Whether you’re just wanting a couple of laying hens, or you’re wanting to start raising free-range poultry. It’s important to have a well-designed coop to house your chickens. Having a hutch available is the best way to keep your chickens safe and comfortable, even if you plan to have them live outside a lot of the time. Having a good shelter will increase your flock’s productivity and profitability.
While chickens are easily adaptable to different climates and weather conditions, they still need comfortable shelter from the worst weather, including thunderstorms, drenching rain, strong winds, extreme heat and bitter cold. Your coop will help keep your flock more comfortable and safe from dangerous weather.
A strong, sturdy coop will be designed to keep predators such as foxes, snakes, rats, raccoons, hawks, owls and cats away from your chickens. Furthermore, a safe coop also ensures your chickens do not wander into unsafe areas, particularly in urban or suburban areas where nearby streets or traffic can be hazardous for your poultry. An elevated coop will be less vulnerable to small predators, and all cracks, holes and crevices should be tightly sealed to keep out any predators looking to make a meal of your chickens. Windows should have sturdy mesh so no predators can enter.
Chickens need a familiar, safe space to roost at night, and your coop will be just that. A good coop also allows chickens to roost while maintaining their social hierarchy, which will help minimize territorial behavior which can lead to fighting or bullying in the flock. This will also ensure you have well-rested, healthy chickens.
If you keep chickens for their egg production, your coop is critical for proper laying space so hens will produce more eggs. Properly sized and spaced laying boxes will not only keep your hens more at ease for better laying, but it will also be easier for you to collect the eggs with less stress and disturbance to the birds.
Chickens get very used to habits and routines, and using your coop as a proper feeding space will teach your chickens to return to the area when it is time to be fed. This will help you monitor and maintain your flock better, ensuring each bird gets fed appropriately and giving you the opportunity to observe your chickens to watch for potential health problems.
Coops need to be cleaned regularly to remove parasites, debris buildup and other hazards to your chickens. Installing dropping boards or choosing bedding that will be easy to change can help make cleaning your coop more convenient.
Fumes from chicken feces, decaying bedding and shed feathers can lead to respiratory problems in your flock, so good ventilation is essential for your coop. Windows are ideal, and you can also install vents or vent fans along the eaves or peak of the roof to ensure good air circulation.
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