As we come to understand the impact of factory farming on our world, more and more people are investing in sustainable resources, including growing their own food and farming on a small scale. Getting your own dairy cows may be going a bit far – cows need a lot of space – but what about raising your own chickens? You’ll still need a good amount of land for them to roam, but these animals are a bit less maintenance.
Having your own chicken coop at home is not a simple walk in the park, but it can be done well by anyone with the means and the drive to do it. The question many have, though, is where to begin? How does one build their own, and how do you maintain it?
What You Need to Buy
The poultry industry is a profitable one, and there are even companies out there dedicated to the hardware, upkeep, and care of chickens and their enclosures, like Dalton Engineering (daltonengineering.co.uk). These are “one-stop shops” for all your poultry needs, from building the housing to feeding the hens. But before you get the chickens, you need to build their living space. This means a coop, equipped with everything to keep them warm and comfortable, as well as feeding and drinking areas to keep them happy and healthy. You won’t get any eggs from sick or uncomfortable hens!
So, here’s the basics you need to get started:
- Wood – Most coops are made of wood. You’ll need different sizes and thicknesses. This depends on the type and size of the coop you’re trying to build, so it will vary.
- Nuts, bolts, and screws – Hardware stores have all the bits you need to build a safe, sturdy home for your hens.
- PVC Pipe/Recycled Materials – Some choose to incorporate more than just wood, whether it’s for support or to make it look better. Design your enclosure before you buy the materials!
- Chicken wire – This is important for the coop itself and for the protection of the birds. It’s structural but it also helps keep predators away.
- A door – The door could be the main protection for the chickens, so it is important to choose something durable. They even make automatic coop doors that operate on a timer, so you’ll never have to worry about shutting it.
- Concrete slab – The whole enclosure should be elevated off the ground for the safety of the chickens. The best way to do that is with a concrete slab underneath.
- Troughs/Buckets for food and water – Sometimes these are inside if the space is large enough, but they could be outside, too.
Things to Keep in Mind
The size of the coop depends on how many birds you have and whether or not you’ll get more in the future. There should be plenty of space for all of them! Every hen needs a nesting box to lay their eggs in. Don’t forget to provide ventilation areas for the animals. Chickens like warmth, but they don’t want to be stewing in their home, just like you wouldn’t want to! Things like chicken wire and a secure door could be all that stands between your birds and a predator such as a snake or a fox. These are some of the most important parts of any coop. Give them enough room to roam away from the pen, but be sure to enclose them to prevent escape.
Time for Your Birds!
Once you have your coop built and secured, your food and water ready, and the wire fencing set up, it’s time for the final step: adding the chickens! Watch them adjust to their new home, and you’ll have your own fresh eggs in no time at all.