Building a hen house is a low cost way to provide food in one’s own backyard. Keeping hens provides a steady stream of eggs for consumption. Hens themselves may also be slaughtered and eaten if one desires. In order to keep hens healthy, happy, and producing eggs, a comfortable coop must be constructed. Several simple factors must be considered before construction on a chicken coop is begun.
Safety and protection are the most important things to consider when building a hen house. A good hen house will protect its residents from the elements as well as prevent predators from feasting on the hens. Doors and windows must be secure against wind, rain, snow, and carnivores who come lurking in the night.
Building a draft-free structure is also important to preserve the health of hens. In order to prevent dampness, chicken coops should be constructed on high ground, preferably off of the ground. Windows should be fitted with reliable screen systems that keep predators out while allowing pleasant weather in. Further protection from predators can be provided by burying a sturdy perimeter, such as mesh wire, several inches to a foot under the ground to prevent raccoons, foxes, and other creatures from burrowing underneath.
Appearance and design are also important considerations when planning the construction of a coop. While any coop design must be structurally sound and safe, it is important not to overlook aesthetics. An attractive chicken coop will compliment the home and property to which it is an addition. Windows and doors should be installed at regular, pleasing intervals, and constructions materials and paint colors should be considered for their appearance as well as their functionality. Design ideas should be sketched and edited until the ideal appearance for the hen house has been determined.
Ventilation and insulation are must-haves in a chicken coop. In order for hens to remain healthy, ammonia build up and dampness must be released out of the coop. This must be accomplished without allowing a drafty environment to occur. Furthermore, hen house walls should be insulated much like the walls of any human residence. If chickens are kept dry, they can survive even very cold winter months with just basic insulation.
Windows should be installed in order to provide warmth and light for the hens in a coop. South facing windows will provide the most warmth, making them ideal. Sliding windows are preferred by many coop owners because they prevent chickens from roosting on the window sills.
Windows provide adequate light to keep chickens happy, but artificial light sources may be more ideal if the goal is to collect many eggs year round. An electrical light installed on the coop’s ceiling will provide the warmth and light to keep hens producing quality eggs all year.
Convenience for the chickens’ caretakers must also be taken into consideration when building a hen house. For example, coops that can be easily sprayed out with a hose are ideal for those who care for the hens. In order to prevent puddling and dampness after cleaning, a floor that slants slightly towards the door may be installed. This will allow water to simply roll out the door instead of collecting and presenting a health risk to the chickens.
Feeders and water sources must also be easily available to both caretakers and chickens. In order to prevent feeding messes, food sources should be installed at the height of the chickens’ backs. This prevents them from getting their feet to the feed and making a mess due to their scratching instincts. Fresh, clean water should be provided throughout the day and feeding may occur once or twice daily.
With all of these considerations in mind, it is quite simple to construct a hen house. Hens provide fresh, organic eggs year round, which saves money and creates a more self-sufficient life style.