Four Common Mistakes in Chicken Coop Design
Many people think that constructing chicken housing is difficult, it isn’t. The most difficult part is getting the chicken coop design right. There are many factors to consider and getting it right at the beginning will save you time and money. Some of the most common mistakes in chicken coop design are very easy to overlook when planning how to build your chicken coop.
Not planning easy access to the eggs in the nest boxes from outside the coop. This was one that I over looked initially. You will be collecting eggs every day during the laying season, so easy access is a must. While you want people to be able to access the eggs easily, you don’t want to make this an easy way in for predators. A heavy lid may not be enough to stop some wiley predators so I recommend some kind of locking pin on the lid to secure it.
Making the coop difficult to clean. For the health of your hens it is important to clean your chicken housing regularly. I recommend changing the bedding in the nest boxes weekly, that way you will keep the eggs clean. The hens water supply will need cleaning weekly during the warmer months when algae can be a problem. You may be able to get a bit longer between cleans during the cold weather. It’s important to make sure that your hens have clean cool water at all times. They wont drink warm water. I make it a practice to rinse out, then thoroughly dry the feed dispenser every few weeks. Under their perch is another area that will need to be cleaned regularly, as this is where a lot of manure will build up quickly. You will not have to do this weekly if you have a deep mulch of straw, sawdust or similar absorbent material under the perches. The whole coop should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a suitable cleaner at least twice a year if not quarterly.
The good news is that the bedding material and the mulch from under the perches make great compost that will have your garden the envy of all your neighbors. Keep this regular cleaning in mind when you consider your coop, the right chicken coop design can make this task much less of a chore.
Underestimating a chickens ability to fly. While chicken are not good fliers they can easily flutter to the top of a low fence or low branches. Some breeds of chickens are better fliers than others so there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to keeping them on the right side of your fence. Most breeds will be secured by a 6 foot fence.
Mobile chicken coops that can’t be easily moved. Mobile chicken housing can be a great idea, however getting the balance between light weight mobility and predator proof can be tricky, good design is essential. The advantage of a mobile coop is that the chickens can have a new area to fertilize and scratch in as often as needed. This reduces wear on your grass and keeps some of the cleaning to a minimum.