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What Should Be Inside a Chicken Coop?

What Should Be Inside a Chicken Coop?

So you've decided to keep chickens - congratulations! But before you bring home your flock, you'll need to build them a safe and comfortable home base - the chicken coop kit.

This easy guide breaks down all the essentials you need inside your chicken coop, plus some nice-to-have extras that make life easier for you and more enjoyable for your chickens. Here's a quick breakdown first:

  1. Roosting Bars
  2. Nesting Boxes and Materials
  3. Food and Water Stations
  4. Absorbent Litter or Bedding
  5. Flooring
  6. Insulation and Ventilation
  7. Perches and Roosts
  8. Lighting and Windows
  9. Storage Space
  10. Dust Bath Area

Now let's get into the details.

Chickens perched inside a coop with nesting boxes

Essential Elements to Be Inside A Chicken Coop

First, you'll need to choose the best chicken coop to avoid problems in the long run. Then you'll have to add some fundamental features for the health and safety of your chickens. Here are the must-have items every coop should include for raising chickens:

1. Roosting Bars

Chickens have a natural instinct to perch up high while sleeping to stay safe from predators. Roosting bars in your coop allows them to satisfy this innate urge.

These perches need to be:

  • At least 2-4 inches wide to allow chickens to firmly grip without wrapping their feet around (as they don't do that like other birds). Chickens sleep flat on their feet.
  • 1-2 feet off the ground, with 18 inches being ideal.
  • Placed over a droppings area to keep the coop clean.
  • Wood is a natural roosting material, but plastic, metal, and bamboo last longer. Ensure no sharp edges.
  • Extend roosts 6 inches past nest boxes so droppings don't collect in nests.

Allow 8-10 inches of roosting space per chicken. Having multiple perches at varying heights creates plenty of options.

2. Nesting Boxes

Just as they instinctively roost, chickens need a safe, secure place to lay their eggs. Your coop must have properly designed nesting boxes to accommodate this natural behavior.

As a rule of thumb, plan for one nesting box for every 4 hens. Boxes should be 12-14 inches square and 12-18 inches high. This allows 1-2 hens to comfortably sit inside. Using soft bedding like wood shavings or straw keeps eggs clean and cushioned.

Place nesting boxes in the darkest, most secluded area of the coop on the lower level. Hens like privacy for egg laying. Installing a curtain across the front of boxes provides additional tranquility.

To deter chickens from roosting and pooping in boxes, keep them 2-3 feet above the floor and lower than roosting bars as they rest on the highest point. Clean boxes weekly, removing soiled bedding to reduce bacteria.

Providing the right nesting environment results in relaxed, happy hens that eagerly lay eggs in the boxes you provide.

3. Food and Water Stations

Keep chickens fed and hydrated around the clock by installing feeders and water stations in the coop.

  • Hang feeders and waterers at chest height for natural feeding and drinking position.

  • Place feeders and drinkers apart to reduce food and water contamination.

  • Avoid placing them directly under roosting bars, as chickens may perch and poop in feeders.
  • Install 1.5-2 feet of feeder space and 1 pint of water per chicken per day to prevent competition.

  • Choose no-spill feeders and poultry nipple water systems for no mess. Or use hanging waterers.

Strategically place clean feed and water sources in the coop for easy access without making a mess. This supports growth and egg production.

Below is a breakdown of how much you need for each chicken:

Space Needed Per Chicken Inside Coop
Roosting Bar Space 8-10 inches
Nest Box Space 1 box per 4 hens
Feeder Space 1.5-2 feet
Waterer Space 1 pint per day

4. Absorbent Litter or Bedding

The litter on the coop floor soaks up droppings to keep the coop clean and control odor. Litter also provides insulation and cushioning.

Recommended litter materials include:

  • Sand - Cheap and composts droppings but can irritate chickens' eyes.

  • Wood shavings - Absorbent and compost well but avoid aromatic woods.

  • Straw - Provides warmth but requires frequent changing.

  • Leaves - Free but compact over time. Avoid toxic leaves like oak.

  • Sawdust - Very absorbent but can cause respiratory issues.

  • Hay - Comfortable but prone to mold if gets wet.

Wood shavings, straw, or sand make ideal bedding. A deep 5-6 inch bedding layer helps insulate chickens' feet from cold floors in winter. Be sure to only use non-toxic bedding free of chemicals.

But don't just add the litter once and forget it. But completely changing out litter is stressful. So use the deep litter method to keep your coop odor-free and provide a comfortable environment.

5. Flooring

Coop flooring needs to stand up to scratching, and pecking chickens and be easy to clean. Common flooring options include:

  • Dirt floors are affordable but foster parasites and must be replaced annually.

  • Concrete resists predators and is easy to clean but very cold in winter.

  • Sand is cheap but challenging to keep clean.

  • Hardware cloth or wire mesh allows droppings to fall through but can snag chicken feet.

Among these, we recommend concrete as it is easy to clean and sanitize, predator-proof, durable, and cost-effective. Though it's cold in winter. adding ample litter can help keep chickens warm.

Best practices for coop floors include:

  • A slightly sloped or slatted floor allows liquids to drain for drier litter.

  • Rodent-proof any gaps with wire mesh to prevent entry.

  • Install an external run floor of packed earth, gravel, or sand. Internally focus on cleanliness and comfort.

  • Replace dirt annually, clean concrete with a wire brush, and sanitize wire or mesh monthly.

Choosing an appropriate flooring material and following good maintenance practices keeps the coop floor clean for your chickens.

6. Insulation and Ventilation

Insulation and ventilation work together to create a healthy environment inside the backyard chicken coop.

Proper insulation keeps winter drafts out and prevents temperature fluctuations during winter months that stress chickens. Opt for draft-free construction using wood or rigid foam wall panels. Straw bales or foam boarding add insulation value to existing coop walls.

Ventilation exchanges stale coop air for fresh outdoor air. Without it, toxic gases, odors, and humidity build up.

The best coop ventilation relies on passive airflow. Install adjustable vents near the roof eaves on at least two sides of the coop to draw rising warm air out as cooler fresh air enters lower wall vents. About 3-5 square feet of vent space per 100 square foot coop provides adequate airflow.

In summer, fully open vents, windows, and doors to maximize airflow. Partially close them in winter, but still allow minimal ventilation even on cold days.

With good insulation and ventilation, chickens stay pleasantly temperate year-round.

Inside a well-lit chicken coop with feeders and perches

Optional Additions to Enhance Your Chicken Coop

Once you've got the basics covered, there are plenty of optional add-ons that can make your coop even more comfortable and fun for your flock:

Perches and Roosts

Additional horizontal perches and angled roosts encourage natural chicken behaviors like jumping, wing flapping, and roosting at different heights. Place them 18-36 inches off the ground.

Nesting Materials

While bedding lines the coop floor, nesting boxes need their own cushy nesting material. Lay 2-3 inches of inviting fluff in each box.

Straw and hay are classic nest box stuffers but avoid using moldy material. Shredded paper or pine shavings also work well. Just ensure nesting materials are kept dry.

Lighting

For coops, choose LED lights for efficiency and safety. Set lights on timers to mimic 14-16 hours of summer daylight. Position lights to brighten the feeder area but not directly shine in chickens’ eyes.

Windows

Windows allow refreshing airflow and keep the coop from feeling too dark or confined. Dual pane glass insulates better than plastic or wood.

Enrichment Accessories

Chickens love swings, ramps, and perches. So add them to make the coop more interesting and fun. They encourage exercise and prevent boredom.

These structures are easy DIY projects. Just be sure ramps have a non-slip surface and the risk of falls is minimal. Swings should have about 12 inches of perch space per hen.

Storage Space

Designate an area for storing supplies like extra feed, bedding, and cleaning tools. This keeps things organized and makes chores easier.

Dust Bath Area

Chickens take dust baths to clean their feathers and deter pests. You can fill a container with sand for them to roll and flick through.

Three chickens in separate nesting boxes in a coop.

Final Words

Building your chickens their ideal coop ensures happy, thriving, and productive hens. Start by including roosts, nest boxes, feed and water stations, flooring, and insulation tailored to your flock. Then customize with fun add-ons like swings and windows.

Once your coop is equipped to meet all your chickens' needs, they will eagerly settle in and make themselves right at home. Enjoy their antics, fresh eggs, and companionship as you discover the daily joys of chicken keeping!

 FAQs

What are the best practices for introducing baby chicks to the coop?

The best practices for introducing baby chicks to the coop include providing a warm and secure area, gradually integrating them with the existing flock, and monitoring their behavior and interactions with the other chickens.

How can I encourage my chickens to lay eggs inside the coop?

To encourage chickens to egg laying inside the coop, ensure the nesting boxes are clean and comfortable, maintain a consistent lighting schedule, provide a stress-free environment, and offer a balanced diet for the hens.

How can I prevent rodents from entering the chicken coop?

To prevent rodents from entering the chicken coop, ensure that all openings are sealed, use secure latches on doors and windows, and keep the coop area clean and free of food scraps.

What are some tips for keeping the coop clean and odor-free?

Some tips for keeping the coop clean and odor-free include regularly cleaning the bedding, removing chicken droppings, using absorbent bedding material, and providing proper ventilation to prevent ammonia buildup.

How can I prevent chickens from pooping inside the coop?

One way to prevent chickens from pooping inside the coop is to regularly clean the bedding and floor. Additionally, providing outdoor access or a designated "poop area" within the coop can help manage waste.

Can chickens free range if they have a coop?

Yes, chickens can free range if they have a secure coop to return to at night. Allowing chickens to free range during the day can provide them with exercise, access to natural foraging, and exposure to sunlight.

Previous article How to Clean a Chicken Coop in 5 Simple Steps
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About The Author

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

His main focus is on sheds and generators!

In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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