Raising your own chickens is a great way to provide your family with fresh eggs and meat, while knowing that the food was raised humanely and without unnecessary antibiotics. If you raise chickens however, they will need shelter and a place to roost. Below are a few different ways you can go about acquiring this shelter, from making your own to buying a coop pre-made.
According to The Ultimate Self-Sufficiency Handbook (2012) by Abigail R. Gehring, a chicken coop needs the following characteristics:
- close to your home so you won’t forget about it.
- in a place where the ground is dry, to prevent the growth of disease
- well-ventilated. Free air flow
- protected from the weather
- has shade and sunny areas
- a sturdy roof
- perches not more than 2.5 ft (76 cm)
- smooth floor under perch area, easy to clean
- roomy nesting boxes-in shaded part of the coop.
Traditional Chicken Coop
Chicken coops have been a part of our farming heritage for as long as humans have been raising livestock. It is not surprising then, that traditional designs and plans can be found easily on the internet and elsewhere. Shown here is a blueprint of a chicken coop from 1870 with a concrete floor and stone foundation.
A more recent idea is that of a movable coop with no floor (or with a wire floor) that can be moved easily so that the birds can feed naturally on plants and insects without stripping any one area bare. It also enables the manure from the chickens to fertilize the area. This gives the benefits of free ranging but provides the protection that poultry need from predators.