Top 10 Chicken Coop Tips

Top 10 Chicken Coop Tips

So The Hunky Fiance and I recently went on the Funky Chicken Coop Tour--we went on the tour last year, but I found this year's tour to be a ton more helpful as we prepare to have chickens in the Back 40. What made the difference? Cooler-looking coops (I demand form and function!), a wider range of styles and some really helpful tips from experienced chicken owners. Here's the Top 10 Chicken Coop Tips I learned this year--hopefully, you can learn from this, too, but if you have chickens yourself, please leave a comment with your best chicken coop tip!
  1.  Have a walk-in run: This is essential to me! I want to walk into the chicken run to clean it, as well as to interact with the chickens. I'm a tallish girl, so having to bend over or squat to get into the coop or the run is not at all appealing to me!
  2. Mobile coops are good, sort of: The Hunky Fiance likes the idea of a mobile coop so the whole yard can be fertilized. I like that idea, too, but mobile chicken coops aren't too great for large amounts of chickens like what we are planning (10), and they are a bit more difficult to secure if you have predators, like we do. So, if you have 3 chickens and don't have foxes and raccoons, you'll be fine with a mobile coop.
  3. Keep rainboots on hand: I have a large rainboot assortment, and apparently it's a good thing: chicken coops can be a bit messy when you're cleaning them. Rather than use work boots or tennis shoes, slip on your galoshes and then rinse them off with the hose afterwards.
  4. Don't use pressure treated wood: This was news to me, even though it's logical: pressure-treated wood is treated with chemicals, so it's best to not use it around your chickens. I'm sure there are people out there who have used it without problems, but I don't really want to take the chance. Use redwood, cedar or pine that is sealed. I think we're going with pine.
  5. Use an automatic waterer: One chicken coop owner said he highly recommends using an automatic waterer--that is definitely something we're going to do with our coop. We live in a very hot area where water can either heat up or evaporate quickly, so I like the idea of our girls having a constant fresh water supply. Plus, I don't want to have to keep refilling that baby.
  6. Give yourself enough room: You don't need to build a Taj Mahal for your chickens, but do give them some space. If you can't let them freely roam around your yard, then build your coop so that each chicken has 4 square feet in the coop, with 8-10 square feet in the run.
  7. Invest in an automatic door closer: We gave a young coop owner a bad time when he told us this story: He'd gone bar hopping with his buddies and didn't get back until 2 in the morning--only to find his chickens had become a late-night snack for a dastardly predator. He was pretty horrified with the carnage, so when he bought more chickens, he installed an automatic door closer. He set it to a timer--he knows his chickens (called Fried, Saute and Satay) go into the coop at 7:30 sharp, and the door closes after them. 
  8. Protect your chickens: Be aware if you have any chicken predators: raccoons, snakes, foxes, possums, hawks or even dogs. We have all of these things. Have a lock on your coop door (maybe even fortified with super-dooper magnets), dig your coop sides down into the ground, have adequate cover for your Girls, and don't let them free-range if you're not there to supervise. Google more tips on this or check out articles like this one.
  9. Mix your chicken breeds with care: You can have different types of chickens (Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas, Leghorns) but do it with care. Buy them as chicks (pullets) so they are all raised together, or combine adult flocks of even sizes. If you try to introduce one poor chicken from a different flock into your large established flock, you won't like the results. And the poor little chicken will like it even less. 🙁
  10. You CAN have a pretty cool coop: Nothing against typical DIY coops or those that look like Old MacDonald's farm, but I really want a coop that is cool. Not necessarily fancy, just cool. Paint it a different color, add some landscaping around it, use reclaimed materials and build it well. We saw a lot of coops that looked like they belonged in the backyard of the Sanford and Son set--ramshackle, thrown together and quite frankly, tacky. Not for me! And I don't even care if that sounds snobby--there is no reason to sacrifice style for function! Period.

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  1. Terri says

    Great ideas all! A friend of mine has a chandelier in her coop! I think you should too!

  2. says

    How exciting Jenny! I hope to have chickens someday too so this was great info to tuck away. I wonder if we have a chicken coop tour in our area? I’ve never heard of one but I’d go in a heartbeat!

  3. says

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  4. says

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  5. says

    Really great design. I love the tip about keeping a pair of rain boots on hand – I do the same thing. Even mow the lawn with them on to prevent turning my sneakers green.

    The red “vault” door is priceless too! We are always on the lookup for cool chicken coop designs. Our resident chicken coop builder just wrote this article for us to help anyone else who wants to create their own masterpiece.

    Let us know what you think!

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