Chickens are reasonably easy animals to keep, requiring minimal maintenance. However, they do require a suitable habitat in which to sleep, breed, and eat. There are a number of must-have features that you have to get right if you want your chickens to live a long, happy, and productive life. By considering the top three chicken house features, you ensure you meet the basic needs of your birds.
Chicken House Space
Because chickens only primarily use their house for sleeping, roosting, and laying, they require only a small amount of space. Generally, each chicken requires at least 0.1 square metres of space inside the chicken house. However, your chickens need plenty of room to roost. DEFRA recommends a minimum of 20 cm of perch length per average-sized bird. However, if you have larger birds, add another 40 cm to the length of the perch. This promotes airflow and allows the chickens to stay away from the cold, damp interior walls in winter. For multiple perches, leave at least 30 cm between each perch and stagger them in a ladder formation. Chickens, unless you allow them to range freely, should have access to a chicken run attached to their enclosure, with at least 0.4 square metres, but preferably 0.9 square metres, of ground space per bird. The run must be large enough to encourage your chickens to range and engage in natural behaviour. If you have a secure garden, then you can get away with a minimal run, with 0.4 square metres of floor space per bird.
Chicken House Security
Chickens are easy prey for dogs, birds of prey, cats, and foxes, and mice and rats harbour disease and are bothersome, so ensuring the chicken house and run are as secure as possible is crucial. Raise the chicken coop off the floor and keep it clean, free of droppings and old food to deter rats and mice. Make sure there are no small holes or gaps in the coop or run through which the chickens can escape or predators can enter. Choose a chicken house with a secure door closure for extra security.
Chicken House Dropping Boards
Dropping boards make cleaning the chicken house much faster and simpler. These removable boards sit in the bottom of the chicken house and you can cover them with straw and newspaper to provide a softer, more natural surface. When it is time to clean the coop, simply brush the straw, droppings, and debris away from the walls, slide out the board, dispose of the contents, clean the board, and replace it.