Creating a backyard hen house might be a great deal easier if you keep a few points in your mind as well as stick to a plan if building yourself. There are a few things I don’t often see mentioned when talking about the process to effectively build a chicken coop.
Let’s Start – These are a couple of issues I wondered about before I had my chickens and which are quite important to keep in mind as ultimately they should help your hens to lay eggs and stay healthy.
Strategize what to do for your Windows Before Building
All chicken houses need some sort of light and ventilation. With smaller coops the light might just come in from their open door and ventilation from smaller holes secured with hardwire cloth but for larger coops you will most likely want to build some windows. They can be very aesthetically pleasing and obviously have their main use of bringing in natural light which naturally will keep your chickens happier than if left in a dark and dingy coop.
Some plan the windows to be cut within the wall space just before building the actual yard hen house so that you can get it right. You also ought to spend some time thinking from which direction where plenty of sunlight can enter into the actual chicken coop and you should place your own home windows in that path. You could just build the house and then cut out the holes for windows but obviously want to consider where to put them – i.e. so they get some sun coming in, and/or so you can see in yourself, will they be near the roosts allowing the chickens to look out or if the only source of light in the coop they will need to be positioned so you can see to clean etc. (battery run stick on led lights can be a good additional source of temporary light if you don’t run electricity out to the coop). The main source of intruders that makes its way into your own chicken coop is thru the home windows and hence you must make sure that they are placed in the right position.
Windows can be an easy entrance point for predators – especially those that have the ability to lift latches or take advantage of a window that has been forgotten to be locked. It can be a good idea to have hardware cloth behind each window so that even when open (which is nice to do most days if it is not too windy or raining out) they are still secured.
Additional Light / Heat?
Two of the main ingredients of getting eggs from your hens are heat and light. We see this in nature when the most eggs are received in the Spring and Summer – a time when the number of daylight hours are at their longest and the temperature is at its warmest. Cold hens will use up some of their valuable energy trying to keep warm and in winter when the number of hours of daylight are greatly reduced the important ‘sunshine’ part of the egg laying process is not good enough to keep a lot of breeds laying (some breeds lay better than others during winter but a lot stop altogether).
To artificially give them more daylight hours and warmth it will likely be important that you think about cabling some electric (using outdoor safe wires) to the backyard poultry hen house. There are some things to bear in mind though when considering adding additional light / or heat.
- Is it really necessary?
Insulation can on its own make quite a difference to the warmth of your coop – even just stapling cardboard to the inside walls and roof will make it a little warmer for them so a heat lamp (or whatever else) may not really be necessary. They cope with low temperatures a lot better than we do. The other potential issue with adding heat is that they get used to it so if there is ever a power cut (which tends to happen in the absolute worst weather such as in a snow storm) the drop in temperature will hit them harder than if they were used to living in the colder temperatures. When adding artificial light it is forcing the hens body to continue to lay when she would be naturally having a rest so there is a good argument for just leaving nature to take its course and wait for Spring to come around again for the egg laying to kick in properly.
Adding electric cables that are running outside require special considerations and adding a heat lamp to a wooden house filled with flammable things such as straw and wood shavings can be dangerous if not connected safely – heat lamps have been known to fall or get knocked off onto the ground and it has resulted in fires in the coop.
Electric light could possibly get to become rather expensive therefore usually it’s easier to avoid this if you’re able to, but if it does increase the eggs being laid over winter you may feel that the costs in electric are worth it.
Providing Sufficient Ventilation
Finally, also be sure that you don’t overlook air flow within the backyard chicken coop and pen. Ventilation is important as it gives them fresher air to breathe – you can probably imagine how horrible it would be to be shut up in a dark, dusty, and smelly coop overnight with no airflow – on a hot summers night it would be stifling and in the winter, without proper ventilation, the moisture in their breath causes dampness in the air and so the potential for frost bite on their combs and wattles. It is important to keep their coop sanitary and well ventilated (but no drafts) so with regular cleaning and looking after the backyard chicken coop which means that your chicken may have a fresh as well as thoroughly clean atmosphere. This is part of their general health and wellbeing and so also helps the actual chicken in laying eggs.
Just by following the previously discussed process you may make your own backyard hen house a huge success and make money from it. Good luck in building your own chicken coop and share some images!