We’ve recently covered why raising chickens can keep your family alive during an economic crisis. Now we’ll talk about how to set up your own chicken coop to guarantee a steady supply of food after a disaster.
A couple years ago, I began raising chickens so that my family could have fresh eggs. After a while, we decided to raise them for meat as well.
Between our layers and our fryers (the chickens for eating), we have plenty of clucking in our backyard. Not only that, but we have a consistent source of protein. We will still have it even if something happens to the supply chain and the supermarket closes down.
Now it’s time for me to pass on my chicken-keeping tips so you can build your own backyard coop. Let’s start by talking about what a chicken coop needs to be.
However, before you read any further, I want you to check out this free video, where you’ll learn the pro secrets of building chicken coops for next to nothing:
What a Chicken Coop Needs to Be
Chicken coops serve two basic purposes: they keep your chickens from destroying your backyard and they keep predators from destroying your chickens. Since chickens aren’t the smartest creatures in the world, they need a little help with both.
The coop itself is the chickens’ home. It needs to be closed at night to keep the predators out. The chickens will also need something to roost on.
What Your Chicken Coop Needs to Have
The chickens need something along the lines of tree branches for roosting. A wood closet rod works well for this.
Figure on a minimum of two square feet of coop for every chicken you have. More space is fine, but they need that much room as a minimum.
Your chicken coop will also provide a place for the chickens to nest and lay eggs. This is usually done in a series of low boxes along the wall. Baskets work as well. Chickens will share nests; one nest per three chickens is a good ratio.
During the day, open up the chicken coop to let them out. You’ll want to leave it open so that they can go inside to lay eggs or to hide in the case of inclement weather. At night, you’ll want to close the coop securely.
If you are raising chicks, you’ll need to provide some heat inside the chicken coop. This is easily done by suspending a heat lamp. By the way, baby chicks don’t need to roost.
Most people put their coop inside a pen, which is called a run. That way, they can let the chickens out while keeping them from destroying everything else in the yard. Free ranging is great, but you’ll want to be able to control where your chickens go.
Pens can either be totally enclosed or just placed within a fenced area. Chickens don’t fly, so it’s not necessary to keep them from getting away. However, predators can get into the coop if it isn’t totally enclosed.
If your pen is only protected by a weak fence (or not protected at all), you’ll need to put the chickens in the coop and close it up every night. The predators that will try to get your chickens come out at night, not during the daytime.
Materials for Your Coop
The coop itself can be built of almost anything. I’ve seen chicken coops that were made out of old desks and empty refrigerators, or built from scrap wood gleaned from pallets. The material just needs to be strong enough to protect your chickens from the elements and from predators.
Actually, building a coop from a pre-existing container (such as an old desk or dresser) is extremely easy, since the hardest part is already done. You just have to add a roost, a nesting area and an entryway.
Access and Ventilation
Make sure you’ll be able to get into the coop as well. You’ll need regular access to collect the eggs and clean out the coop.
The coop needs to be well-ventilated, especially if you live in a hot environment. Ventilation should be placed near the roof.
Chickens can handle a lot of heat, but too much isn’t good for them. An unventilated chicken coop will cause them to get sick.
Actually, ventilation is much more important than insulation. Chickens can survive the cold because their feathers provide adequate insulation. If you are in an extremely cold environment, you might want to provide a heat lamp in the coop in wintertime.
Cleaning Your Chicken Coop
It’s a good idea to put a litter tray in the bottom of the coop itself. Chicken feces smells foul, and you will need to clean out their home once every month or so. By making a slide-out tray, you can pull it out, empty it into your compost heap and simply slide the tray back in place.
Feeding Your Chickens
Your chickens will also need food and water. Since chickens aren’t particularly bright, they will foul their own food and water if given the chance. Using waterers and feeders that don’t permit them to stand in their food and water eliminates this problem.
Waterers and feeders are available at the local feed supply. You can also build your own. There are several plans floating around the Internet for homemade chicken feeders and waterers.
Make sure that there are enough of these available to allow all the chickens to feed at the same time. They will feed all day long; without access to food, they will peck at each other.
Remember, your chicken coop doesn’t need to be fancy to be effective. Chickens don’t lay better eggs in a fancy home than they do in a simple one. Either way, you’ll have fresh eggs to eat.
Looks like it’s time to grab some tools and start building a chicken coop. You don’t want to go shopping for chicks until you have that coop ready. After all, your chickens will need their own home—unless you want them to share yours!
You can watch this great free video to discover how easy it is to build a great chicken coop that nets you tons of eggs:
Remember, protein will be one of the hardest things to come by in a post-disaster world. Raising chickens now will give you reliable access to an excellent food source, both now and after SHTF.