As the popularity of raising backyard chickens continues to rise there has been a flood of products onto the market. Your chicken coop is likely going to be your biggest initial investment when starting out and you need to choose carefully so you don’t end up with an expensive pile of firewood and a flock of homeless backyard chickens. We have put together a list of the best chicken coops you can purchase online but the following are the key principles for whatever chicken coop you choose.
As a rule of thumb a decent coop for three to four birds should cost you in the region of $500 depending on whether you have a run attached or it is just a free standing chicken coop. The key requirements for a good chicken coop come down to three key things; perches, nest boxes and ventilation.
Most chickens will perch when they roost at night and will instinctively look for the highest point to perch. The perch should be approximately 2-3 inches wide with smooth edges to allow your backyard chickens to sit comfortably. You should make sure that the perch is higher than the nest box entry otherwise you will have your backyard chickens roosting in the nest boxes where they will poop overnight resulting in soiled eggs in the morning.
Your backyard chickens will need approximately 8 inches of perch each (less for smaller breeds) and perches should be spaced at least 12 inches apart to give the chickens room in front of them.
You should have at least one nest box for every three birds and these should be located off the ground in a dry dark area of the chicken coop.
Finally the chicken coop should have good ventilation to prevent the build up of condensation. Ventilation does not mean lots of holes in the chicken coop but requires that the warm moist air can rise and escape at a high point within the chicken coop with cooler air drawn in at a lower level. Simple openings on both sides of the chicken coop that are at the same level will simply result in a draughty uncomfortable space for your chickens.
If you are attaching a run with your chicken coop you should consider the amount of space that you need. As a rule of thumb you will need in the order of 20 sqft per chicken.
So as you start to consider which chicken coop is right for you remember to make sure there is sufficient perches that are located and spaced appropriately, good ventilation, ample nest boxes, and that your backyard chickens have enough space to roam and you will be well on your way to raising a healthy happy flock of backyard chickens.