Maximize your egg production and growth rate of your meat birds by installing a coop light. Buy and install a simple timer. Set your timer to provide 16 hours light in your coop.
Don’t forget to provide fresh water and an ample food supply also inside your coop. Chickens Will Not go out of the coop into the darkness of night to eat or drink.
Hint: What ever you build or buy, make it covenant for ‘You’ to access. To clean, gather eggs and so on without the need to stoop low or crawl around on your hands and knees.
Make all gates and doors wide enough to get your wheel barrow in and out of the hen house and chickens runs.
Do it right the first time. Choosing the best coop wire. 1X2 welded wire is a much better choice. 1/2X1/2 utility wire is also a good choice. They cost a bit more but in the long run will be a cheaper and better choice. Poultry netting will rust and become useless in just a few years and is not as effective in keeping small chicks in nor is it a big obstacle to keep determined animals like cats, dogs, coyote, fox or racoon’s out of your hen house.
I’m at it again. Another posting about building chicken coops. It seems that after searching the Internet I find thousands of listings on how to build a chicken coop but, everyone wants to ‘Sell’ you a plan or blueprint.
You do not have to be an architect or construction engineer to construct a chicken coop. Anyone (You) can do it. North Dakota State University has a lot of free and useful plans and other information for you. Keep in mind that you can scale up or down any of their basic plans to fit the flock size you want to maintain. Hint Storage shed plans are a hen house by another name.
A secure coop is very important, it seems that everyone and everything likes the taste of chicken. Cats, dogs, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums,, fox and even a hawk or owl will take a chicken given the chance to do so. Snakes can be a problem eating small chicks and always looking for a chance to take a few eggs. Other than stray dogs daylight predators are few, but after dark your chickens are ‘setting ducks’ 🙂 just waiting to be eaten by a hungry predator.
What your chickens Really Need. Warm secure chickens produce many more eggs and gain more weight than chickens housed in a cold coop. When building your coop be sure to close up any holes or cracks that allow a cold draft to enter your coop. Unless you live above the arctic circle supplemental heating is generally not needed. If you feel the need to heat your hen house consider a 250 watt heat lamp located 3 – 5 feet off the floor. Use caution, a lamp that comes in contact with hay, straw etc. can catch your house on fire!
Chickens need about 2 square feet of floor space for each hen in your flock. A 4X4 sheet of plywood =16 square foot coop and will house no more than 8 chickens, 6 would be better. Remember you will loose a few feet of floor space to nest boxes and roosting areas.
Clean water is a must have thing. Don’t skimp, purchase large good quality water containers. Feeders should be designed to prevent them from wasting feed or being of a design that allows them to set / roost on top of your feeders. Chickens Do Not go outdoors to poop! Given the opportunity they will poop in feed troughs and water containers! Hanging style containers work well. They can be raised higher off the floor as your flock grows.
Free Range or Penned hens? A chicken run is nothing more than a fenced in area that attaches or surrounds your coop. Your chicken run should allow at least 10 square feet of run for each chicken in your flock. Thus 6 chickens will need 60 square feet of run. An 8 foot by 8 foot run will provide you with 64 square feet.
Free range is just what it sounds like. Free range chickens are free to range and forage anyplace they feel like going. Free range chickens seem to be healthier and consume much less store bought feed than penned chickens.
Allowed to free range they will eat large quantities of grass, weeds and every insect that they can catch! They scratch eating weed seeds worms and grubs.
Read Practical Poultry Keeper On-Line
This book was first published in 1867, however information it contains is free and it’s information is still just as valid to day as it was 145 years ago. It is in a PDF file so you can download this book for a handy reference.
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