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Setting up a coop ready for happy, healthy chooks

Setting up a coop ready for happy, healthy chooks

Setting up a coop ready for happy, healthy chooks

Ask around chook owners and it’s soon obvious why they’re a much-loved pet. Regardless of whether you’re on a farm, small block, or in a residential area, chickens each have their own friendly personalities to enjoy. Just call their name and they’ll come running!

Before bringing chickens home, you’ll need to plan the coop so you provide them with a healthy, happy home offering plenty of space. The design can include a run, or you may choose to let your chooks roam free around your property during the day.  

To help refine your plan, here’s a few pointers:

  • Allocate an area to be kept dry so it can be used as a dust bath. Chickens use a dust bath to help keep themselves mite and lice-free and their feathers clean.
  • As chooks don’t sweat, they need shade to regulate their temperature so provide plenty of shelter through trees and shrubs. The happier they are the more productive they’ll be!
  • It’s essential to provide access to clean, fresh water. Place drinkers in high-traffic areas, both inside and outside of the coop. Along with water, chickens need a balanced diet. Feeding kitchen scraps not only removes wastage but it is a favourite with chooks. To provide a balanced diet though, feed scraps along with their main feed. Hop online and check out Barnyard’s range of layer feed including pellets, mash and muesli.
  • How are you planning to keep your chooks cool in summer and warm in the winter? If you choose a corrugated iron roof, make sure the ceiling is built using, say plywood, as it will help keep the coop cool over summer. By creating a roof cavity you’ll also be able to insulate it and keep the coop warm in winter. Remember to provide plenty of ventilation to prevent a build-up of ammonia smell and moisture.
  • Your chooks need perches to sleep on. Build the perches 40 to 50 cm above the ground, laying sawdust underneath to help prevent foot injuries. The perches need to around 5 cm wide and rounded, with no sharp edges. Allow 15 cm between each chicken. For ease of cleaning, make sure the perches are removable.
  • Incorporate cubed nesting boxes into the darkest area of the coop. Fill with bedding, cleaning out regularly so the eggs don’t become soiled. One nesting box will accommodate up to four chooks.
  • For ease of cleaning and disease control, choose concrete or plastic flooring. Add a layer of untreated wood shavings/sawdust. Turnover, or change, the shavings every couple of weeks, maintaining a layer 30 cm deep. Keep on top of your cleaning and pest control to help prevent mites that, once you have, are difficult to remove.
  • Consider building or purchasing a portable coop and run so you can move the chickens to new areas as foraging feed becomes short. Chooks are great for taking care of weeds and old vege crops!  
  • How are you going to stop predators from entering the coop? With sparrows and rats both mite and disease carriers, you won’t want them near your chook’s food. For this reason, choose a lidded feeder and a sealed drinker. Possums, stoats and dogs are predators too, so make sure your netting doesn’t have any gaps.

Your local PGG Wrightson store team can offer plenty of advice on chook feed and materials for building a coop. You can purchase feeders, drinkers, chicken meal and heaps more online here.