Tips for building the best chicken coop

We have lots of animal friends here at the Lavender Apple Farm. One of our favorite additions to our farm has been our chickens. We love having farm fresh eggs just outside our sunroom doors every morning for breakfast. Chickens are a lot of work, they require a lot of food and attention, so its not a decision to make lightly. But once you do commit to owning chickens, they are a lot of fun! 

One of the biggest things to consider when you decide to add chickens to your life, is where will they live? The coop will be the biggest investment you make for them. There are a few elements that will ensure that your hens stay happy and healthy. When building your coop, you should ask yourself the following questions. Is your coop well ventilated? Is it protected from moisture? Is it secure from rodents and predators? 

If you can say yes to those top 3 concerns, then you are well on your way. When building your chicken coop, size is an important first factor to consider. For most chicken breeds you want a minimum of 4 sq. ft. per bird. If I was a chicken, I know I would appreciate even more room than that! So if you can do more, certainly do it. Make sure to keep in mind that you will add nesting boxes and roosting areas, so don't forget about them when making your measurements! 

Obviously the chickens will need a place to lay their eggs. Hens will peck and push each other daily to get the best laying spot. Its recommended to have 1 nesting box for every 3 hens, usually about 1 foot by 1 foot. Chickens are particular, so they may not like your nesting boxes and will lay elsewhere. Don't be offended, just get creative and try again. There is a wealth of option ideas on pinterest for laying boxes. 

Roosts, or a place to sleep, are also an obviously important part of your chicken coop. Hens don't like to sleep on the ground, they prefer the air. (Doesn't sound very comfy if you ask me.) Try to keep the roosts at least 2 feet from the ceiling, this way your birds don't have a chance of hitting their heads when they jump up onto their roosts. As far as the width of the roosts, you can estimate you'll need about 12 inches per bird. You can use just about anything to make the roosts, just make sure its small enough they can wrap their feet around the pole, and that its' not to slick so they don't slip off. 

Anything we forgot? What chicken coop tips do you have to share with us?