Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tips to Build a Small Chicken Coop

Are you excited about the prospect of having fresh eggs every day, but overwhelmed by the thought of building your own chicken coop? Here are some tips to get you started.

First, and most important, is to check your local by-laws to make sure your area is zoned to allow chicken coops.  Call your city council representative to get all the details. You may need to obtain a permit before starting your coop.

Second, create a blueprint on paper before you start the work. Think about the colors you will use to paint the outside. If you live in a suburban area, keep your neighbours in mind. You don’t want to create something that is not aesthetically pleasing.  Chances are your chicken coop will be seen by more than just the people living beside you.

Third, make sure you allow room for your chickens to roam outside. It’s important that they have fresh air and a grassy area outside to spend much of their day. These are called ‘free range’ chickens and produce better quality eggs.

Fourth, make sure you use the proper materials for your coop. For example, the wood for the roof and outer walls must be able to withstand all types of weather conditions; you will want the door to swing inward, not outward; the floor should slope slightly toward the door so that the water will drain out when you’re cleaning it; use sliding windows so your chickens will not roost on them.

Fifth, be aware that with chickens come predators. It is not uncommon to have foxes, racoons, even cats and dogs coming in search of your chickens. The solution is simple enough: install chicken wire around the free range and the coop area. Be sure to insert it about a foot into the ground so that it is sturdy enough to withstand all weather conditions as well.

Sixth, understand that you will have to take responsibility for your new venture. Cleaning and disinfecting your coop may not be on the top of your fun list, but it is of the utmost importance if you are going to have healthy chickens. If you live in a colder climate, you will have to install heaters to keep them warm in winter.

By following the above tips, you can be well on your way to creating a small, prosperous coop that will yield you all the eggs you can handle! 
Photo: m_bartosch

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