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A chicken coop can be a big investment when you first start raising chickens, but there are some important additions you can't skip. Here are three inexpensive and necessary ways to improve your chicken coop.
Windows that Open
Your coop needs windows to add some light into your coop and to give your chickens ventilation. Chickens need enough ventilation to let out the excess moisture and ammonia in the air from their droppings, so they have fresh, breathable air all year. In the summer, your chickens need windows that will create a cross breeze through their coop to help cool the interior.
An effective coop window is one that can open and close, just like your home's windows. Ask a manager at a local home improvement store for any slightly damaged windows they have in stock. They will usually have a discounted selection of windows that have already been opened, are scratched, or have other minor damage. You can get a new vinyl double-paned window in your chicken coop for a fraction of its original cost.
Install the window in your chicken coop by cutting an opening in the side of your coop just larger than the window. The extra space inside the window opening will allow room for window shims to level and center the window in its opening. Screw the window into place inside the window shims and seal any cracks with caulking.
Make sure to seal off the outside of the window with some wire mesh to keep any predators out of the coop when the window is open.
If you install two windows, one on each side of the coop, you can get a cross breeze inside your coop during the warmer months.
Gathering eggs from your chicken coop does not need to be a messy job. You don't need to walk into the chicken coop to get the eggs because you might walk through chicken droppings. Chicken droppings can contain bacteria, such as salmonella, that you don't want to track into your home. Salmonella is found in the droppings of healthy chicken and can make your family sick.
Make your egg-gathering easy by installing small doors on the outside wall of each nesting box. Make sure the doors latch closed for protection of your chickens. When you need to collect the eggs from the coop, open each door to get any eggs sitting inside the boxes. This will also keep your chickens inside their chicken coop as they may try to escape when you enter their coop.
When you want to add some new baby chicks to your flock, you will need a safe place for them to live until they are old enough to be integrated with the rest of the flock. If you put new baby chicks with the larger, older chickens, a new pecking order will start and your baby chicks can get pecked to death. So, to protect your investment of baby chickens, you will need to allow them to grow up with the older chickens, but not be accessible to them.
Inside one corner of your chicken coop, build an enclosed section that is 18 inches high, 18 inches wide and several feet long. Frame in the sides of this chick nursery with lumber, cover the sides in chicken wire, then top it with a hinged lid. The hinged lid will give you access to feed and water your baby chickens. The chicken wire on the sides of the nursery will allow the baby chickens to safely live near the older chickens. It will give all the chickens a chance to become familiar with each other for when they are later integrated into the same coop.
These three additions to your coop are inexpensive and will increase the usefulness of your coop, but you can even find out more here about window use for your coop.