Since we built our chicken coop one year ago, I’ve enjoyed sharing the construction and design. I particularly like how the red color stands out and, of course, I love the living roof! But what about the inside of the coop?
I’ll start with the good:
Basically, as far as a chicken is concerned, a coop is a place they can go to find shelter, roost and lay an egg. My coop meets their needs in all these areas. We have a roosting bar that is 18 inches in height and approximately the length of the coop (43 inches).
On one side of the coop there are three nesting boxes that are accessible from the outside (to gather eggs). One nesting box per four to five chickens is all that is required. I guess that means that I could have 15 chickens! Actually, with my five birds, I usually find all the eggs in the same nesting box.
As for the basic design of the coop, it provides adequate shelter and safety. It’s elevated about 3 feet off the ground which protects the girls from some of the predators of the Ozarks — raccoons, foxes and such.
For ventilation, I have five windows that I can open or close, depending on the season or outside temperature. There is about 15 square feet of space inside the coop, and it’s attached by a ramp to an enclosed run. This adds an additional 97 square feet for the girls to scratch and peck. I also keep their food and water in the run and not in the coop.
Most sources recommend that the roosting bar needs to allow 12 inches of space per chicken. I have five birds, and my bar only allows for about 8.5 inches per bird.
If I had it to do over again I would like for the coop to be a little larger, so that I could add a second bar. I think this would prevent some of the pecking and pushing that I’ve noticed when the girls are settling in for the night. In fact, the coop falls a little short in space in general. A typical minimal requirement is 3 to 5 square feet per bird inside a coop. I have about 2.8 square feet per bird. The attached run adds more space, and I do open the run and let them free range during the day, but I’m sure the girls would appreciate a little more room to ruffle their feathers! This is especially true during the winter. I’ve noticed that if the temperature is below 20 degrees (or if there is snow on the ground), they prefer to stay inside their crowded-cozy coop.
I’ve saved the ugly for last:
Poop — all chicken keepers have to deal with it. It’s true that it is a great fertilizer, but it’s not a pretty sight. I use either a thick layer of straw or pine shavings as a bedding on the floor of the coop and in the nesting boxes. My husband added a “poop tray” under the roosting bar and that feature has turned cleaning the coop into an easy chore. Once a week I simply take the poop-filled tray and dump it into the compost bin. The chickens typically only “relieve” themselves while they’re roosting, and this strategically placed tray makes this ugly task as pleasant as it can be.
That’s the basics of the inside of a chicken coop — it’s pretty simple, but it meets the needs of our five happy, healthy chickens!
What unique designs or features do you have inside your coop? I’d love to hear about them! Or share photos of your coop and chickens on our Facebook page.
To see what else is happening on our Southwest Missouri property, visit …the garden-roof coop.