How to Make Your Coop a Poultry Paradise
Backyard chicken flocks are a lot of fun, educational, and very rewarding. What many do not realize is that chickens have individual personalities and preferences. Just like your other pets, you want them to be healthy and happy in their home. Let's take a look at how you can make sure your chicken coop is poultry paradise for your feathered friends.
Space Requirements per Bird
If your birds have access to a run or free range for part of the day, a minimum of 4 square feet per bird is adequate. If your birds will stay in the coop the majority of the time, you will need to provide a minimum of 10 square feet per bird.
Chickens are by nature prey. For this reason, they prefer to sleep off the ground. The height at which you place the roosting perches will depend on the breed of chickens you have. A good rule of thumb is 2 to 4 feet off the ground. Make sure the roosting perches are placed far enough away from the wall and ceiling that your birds won't hit their heads and are able to move around comfortably. Incorporate roosting perches for your birds to be able to sleep and rest comfortably. Perches can be made out of many different materials including:
- Sturdy branches
Do not be offended if you have the token hen who refuses to use the perch. There will be one or two who prefer sleeping on the floor. However, the majority of your hens will thank you.
Private Nest Boxes
Hens feel the most vulnerable to prey when they are laying eggs and sitting on their nest. They seek out secluded areas in which they feel safe to lay eggs. If you have a very small flock you can incorporate one nest box per hen, but if your flock is larger a ratio of one nest box to 3 hens is adequate. Make your nest boxes feel isolated and secure. It's even better if you can design the nest boxes in such a way that you are able to collect the eggs from the outside without having to go in the coop.
Adequate Ventilation Makes for Happy, Healthy Chickens
Poor ventilation is the number one cause of respiratory problems in chickens. Chickens stir up dust and their feces cause ammonia build up. It is important to remember that the point of ventilation is to create airflow in which old, dirty air is removed and new air is allowed in. This is achieved by allowing air to flow above the chickens and not blowing directly on them.
Incorporate an Outside Space for Your Chickens
You may be hesitant to let your beloved chickens free range for fear of predators. This is completely understandable as chickens do not have much in the way of defense mechanisms to ward off predators. Consider incorporating an outdoor run onto your coop. The addition of a door will give you the ability to make sure your flock is safely in their coop come sundown. The outdoor run will allow your chickens time to enjoy a little sunshine and meander through the grass while remaining safe from lurking predators.
Provide Mental Stimulation for Your Chickens
Your flock will greatly benefit from mental stimulation. Here are some ideas to make sure your chickens make the most out of their days.
- Put treats in their bedding so they can scratch around and peck for them.
- Hang treats, so they have to rip pieces off.
- Place safe, shiny toys such as mirrors, dog toys or kid toys with bells for them to peck at and move around.
Without some sort of mental stimulation to feel their days, chickens can develop bad habits out of boredom, so make sure they always have plenty to do.
Healthy, Happy Backyard Flock
Incorporating the above elements into your chicken coop will ensure your chickens enjoy every moment in their home. When it comes to the proper nutrition for your flock, Star Milling has you covered. As a family-owned and operated feed company, they understand that you only wanted to feed the highest quality feed to your backyard flock. Contact us today to learn more!