock gone in a matter of a couple of hours.  This is not how you want to start your poultry raising experience.  A covered run can also give separation from wild bird access for your flock.  Wild birds have become a massive problem for people because of modern avian illnesses, like bird flu.  Limiting access to your flock might be one of the smartest things you can do.  

Keep it Moving

Another problem, especially with small, backyard growers, is building a mobile coop and then leaving it to sit in one spot for months.  The point of a movable chicken house is to re-locate it every couple of days.  If you don’t do this, you are inviting parasites, lice, and other infestations to run rampant.  Many coop builders create a large coop, that they swear they will move by tractor or car.  Unfortunately, the mobile coop is too heavy, and it quickly grows roots and never moves.  

If you build a mobile coop, keep it light and easily movable by one or two people.  Move it to fresh grass and soil every couple of days.  You still need to give fresh food, water, and shell for your flock, but the new site gives your birds something interesting to taste, explore, and enjoy.  

And if the coop is in a place where there is poor drainage and standing water, you have the added risk of creating even more health issues.    This is one of the worst things for the well-being of your flock.  Standing water in their living area can cause other skin and foot diseases to hurt your hens.

Backstage Access

Finally, most chicken coop builders fail to design their coops for easy human access.  You want to make it simple to get in and get out of your coop without a lot of hassle.  When you are trying to get ready for life in the morning, the last thing you need to do is roll around on the ground, outside, taking care of your chickens.  

Simple, quick access that makes it easy to put out food and water, to get the eggs, and to clean the inside, is one of your top priorities when you build.  If you have a difficult time climbing inside your coop and cleaning it up when you need to, you will find your flock as a bigger hassle than it’s worth.

Hopefully, learning about these three coop building mistakes will help you overcome these issues now, and better plan for building a chicken coop that will work for your family.

Chicken free-ranging on fence

Free-ranging chicken
Credit: Kelson Spear