Before purchasing the chickens you want, it will be necessary to have cages or coops to keep them in. These are not necessarily difficult to build, but must follow certain guidelines to be useful. If you are planning on building your own chicken coop, with the proper supplies and materials you can have an excellent coop built in very little time.
Choosing the best location is a necessary factor in egg production, warmth, and over all presentation. If you live in a closely populated area you may want to consider the look and style of your coop. Although it is not a law, it is common courtesy to make it look presentable so as not to cause hard feelings between you and your neighbors. You do not have to let their likes and dislikes dictate the type and form of your coop, but as far as the smell and outward appearance, it should be made to be presentable. A backyard shed or small garden house makes great chicken housing, but building your own is the only way to make sure you get what you want.
The type of pen you decide to build will depend on your surroundings also. The predators where you live, either domestic or wild, should not be able to access the chickens in their housing. The kinds of predators you have in your area will determine whether you will be able to free range chickens or whether they must be kept in an enclosed area not just for their protection, but also to keep them from wandering.
An ideal coop allows for four to four and a half square feet of space per chicken kept, meaning the larger the number of birds you intend to raise, the larger your coop will need to be. Try to determine whether or not you will be expanding in the future or whether you intend to simply raise a few at a time. If you plan on expanding your chicken holdings, it may be necessary to build a large building from the start and section it off to allow for future expansion, rather than be forced to put off expansion plans until the coop is built to specifications.
Most domestic chicken coops are mainly small in their keep and do not include plans for building a feeding and watering system into the building, but it is possible. Complicated but possible. Most chicken farmers opt for store purchased feeding and watering systems that are made available at most feed stores, and can be ordered at those that do not carry them. Look at all your options before deciding on any one system.
Allow for ample room for a full sized adult to move around in the coop for cleaning and egg gathering purposes as well as proper ventilation for the chickens. Keeping the floor covered with at least four inches of suitable covering (Hay, wood shavings, corn husks etc.) ensures cleanliness and keeps the chickens from ingesting their own droppings. Whether or not you build an enclosed area or simply allow them to roam free, the chickens will need plenty of room to scratch and dig for bugs. The best amount to have is approximately twice the size of the pen.
Whatever style or design you settle on should work best for you and the chickens you will be raising and enable you to keep them safe, healthy and warm when necessary.
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