The growing popularity of vegetable gardening and chicken raising has many people thinking of building a backyard chicken coop and getting chickens for meat and eggs. The egg and other scary food recalls of the last few years caused many people to consider becoming more self-sufficient regarding food. Building a hen house to provide housing is a one-time investment that will reward homeowners with years of tasty nutritional eggs and meat. Composted chicken manure also makes excellent fertilizer for gardens and trees.
How many chickens to get depends on how big the coop will be. Hens generally need about three or four square feet per bird. Most backyard chicken coop set ups have a fenced pen attached to the coop. Other necessary components of a good hen house include roosting bars for the hens at night, nesting boxes and chicken wire around the chicken yard for protection from predators. Doors on the coop need to latch securely. Placing chicken wire around the sides of the chicken yard as well as on the top of the pen allows the hens to peck around in the dirt and keeps out chicken hawks and other predators. Bury the wire at least six inches under the coop to prevent rodents such as weasels from getting to the hens.
Hens need access to food and water regularly throughout the day. Provide the hens with large enough feeders and waterers to keep them happy. Ventilate the chicken house by adding windows, but make sure the windows have sturdy screens. Coops should provide dry shelter from bad weather, yet be airy enough for the hens comfort. Most chicken coop plans incorporate all the components needed for raising happy, healthy chickens. First time chicken owners consider getting a chicken coop plan to guide them in building the coop a good idea.