Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to selecting a chicken coop, several crucial factors should be taken into consideration. Your choice will ultimately depend on your specific circumstances, such as the available space, the number of hens you plan to keep, and whether or not you want a chicken run. To assist you in making an informed decision, here is a short checklist to guide you in choosing the best chicken coop for your pets:
- Available Space - Evaluate the area where you intend to place the chicken coop and ensure it can accommodate the size of the coop and any desired chicken run.
- Coop Size - Determine the appropriate size based on the number of hens you plan to keep. Allow sufficient space for the chickens to move comfortably, roost, and lay eggs.
- Chicken Run - Decide whether you want a separate chicken run or a coop with an integrated run. Consider the level of protection needed against predators and the availability of open space for the chickens to exercise.
- Material and Durability - Assess the materials used in the construction of the coop. Look for sturdy, weather-resistant materials that can withstand various environmental conditions.
- Ventilation and Light - Ensure that the coop provides proper ventilation to maintain a healthy environment for the chickens. Sufficient natural light is also beneficial for their well-being.
- Accessibility - Check if the coop allows easy access for cleaning, egg collection, and general maintenance. Consider features like pull-out trays or doors that facilitate cleaning and upkeep.
- Security - Verify that the coop offers adequate protection against predators, with features such as secure latches, strong mesh wiring, and reinforced doors.
- Design and Aesthetics - Consider the overall design and appearance of the coop, keeping in mind your personal preferences and the aesthetic appeal of your property.
- Budget - Determine your budget and choose a coop that offers a balance between quality and affordability. Remember that investing in a well-built coop will provide long-term benefits.
Sufficient space in the barn for a flock of chickens is crucial for their well-being. Chickens spend a significant amount of time in the chicken coop, using it for sleeping, seeking shelter during inclement weather, and other occasions. To ensure they have adequate space, it is recommended to plan no more than three chickens per square meter of floor space.
However, it's important to consider the size and weight of the chicken breeds. Smaller or lighter breeds may allow for up to five chickens per square meter, while dwarf bred chickens can comfortably share a square meter with six or seven individuals. In the case of very small bantams, it is possible for up to ten animals to coexist per square meter in the chicken coop.
In general, the important thing is to provide enough space for your flock of chickens, allowing them to move around comfortably and engage in their natural behaviors. Providing appropriate space ensures their welfare and minimizes potential stress or health issues associated with overcrowding.
When starting with chickens, it is generally recommended to begin with a minimum of three chickens. Chickens are highly social animals and thrive in a flock environment. Having a small flock allows them to establish a natural pecking order and engage in social behaviors.
With three laying hens, you can expect to collect around a dozen eggs per week, assuming they are in good health and laying regularly. This provides a reasonable supply of fresh eggs for personal consumption or sharing with others.
If you are a beginner in the chicken farming, please check our specific tips: "The 5 Best Tips and Tricks for Beginners in Chicken Farming".
A general guideline is to have one nesting area for every two hens. This ratio helps prevent overcrowding and competition for nesting spots, ensuring that each hen has access to a suitable nesting area. Providing an adequate number of nest boxes also helps reduce the likelihood of egg breakage and potential conflicts among the hens when laying eggs.
The ideal ratio of hens to roosters in a standard backyard flock is to have at least four hens for every rooster. This ratio helps ensure that the mating behaviors and interactions between the rooster and hens remain balanced. If you have fewer hens than the recommended ratio, it's advisable to provide the hens with occasional breaks from the rooster's attention. This can be done by penning the rooster separately for a couple of days per week, particularly during the spring mating season.
Runs are optional but are nice to have to keep your chickens out of your garden and flower beds. A run also helps keep your chickens safe from most daytime predators. Most runs are attached to the coop, and a small pop door opens to allow the chickens to come and go as they please between the coop and the run.
Ensuring proper husbandry for your chickens involves providing them with ample space to roam and exercise during the day. Therefore, it is highly recommended to have an enclosed run adjacent to the chicken coop.
Many of our Pets Imperial® chicken coops conveniently feature a central outlet that leads directly to the chicken run. When it comes to the run design, you have two options to choose from.
The first option is a separated run, which is fully protected on all sides with galvanized wire, but does not have a roof. This design allows your chickens to enjoy the benefits of open-air surroundings while still keeping them safe from predators.
The second option is a chicken coop with a built-in run, most of which are equipped with a waterproof roof. This design provides added protection from the elements and ensures that your chickens have a secure and sheltered space to roam.
Both options offer their own advantages, allowing you to select the setup that best suits your specific needs and preferences.
Read our blog article “Is It Better if Your Chicken Coop Has a Run?” to understand the differences between each type of chicken coop and choose which is the best one for you.
The assembly time for a chicken coop can vary depending on several factors such as the size of the coop, whether there is an additional chicken run, and whether you have any assistance. However, building a chicken coop is generally considered a straightforward weekend woodworking project.
On average, it could take anywhere from one to two hours to assemble the coop. Keep in mind that this estimate is a rough guideline and may vary based on the complexity of the design and your level of experience. Having some help can expedite the process and make it more efficient.
It's important to note that while the coop itself may come with all the necessary parts, you will likely need some basic tools, such as a screwdriver and a hammer, which are typically not included in the package. Make sure you have these tools readily available before you begin assembling the coop.
When you purchase a coop, you will typically receive clear and easy-to-follow building instructions. With the provided manual and the right tools at hand, building a chicken coop is considered a manageable task that can be completed in a relatively short amount of time.
- Avoid Backwater - Choose a site where water does not accumulate, even during adverse weather conditions. It's important to prevent the formation of backwater, as it can lead to unsanitary conditions and potential health risks for the chickens.
- Sheltered from Wind - Select a spot that provides some protection from strong winds. Drafts are not only uncomfortable for the chickens but can also increase the risk of respiratory issues and diseases. A sheltered location helps maintain a more stable and comfortable environment for the birds.
- Consider Shade - If possible, choose a spot within the influence of a deciduous tree. The tree provides natural shade during hot summer months and allows sunlight to filter through during winter. In the absence of a suitable tree, a large cantilever parasol can serve as an alternative source of shade.
- Sun Exposure - Position the chicken coop so that it receives the warm morning sun without becoming excessively hot during the afternoon. Ideally, place the coop to the southeast or, if that's not feasible, to the south. This orientation allows for proper sunlight exposure while minimizing overheating.
- Easy Access - Align the hen house at the edge of the extended run, ensuring convenient access without the need to traverse through the entire chicken meadow. This setup simplifies maintenance tasks and provides a clear separation between the coop and the outdoor area.
- Establish a regular cleaning schedule to ensure the coop remains clean and free from buildup of waste and debris. The frequency of cleaning will depend on the size of your flock and the coop's condition, but a general guideline is to clean it at least once a week or more frequently if needed.
- Start by removing all bedding material, such as straw, wood shavings, or any other material used for nesting. Dispose of the used bedding properly, either by composting or disposing of it in a designated waste area.
- Thoroughly scrub all surfaces of the chicken house, including walls, floors, perches, and nesting boxes. Use a mild detergent or poultry-safe disinfectant to sanitize the coop and eliminate any potential pathogens or bacteria.
- Focus on areas that chickens frequent the most, such as the roosting bars and the entrance/exit points. These areas tend to accumulate the most droppings and require extra attention during cleaning.
- Take the opportunity during cleaning to inspect the coop for signs of pests, such as mites, lice, or rodents. If you notice any infestations, take appropriate measures to address the issue promptly.
- After cleaning, ensure the chicken house is thoroughly dry before adding fresh bedding. Good ventilation and natural airflow will aid in the drying process and help prevent the growth of mold or mildew.
- Regularly monitor the condition of the coop between cleanings. Remove any wet or soiled bedding promptly, as moisture can promote bacterial growth and foul odors.
- Wear appropriate protective gear (gloves and a dust mask) while cleaning to protect yourself from potential pathogens. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after completing the cleaning process.
- Natural Light - Whenever possible, maximize the use of natural daylight by positioning windows or skylights strategically in the coop. Natural light provides the best source of illumination and helps regulate the chickens' natural biological rhythms.
- Supplemental Lighting - In regions where daylight hours are significantly reduced during winter, supplementing with artificial lighting can help maintain egg production. Install lighting fixtures specifically designed for poultry, such as LED bulbs or fluorescent tubes, to provide adequate illumination.
- Lighting Duration - To stimulate egg production, provide a consistent lighting schedule with 14 to 16 hours of light per day. This extended photoperiod mimics longer summer days and encourages hens to continue laying eggs even in winter. Use timers to automate the lighting schedule for consistency.
- Placement of Lights - Position the lighting fixtures in a way that evenly distributes light throughout the coop, avoiding harsh shadows or dim spots. Mount the lights at an appropriate height to prevent direct exposure to the chickens and minimize the risk of damage or injury.
- Light Intensity - Aim for a light intensity of around 10 to 20 lux (approximately 1 to 2 foot-candles) at chicken eye level. This level of brightness is sufficient to provide illumination without being too overwhelming for the birds.
- Safety Precautions - Ensure that all lighting fixtures and electrical connections are properly installed and protected from moisture and dust. Use poultry-specific light fixtures that are designed for safety in agricultural settings.
- Gradual acclimatization - Chickens are capable of adapting to sub-zero temperatures if given the opportunity. It's important to allow them to gradually acclimate to lower temperatures as the season transitions to winter.
- Fire hazard - Introducing heating sources into the chicken coop increases the risk of fire. Heaters, heat lamps, or other electrical devices can malfunction or come into contact with flammable materials, posing a serious danger to both the chickens and the structure itself.
- Temperature fluctuations - Relying on a heating system in the coop also means there is a risk of a sudden failure, especially during nighttime. If the heating system were to fail, it could result in a rapid drop in temperature that is hazardous to the chickens.
- Natural insulation - A well-insulated coop with proper ventilation is usually sufficient to provide adequate protection against the cold. Straw, shavings, or other bedding materials offer additional insulation to keep the chickens warm.
- Exceptions - There are situations where additional heat may be necessary. Sick or injured chickens, chicks, or growing birds have higher heat requirements and may benefit from supplemental heat. In such cases, an infrared heat lamp can be used to provide localized warmth.
When it comes to security of the coop, here are some important measures to consider:
- Coop construction - Ensure that the chicken coop is constructed with sturdy materials and designed to be predator-proof. The coop should be tightly sealed on all sides, leaving no gaps or openings that predators can squeeze through. Choosing a coop made of durable pine wood, like our Pets Imperial® chicken coops, can provide added protection.
- Secure fencing - The run should be enclosed with appropriate and intact wire fencing. Choose a narrow-meshed, galvanized wire that is strong enough to withstand attempts by predators to break through. Regularly inspect the fencing for any damage or weak spots and promptly repair them.
- Overhead protection - Prevent predators from entering the run or chicken house from above. Ensure that the coop is equipped with a solid and completely closing roof that provides full coverage. This protects the chickens from aerial predators like hawks or owls.
- Reinforced entry points - Pay special attention to entry points, such as doors and windows. Install secure latches and locks to prevent predators from gaining access. Reinforce these areas with additional measures if necessary.
- Predator deterrents - Consider using additional deterrents to discourage predators. These can include motion-activated lights, predator decoys, or even sound devices that emit noises to scare away potential threats.
- Vigilance and observation - Regularly monitor the surroundings of the coop and run for signs of predator activity. Look for tracks, holes, or evidence of attempted entry. By staying vigilant, you can address any potential vulnerabilities promptly.
Securing the chicken coop and run against predators is crucial for the safety and well-being of your chickens. Remember that predator-proofing measures should be comprehensive and regularly maintained. Predators can be persistent and adaptive, so it's important to stay one step ahead in protecting your chickens. With a well-secured coop and run, you can provide a safe and secure environment for your flock.
- Marten - Martens, such as the stone marten, are nocturnal hunters that can cause significant damage if they manage to enter the chicken coop. They may attack multiple chickens in a panic, although they typically only consume one.
- Weasel - Weasels are smaller than martens but equally adept hunters. They can infiltrate the coop through small gaps or openings. Weasels often target a specific chicken, leaving the others unharmed.
- Fox - Foxes primarily prey on rodents, but they may attack chickens, especially when they have young to feed. When foxes are raising their offspring, their food requirements increase, and chickens become a potential food source.
- Rat - Rats are not likely to attack healthy adult chickens but are known to steal eggs. They may also prey on chicks or young animals. Once rats have discovered a food source, they will continue to return until it becomes inaccessible to them.
- Hawk - Hawks, such as goshawks, can be a threat to chickens, especially when they have open access from above. To prevent hawk attacks, consider covering the run or using netting. It's important to note that hawks can also attack from the ground, so a fully fenced enclosure is recommended. Visual deterrents, such as colorful ribbons, can help deter hawks as well.
- Domestic Dogs and Cats - While not typical predators, domestic dogs and cats can occasionally pose a threat to chickens. Hungry stray dogs may prey on chickens, and cats driven by instinct might harm chicks during play. It's important to supervise interactions between dogs, cats, and chickens to ensure their safety.
Taking appropriate precautions, such as securing the coop and run, using deterrents, and being vigilant, can help protect your chickens from these potential predators. Regularly inspecting the premises for signs of intrusion and addressing any vulnerabilities can further enhance their safety.
Dogs are social animals that thrive in the company of their human families. They generally prefer being a part of the family circle rather than being kept alone. However, there are certain situations where having a wooden dog kennel in the garden can be useful and appropriate. These situations are more applicable to specific breeds or circumstances. Here are some examples:
- Working dogs - Breeds that are traditionally used for hunting, herding, or guarding purposes often require ample outdoor space to exercise and stay protected. Having an outdoor wooden dog kennel can provide them with a secure area where they can fulfill their working instincts and have their own designated space.
- Large breeds - Dogs that are larger in size, such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, or Newfoundlands, may benefit from having their own dedicated space in the garden. A wooden dog house can provide durability and insulation against various weather conditions, giving them a comfortable and protected area to retreat to.
- Chicken Run - Decide whether you want a separate chicken run or a coop with an integrated run. Consider the level of protection needed against predators and the availability of open space for the chickens to exercise.
- Outdoor dogs in extreme weather - In regions with extreme weather conditions, like very hot summers or harsh winters, an outdoor wooden dog kennel can offer insulation and protection. A well-designed and properly equipped kennel can provide shade, shelter, and insulation, ensuring the dog's comfort and safety throughout the year.
However, it's important to note that while the kennel can offer protection against wind and weather, permanently excluding the dog from the family circle can lead to severe behavioral issues. Regular supervision and interaction with the dog remain essential for their overall well-being and happiness.
Overall, the choice of material for a dog kennel depends on personal preference, climate, and the specific needs of the dog. Whether opting for a wooden or plastic kennel, ensure it is well-constructed, weatherproof, and provides insulation to keep the dog comfortable and protected from the elements.
When choosing the material for a dog kennel, there are a few options to consider, such as wood or plastic. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Wood is a popular choice for dog kennels due to its natural appearance and durability. Wood is a tactile warm natural material, it provides insulation against weather conditions and can be customized or built according to specific requirements. However, the wooden dog kennel requires regular maintenance to prevent rotting or warping. It's essential to choose a weatherproof wood and avoid using harmful coatings or treatments that may be toxic to dogs.
- Plastic dog kennels offer advantages such as easy cleaning, resistance to moisture, and durability. They are typically lightweight and can be moved around easily. However, they do not provide the same level of insulation as wooden kennels. Plastic is a non-eco-friendly material, sterile and cold to touch that quickly lets heat escape, making the interior of the dog house cold quickly. Other disadvantage may come with time, exposure to sunlight can cause plastic to degrade and lose its structural integrity, making the kennel less reliable and sturdy.
The quality, sustainability and insulation of the dog house are the most important features. Not only will your pet be protected from the heat in summer, but also from freezing in the cold season. If the kennel is insulated, it fulfils an important quality criterion. Read our article “Why is better to choose insulated dog kennel for your dog.”.
To familiarize your dog with the dog kennel, you can follow the steps below:
- Start early - If possible, introduce your dog to the kennel when it is a puppy. This allows to the pet to form positive associations with it from a young age.
- Make it inviting - Place treats inside the kennel to entice your dog to explore. The curious nature of puppies often leads them to investigate and enter the kennel on their own. You can also place a comfortable bed inside, preferably with familiar scents like your clothing or a blanket that carries your scent. Including their favorite toy can also make the kennel more appealing.
- Timing is important - Encourage your dog to go inside the dog house after a walk or a meal when he/ she is tired and more likely to rest. This helps him/ her associate the kennel with relaxation and restful moments.
- Gradual introduction - Initially, leave the kennel door open and allow your dog to come and go as he/ she pleases. Avoid forcing or locking your pet inside as it may create negative associations. Let him/ her explore and choose to spend time in the kennel voluntarily.
- Mealtime - Once your dog is comfortable entering the kennel, you can start feeding him/ her in front of the dog house. This further strengthens the positive association with the kennel.
- Place a filled drinking bowl in front of the entrance and refresh it often. That way your dog will go there every time, when it's thirsty.
Familiarizing your dog with the kennel takes time and patience. Be consistent in using positive reinforcement and ensure that the kennel is always associated with positive experiences.
Remember, each dog is unique, and the time it takes for them to become comfortable with the dog kennel may vary. Be patient, understanding, and never use the kennel as a form of punishment. The goal is to create a safe and comfortable space that your dog willingly chooses to spend time in.
The kennel should not be in the blazing sun or in drafty corners. Look for a location that provides a balance of shade and protection from the elements. You might also like to situate it close to the door of your house so that it can easily access the house.
Dogs enjoy being able to observe their surroundings. After all, they are the guardians of the home. Choose a location that allows the dog to have a clear view of the area. This can help them feel more engaged and aware of their surroundings, reducing potential boredom or anxiety.
Some dogs prefer huts with flat roofs as they can sit on top and have a better vantage point to survey their surroundings. Consider a kennel with a flat roof or a raised platform where the dog can perch and observe the area.
Check all Pets Imperial® line of dog kennels and choose between the insulated Norfolk with flat roof (available in couple of sizes and colors) or the hut-shaped Sussex, both models with opening roofs and raised base.
Ultimately, the chosen location should prioritize the dog's comfort, safety, and well-being. It's important to regularly assess the environment and make adjustments as needed to ensure the dog's kennel remains a comfortable and inviting space.