by Donna McGlasson from Gardens & Chickens & Worms, Oh My!
Whether you are new to chicken-keeping or just expanding due to chicken math, here are a few tips to make your coop easier for you to clean and more comfortable for your feathered family.
1) Paint every surface with a non-toxic animal-safe paint to prevent mites from having hiding places. Do this while you are building your coop. Mites like to burrow into wood surfaces and wait for a tasty meal, your chickens, when the time is right.
|Paint EVERY surface|
2) When putting in roosts for your feathered crew, make sure the roosts are wide enough that your chickens can sit flat-footed on their feet so they can cover them with their feathers to keep them warm in winter. For example, if you are putting in 2×4’s, put the 4″ side up.
|2×4 roost, four inch side up to be painted|
3) Create “poop” boards to go underneath your roosts. This makes cleaning SO much easier by scraping it off daily and keeping a tidy coop. It also allows you to monitor your chicken’s health. Since chickens can hide illness until it’s too late, noting changes in their droppings may help you identify a potential problem.
|Poop board painted and covered in linoleum for under the roost|
4) Acquire scrap pieces of linoleum to cover the “poop” boards and coop floor. It makes cleaning much, much easier.
5) Run water and electricity to your coop site before building and placement are complete. You’ll be very glad later!
6) Make sure to include ventilation for you coop. Preferably at the top to allow for circulation without draftiness.
|Coop ventilation with adjustable flap doors|
7) Cover any ventilation or open spots with 1/2″ hardware cloth and secure with washers and screws.
8) Make positively sure that whatever method you choose to secure doors and egg boxes are 100% predator proof. Remember, animals like raccoon have opposing thumbs and can open hook and eye closures that don’t have a spring.
|Added egg door security from original coop design|
|Spring loaded hook & eye latch|
|Slide bolts with caribiner and since moving to the mountains a wing nut bolt for added security|
9) One regret I have is not building in a storage area for cleaning implements and food storage. If you have the room, add storage into your design.
10) If I heard one thing repeatedly from chicken keepers nation-wide, it is build bigger than you think you’ll ever need. When I finally convinced my hubby about chicken-keeping, we built a little
“A” frame chicken coop which we are now in the process of modifying a year and half later. We went from three to five to nine chickens and probably more to come. Shhhhh! Chicken math really does exist! I will admit that as a couple that rarely argues, we had quite a few tiffs while building the coop but if I had it to do over, I would insist on building a bigger walk-in coop instead of my little open-the-sides/reach in “A” frame coop.
Safety of your chickens includes predator proofing and cleanliness so when you get ready to build a coop or expand, have a plan that keeps these two factors at the top of the list. Then give thought to building it bigger, you’ll be glad you did. Before you build research, research, research!