This is a large coop that we made from a shed
Choosing your first coop can be difficult as there are so many different types around, and such a wide range of prices and quality available. The type of coop you decide on will probably have more to do with your available budget than anything else. However, even a cheap coop can often represent good value for money as long as it is fit for purpose.
When deciding on your coop you need to take time to consider: how many birds you intend to keep, what type of weather conditions they will experience, which predators they need protecting from and how much wear and tear the coop will be subjected to in its lifetime.
This coop has a large pop hole but the run is too small for large birds
So here are some Do’s and Don’ts based on my experience of chicken accommodation.
- Do make sure that your coop is big enough for the birds that you plan to buy and for your future needs. The recommended space per bird is 1ft square but birds with feathered feet will require a little more. The recommended ratio of nest boxes is 4:1 which means a coop with 4 boxes could accommodate 16 hens. Personally I prefer 3:1. If you buy a coop with a small pop hole, this will limit you to smaller breeds. Orpington’s, Brahmas and Jersey Giants prefer a pop hole like the one that you would find in a dog kennel.
- Don’t buy a coop that you haven’t seen. That doesn’t mean that you can’t bag a bargain on-line but before you make your purchase try and find a local stockist that sells them. That way you can see how sturdy, movable or accessible they are before you order one cheaper from an internet supplier.
- Do make sure that the coop you choose is draft free and weather proof, and also that it has adequate ventilation. Place ventilation holes against a natural windbreak or shelter if possible.
- Don’t buy a second hand coop unless you are absolutely 110% certain that it doesn’t contain red mite. If you do buy one, then take it apart if you can and clean it thoroughly. If you can’t take it apart without damaging it, then treat it inside and out with creosote or an equivalent and wait a couple of weeks before you put the hens in it.
- Do make sure that the coop design or location does not allow vermin to nest beneath it. Either raise it up, place it on a hard surface, or board up any openings or holes.
- Don’t buy a coop that has hard to reach areas or is difficult to clean out. Choose one that has access from more than one side and has removable perches, dropping trays, nest box dividers etc. Red mite can’t tolerate UV rays so the more parts that you can remove, scrub down, treat and expose to sunlight the better.
- Do make sure that the run that comes with your coop is of a sufficient size to accommodate your birds for any length of time and has a covered roof.
- Don’t keep your run in the same place all the time if it is on grass. Keep moving it to new places to ensure the grass isn’t killed off and the land does not become contaminated.
- Do make sure that foxes and other predators cannot dig under your run by laying paving stones around it, or digging in wire around it.
This small coop is ideal for a few backyard bantams