As we wind down another successful Chick Days, we're going to wrap up Chicks 101 with advice on coopitecture. It's something to start thinking about and building early because your new chicks will grow fast! You'll need the coop in about 6 - 8 weeks. Here are a few important considerations:
check local building codes for size, materials, and setbacks
choose a flat spot that has good drainage
build close to utilities - food, water, and power source
choose a spot that provides adequate sun and shade
Chicken Tractors - they're smaller and portable. Moving around the yard helps to even out fertilization and pest control, but they need a lot of space.
Wagons - they're portable but larger, typically on four wheels with a ramp. Good for free range chickens who need a shelter when they want it. They, too, need space.
Stationary coops - minimal space required, they're easy to proof against predators and weather, and are their ease of maintenance makes them ideal for urban and rural use. They're a great build-to-suit option.
4 square feet indoors and 10 square feet outdoors per bird
1 square foot nesting box for every 4 - 5 hens
1 square foot roosting perch per bird
plan for plenty of outdoor shade
large enough for your own comfort to clean and access
plan for expansion of the flock
Other Design Elements
Enough hours of light per day
Ventilation - windows on all 4 sides and vent holes at the top
Outside access to double-latched nesting boxes
One last note on light and ventilation. You don't want your coop completely sealed, even in cold weather. Ammonia buildup is hazardous to birds. Provide enough light that chicks get 10 hours of light per day after the first week. When the girls are getting old enough to lay, you'll need 16 hours of light per day. Supplement the natural daylight with a 40 watt bulb set on a timer. See, the access to electricity comes in handy!
Thank you for joining us for Chicks 101 - The Online Class! We hope you've learned a lot that will help you maintain a healthy and strong flock. If you ever have questions, just ask us! We're happy to help!
As a participant of Chicks 101, you'll receive our Growing Chicks Newsletter each week. It follows your growing birds and offers more tips as you anticipate your first egg! Good luck on all your flock raising adventures.