Building a Chicken Coop
Building a chicken coop for raising chickens in your backyard is a great way to get started rearing animals and providing your own food. Not only do chickens supply you with a plentiful amount of tasty eggs but they also teach you some important skills which you can then use if you choose to raise other animals in the future. In this article I’m going to be running through everything you need to start your own backyard chicken coop.
Sheltering Your Chickens
The first thing you’ll need when starting your backyard chicken coop is somewhere safe and warm for your chickens. There are three main shelter options depending on the age you want to start raising your chickens and I have listed these below.
1) Hatching Chickens
If you want to hatch your own chickens and raise them completely from birth, you’ll need some fertilized eggs and an incubator which can both be purchased online.
2) Chickens Less Than 2 Months Old
If you’re raising young chicks, the best shelter for them is a cardboard box lined with newspaper and pine shavings which you keep warm with a heat lamp. The ideal temperature range for chicks that are this age is 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the first week and then to drop the temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week until the two months are up.
3) Chickens Older Than 2 Months
If you get chickens that are older than 2 months, you can place them straight in an outdoor chicken coop. There are plenty of different coop designs out there which you can either purchase or build yourself.
When choosing your chicken coop, make sure you consider all the factors listed below before making your final decision:
- Nesting Box: Most chicken coops now come with nesting boxes as they make laying and collecting the eggs much easier. However, it’s worth checking that your chicken coop definitely has one before you buy.
- Mobility: While mobility isn’t an essential feature of a chicken coop, it does allow you to move your chickens around your yard and ensure that they always have access to fresh grass.
- Security: Once your chickens start to live outside, they become exposed to a variety of wild animals that can potentially prey on them. Therefore, you need to make sure you purchase a coop that’s fully covered by a wire cage and strong enough to resist potential intruders.
- Size: Your chickens need space to run around, exercise and get some fresh air. A 4 foot by 8 foot chicken coop will generally provide enough room for up to three chickens to roam around and stay healthy, so use this as a base point and choose a chicken coop that’s large enough for all your chickens.
Things You Need To Keep Your Backyard Chickens Alive & Well
Once you’ve purchased or built the necessary shelter for your chickens, you need to keep them alive and well. The good news is that chickens are simple creatures and as long as you provide them with adequate amounts of food and water, they’ll stay healthy. The sections below outline how to best provide your chickens with food and water.
Chickens can live off standard chicken feed. However, if you want them to lay tasty, full flavored eggs then you should feed them leftover fruit and vegetable scraps as well. This will add a wide range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to their diet and you’ll really notice the difference it makes when you try their eggs.
To provide them with the food, you’ll want to invest in a high quality chicken feeder and make sure you clean it every other day so that the food stays fresh.
Like with the food, you’ll want to purchase a good quality chicken watering bucket. Ideally, you’ll want one that’s heated so that the water doesn’t freeze if the temperature drops.
I hope this article helps you successfully setup your very first backyard chicken coop. If you follow the steps above, you should be rearing happy, healthy chickens and enjoying fresh, tasty eggs in no time at all.