To raise healthy chickens that will produce many eggs for you and your family, they need to have somewhere to go where they can be protected. If you are investing in chickens for your backyard, make sure you include a chicken coop in your garden's design.
The materials for your chicken coop can be found at any neighborhood hardware store: wood, chicken wire, and straw. You will also need a hammer and nails or srewdriver and screws, depending on how you would like to secure it. When shopping for lumber, it is worth choosing ceder or redwood over a softer wood like pine. These do not warp when faced with outdoor stresses.
You never want your chicken coop to flood, so place it somewhere dry and high. A perfect spot for a coop would be right beneath a deciduous tree. During the cold winter months, the tree will not have leaves, and therefore let sunlight through to warm your coop. During the summer, the leaves will provide shade and cool it.
Take the time to sketch out a plan. It does not need to look fancy, but it needs to communicate consideration for the size of your flock, the location (microclimate), and other logistical amenities that will create a low-maintenance, high-yield environment.
Figure out if you'll be letting your chickens out to roam occasionally or if you want them to go in and out as they please. For the latter option, you will also need to include an enclosed outdoor space for them.
The coop should be large enough for you to be able to reach all points to clean and disinfect.
If you are building flooring into your design, slope it towards the door so the water runs out when you hose it down. If you decide to forgo flooring, then it is suggested you rotate locations (with perhaps a garden bed) to keep the chickens happy and clean up to a minimum. You may collect the chicken droppings to use as fertilizer for your gardens.
To protect from predators, dig in some extra chicken wire about a foot deep around your coop. Many large mammals will try to dig through and eat your chickens.
Windows should be facing the south side where they will receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Make sure you design all doors to open inward and not outward.
It is important to pay attention to ventilation. While fresh air is important for chickens, it is crucial that they are kept dry at all times. They can tolerate cold climates, but they need to be kept dry. This is why you should always be looking for leaks in the roof and puddling on the ground.
Some people have noticed that by installing an electrical light in their coops for the winter, their chickens layed many more eggs throughout the season.
Chickens make a mess of everything! This is why it is important to raise the feeders just above the level of the chicken's back. Same goes for water. You don't want their feed getting mixed in with their droppings. They will not eat it then, and it will just be a waste of feed.
Try to add aesthetic accents to your coop with paint or flowers. If you can sometimes let them roam your garden, they are efficient and organic pest control.