A small backyard chicken coop is a good do-it-yourself project. Not only is it simple enough to construct, it is also very useful in providing a home to your small flock.
If you plan on making a small backyard chicken coop for your chickens, probably eight to 10 in number, here are some of the parts that you should not forget and some tips on how to go about constructing them.
Perches or roosting bars
This will serve as the sleeping quarters of your chickens. No matter how clean or aesthetically pleasing the floor of you coop might be; birds will not sleep on it unless there is no other choice.
They would always look for an elevated place to roost, hence the need for perches. Wood is the best material to use as perches. Remember to make the edges a bit rounded to allow chickens to get a grip and to prevent them from having splinters.
If you need more than one, don't build them one above the other. Rather, make a stair-like structure with about 18 inches of distance between each. And don't place them directly above the nest boxes.
These are the ones you need to place directly under the perches. They can be wooden boxes or something as simple as hay placed under the roost bars.
Some backyard coops put plastics on the floor of the boxes which can be easily removed and disposed of come cleaning time. Or you can use wire mesh as cover for the boxes. This can also be easily removed and hosed down for easy cleaning.
The nests should be placed at the darkest corner of the coop, preferably near the window or ventilation hole. This would provide you with easy access to the eggs.
The boxes should be filled with hay and should be away from the center part of the floor so that eggs would not get trampled. It is also advisable to have the nests under a bulb or light that could provide warmth during cold months.
Protection from predators
Having a coop for your chickens is not enough to protect them from predatory animals or occasional passersby who apply the 'finders-keepers' rule whenever they see fat, healthy chicken eggs.
Build a fence around your property that is at least five four-and-a-half feet in height. You can use wire mesh or lumber or even galvanized iron commonly used for roofs.
A small backyard chicken coop should provide for all the basic needs of your flock. If you address their sleeping, nesting, littering and protection needs, then you will hear no cluck of complaint from them.