When housing your chickens there are a number of issues to consider. The main purpose of the coop is to provide shelter and protection from predators. Although chickens are generally hardy, they are not keen on the wet and wind. Therefore, ideally your coop should face away from the prevailing wind.
Protection against foxes is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. Foxes tend to not to kill just a single bird but will likely kill off your entire flock. Some more determined foxes will work at door catches or will tunnel under runs to capture their prey.
The main features of a chicken are:
1. A pop hole to allow the chickens in and out of the house.
2. Roosting bars.
3. Nest boxes (at least one for every three birds).
4. Good ventilation to help remove moisture and avoid build up of ammonia from droppings.
5. Good insulation to keep the chickens warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
6. Surfaces that can be cleaned easily.
7. You should allow minimum of around 30 sq cm/4.7 sq ins per hen.
The nest boxes should provide your hens with shade and privacy. Hens can take a couple of hours to lay so they need to be completely comfortable sitting in the nest box. Darkness can also discourage chickens from eating their own eggs.
Your coop will need roosting bars for the chickens to sleep on at night. They prefer to roost as they feel safer being off the ground. The bars themselves should be rounded as this is easier on their feet. It is better if all the roosting bars are all at the same height otherwise they will compete for the highest.
A prime consideration should be that your coop needs to be easy to clean out, so you will need to make sure that you can get to all nooks and crannies to give it a good clean out. It is a good idea to avoid having a “lip” at the door opening so that you can sweep out all bedding straight out.
Of course you can buy your own chicken coop and there are range of sizes and styles available. If you live in the UK then this supplier provides a wide range of coops in various styles. If you live in the US then this supplier provides a wide range of chicken coops.
It is not difficult to build your own chicken coop and you can certainly save a great deal of money by doing so. If this is what you are considering then you can download chicken coop plans here.