There is a huge array of poultry houses on the market, in magazines and advertisements for houses of all kinds. Some people convert unused tool sheds, dog houses etc so no matter what you choose there are some simple factors to consider:-
- How many chickens you are planning to keep.
- Your purpose in keeping them.
- Their breed.
- Your location.
A successful coop needs to have these characteristics:-
- It is easy to clean.
- Protects the flock from wind and rain.
- Keeps out rodents, wild birds and predatory animals.
- Provides adequate space for the flock size.
- Is well ventilated but is free from drafts.
- Has a place where birds can roost
- Has nests for birds to encourage them to lay eggs indoors.
- Offers plenty of light.
Personally we prefer a basic coop without little nooks and crannies that Red Mites can take up residence in, one with a secure latch that you can shut for the evening, incorporates roosts over a droppings pit for good sanitation, a window for light, preferably screened and shuttered openings on the north side to control ventilation.
Housing manufacturers often say that a house is designed for a certain number of birds however in reality careful consideration needs to be given to the breed of the birds i.e. larger or smaller breeds. You should allow about 1m squared of floor space for every five birds. As a general rule you should stock to the lower number of the figures quoted.
The more room your chickens have, the healthier and more content they will be although too much room and they can suffer from cold. Even in our climate chickens may sometimes prefer to remain indoors due to rain,extreme cold, or extreme heat.
Some houses are supplied with runs attached, others are designed so that you either keep the birds on free range or build a permanent run. This will depend on your own situation.
Choosing a Chicken Area
· At least to begin with choose an area close to your house so that it is easy for you to see your hens.
· Choose somewhere sheltered, under a tree or next to a fence.
· Depending on how much time your chickens spend out of their run you will need to move their house so choose an area where you can move their house easily.
If you want to keep your chicken’s house and run in one place in the garden, keeping it on hard wood chippings is a great solution. Cleaning the run is as simple as raking out and replacing the soiled chippings every month or so. Making a chipped area for your run doesn’t take long and is quite cheap too. Wood chippings: available from any good garden centre or you can also try tree surgeons or your local council. Choose a chunky type, you can also use bark but make sure it hasn't been treated with chemicals.