A Frame Chicken Coop is the design of a cage that is made especially for keeping your chicken within its safe confines. Like it or not but if you have chicken at home, looking after their comfort is your # 1 priority. This is when chicken coops come into picture.
In case you rear chickens for their meat or even eggs then, you need to keep them cosy. The more comfortable your chicken, the better shall be the quality of their egg and meat.
So basically, a good home for your chicken can make the difference between a good produce and a bad one. Well, here is all that you need to know about these cosy homes for your beloved flock:
A Frame Chicken Coop Article Contents
1) What is a Chicken Coop?
2) How to Build a Chicken Coop on Your Own?
3) How to Pick the Best Roof for Your Hen House?
4) How to Add a Chicken Run to Your Existing Coop?
5) What are the Most Common Mistakes while Building A Frame Chicken Coop & How to Avoid Them?
6) How to Secure the Doors and Windows of a Hen House?
7) What should be Inside a Chicken Coop?
8) What is the Advantage of an A Frame Chicken Coop?
9) Are there any Drawbacks Attached to A Shaped Hen Homes?
What is a Chicken Coop?
A home for the chicken or a perch wherein the birds can remain safe and comfortable is termed as a chicken coop. Some claim that the home for chicken needs to be well ventilated and airy.
Others claim that it should be dark and cosy. Enclosed environment tends to save the birds from adverse weather conditions. Cold weather and polluted air tends to harm the birds.
So, you have two main types of coops. The first is well ventilated and is an almost open structure. The only saviour from the outside world is a wire mesh. The chicken can breathe fresh air and enjoy the natural sunlight. This also exposes the birds to extremes of weather – hot, cold, windy, rains etc.
The other structure is an enclosed one. Similar to a home where humans live, it has doors, windows and even lights. Some cold weather based coops also have heaters within to keep the pen warm. So, lack of natural ventilation is compensated with technological improvement.
In a nutshell, the bird can rest, play, lay eggs and even give birth inside the coop. Apart from being saved by natural predators, these houses for your beloved bird is also a place wherein they eat and drink water.
How to Build a Chicken Coop on Your Own?
A chicken coop is made from a wide array of materials. While most are made from wood and similar products, a few have been known to use recycled material as well.
Well, here are a few Suggestions:
Choosing the Correct Wood Type
To start with, you need to have the skeleton ready. The four walls and a roof determined the safety and convenience of the birds inside.
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind while following this step:
@ If you choose a lumber wood, it is an ideal structure for your coop. Nonetheless, it is way too expensive and may not be easy on every chicken owner’s pocket.
@ If you have budgetary constraints then, opt for wood that is treated. The pressure method of treating wood makes it free from bugs. It also lasts a lifetime without any upkeep. Nonetheless, the wood has chemical presence (owing to the treatment).
@ Go for redwood or hardwoods if you want your coop’s structure to last. You may also choose spruce and hemlock as they are moisture resistant and long lasting.
@ If you have opted for lumber wood then, have it treated with nontoxic. This shall help it withstand the perils of age and Mother Nature.
@ For the fillers on the roof and sides, use plywood. Make sure it fits well, is stained and painted.
Pallets for Making Chicken Coops
The boxes that you usually see at the warehouse and shipyards are made from pallet wood. This wood is relatively cheap yet sturdy enough to keep your chicken safe.
If you are looking for free wooden pallets then, step into a warehouse or meet contractors that have ample deliveries packed in such boxes. At times, you might not even have to shell out a single penny for getting them home.
Chicken Coops made from Plastic
I (LeanAndFit review staff)personally find these to be really helpful. They not only permit you to safeguard your birds but they also remain pest free. Moreover, I can easily wash them with soap and water. Within an hour, they are dry.
In case you are not the DIY types then, you may always opt for a ready-made structure. Simply buy it from a store that deals in plastic homes for hens. You can opt for a 2 to 16 chicken plastic coop. The size really depends on your personal requirement.
The advantage of plastic homes for your birds is their ease of mobility. You can carry the cage with you easily. These homes are light in weight and mite-free. You may also use these coops to segregate certain chickens from the main flock.
Polyvinyl Chloride based Cages
With over forty million tonnes of production annually, polyvinyl chloride is readily available. You can opt for the flexible or the rigid variant (depending on your requirements). It is easy to construct and can be purchased from a store.
In case you travel a lot and have to take your flock along, do opt for polyvinyl based coops. They are super light, durable, bug resistant and easy to carry.
In my opinion, you can use polyvinyl chloride based pipe for the frame of the coop. You can use wood or even ply to do the insides of the house. You may put wheels underneath to provide motion to the cage.
Dog Houses Converted into Coops
In case you have a four legged pet that no longer is in need for a home, opt for a conversion instead. Simply ensure that the ground is soft and not hard. Apart from that, everything remains the same. You may buy one from eBay or even Craigslist.
How to Pick the Best Roof for Your Hen House?
The structure of your hen home is vital for the protection and comfort of the bird. Nonetheless, laying emphasis on just the four walls is not enough. You also need to plan the roof in a thorough manner.
Here are a few tips:
@ Most budget conscious farmers tend to make use of corrugated tin. This is a cost effective and a durable option. It is not heavy and therefore, easy to handle.
@ Roofs made from polyvinyl chloride are also a wise option indeed. These roofs are light in weight, durable and maintenance free in nature.
@ Applying a layer of petroleum by-products and coal tar is also a wise option. It is cost effective and would require maintenance. Nonetheless, it does keep out water and prey.
@ Opt for gravel roof with tar coating. This is sturdy and long lasting. It should cost you $3.00 per square foot.
@ Asphalt Shingles is yet another option. Here asphalt is embossed with granules of ceramic. This makes it an all-weather roof and ideal for hen homes.
@ Roll roofing is also an option in chicken coops. This is a mat made of organic felt, granules of stones and asphalt. It lasts long and is weather proof.
@ Roofs made from galvanized steel or metal are also an option here. Also known as CGI, this material is super strong and can withstand tremendous amount of beating.
How to Add a Chicken Run to Your Existing Coop?
Well, adding an extra bit of space for your chicken to roam and run is always a splendid idea. Nonetheless, you need to do so rather carefully.
Here are a few tips:
>>> If you have ample space in the garden then, simply designate an area for your chicken to run. This area can be fenced using wooden posts.
>>> You can use electric nets to allow hens more room to play. This net is special and it helps keeps animals of prey away from your livestock.
>>> Chicken wire is rather common. It helps keep your hens in a safe area and allows them to roam free. The only drawback is its short lifespan and the need for repairs (usually rust related).
>>> Chain based links that constitute a fence is also a good idea. Nonetheless, the gaps within these links are on the higher side. This may enable a small animal of prey to slip through.
>>> Letting them roam free in your garden is also a good idea. You simply need to understand that your birds might slip through the hedges. An animal may slip inside as well and do some damage. So, avoid the open area concept (unless your area is super safe).
@ The roof of your hen house should be slanting. This helps rain and snow to slip away easily and avoids roof leakages.
What are the Most Common Mistakes while Building A Frame Chicken Coop & How to Avoid Them?
The styles and products for making a chicken coop are endless. You can construct a simple structure or a rather elaborate one. It all depends on your requirements, your budget and level of expertise. Nonetheless, in the race to build the best hen home, we all often make mistakes (at least, I did).
So, here is what I did before embarking on the chicken coop construction journey. These points really helped me save time and money.
Please read through them:
Always look out for Predator Movement:
To begin with, you need to know your environment rather well. In simpler words, if there are too many animals around, you need to protect your birds. You may use a wire fence if your surrounding area has foxes, dogs, hyenas etc.
If I stay close to areas wherein bear influx is high, I shall use an electrocuted fence. To avoid a run-in with animals, I simply try and steer clear of wilderness. Instead, I stay close to human habitation in large numbers. Human presence deters animals.
The Flood and Insect Scenario:
I always prefer to build my coop on high ground, I ensure to keep it away from slopes and definitely out of a ditch. Even if my area was located on dry land, a sudden rain could ruin my hen house.
This is why you too should construct your hen home on the highest possible ground. The land should also be naturally dry. This way, not only shall you save them from sudden floods but also from unwanted insects and dangerous reptiles.
The Location as per Weather Conditions:
Another basic step would be to find the best location for your coop to save your birds from harsh weather conditions. To start with, keep the windows away from cold winds.
Also, the roof should be slanting – to keep snow and rain out. At the same time, place the home under a tree to shade it from harsh sunlight. Basically, the location of the cage should be in sync with the current prevalent weather conditions.
Keeping the Chicken Home Safe from Animals & Reptiles:
I always emphasize on keeping the birds safe from reptiles and insects. A sting from a scorpion or a bite from a coyote can end the life of your beloved hen. This is why you need to save your pets from predators.
You need to protect the birds from burrowing predators such as raccoon and skunks. So, do proper flooring before placing natural dirt onto it. This shall stop the animals from digging their way into the coop.
Similarly, you need to make the roof and sides of the cage strong by using half inch thick plywood. Lumber is great as it inhibits rats from chewing through.
Check for Damages:
Always keep a sharp lookout for any damages done to the coop. This could be the door, the windows, the roof or the side walls. Also look at the ground.
If you see any signs of burrowing then again, a predatory animal such as a racoon or rat may have tried to gain entry into the coop. Fix these issues as soon as possible.
Too Close to Standing Water Bodies:
Despite taking all possible precautions while building a coop, you may skip a basic step. This is with special regards to positioning your hen house close to standing water.
Stagnant water tends to breed mosquitoes. A sting from these insects tends to make your hens sick. Fowl pox is a common disease caused by these insects. So, place your cage away from standing or stagnant water.
Always Keep the Security of Your Coop Beefed Up:
You need to oversee the security of your coop. This can be done via placing security cameras around it. Alternatively, you can place sturdy doors and windows.
Place the cage close to where you reside. Ensure that the area is well lit so that you can have complete visibility during darkness. The lock of the hen house should be easily locked and unlocked.
It is not just the animals and insects that are a problem for your birds. Humans cannot be side-lined here. In order to ensure that you stop your birds from getting stolen in the act, do keep them safe from human theft.
How to Secure the Doors and Windows of a Hen House?
In order to secure the coop, you need to place extra precautionary measures in place. Doors are sturdy if made from lumber wood. Nonetheless, if the latches are weak, they can be broken into. So, make use of sturdy latches.
Make sure the doors of the hen house are padlocked. Always use life-stock grade latches and locks. This shall ensure that no heavy animal (such as a bear or wolf) can break the door down. Latches fortified with clips are a wise idea.
For the windows, have them covered with wire strung on sturdy frame. This needs to be heavy duty wire that cannot be broken by a lunging animal. The gap between the mesh wires should be small enough to avoid any animal (such as a mink) squeezing through.
What should be Inside a Chicken Coop?
The chicken coop interior layout is as important as the main structure itself. You need to ensure that your birds are happy while inside the home that you so laboriously built for them.
While there are an endless number of items that you can place within the cage, I cannot include them all in this article. Well, here are a few that top my list:
Sprinkle some Hey on the Ground
Preparing the ground for the chicken is a wise idea indeed. You need to make sure that your birds get a soft and cosy feel when they sit down or fall asleep. Hey and straw are an ideal way to achieve this cosiness.
Straw is a good option as it is non-sticky, non-edible and perfect for keeping damp floors dry. Moreover, it is super-soft and comfortable for the hens. Happy hens lay healthy eggs and hence, you make more money selling un-cracked eggs.
The Hanging Feeding Tray
I particularly find the hanging feeder basket to be awesome for the flock. This is especially true when you want your hens to roam around and feed. They exercise and eat what you place in the basket – I usually place lettuce and cabbage.
I also place the tray at the height of the chicken’s head. So, they can easily pick the leaves that I place in the basket. This way, the food also remains safe and does not spoil the straw (that is laid onto the ground).
Place to Lay Eggs
Hens lay eggs which need to be retrieved easily. So, instead of spending a lot of time searching for them, simply have a special box ready and placed inside the coop.
The size of this box fortified with straw depends on the size of the cage and the number of hens inside. In my opinion, a box 12 inches wide, 12 inches high and 16 inches long should be idea for all breeds of hen.
Place one box for every 5 hens. So, if you have 20 hens inside the coop, place 4 such boxes for your birds to lay their eggs in. These boxes help keep the eggs in one place.
Watering Mechanism for the Hens
Initially, I used to place a large vessel inside the coop and fill it with water. This is was rather messy. The bird droppings inside the vessel were a real turn-off.
At the same time, the water used to drip off the vessel and seep into the ground. So, I decided to invest a little bit of money and purchased a special watering mechanism for the chicken.
This helps keep the water hygienic and there are no leakages on the floor. I use one that is made of plastic. It is easy to clean, easy to refill and the water lasts 3 to 4 days with ease.
Protein Supplement & Grain Mixture
The special supplement mixture containing corn and grain is vital to be placed within the coop. It helps supplement the diet of your hen. Moreover, when this protein and grain mix is heated and then compressed in the shape of a ball, it becomes easier for the hen to eat it.
This special feed is easily available in the market. It helps keep the chicken healthy and adds the missing antioxidants in their diet. This diet mixture also ensures that your birds get their daily doses of vitamins and minerals (apart from proteins).
Poop Collection Boards
You would not like the floor of your coop to be covered in poop. In order to avoid this mess, simply place special poop cover boards over the floor at night. You can simply scrape off the litter in the morning using a knife.
Opt for models that can be removed and washed in the morning. Poop collection boards ensure that litter is reduced to bare minimum. This maintains hygiene within the coop and inhibits flies to build up inside the cage.
What is the Advantage of an A Frame Chicken Coop?
Chicken homes have come a long way. From the small cubbyholes that were dingy and dirty, the present day coops are open and cosy. While I cannot claim these to be luxurious yet, they do provide your hens with a sense of happiness by offering ample comfort and optimal safety levels.
While talking of designs – there are plenty available. Nonetheless, the design that tends to stand apart from the rest is the A-Frame cops for chicken. So, what makes it so popular and special?
Well, let’s find out:
Great Shape for Keeping Hens Safe and Cosy:
What I find particularly interesting about this shape is the slanting roofs. Well, I am sure you would say such roofs are everywhere in the hills. I agree and there is a reason why they are there. We all know hills are prone to rain and snow.
The ‘A’ slant of these roofs stops any water to accumulate on top. So, during a heavy snowfall or rainfall, the water simply flows down the sides. This stops leakages of any sort from arising.
Keeps Your Hands Working & Pocket Heavy:
Building an A-Frame home for your beloved hens is an easy job. You need not be a master carpenter to get the job done. A simple set of tools (the basic ones) and a couple of spare hours gets the job done in a jiffy.
In case you are wondering about the expenditure then, it is no more than $190. That’s the average you spend in getting this home ready in a few hours’ time. Mind you- I am talking of this expenditure when only the best of woods and other material have been used.
Gives More Space & Takes Less Space:
I know this header reads a bit funny but it is true. An A frame house is meant to provide ample room within the coop. At the same time, its dimensions are compact.
So, you end up allowing your birds to roam free without taking up too much of your garden. All in all, it is a win-win situation for everyone. The garden is spared of excessive encroachment and the hens are happy inside.
Few Hens are always Welcome:
If you have a few birds (say 5 to 10) then, an A frame is ideal for your coop. This frame shall permit you to allow your birds to roam free. If you have a larger flock then, you might have to opt for a different frame.
Building One is a Breezy Affair:
You do not need to be a master craftsman to build this frame. I mean, it is basic and plenty of online construction plans are available. All you need to do is watch the videos and apply them to practical use. I believe a newbie can build one in a day.
Changing the Location is Easy:
If you wish to switch the A-frame from one location to another, you need to not to worry. Sometimes, the area in your garden wherein is placed the coop tends to get damaged. This is owing to the clawing habits of hens.
So, simply shift the home to another location of the lawn. Doing so shall enable you to replenish the damaged area and allow it to heal itself naturally.
Maintenance is Super Easy:
Most homes for hens that have an ‘A-Frame’ and super-easy to maintain. These frames are placed on the garden area. The grass underneath the coop ensures that the litter created by your hens is taken care of naturally.
So, maybe once every week, you may need to clean it thoroughly. On a daily basis, simply use a broom and scrape the grass clean. Maintaining this coop is a breezy task indeed.
Soft Sunlight and Non-Harsh Winters:
In order to reap the desired benefits from the A-Frame coop, you need to watch out for the surrounding weather conditions. So, you can easily hope to place these in areas wherein sunlight is ‘low to medium’ and the winters ‘pleasant’.
Long Lasting and Weather Proof:
When the frame of your chicken home is shaped in an ‘A’ style, you can easily hope to last it for a long time period. In simpler words, wind, sunlight rain and snow in moderate amounts, cannot deter the structure. So, you can call it an ideal ‘weather proof’ construction.
Nutrition Anytime Anywhere:
As I have mentioned above, ‘A frame chicken coops’ are placed on the garden. This is a usual practice which has yet to witness any dramatic change. I mean, you do not place it onto concrete floors any longer.
So, the easy shifting of this frame tends to move it around all corners of the garden. This allows each and every area in the grass to get replenished naturally. This way, your hen tends to get the best possible nutrition at all times.
Great for Growing Crops:
Did you know that chicken poop is a high in potassium, nitrogen and other essential minerals? Well, they actually are. These can be used as natural manure to grow healthy crops.
Simply shift the coop around the garden and collect the litter. Use it as a natural source of manure to grow your plants. This is the cheap and best way to build a small vegetable garden.
Are there any Drawbacks Attached to A Shaped Hen Homes?
Like any other object on this planet, A Frame Chicken Coops too have their fair share of drawbacks. Well, here are a few that I felt are needed to be pointed out:
Hens in Limited Numbers Only:
The very first drawback to this structure is the lack of space. In simpler words, you cannot hope to house a large number of birds within them. So, if you have four dozen birds then, a structure of this kind shall not be suitable.
Lack of Adequate Aeration:
It has been noticed that air does not pass through this structure optimally. So, in the summer months, it may get stuffy inside. In the winter months, it may get moist. This tends to increase the cold within a damp coop.
The lack of cross ventilation ensures that the smell of faces within the coop gets unbearable. This is when you need to make amendments to avoid hens from falling sick.
Simply take a chisel and hammer it onto the side walls. This allows more air to pass through. Nonetheless, this shall expose the structure to insects and flies.
Chicken May feel Cramped Inside:
It is highly likely that if you have more than permitted hens inside the home, they may feel constricted. This is owing to the very simple fact that adequate space is missing lengthwise. So, maybe you have to limit the number of hens or opt for a larger structure.
The Agricultural Land Issue:
If your chicken coop is placed inside agricultural land, you may be in for trouble. The A Frame style has its drawbacks from burrowing animals.
Racoons, rats and weasels can attack at night and annihilate your flock while you sleep. To safeguard your flock from animals that come from underneath the ground, simply have a heavy duty chicken wire buried underneath the ground.
A frame chicken coop is by far the most favorite designs out there. While there are no accurate statistics available for the percentage of its users, it is evident that most chicken owners the world over opt for this style.
The cost effective approach backed by practical sense is what makes the A –Frame hen for chickens to be so popular. Nonetheless, you should always weigh the pros and cons before taking a final decision on picking the structure of your hen house.
Most chicken owners have reported complete satisfaction within this type of structure. Not only have they praised its robustness but also its maintenance free approach. So, it seems the A frame type shall remain a popular choice amidst hen and rooster owners for a long time to come.