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Critical Components for a DIY Chicken Coop
Building a chicken coop is a big, but very fulfilling, project. To get started, you need to know the basic parts of a chicken coop. What they do, why your chickens need them, and how much space it all takes.
In this article, we’ll cover the core things that make a chicken coop a good home for your hens. Because without a few critical elements, your chickens can’t be healthy, safe, or happy.
What Are The Parts of a Chicken Coop?
You probably already have an image of what a chicken coop looks like in your head. It’s a wooden box on stilts with a slanted roof, surrounded by a chicken wire fence. But each of these parts serves a different purpose, and there’s a little more going on than you might notice at first.
These are the essential parts of every chicken coop.
A chicken run sounds like we’re talking about your whole yard, but it’s not so. The run is the fenced-in area around the henhouse. Its job is to give your chickens a safe space to eat, socialize, and spend their daylight hours.
The key to an effective run is space. You need ten square feet of space per chicken in your run. So, for a flock of ten, you’ll need a run roughly 10’x10’. This ensures that they’re not cramped, which will cause infighting and bullying.
Many folks will let their chickens out of the run during the day to roam around the yard, and shut them back in at night. This is great for the chickens’ health. But the run provides them with the minimum outdoor space necessary to be comfortable and safe.
Which brings us to the other crucial element of the run: security. The run needs to be completely predator-proof. Most chicken runs are made with wooden posts wrapped in a double layer of low-gauge chicken wire, including over the top.
It’s wise to include an “apron” of chicken wire that extends down into the soil. This prevents any sneaky coyotes or skunks from digging their way in.
The henhouse is what we think of as the “building” part of the coop. It’s a wooden box where the chickens sleep and huddle when it’s cold. Henhouses are often kept off the ground to further discourage predators and keep the birds warm.
The henhouse usually has a door with a latch, with a ramp leading up to it. You’ll be surprised how quickly your chickens will adopt this space as their home, heading inside before it gets dark.
Inside, you should keep a clean layer of sawdust or hay for bedding. Keep a layer of plastic sheeting between the bedding and the floor of the henhouse. Then, when it’s time to change the bedding out, you can just pull the sheeting and dump it off.
Like the run, the henhouse also needs a certain amount of space. You’ll need three square feet of interior space in the coop per bird. With a flock of ten birds, that equates to 6’x5’.
The nest boxes are where your hens will lay eggs. They’re usually attached like an addition to your henhouse, with a ceiling on hinges. This lets you open it and collect the eggs easily.
Nest boxes should be one cubed foot in volume. That’s 12”x12”x12”. They should be separated with dividers. Add a little extra straw, and your hens will know they’re in the right place to lay eggs. A good rule of thumb for nest boxes is to provide one for every four chickens.
Chicken Coop FAQs
How much space do chickens need?
Chickens need 10 square feet each on the run, 3 square feet each in the coop, and one square foot in the nest boxes. You should have one nest box for every four chickens.
Does a chicken run need to be fenced in?
You should always fence your chicken run in. This keeps out predators and keeps your hens feeling safe. The walls and ceiling of the run should be fenced with a double layer of low-gauge chicken wire.
What should I put in a chicken run?
Your chicken run is where your chickens eat and spend most of their time. Every run should have a water basin and a dust bath to keep your hens healthy and happy.
How big should a henhouse be?
It depends on how many chickens you have. Each chicken needs three square feet of space. So a flock of ten chickens would need a 30 square foot coop.
Do you need a nesting box for chickens?
Yes, definitely. If you don’t give your chickens a place to lay eggs, they will find places on the run or in your yard. This can cause a rotten egg smell and attract predators.
How many nesting boxes do I need for my chickens?
A good rule of thumb is to provide one nesting box for every four chickens in your flock.