Things to Know Before Buying a Coop: Chicken Coop Buying Guide
According to the USDA, 5% of U.S. households either raise chickens or plan to raise chickens. That’s over 13 million people jumping on the trend of urban poultry and raising backyard chickens. If this is a hobby you’ve wanted to pursue, the biggest key to success is buying a chicken coop that will keep your flock healthy and safe. There are a lot of things to know before buying a coop and our chicken coop buying guide has the answers you need.
How Much Room Do Chickens Need in a Coop?
The size of your chicken coop will ultimately be determined by the number of hens you’ll own. Most chicken coop guides suggest you have approximately two square feet of space per standard adult bird. Choosing the right-sized coop for the number of chickens helps keep the temperature inside the coop at a comfortable level and also minimizes injuries from pecking, which occurs when there is overcrowding.
Additionally, you’ll need to determine how many nesting boxes to add to the interior of your chicken coop. Nesting boxes offer a clean, private area for hens to lay their eggs. At a minimum, you should include one nest box for every four to five hens. Nest boxes should be installed a couple of feet off the ground, or the hens may not use them.
You’ll also want to give consideration to the amount of space you provide your chickens outside of the coop. A chicken run is an enclosed outdoor area where your chickens can stretch out, dust bathe, or forage and scratch in the grass. When creating a chicken run, dedicate eight to ten square feet per standard adult bird.
How Tall Should My Chicken Coop Be?
At a minimum, your chicken coop should be three feet tall. The extra height in your chicken coop has several advantages. Higher ceilings allow for more ventilation which maintains a healthier environment. Small, screened windows can be added to many chicken coop designs to increase air circulation.
The extra height also allows you to add roosting bars to the interior of your chicken coop. A roosting bar gives your chickens a place to sleep that’s off the ground, keeping them safe from predators and small creatures, like mice, who may squeeze into your coop at night looking for warmth. A roosting bar only needs to be a foot off the ground, but the higher you place them, the more room you have for additional roosts.
What Other Elements Should a Chicken Coop Include?
At the bare minimum, the chicken coop you choose should be easy to clean, well-ventilated, include clean watering and feeding stations, and offer adequate roosts.
- Natural light is a plus with chicken coop sheds. Sunlight encourages egg production.
- Wooden floors are easy to clean and offer more protection.
- Include good bedding material, such as sawdust (untreated wood only), wood shavings, or chopped straw.
- Chickens need twice as much water as they do feed. An automatic waterer is recommended to ensure that there is plenty of fresh water available.
- An electrical package allows for the added conveniences of a heated water bowl and an automatic locking door.
- A wheel system makes it easy to move your shed. Periodic relocation keeps your grass healthier and provides your chickens with fresh scratching areas.
Do Chicken Coops Need To Be Off the Ground?
Your chicken coop can be placed directly on the ground. When you place a chicken coop with a wooden floor directly on the ground, we recommend that you create a base of crushed stone for your structure. Not only does this allow for better drainage around your coop, but it also offers an additional layer of protection for predators who are looking for access points.
However, raising your chicken coop up off the ground a few inches by adding legs does provide more safety for your chickens. Predators such as foxes, raccoons, or skunks can create underground holes to access your coop. A raised coop makes it harder for them to use this tactic.
Where Should I Place My Chicken Coop?
When determining where to place your chicken coop on your property, there are several factors to consider. You want to choose a location that provides sunlight and keeps drafts away. Access to natural sunlight is very important when raising chickens. Sunlight stimulates a chicken’s pituitary gland, which stimulates egg production.
Southern facing locations are the best for your coop to take advantage of the sun’s warmth and protect your animals from cold northern winds. Windows on the east and west sides will help maintain warmth.
In extreme heat, you should provide afternoon shade for your chicken coop, either with landscaping or a shade cloth.
Chicken Coop Styles
From 3’ x 4’ to 7’ x 12’, chicken coops come in a range of sizes. They also come in a variety of styles. Browse the styles below and find the one that best suits your space needs and aesthetics.
- A-Frame: The A-Frame is a classic style and a fan favorite. It has simple, straight lines and beautiful trim.
- Dutch: The Dutch hen house has a quaint, hip style roof, which makes it look like a miniature barn. The roof also optimizes useable interior space.
- Combination: A combination coop boasts a hen house with an attached chicken run to allow the chickens a safe place to scratch.
- Tractor: The tractor style is a moveable cage and outdoor run combo. This allows you to keep the chickens on fresh grass by easily moving it to different areas of your property.
- Quaker: Quaker coops have a distinctive roofline overhang that is inspired by century-old barn styles. This style maximizes head space in the interior.
- Lean-To: The Lean-To is designed to save space by allowing you to place it up against a building or wall.
If you have additional questions about buying a chicken coop, our staff is available Tuesdays – Saturdays to provide their expert advice. You can also view our inventory at our Glen Rock, PA, and Finksburg, MD locations. Shop Chicken Coops