Building the Perfect Chicken Coop: A Comprehensive Guide to Coop Kits, Assembly, and More
Welcome to our latest blog post, where we'll guide you through the process of constructing a chicken coop, a safe haven for your feathered friends! Specifically, we will discuss buying chicken coop kits online, essential features to consider, assembling the kit, creating a secure foundation, predator-proofing, selecting the right bedding materials, and introducing your chickens to their new home.
Buying a Chicken Coop Kit Online
Purchasing a chicken coop kit online is a convenient and time-saving option for many urban farmers. Research reputable online retailers and read customer reviews to ensure you're buying a high-quality product. Compare different coop designs and sizes to suit your specific needs and the number of chickens you plan to keep.
Essential Coop Features
A good chicken coop should provide your flock with a safe and comfortable environment. Key features to look for include:
- Ventilation: Proper airflow is crucial for your chickens' health and well-being.
- Nesting boxes: Ensure there's at least one box per 4-5 hens for laying eggs.
- Roosting bars: Chickens need a place to perch at night, away from their droppings.
- Easy access: Make sure the coop has doors and/or latches for convenient cleaning and egg collection. You can see the latched nesting boxes on our coop in the photo below.
- Weather-resistant materials: Choose a coop made from durable, weather-resistant materials to withstand the elements.
Assembling the Coop Kit
Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to assemble your chicken coop kit. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to make the process smoother and more enjoyable. Pay close attention to details, such as attaching hinges and latches securely, and ensuring all parts fit together properly.
Ours took two people, especially for holding panels while screwing them together.
Choosing the Right Location for a Coop (Based on Climate)
Selecting the right location for your chicken coop is crucial, especially in regions with extreme temperatures. Consider the following factors when choosing a location for your coop:
- Shade: Ensure your coop has access to natural shade, such as from trees or structures, to keep your chickens cool during the hottest part of the day.
- Ventilation: Choose a location that promotes good airflow, while still protecting your chickens from strong winds or drafts.
- Drainage: Avoid placing the coop in low-lying areas that could accumulate water and lead to dampness or flooding. Instead, opt for a spot with good drainage to keep the coop dry.
- Accessibility: Make sure the location is convenient for you, providing easy access to feed, water, and clean the coop as needed.
Constructing a Secure Foundation
A stable and secure foundation is vital for your chicken coop. Paver bricks are an excellent choice, as they create a level surface and discourage predators from digging under the coop. Lay the paver bricks on a leveled area, ensuring they fit together snugly and form a solid, even base.
Burying Mesh Lining for Predator Prevention
To keep predators at bay, bury a mesh lining (such as hardware cloth) around the perimeter of your coop. Dig a trench at least 12 inches deep, and attach the mesh to the base of the coop, extending it into the trench. Refill the trench with soil, securing the mesh in place and providing a strong barrier against digging predators.
Because we have a smaller coop, we buried mesh lining below the entire coop, and secured the lining under our brick foundation before refilling with sandy soil.
Choosing Bedding Materials
Sandy soil is an excellent choice for dust bathing, as it helps your chickens maintain healthy feathers and skin. Pine chips make a comfortable and absorbent bedding material, keeping the coop clean and dry. Spread an even layer of sandy soil and pine chips on the coop floor, and refresh the bedding as needed.
Adding Herbs and Veggies
Incorporate herbs and vegetables into your chicken's environment to promote their well-being. Some great options include:
- Mint: Repels insects and keeps the coop smelling fresh.
- Lavender: Calming and can help reduce stress.
- Basil: Supports healthy respiratory systems.
- Leafy greens: Chickens enjoy pecking at greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale.
Introducing Your Chickens to Their New Home
Before introducing your chickens to their new coop, it's essential to consider the appropriate day and night temperatures based on their age or development. In general, chicks require higher temperatures during their early weeks of life, starting at around 95°F (35°C) for their first week and gradually decreasing by 5°F (3°C) per week until they reach room temperature or outdoor temperatures.
Here's an example of the temperature in the shade, as well as the temperature the sun, when we decided to start bringing our chicks outdoors:
Slowly introduce your chickens to their new coop on warm, sunny days, ensuring that the coop's interior temperature aligns with their age or development requirements. Initially, allow them to explore the area for short periods while closely monitoring their behavior. Gradually increase the time they spend in the coop, making sure they have access to food, water, and shade. Observe the chicks' behavior for any signs of discomfort due to temperature fluctuations, such as panting or huddling together, and adjust the coop temperature accordingly.
On their first day outside, our chicks were greeted by this cloud that looks just like them!
Once your chickens are comfortable and fully feathered (usually around 6-8 weeks old), and outdoor temperatures are consistently above 50°F (10°C), they can fully transition to their new home.
Click here to read part 1, where we cover how to raise happy, healthy day-old chicks!