If you decide you want to try your hand at raising chickens, there are many things to consider. After you determine that your local rules and regulations allow chickens, and you've decided the breed you want, and have researched the cost and upkeep, you must also consider how to house them. There are only a few basic size types of coops to choose from, though how plain or fancy you make its appearance is up to you.
When you are considering only two or three birds, a small coop will serve your needs. Consisting of an enclosed roosting room and a wire enclosed outdoor space where they can spend their non-roosting time, these are often the simplest in design. An A-frame or rectangular box is the most common small coop with indoor space of two to three square feet per bird. Depending on how heavy you make the coop, it can be repositioned occasionally to provide fresh grass/ground in the wired open air section.
A medium-sized coop is not just a larger-scale small coop. It has a few differences over a small coop. Due to the larger number of chickens intended to be in this size coop, it is elevated two to three feet off the ground with a screen floor for the chicken manure to fall through. The attached screened (sides and top) yard should allow for 10 square feet per chicken.
The largest-size coop is scaled to allow you to easily walk into it for cleaning. This size is often referred to as a hen house and looks similar to a scaled-down house. Rather than building a coop to this size, you can make use of an existing shed remodeled to meet the needs of a hen house. Along with an entry door for you, there will be a trap door for the chickens to use to access their yard.
Also known as chicken arks, these coops are built on wheeled frames with the ability to move them daily or as needed. If you chose to utilize a chicken tractor coop, the size (besides the number of chickens) should be determined by your ability to move it around. Will you have something to move it with or will you be pushing/pulling it by hand?
How your chicken coop looks is entirely up to you (and maybe your neighbors if they're close by). Coops can be made from leftover mismatched building materials or all new store-bought materials. You can paint them to match existing buildings or leave them to weather naturally. Existing sheds or storage buildings can be re-purposed to meet your needs. Whichever route you choose, keep in mind it must provide protection from predators and the elements, a place to roost and have access to water and food.
- Photo Credit aehack:Flickr.com
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