Building one's own coop can be a satisfying experience and allows owners to create a unique coop that reflects their personal tastes and budgets.
However, first time chicken owners lack experience and may create coops with design flaws that make the coop unhealthy for chickens and inconvenient for the owner.
To help DIY coop builders, we are providing our list of the top five design mistakes.
Top Coop Design Mistakes:
- Inadequate Ventilation - Chickens release a large amounts of moisture in their breath. In a coop without adequate ventilation, excessive moisture can build up within the coop and create an environment that is friendly to mold and other micro-organisms that in turn cause respiratory illness. A good coop design needs to allow moisture to escape while at the same time protecting chickens from drafts -- cold air that flows over chickens while they are on the floor of the coop or when they are sitting on their roosts. To accomplish this, windows should be placed above perches and be adjustable so that the flow of air circulating in and out of the coop can be regulated. (note: The photo below shows a second window at the bottom of the coop that we cover in winter)
Photo shows Coop Elevated on Legs with ventilation Opening At Top and
a latched bottom door for a pan
- Inconvenient Access - A little upfront planning can save you lots of trouble over the life of your coop. Cleaning the coop is one of the least pleasant aspects of chicken keeping. Make it easier by designing your coop so that cleaning chores are easy. We designed our coop with a floor pan that is similar to those found in dog crates. To clean the coop, we open a small door at the bottom of the coop and slide out the pan. The contents of the pan are then easy to drop into our composter where they are then turned into garden soil for our vegetables. For larger coops where a pan may not be practical, an alternative is to create Dutch doors on opposite sides of the coop. When you need to clean, open the doors and rake out the soiled bedding. We've also made daily egg collection much easier by creating doors that allow access to nest boxes from outside of the coop. The doors makes daily egg collection a snap. To make chicken keeping easier, design your coop so that you can easily clean it and harvest eggs.
Nest Boxes Can Be Accessed From Outside Via A Small Door
- Incorrectly Placed Perches - At night, chickens return to the coop and rest on perches, preferring those that are highest above the floor of the coop. Whatever is below these perches gets soiled by droppings. A mistake we made in our original coop design was to place perches below our nest boxes. This encouraged the chickens to use the nest boxes as nighttime perches (highest resting spot in the coop) and so the nest boxes became toilets. To correct the problem we needed to readjust the position of the perches relative to the nest boxes. To keep your nest boxes and any eggs in them cleaner, place perches above nest boxes.
Bombs Away! Place Your Perch In the Right Spot.
- Coop Is Too Small - Building a coop that is larger than your chickens need may be wasteful of resources, but it's not going to hurt your chickens. However, a coop that is too small can lead to squabbles for space. If you don't have a run to go along with your coop and don't "free range" your birds either, plan on 10 square feet of coop space per bird. If you have a coop and run, plan on 4 square feet of coop space and 6 square feet of run space for each bird in your flock.