The backyard chicken coop has become the symbol of the modern homesteader. There is something special about adding that coop to your garden farm and collecting healthy backyard eggs. But there are 5 mistakes with the backyard chicken coop I see repeated often, even though they are easy to remedy. I decided it was time to write about the 5 biggest backyard chicken coop mistakes I see over and over; and how to fix them! Believe me when I say, we have all made at least one of these mistakes, so don’t sweat it if you have; it can be fixed.
The Backyard Chicken Coop 5 Mistakes That Will Cost You
Coops Build Them Bigger
If there is one thing I can say about coops and runs, they are never big enough. I know most people think they are going to free range their chickens but the first time they destroy your garden, you may rethink that really quick. I have also found that chickens are a lot healthier when they have more space. This includes space to roost comfortably in their coop and plenty of space to enjoy the day in their yard. Birds kept in too small of a space are going to spread disease faster, if you have any and may hurt one another if they are too cramped.
AND let’s not forget that chickens are like potato chips…you’ll want more. So build or buy a coop and run with more space that is required for your initial birds; you’ll be glad you did.
Build It For Your Weather
The coop I need here in Phoenix is certainly going to be different than someone who lives in Minnesota. Here in Phoenix when temps can stay in the 90s at night, in the summer, I need to provide a very well ventilated coop. In fact I prefer a 3 sided for my area. It is much easier for me to give them some extra protection in the rare cold nights than to have them suffering all summer long. Ventilation is important in any climate but how much you need will depend on your average temps. In a colder climate you’ll need to make sure you don’t have a drafty coop that lets in a lot of cold air too.
Be sure you can winterize or summarize as needed.
Make Sure It Is Easy To Clean
You’re going to be cleaning it a lot; probably more often than you’ve predicted. Our first pre-fab coop was a NIGHTMARE to clean. I don’t know what the designers were thinking. To pull the poop pan out you’d basically have to accept that 1/2 or more of the droppings were going to fall out inside the coop as you pulled. And getting in that coop to clean was near impossible; basically I had to move the whole stinking thing out of the way to clean it.
The easier it is to keep your coop clean, the more likely you are to keep it clean.
If you know somethin’ well, you can always paint it
but people would be better off buyin’ chickens. ~Grandma Moses
Know Your Local Predators
If in the burbs, you’re going to deal with predators from time to time. From feral cats to raccoons each area has chicken predators that they have to deal with. You need to build your coop and yard accordingly. Your hens rely on you to protect them, especially at night when they’re roosting and you’re likely asleep. You can make your coop too predator proof.
Prepare to Prevent Pests
Rats and roaches and mice oh my! The pests are hungry and your coop can be an easy mark. First, keep it clean. Make sure you’re keeping treats cleaned up at the end of the day. Don’t make water too easy for them, they’re thirsty too. And use a secure feeder, like a Grandpa Feeder to keep them from eating up your feed.
Pests carry disease – don’t give them a reason to be in your coop! See more about pests in Tips for a Rodent Free Coop.
Backyard chicken coops and their hens are a great joy, and provide an awesome food source for homesteaders. Just build with these common mistakes in mind and you’ll be off to a great start.
The cows shorten the grass, and the chickens eat the fly larvae and sanitize the pastures.
This is a symbiotic relation. Joel Salatin