There are numerous designs for chicken coops available on the internet and in books. Some are pretty extravagant and complex others more simple and straightforward, but they all have certain criteria that you should keep in mind, if you want a happy and contented flock. Depending on what you want your flock for (in some instances) determines the design you will choose for your hen house. Your coop needs to protect your chickens from wind, rain, snow, excessive cold, heat and predators. Number one--choose a good location. A place in your yard that drains easily of water provides shade for the birds and can be seen by you without obstruction. Second consideration is how will you orient the coop? The smart thing is to take advantage of natural light and warmth to help keep your flock dry and warm. So the direction you face the windows in the coop is important. If your chickens are to produce eggs having the coop oriented to take advantage of natural light helps. (Chickens have 26 hour egg cycle which is affected by daytime light patterns). Orienting your coop the correct way will help to enhance this cycle. Also if you want eggs will need nesting boxes. Chickens will nest wherever they feel most comfortable. The same as a momma cat will pick your underwear draw to have her kittens if you let her. So it is important to make the nesting boxes attractive to the hens. Chickens like to nest in subdued light. Keep this in mind when choosing the location of the boxes. At the same time - you don't want the chickens sleeping (roosting) in the nesting boxes—they are for nesting. So it is a careful balance of making the nesting area attracting for laying eggs, but unacceptable for sleeping. Outside access to the nesting boxes for egg gathering without disturbing the chickens is a good idea—something simple--like a trap door. Sleeping requirements (roosting) the roosting areas need to be off the ground. This prevents chickens from lying in their own waste and possibly contracting parasites. Underneath the roosting area you should use wood shavings, straw or other material to capture waste. As it becomes damp or soiled, clean it out and replace it. Make sure to provide enough space for each bird. Chickens require a certain amount of personal space in order to be comfortable. Crowding them is a mistake and will lead to conflict amongst the birds. Proving feed and water to your birds is something you want to be able to do easily without disturbing the flock. So situating the feeders and waterier for your ease of access while making them easily accessible to the birds is critical. Lugging feed and water out to the coop too often gets tired—real quick!! Chickens need lots of clean water every day and not just because they-- like all animals require water, but they also use water to aid in eating. Mature birds also require grit (which many birds including chickens store in their gullet to act as a set of teeth to grind down the feed as they eat). In conclusion I think you can see that good designs for chicken coops need to address these important topics. Use the right plans to build your chicken coop, and success is yours!
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