Here are the 7 biggest mistakes for anyone setting up a chicken coop. Avoiding these mistakes will save you a lot of amount of time, energy and money. And most importantly, will make sure your chickens are happy, healthy and productive.
Chickens are a magnet for pests and predators. Uneaten grain and food scraps attract rats, mice and wild birds. Chickens also make a tasty treat for foxes, snakes or the dog next door. Not planning for pests and predators when setting up a chicken coop could cost your chickens or at the very least a lot of time and energy to fix up after the fact.
Setting up a chicken coop that’s too small is a pretty common mistake. More space is better, otherwise you’ll be looking for an upgrade before you know it. It might cost you a bit more up front, but is likely to save you time and money down the track. If you’re just starting out, go for a coop that’ll give you room to expand. A new coop will often be advertised to house up to a certain number of chickens – use this as a guide only alongside some common sense. The size and space required depends a lot on how you plan to manage your chickens. If your chickens will have regular access to roam free, then a smaller coop may do the trick. However if your chickens have limited free range access then a larger coop will be needed.
Badly designed chicken feeders and drinkers cause a lot of problems when, that quickly translate to time and money when setting up a chicken coop.
A badly designed feeder will let them flick feed everywhere. Chickens will scratch feed out in their search for the tastiest bits, such as black sunflower seeds. This causes a lot of wasted feed which will cost you time and money. Chicken feed on the floor attracts rats, mice and wild birds, which often bring with them lice, mites and disease that your chickens could really do without. Pretty soon you will find yourself spending a lot of extra time and energy dealing with rodent and lice infestations, and wild birds that treat your backyard like their food bowl. A feeder that doesn’t allow the chickens to trash the feed around is the solution.
Clean water is a key part of keeping your chickens happy and healthy. Water is important for digestion and for regulating body temperature.However if you have a badly designed drinker, you will find the water needs changing almost every day to keep it clean. The water will get dirty quickly with feed, dirt, poop and straw which somehow always ends up in the drinker. An open source of water also attracts rats and birds. Dirty water can make your chickens sick and they are also less likely to drink it which can make them dehydrated.
On the other hand, a well designed drinker will turn a daily water change into to a weekly water top up and most importantly will ensure your chickens always have access to clean water.The best drinkers use poultry cups or nipples which stops the water from getting dirty. This is similar to what commercial poultry farmers use to make sure fresh water is always available on a large scale without all the mess.
When you are setting up a chicken coop chicken coop – think about how heavy it is and how hard it will be to move around. A heavy and more permanent coop might do the job, but its pretty likely you will want to move the coop at some stage and will be cursing that your coop was not lighter and easier to move. On the other hand, manoeuvrable coops such as a “Chicken Tractor” have a load of benefits. Redesigning your backyard or simply deciding on the best place to put your coop is no problem at all. Or you might want to move your coop around to fertilise and de-weed different areas of your property or backyard.
A coop that is difficult to assemble can cost you a lot more time and energy than expected. Whether you have decided to make your own coop or have bought a coop that is difficult to put together, it’s not uncommon for a weekend project to turn into months. This may suit some people that enjoy building things, but for everyone else this will feel like a lot of time and energy that could be used more productively.
There is nothing more painful than a coop that is difficult to clean. If cleaning your coop means getting on your hands and knees, you will get sick of it pretty quick. Ideally a coop should have easy access with large doors. It also makes it easy if you can stand in your coop, or at least reach all the way into a smaller coop. A well designed coop setup should make cleaning a simple and painless routine.
A chicken coop should never be a spur of the moment decision. There are loads of things to plan before rushing in and setting up a chicken coop; such as the location of the coop, space available, fences, local laws and regulations, the number of chickens you have or want, existing gardens and other pets. If you don’t plan for these things, you could end up with a lot of problems and before to long be looking to get rid of your chickens or to replace your coop.