When it comes to keeping chickens, you must provide them with a safe and comfortable environment.
Making sure they have a dry coop, that’s safe from predators, and with easy access to food, and water is fundamental.
So in this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover 10 things that should be inside a chicken coop and talk about how you can set these up to ensure safety and maximize egg production.
Things That Should Be Inside a Chicken Coop: Design Considerations
1. Spaciousness and Layout
When you’re in the process of designing or setting up your chicken coop, don’t forget to leave as much space as possible for your chickens.
Chickens need room to roost, sleep, lay eggs, and move around freely. Ideally, ensure your coop provides around 2-3 square feet per chicken.
Additionally, the layout of your chicken coop should be organized. There should be separate areas for roosting, nesting, and, depending on your setup, feeding.
This helps to keep things clean and tidy while also making it easy for the chickens to “take it easy.”
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2. Adequate Ventilation
Proper ventilation is essential to maintaining optimal air quality within the coop.
I recommend setting up windows or vents facing each other to facilitate airflow and prevent the buildup of moisture and ammonia.
Make sure these openings are secured with chicken wire and installed at the top of the coop and not the bottom. You don’t want drafts or small openings where predators can creep in.
Don’t know the difference between drafts and ventilation? Check out this article.
Good ventilation not only promotes healthier chickens but also helps recycle air and prevents the growth of mold and bacteria.
3. Insulation for All Seasons
To ensure the comfort of your chickens year-round, it’s also important to invest in proper insulation.
If you have metal roofing and experience hot summers, it’s best to set up insulation on your ceiling using a material such as reflective foil.
Well-insulated walls and roofing will keep the coop warm in the winter and cool in the summer, ensuring that your feathered friends are comfortable in all weather conditions.
Things that Should be Inside a Chicken Coop: Nesting Essentials
4. Nesting Boxes
If they want to lay eggs, your hens will always “find a way.” That being said, providing them with comfortable nesting boxes will ensure they lay in the same place every day and make it easier for you to collect the eggs.
So make sure to set up nesting boxes inside your chicken coop or on it’s sidewalls. These boxes should be private, dark, and filled with soft bedding material like straw or wood shavings.
Each nesting box should be sized around 1’x1’x1′ feet with at least two nesting boxes every 4-5 adult hens.
Also, the nesting boxes should be installed lower than the roost bars and away from them so the chooks won’t poop on its roof.
5. Adequate Lighting
Natural or artificial lighting is essential to encourage egg production. Light helps regulate their reproductive cycles and maintain a higher yield during the winter.
Chickens require approximately 14-16 hours of light per day for optimal egg laying. So to ensure this, it’s best to set up windows around your coop and also set up lights (with timers) so they receive the right amount of light.
However, don’t keep the light on indefinitely, and also set up a light with a warm tone that gives out a soft and yellow glow.
Feeding and Watering Solutions
6. Feeders and Waterers
This one’s pretty obvious: you need to keep your chickens healthy and well-fed to maximize egg production and keep them healthy.
Usually, it’s best to keep food and water away from the chicken roost and nesting boxes. So if you have a dedicated run, you can keep the feeders and waterers inside the run itself.
If you’re just starting out, or still in the process of designing your coop, I recommend purchasing a pair of feeders and waterers and keeping them nearby.
These don’t have to be too complicated, just simple hanging feeders placed at an appropriate height to prevent contamination but ensure easy access for your flock.
That said, whenever you do start keeping chickens, make sure to clean and refill the feeders and waterers regularly to maintain hygiene and ensure your chooks have enough food and water.
7. Secure Food Storage Containers
While making sure you keep your chickens feed and water topped up, it’s also important you invest in several storage containers to keep chicken feed safe accessible, and safe from pests and the elements.
These can be plastic bins, totes, or metal bins. Whatever the case, they should remain airtight and prevent unnecessary moisture or critters from getting in.
Also, keep them in an elevated shaded area so there’s less chance for them to rot or catch mold.
Roosting, Comfort, and Predator-Proofing
8. Sturdy Roost Bars
If you’re limited on space, roost bars might not be a luxury you can afford. However, if possible, I highly recommend setting up a simple roost bar or an elevated surface for your chickens to sleep at night.
Not only does this satisfy the chickens, but it also helps keep them off the ground and minimize the risk of catching diseases.
Design Considerations for Roosting Bars
Ideally, you want 7-8″ of roosting length per chicken with a bar that’s at least 2″ wide for their feet to rest on.
Chickens don’t wrap around the roosting bars like parrots, they prefer to keep their feet flat on the roosting bars. As such, the roosting bar should be wide, smooth, and free from splinters and sharp edges.
Additionally, I recommend setting these up with wood (preferably a 2×4 if weight isn’t an issue) and avoiding PVC or metal since these tend to be slippery.
Also, if you’re setting them up on different levels, it’s important you stagger them in steps, so each roost bar isn’t directly on top or below one another. Chickens tend to poop while roosting and you don’t want chickens below getting pooped on.
9. Floor Material/Bedding
Since poop, feathers, and even broken eggs can pool up on the floor of your chicken coop, it’s essential you maintain a clean and dry floor.
For this, the best option is to use animal bedding such as pine shavings, straw, hay, hemp shavings, rice husks/hulls, or even play sand. These help keep things dry and absorb moisture as soon as possible.
However, if you’re keeping baby chicks, I recommend avoiding hay and dried grass since they tend to be somewhat abrasive. On top of that, eggs are very easy to get lost under a field of hay or dry grass.
Beyond that, you might also consider elevating the floor of your chicken coop and lining it with plywood so it’s more breathable.
10. Predator Protection
Protecting your chickens from predators is non-negotiable.
As such, it’s imperative you Install fencing or wire mesh around the coop and also set up a predator apron by burying it underground to deter digging animals.
Also, don’t forget to set up locks and latches to the coop doors, nesting boxes, and chicken run entrances so critters can’t get in so easily.
For extra protection, you can set up motion-activated lights, or even alarms to discourage nocturnal critters.
When it comes to setting up your chicken coop, predator-proofing, bedding, and setting up feeders and waterers are key. Alongside that, making sure there’s good insulation, proper ventilation, roosting perches, and nesting boxes can go a long way.
So don’t forget to read through this guide and create a list of everything you need to make your chicken coop habitable for your feathery friends.
By setting these up, you’ll not only provide your chickens with a safe and comfortable living environment but maximize egg production and keep your chickens happy in the long run.