So you have made the excellent decision to get chickens. You have done your homework and first found out whether you may keep chickens in your backyard. Then you did your research to determine what breed of chicken would suit you, and you think it’s time to bring the much-desired flock of beautiful hens to your backyard, right?
Have you made all the chicken housing preparations?
Before even bringing the flock to your home, you should prepare some basic things beforehand: the housing, feeding, and watering. In this post, you’ll learn everything related to housing your chickens the right way.
Proper Chicken Housing = Healthy and Happy Chickens
Your backyard chickens will give you wonderful eggs as well as the high-protein meat. However, your experience of raising chickens will be rewarding only if you provide them with the right “shelter.” Chickens need housing because they need to feel secure from the predators, and they also need consistent protection from the scorching heat of the sunlight in summer and the freezing winds in winter.
Besides this, there are several more reasons to invest your time and effort in getting a house for your chickens:
- You don’t want the chickens to roam around all day from one corner of your house to the other! Obviously, as the owner of backyard chickens, you’ll never be annoyed by them. But what if your neighbors aren’t fond of them? To avoid any situation in which your chickens could cause conflict, you’ll need to confine your backyard chickens to a house where they can enjoy their feed, enjoy their dust bath, sleep peacefully, and stay happily without disturbing others or getting disturbed by others.
- Chickens live longer and happier if they have a private, clean, convenient, and consistent house where they can lay eggs.
- Chickens instinctively want a secured shelter at sunset so they can go inside and sleep till morning. Therefore, well-ventilated housing doesn’t only keep the chickens comfortable, it helps them stay dry and warm all night.
- As a chicken keeper, it may become difficult to remove chicken droppings from the entire backyard of your house. Therefore, by constructing a chicken coop, it will be easier for you to clean the coop instead of cleaning the entire backyard.
Remember that it’s a one-time expense. Once you’ve provided adequate housing for your chickens, all you’ll need to do is to maintain their housing and see them grow healthy!
Different Chicken Housing Options
There are many. But which one is perfect for your birds? Choosing a housing option depends on several factors such as the number of chickens you’re planning to raise, the number of roosters you want to keep with them, and the space available in your backyard.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to decide which housing option is the most appropriate for the health and wellbeing of the chickens once you’ve learned a bit about each option.
Let’s find out more about each housing option in detail:
Want to see your beloved chickens go anywhere and everywhere according to their own will? If yes, then let them enjoy the free-range living! This housing option lets them use the entire space allotted to them.
- Chickens raised in a free-range setting lay healthier eggs.
- Chickens can socially interact without getting confined to a smaller space.
- Since they roam from one place to the other, they can gather their diet naturally. This is a cost-effective option as they can feed themselves easily.
- Free roaming chickens rarely have trouble with mites and lice.
- As a caretaker of a lot of hens, you wouldn’t have to do a lot of cleaning.
- They eat the bugs and critters which would attack your plants.
- They are more open to attack from a predator at any moment. Free-range housing doesn’t guarantee the protection of the chickens from predators unless you’ve built a fence around the housing.
- Free-range chickens tend to be less domesticated.
- If you’ve been gardening in the same space, your birds may taste each tomato after it has ripened. They may also pick all the flowers you planted. Through those lovely chickens may be darlings for you, you never know when they can damage your beautiful garden!
- Since they like to roam freely the entire day, they’ll be less likely to roost and lay eggs in the nesting box.
When is Choosing Free-Range a Good Option?
If you have a large number of chickens, a bigger space that’s confined to chickens only, and no chances of predators attacking your birds, then you should go for free-range housing
Best Breeds for Free-Range Housing
All breeds do well in the free-range setting except the Cornish Cross. That’s because this is a sedentary breed that likes to get fed in isolation.
Some Useful Tips
- Free-range chickens are more prone to predators’ attack as compared to other chickens being raised in other housing options. However, the predators will not dare to touch your chickens if they see any human activity.
- But here’s the challenge: if you visit your chickens at 4 pm daily, the predators are clever enough to notice your activity pattern! There are chances that they’d attack the birds after you’ve gone from the free-range space.
- Good news is that you can still keep the free-range chickens from predators. Here’s what you should do: Deceive them by visiting the chickens during different time intervals. When you’re there, make noises to scare away the predators.
Chickens can be housed in cages, preferably in a barn or a garage. However, there are different options to keep the chickens in cages: you can either hang the cages on the tree limb or hook them on the sides of the outside walls of your building (but of course, you’ll have to ensure that the cages do not fall off from the wall).
Made of wire mesh, cages can be built in different sizes but should meet the standard size (i.e. each hen should get the space of at least 2-square feet). Chickens do well in cages if they get ample space to stand upright. When building or buying a cage for your chickens, you can choose the flooring among two types: wire flooring and solid flooring.
- Keeping chickens in cages helps you prepare them for breeding.
- If you want to use them for shows, keeping them in cages will help them get used to the confined space of cages beforehand.
- Cages made of solid flooring provide maximum comfort to chickens.
- Cages made of wire flooring are easier to clean.
- Wire flooring can injure the birds’ toes unless the wire openings are constructed according to the standard size.
- Chickens housed in cages lack exercise. This may often lead to metabolic disorders.
When is Choosing a Cage a Good Option?
If you want to start off with only a few chickens and have very limited space to keep them, then cages can be the only chicken housing option. However, since cages are kept or hung in an outdoor setting, you need to be sure that the chickens are protected from any harsh weather conditions.
Best Breeds for Cages
Compared to larger breeds, Bantam chickens live happily in cages because they’re smaller in size and require less space.
Some Useful Tips
- The size of the gaps on the floor of the cage shouldn’t exceed 1.5 inches. Otherwise, the toenails of the chickens can get stuck on the wire floor. So, when the chickens try to escape, this may hurt or even injure their legs or toes. To minimize any chances of such injuries, it’s recommended to go for solid floors, especially for broilers or heavy breeds. However, you can only use wire flooring for bantams and other breeds that weigh less than 5 pounds.
- When it’s time to clean the cages, you can give your birds some time to exercise by letting them roam around in an outdoor setting, for instance, your backyard. But before you do that, fence the area to protect them from predators.
3. Shelter and a Run
As the name suggests, it’s a large coop that provides shelter to the chickens where they can peacefully rest at night or in extreme climatic conditions. This is combined with an outside space in which they can roam around without getting attacked by the predators.
- It’s an all-in-one solution for chicken keepers who are worried about predator attacks.
- Besides safety, shelter and run provide maximum sunshine and fresh air to the chickens.
- If the shelter is large enough (i.e. a walk-in shelter), you can go inside the coop and feed your chickens. When they lay eggs, you can easily collect eggs as well.
- You can confine the chickens to the shelter whenever you feel like it’s not safe for them to stay in the outside enclosure.
- A lot of space from your backyard will be needed to dedicate it to your birds only.
- Can be expensive to build initially.
When is Choosing a Shelter and Run a Good Option?
If you’re new to raising chickens but plan to raise a larger number of chickens in the future, then this combination of chicken housing can be the best bet for you.
4. Chicken Tractor
A chicken tractor is a coop on wheels that can be placed at different spots in the backyard. Basically, chicken tractors are movable chicken pens. A standard chicken tractor has two or four wheels. The more wheels it has, the easier it will be for you to move it around.
Chickens tractors come in various forms and sizes. While some will be less than 10 feet wide, others can exceed 15 feet in width, housing more chickens.
A chicken tractor consists of a wooden frame surrounded by wire walls. They can also have a roofed area in which the chickens can lay eggs. Many chicken tractors will also have basic necessities such as water sources, feeder, and a roost.
A special thing about chicken tractors is that they don’t have a floor. So, you can move the chickens to any part of the yard. The chickens can freely graze inside the shelter while you sit and relax without having to worry about predators.
- Pellets and grains cannot fulfill all the dietary requirements of the chickens. However, by allowing them to move around the entire backyard, it helps them find insects that are rich in calcium. Thus, this feed helps in the development of egg shells, providing all the necessary nutrition your chickens need.
- Since the chicken tractor is movable, you can move it around to provide plenty of warmth and sunshine in winters. In summers, you can move it to provide the chickens the much-needed cool shade.
- Your garden is fertilized naturally as the manure contains a high amount of phosphorus and nitrogen. With natural manure, you could also lower your fertilizer costs and spend it on other necessities!
- You can easily move the chickens around vegetable beds so they can clean all the pests for you.
- If you’re building a chicken tractor by yourself, you can easily do so by using recycled materials such as wooden crates, fencing, and plastic pipe. This means that this housing option doesn’t have high costs attached to it.
- Since fresh air is one of the bonuses of using a chicken tractor, your flock will be less prone to diseases.
- A chicken tractor requires low-maintenance. You don’t have to spend hours cleaning the manure. Due to the movable nature of the tractor, chicken poop won’t pile up in one place.
- It’s easier to manage. In other chicken coops, you’d have to move the chickens to another enclosed area while you clean out the coop. With the chicken tractor, you can easily move the chickens to one place, while you clean the area.
- The chicken tractor is not as durable and sturdy as a permanent coop. The permanent coop will last in different kinds of weather – be it hail, winds, snow, or sleet. A chicken tractor, on the other hand, cannot protect that much against air and water.
- Less sturdiness also means that the tractor will not do a perfect job at protecting chickens from predators. If you live in an area closer to wildlife, this can be a serious aspect to consider.
- This can increase the risk of food getting wet. You would also find arranging the egg nests harder.
- Finally, the chicken tractor won’t last through all the seasons without some additional work. For winters, you’ll need to work on it to provide added protection to the chickens. You might need to bring it inside to protect your chickens from wind and rain in harsh weather.
When is Choosing a Chicken Tractor a Good Option?
If you have a huge space but less time in maintaining a traditional chicken coop, then this housing option is a good one for you. Since chicken tractors do not have flooring and you can move it from one place to the other, there’s no need to clean your garden. In fact, your chickens will do all the work for you: they’ll fertilize the garden and remove pests!
Some Useful Tips
- Don’t ditch the coop for this. In the day, the chickens can graze around in the chicken tractor. At night, they can roost in the coop.
- Each week, it’s a healthy activity to rotate it to a new place in the garden.
- Since the chicken tractor is not of a long-lasting build, you need to protect it from the water. If there are some areas in your garden prone to flood, move the tractor to higher ground.
- Never place the tractor on a bumpy ground as chickens can escape from gaps. Instead, you can only place it on flat ground.
- Keep the chickens inside the coop in harsh winter.
Should You Buy or Build a Chicken House?
Depending on your carpentry skills, you can either purchase readymade chicken coops or construct your very own from scratch. Either way, you’ll need to assemble the chicken coop yourself.
Compare the Cost of Both Options
Purchased chicken coops can cost you anywhere between a few hundred dollars for basic ones to thousands of dollars for fancy ones. Although you don’t require extensive know-how, you’ll still need to assemble the coop properly. So, make sure you have certain tools required for assembly. Moreover, there isn’t much customization that you can do for premade coops.
On the other hand, if you plan on building a chicken coop from scratch, you can save on the costs provided you compare prices before purchasing coop materials. For those who are skilled in DIY construction projects and have all the tools necessary to build a coop, you can construct your very own customized coop for your flock.
But if you don’t have any power tools, it can turn out to be quite expensive in terms of purchasing them or even renting them. There are lots of DIY chicken coops on the internet that you may browse for inspiration.
Get an Easy and Affordable Chicken Coop Building Plan
Whether you buy chicken coops or build your own, all of them contain an enclosed space for sleeping and egg laying and an open-air run for the birds to roam around during the day. If you’re good at following plans and guidelines, then you can build one from scratch by going through plans for backyard chicken coops.
Many plans are available for free but some are even available for a small price. There are extensive diagrams and detailed construction steps available with a chicken coop plan. You can use them as is or add your own customizations to it. Just make sure you consider the size of your coop based on the flock you will own as well as location.
The location should be ideal enough providing sufficient shade in the summer and a good amount of sunshine in winter.
How to Build a Proper Chicken House
Are you one of those who gets satisfaction from making and designing things by their own hands? If so, you need to gather the following things and start building a well-designed chicken coop.
You would need:
- A nesting box: This will be used for cleaning box bedding and for removing eggs.
- Large door: This would make the coop accessible for placing food and water.
- Latch: This can be locked with a padlock to protect the coop against intrusion by raccoons.
- Door: This outside door will protect the chickens from predators and weather conditions such as snow, cold, gusts, rain, and hail.
- Wire: Half-inch cloth or wire would be needed to keep the predators out and also allow air to circulate freely throughout the coop. Using ‘hardware cloth’ to cover all windows and openings also seems a viable option.
- Predator proofed floor: Rats, mice, and squirrels can get attracted to the droppings of chickens and chicken feed and can dig under the unsecured edges of the coop. To get rid of them, you’ll need to bury small-mesh fencing around the coop.
If you’re a beginner, and only need to breed 2 to 3 hens, you could easily do with an A-frame coop. This coop is built with wire mesh, 2×4’s, corrugated steel and screws and nails.
Clean the Coop as You Build It
In case you are building your own chicken coop, you can incorporate easy cleaning maintenance aspects during construction. For instance, you should leave sufficient space under the enclosed area of the coop for placing trays to collect droppings.
Basics of an Ideal Chicken Coop
Whether you decide to build or buy a chicken coop, you’ll have to make sure that it has everything that fulfills the basic needs of your backyard chickens. Whether it’s a coop to be customized for free-range chickens or a shelter combined with a run, you’ll be able to raise healthy chickens only if it fulfills these basics standards:
Size of the Coop
The larger the chicken coop, the better. Chickens don’t like to be confined to small spaces and prefer space to roam. However, there are numerous reasons why you should go for a bigger coop even if you’re a first-time chicken raiser. Raising chickens is addictive, so you definitely will be adding more hens to your flock over time. Therefore, it’s best to have a large coop the first time to accommodate flock expansions rather than worry about it later on.
On average, a minimum of 2 to 4 square feet per chicken should be allotted inside the chicken coop, while 8 to 10 square feet per chicken in the outside run.
If you live in an area where it snows a lot, it is best to have a coop tall enough so that it doesn’t get buried in the snow. A tall coop will also allow you to go into the coop easily and clean the interiors.
When considering the size of the chicken coop, don’t forget to allocate sufficient space for the nest boxes, feeder, waterer and dust bath. Some might argue that a smaller coop is beneficial in winter when chickens can huddle close together for warmth. This isn’t the case.
However, the reality is that since most chickens aren’t big fans of cold and snowy weather, they’d like to stay indoors. This means the coop should have sufficient room for the birds to be comfortable as well as move around to keep themselves busy.
Location of the Coop
When deciding where to place your chicken coop in your backyard, consider the following points:
- Accessibility – Regardless of the weather, you’ll have to attend to your chickens no matter what. Therefore, it’s best to have your coop in an easily accessible location so that you can get your poultry chores done without any hassles.
- Shade – The coop and the run should be placed in a shaded area, perhaps under a big tree or even under a tarp. This would prevent the coop from being extremely heated in the summer. A good shady location is ideal for your birds since being directly under the sun for long can make them uncomfortable.
- Sun – In winter, your chickens would love some sun on their backs. You can place your coop on the southern facing side with windows on the east and west facing walls. If you had a tarp for the summer, you could take that off in winters.
- Drainage – Rain and snow cause puddles and muck, increasing the chances of growth of parasites and causing diseases. A muddy run isn’t only unpleasant for chickens to get around but also makes them dirty and stinky. You can place objects such as old tires, inverted crates, boardwalks, ladders, and stumps for the birds to stay out of the mud.
Pay attention to the drainage system of the rainwater landing on your coop. Make sure you use gutters to get water away from the run.
To insulate or not has both advantages and drawbacks. Insulation would help your flock keep warm in extreme temperatures, reduce moisture buildup and humidity, and decrease drafts inside the coop. But insulation such as Styrofoam can be a good home for rodents as well as quite appealing for chickens to peck on.
However, if you really need insulation, then you can attach insulation to the base of your raised coop from the outside. A good idea is to have breeds that can survive extreme winter temperatures without additional heat.
Your hens breathe out water vapor similar to us as well as give out moisture and ammonia through their poop. This water vapor in the air leads to increased humidity levels inside the coop. This might lead to respiratory problems and even frostbite in winter. Chickens poop a lot which is likely to cause a high buildup of ammonia in the coop leading to poor health.
Moreover, in summers, it might get too hot inside the coop without any ventilation. Therefore, ventilate your chicken coop every day through windows as well as vents on the roof. This will lead to fresh oxygen, rich air in the coop, and prevent the buildup of moisture, ammonia, dust, and heat.
Besides this, it’s essential for hens to have the sun shining through the windows in the coop. Natural lighting is essential since it encourages your hens to be active. In winter, the windows facilitate a cozy spot to bask in the sunlight. Moreover, it will be easier to clean up the chicken coop with ample light through the windows.
Have storage space close to the coop where you can store all the essentials such as grain, bedding, bucket, your poop scooper, and all the other tools within easy reach. An indoor space such as a garage would be good to avoid soiling of bird feed from moisture and temperature as well as from rats and mice.
Egg-laying chickens love to have a comfortable and private space to lay their eggs. Therefore, it’s vital to have nesting boxes placed in a good location inside the chicken coop. Although hens still lay eggs on the ground even in the absence of nesting boxes, the eggs would become soiled and can even be trampled. When installing nesting boxes inside the coop, you should take into account the following factors:
- When it comes to nesting boxes, chickens can be quite sharing. Having at least one box for every three hens is adequate.
- Chickens prefer a secluded spot for laying eggs. That’s why it’s a great idea to install nesting boxes in the coop where there is a low amount of light.
- Depending on whether you have bantam breeds or full-sized breeds of chicken, the size of your nesting boxes can be selected appropriately. In case you have bantams but are planning regular sized birds in the future, you can have large nesting boxes. Your bantam breeds will still use them since all they need is some quiet time in the dark to lay eggs.
- To avoid your hens from perching on the roof of the nesting boxes, it’s preferable to have a steep-sloped roof.
- A four-inched raised (wall) lip on the lower part of the nesting box will prevent eggs from rolling out.
- Burlap or curtains over the nest boxes do not only add some aesthetics to your coop but serve many purposes.
- The curtains prevent the hens from having a slumber party in the nesting boxes rather than on the roost.
- Curtains give your hens increased privacy when it comes to laying eggs and caring for newly hatched chicks.
- In case you have a flock strictly for laying eggs, curtains prevent cultivating the desire of broodiness in hens.
- With eggs out of the view with curtains, you can prevent your flock from unwanted behaviors such as egg eating.
You should position the roost higher than the nesting boxes to prevent hens from spending the night in the nesting boxes. The lowest bar of the roost shouldn’t be higher than 18 inches from the ground so that heavy breeds can reach it. Moreover, each roosting bar should be at sufficient space from each other to prevent birds from pooping on each other.
A full sized chicken must have a minimum of 8 inches on the roost while bantams require a bit less. The more the roosting space, the better it is for your chickens. For instance, in summer, your chickens prefer to have more space for themselves. It’s also essential so that chickens who are bullied can sleep away from bullies on the roost. With regards to the width of the roosting bars, they shouldn’t be less than two inches for full-sized chickens.
You can either use flat wooden planks or rounded wooden sticks with sanded edges to construct the roost. Tree branches may be used but this may also lead to mite growth.
For the floor of your chicken coop, you can either opt for dirt, wood, or concrete. With a dirt floor, your chickens can be at risk of digging predators and even rats. That’s why you would need underground fencing.
Wooden flooring, on the other hand, can absorb moisture in the air and promote mites’ infestation. To eradicate this issue, you can place a sheet of vinyl flooring over the wood.
Concrete flooring in coops is the best option since it is not only easy to clean but is also predator proof and doesn’t harbor mites.
It’s essential to have electricity in the chicken coop for the following reasons:
In winter, you can have a heat lamp in the coop to prevent your chickens from getting frostbite and keeping them warm.
You can have an electric water heater in the coop to keep the drinking water for your birds warm. Otherwise, you’ll have to bring water to the coop all the way from your house.
One or two light bulbs can be quite handy in the coop. You can even use the light to encourage extended egg-laying. In winter, it can serve as artificial light when it’s too cloudy outside.
Like us, chickens also thrive at a temperature of 72°F. If the temperature exceeds 95° or 100°, your chickens will be affected in much the same way as any human will be and there’s also a possibility of them dying.
In extremely cold weather, people can get frostbit fingers and toes. Similarly, chickens can get frostbit extremities and hence you need to be careful with regard to the temperature of the surroundings.
Easy Access to Food and Water
The waterers and feeders should be placed at a convenient distance for easy access.
The bottom of the waters and the top part of the feeders should be at the same height as the bird’s back. This will prevent wastage and keep the feed and water clean.
When you have chickens, you should definitely expect poop. With a droppings board or a poop hammock positioned below the roost, you can easily collect chicken poop without it piling on the bedding.
You can scrape off the droppings every morning and collect them in a bucket to be discarded in the compost. This will reduce the ammonia in the air and keep your chickens healthy. Depending on your choice, you can either have a removable or a fixed droppings board made out of a large wooden plank.
Runs and Yards for Your Fluffy Pets
Chickens love to cluck and pluck around and they love to satisfy their curiosity by wondering outside the chicken coop. Thus, they can be a target for hungry predators. Therefore, you should consider these safety aspects when letting your chickens out in runs and yards:
If you want your chickens to free range during the day and enjoy poking around plants, you can let them loose in a fenced yard. A 5-feet fencing around the yard will keep your chickens from flying out. Have a guard dog to watch your chickens. Or, as mentioned earlier, keep an eye out yourselves for predators such as hawks or possums seeking a tasty meal.
Chicken wire is no good at keeping predators at bay. For your run to be predator proof, you need 0.5-inch hardware cloth enclosing the run and also the windows of the coop.
Make sure you use screws and washers rather than staples to fix the cloth to the structure. To deter animals from digging and making their way underground, you can place up to 24 inches of hardware cloth on the ground along the perimeter of the run.
You may also extend the fencing of the run, 24 inches deep into the ground. If you live in an area with bears, it’s best to have electric wires around your backyard. For climbing or flying predators, you should cover the run from the above as well as with hardware cloth.
A dust bath is essential to prevent parasites from breeding on your birds’ feather and legs. Inside the coop, you must have a dust bath in the form of a box of sand which they can use as they want. A dust box inside is great during snowy weather when chickens can’t have access to dirt in the run.
Choosing Beyond the Aesthetics
Don’t fall for the adorable chicken coop kits you see. There’s a lot more than aesthetics that you should consider for a coop. Most of the pre-made coops are pretty flimsy even though they claim to be sturdy and weather resistant. Therefore, it’s better to purchase or build a coop made from thick timber so that it can withstand rain, snow, hail, storms, and sunlight.
Keeping Your Chickens’ Housing Safe
A good poultry house does more than you give it credit for. It’s helpful in protecting the backyard chickens from theft, injury, predators, and weather.
If you keep the flock confined together in the coop, you would be employing one of the best defenses against the predators. However, there’s a lot more required to keep the housing of your chickens as safe as possible. Building a reliable fence around the chicken coop is one such requirement.
How to Build Fencing
When you build a chicken coop, you need to ensure that the chickens get a dry, draft-free house. You can construct a draft-free house which has doors or windows that can be opened for ventilation as needed.
With outside tracks/runs, bury the wire at least 12 inches deep for added protection. Toe the fence outwards around 6 inches. This will cause hindrance for most of the predators.
Animals mostly try to dig at the base of the fencing. However, if you lay a deep foundation of the fencing, even if the animal digs down, they will just encounter some more mesh/fence.
Another suggestion is to place an electric fence around the outside perimeter of the pens. Put it 4 inches above the ground and one foot from the main fence to discourage the predators.
If, however, your outside track/coop is not perfectly safe, rather lock up the poultry before night falls.
Keeping the Coop Clean
How Often to Clean Your Chicken Coop
You have to clean the coop regularly. Otherwise, bacteria and fungi can easily build up. They tend to be dangerous for chicken and human’s health. You also need to watch out for mites which thrive in dirty chicken shelters.
You should clean the coop twice a week at least. While cleaning, stay close to the place where you can haul the used bedding.
How to Clean the Chicken Coop
Chickens, like most animals, produce poop frequently. They can excrete inside or outside the coop and the excretion attracts rodent and flies. And the smell?! Showing your adorable chickens to your guests wouldn’t be impressive at all if they can smell your chickens.
Perhaps, it’s the smell of the chicken poop that would turn them off. To avoid getting into such an unpleasant situation, you need to be sure that the chicken coop is as tidy as you bought or built it for the first time.
To make the cleaning process easier, you could utilize animal bedding such as sand or pine shavings or sawdust.
If you’re thinking of using hay and straw, it’s better to ditch the idea. They won’t work. Why? That’s because they don’t absorb manure and liquids. Bedding does a good job at absorbing liquids though and hence can be your preferred choice.
Bedding does one more thing. In addition to absorbing, it keeps the smells down and flies at bay.
So, just as with cat litter, you can scoop out the used litter and leave the coop sparkling clean.
If you go for biodegradable or organic bedding, you can make other uses of it and compost it. That’s one bonus point for you!
You can also set aside some area for your chickens where they can roam around while you’re cleaning the coop. Another option is to buy cages for your chickens. Of course, you wouldn’t be confining your chickens to cages. And yes, this will be temporary. But it’s a safe way to keep the chickens in these cages until you’ve finished cleaning their coop. In this way, you can clean the area without upsetting your birds.
For cleaning the coop, you’ll need the following equipment:
The buckets and wheelbarrows would be needed to move the manure of the chickens. Then, a compost pile would be needed to put the soiled bedding and manure so it can break down.
While cleaning, you have to disinfect the feeders and waterers too.
When and How to Keep Your Chickens Clean
Keep the chickens close to the water source so that you can give them fresh water daily and also provide them a chance to bathe in the water.
Make dust baths available as they can help in controlling mites. Chickens don’t necessarily need to be bathed and dust baths can take care of much of the cleaning. Dust bathing simply involves rolling in the dust. At the end of the dust bath, the dust is shaken off.
However, certain times, you may need to give your chickens a bath. Bathing with water may be deemed necessary when a bird poops on another bird or if a bird’s feathers are soiled with excretion and droppings.
You may also need to bathe the chicken in case of illnesses or flystrike.
Have an apron, several towels, and chicken shampoo at hand. Start bathing the chickens very gently as you would bath an infant.
After the bath, you could leave the chickens to air dry their feathers by themselves or you could use a hairdryer if it’s cold weather.
Housing your Chickens Conclusion
Deciding on your coop is a big decision. If you make a wise choice now, you will reap the benefits for years. Even if you spend more initially, you will save in the long run as you would not have to rebuild or redesign housing that turns out not to hold up against the elements and predators.