Chicken Housing – What comes first?
Building your own chicken housing isn’t difficult, there are just a few important things to consider before you build the coop and before you get your chickens.
What size coop do you need?.
One of the first things to consider is how many chickens you plan to keep, this will determine the size of the chicken coop. I strongly advise that contact your local government authority as rules and regulation about keeping chickens and the number you are permitted to have, vary from place to place. If you are like most chicken owners I know, you should probably allow for a few more chickens than you might originally consider, as keeping chickens is addictive and you are bound to end up with more rather than less. You will need to allow 1.5 to 2 square feet per hen inside the coop. Do you want to have a run attached to the coop or will your chicken roam the garden during the day? You will need a minimum of 8 to 10 square feet per hen in any enclosed run.
Protection from the weather. In which direction does the prevailing bad weather come? Do you live in a hot or cold climate? Your chickens will need protection from extremes of both hot and cold weather as well as wind and rain. If you live in a hot climate your chicken housing will need shade during the hottest part of the day, morning or late afternoon sunlight is needed for chickens to lay effectively so full shade is not good either. If you live in a cold climate you may need to insulate the coop. While a good chicken coop design will have adequate ventilation the hens also need protection from high winds and rain.
Protection from predators. Humans are not the animals that enjoy eating chicken and eggs, your hens will need protection from a number of different types of predators. A secure chicken coop is your first line of defense as other than cats, dogs and hawks most predators attack the hens at just after dark or just before dawn. A fully enclosed run can provide good day time protection if the wire is splayed outwards about a foot and buried a few inches under the soil to deter digging predators and it is either roofed as a dry run or covered in wire to prevent aerial attack and deter climbing predators.
Appearance, lastly consider the aesthetics. Do you have a small yard? Will the chicken housing be seen from the house? If so then the appearance of the coop will become more important than if is not seen from the house.