My short article on building coops that are on the small size to raise chickens in yesterday stirred quite a few questions, so I’ll try to elaborate on the difference between stationary coops and mobile chicken coops to help you make your decision on which to build.
Building Coops: First Decision, Mobile Or Fixed?
A portable coop offers many advantages already discussed in my chicken tractor and arks post, but it may not be the right solution for you in the long run. Tractors and other mobile coops are perfect for the person who is keeping a few chickens as pets or who only ever want to keep 2-6 chickens at a time.
If you’re looking for a coop that will hold more than half a dozen birds and has structural integrity you’ll be happier with a chicken house, larger coop or poultry shed. They are sturdier, easier to winterize and can withstand more wear and tear over the years.
Before committing to a coop design though, consider the list of options below.
How Much Space Does A Chicken Need When Building Coops?
Since you can buy plans or build all types and sizes of coops – small, medium, and large – knowing the number of chickens you plan to house will help you decide which of your favorite plans to build. Personally, I like to give each chicken 3-4 square feet of space to ensure they don’t become stressed and have plenty of space to scratch around. (Note that this space is ‘overkill’ by poultry farmer standards, but I always think it best to give more than a commercial grower would.)
The worst thing you can do is shove too many chickens into a too small space. It is always better to error on the maximum when it comes to size than have them feel crowded as they will get sick, fight, or just generally be unhappy. Stress from over-crowding is the most common cause of illness in hens.
Protecting Your Hens from Predators and Weather
Chickens can not defend themselves. They need protection from predators as well as pet dogs and cats (when the chickens are small). The best coop is sturdy, predator-proof and has a tight, solid fencing system around the yard area. Chickens require a draft-free roofed space for night use and bad weather.
Fun! Building Coops to Match Your House
You can build a coop that matches your personal taste as well as your house style. This can be a fun way to decorate a functional building that will be seen by friends, family and visitors. The appearance of your coop can enhance your property but may also impact on the chicken’s health. A coop with a low, dark roof will get hot in sunny weather and if chickens are trapped inside they may overheat. Another nice feature of decorating a coop a to match the house is that you can use up building materials left over from your home build. How else can you put to good use the bundle of leftover shingles, siding, or windows that you replaced last year? Keep it fun, match the trim paint to your own home’s doors and windows and you’ll have a chicken coop that you’ll love to show off.