Building your own chicken coop is a rewarding experience. Each time you look out and see your coop at the back of your yard, a deep sense of fulfillment will arise within you.
However, as a first-time coop builder, you will not have the experience required to avoid many of the flaws that can make a coop unhealthy for your birds.
To help you build your custom-made chicken coop successfully, here are some of the common mistakes you should avoid.
Building Your Own Chicken Coop
Many first-time builders get excited when they realize they can build their coop by themselves. They may see coop floor plan or diagram and make a quick attempt to copy it. But before you start gathering hand tools and materials to build your coop, you must have a good plan in place.
Start by stating a purpose for building your coop. Plan all aspects of the coop including: the type of birds it will hold, the maximum number of birds, the size, layout, door and window design, insulation, ventilation and maintenance.After you are through with the planning stage, you can gather all the required materials and tools and start the construction.
Regular coop cleaning is not always a pleasant task, especially if the droppings are difficult to access and clean out. But you must do it because proper cleaning will promote the health of your birds. Your coop will be easier to maintain if it is convenient to open and clean without allowing the birds to fly out.
You may use a floor plan that is similar to the plan in some dog crates. For a small coop, you can add a door at the base that will allow you to slide the pan out. Then you can use the excreta for manure in your garden. In a large coop, add Dutch doors to the two sides of the coop and rake out the soiled bedding when you need to clean it.
It is not uncommon to find a coop that does not permit free flow of air. But you need to provide adequate ventilation for your chickens. These birds produce a relatively large amount of moisture when they breathe. If there is insufficient fresh air to carry this moisture away, it could build up and promote the growth of harmful micro-organisms like mold, which causes respiratory tract infections.
Adequate air will also increase the supply of oxygen which will make it easier for the chickens to lay their eggs. For efficient air flow, you should position some adjustable windows above the perches. The use of sliding windows will also help you to regulate the flow of air.
Wrongly Placed Perches
Another mistake you should avoid is placing your perches in the wrong place. For instance, you should avoid placing your perches under nest boxes. Why? You would notice that chickens rest on perches at night and they would love to rest on those that are high above the ground.
Thus, anything that is below the perches will be soiled with droppings. In fact, the birds will end up using the nest boxes as perches if they are highest platform in the coop. You won’t want the nest boxes to become toilets; so you should position your perches above them. This way, the eggs will also be cleaner.
Improper Placement of Feeders
In order to help the chickens to gain quick and easy access to their feeders and water containers, some people place them on the ground. Unfortunately, this arrangement will allow the chickens to contaminate their food with dirt and droppings.
While feeding, chickens have a natural instinct to scratch the ground and dig. In the process, they throw up a lot of dirt that can end up in their feed. To prevent this, put the water bottles and feeders at an elevated position that is still reachable by the birds. So while they are scratching, dirt will not get into the water.
Insufficient lighting can reduce the productivity of your chickens. That is why expert poultry farmers recommend that your coop should be positioned to face the south so that it can receive adequate sunlight throughout the day.
However, during the winter months, the days are normally shorter and the chickens will not receive enough sunlight. To make up for this short fall, you should install a light source in your coop. Use an energy efficient light source that will not cause a major increase the cost of maintaining your chickens.
Poor External Protection
A good chicken coop must shield the birds from the effects of harsh weather and protect them from predators. This is important when your coop is located in an environment where animals like dogs, snakes and raccoons can come and attack the birds or steal the eggs.
To prevent excessive moisture in the coop, you should elevate it above the ground. Then ensure that it receives adequate sunlight so it can get dry quickly after it rains. To protect the chickens from predators, trim the grass around it and make sure it is not close the bush. Poorly kept surroundings will allow predators to dig under the coop and gain access to your chickens.
Coop Size Is Too Small
Choosing the best size for your coop requires some experience and planning. Many people don’t consider their space requirements before building. Oftentimes, new coops are made with very large space which is too much for their needs.
A good rule of thumb is to allocate 2 square feet for each bantam chicken and 3 square feet for the standard sized chickens. If you want to keep 50 bantams, you would need a floor space of 50 x 2 square feet which equals 100 square feet. In this case, a 10 ft x 10 ft or 9 ft x 12 ft floor space should work.
But this means that you will need at least 8 square feet of free run space for the birds outside the coop. Note that a coop that is too small will make the birds squabble for space; it could also cause stress, pecking and can even lead to death.
If you avoid the design errors revealed here, you are more likely going to have a very comfortable, safe, healthy and maintainable chicken coop. You will also find it easier to build one that will suit your taste and budget.
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