Given current global trends and an increased collective consciousness to become more environmentally responsible, many people seek less impactful ways of living. Keeping chickens in your barn and collecting fresh eggs can be a fun and rewarding activity, while contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle. Shown below are a few tips to include a chicken coop in your barn design:
Should You Buy or Build Your Chicken Coop?
If you have decided to keep chickens at your barn, you will need to build an adequate shelter. Chickens are especially vulnerable to predators and adverse weather, therefore finding a solution that will ensure your chickens’ safety and well-being must be a priority. You can choose to buy a pre-built kit or build one from scratch. Ultimately, the decision will depend on your budget, and whether you have the time for a DIY project. Building your own chicken coop will generally cost less, as you can pick your own materials, and even recycle some of them. Alternatively, you can choose to buy a pre-assembled coop, which can vary in price from a few hundred to several thousands. Second-hand chicken coops may also be available in your area on popular resale platforms.
Converting an Existing Barn Structure into a Chicken Coop:
One of the ways to save money and incorporate a coop to your barn is to turn an existing structure into a home for your chickens. A horse run-in shed, or an old garden shed can provide a separate and safe structure for your new occupants. Alternatively, a horse stall or a well-ventilated tack room can also be converted into a chicken coop, while remaining in the comfort and safety inside your barn.
If you live in a cold area, you might find more advantages in building your chicken coop inside the barn, which can be closed off at night to prevent predators and adverse weather from causing a problem. During the day, the barn can be opened to let chickens run in a fenced barnyard. Usually, chickens are happy to share their daytime outdoor space with other non-predatory mammals, including goats, sheep, and horses.
Considerations for Your Barn Chicken Coop:
- As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to include a minimum of 5 square feet of space per chicken (not including outdoor space).
- When integrating a coop as part of a shed or stable, ensure that your chickens have their own entrance door that is the right size for them and can restrict other animals or potential predators from entering.
- Make sure to include a fenced outdoor area with wire mesh and a small door or latch that you can close at night.
- Your chicken coop must include roosting bars/perches, nesting boxes for laying eggs, and a clean space for feeder and waterer.
- You may want to include a separate entrance to easily collect the eggs after they are laid.
- Ideally, you should aim to build the coop close to your home or high traffic areas to warrant off predators.
- If your chicken coop is built outdoors, ensure that it is raised a few feet and has solid flooring, such as plywood, to prevent animals or predators from digging from underneath. You can also include a ramp for chickens to walk up to their coop.
- Ventilation is important, and you must ensure to have several welded-wire windows to allow for cross ventilation.
- Light affects hens’ hormonal cycles, which in turn affects how often they lay eggs. In dark winter months, optimize daylight time by turning on a chicken coop lamp for at least 14 hours a day. A low-wattage LED light on a timer is usually enough to stimulate egg production in hens.
- Using soft bedding material, including straw or wood shavings on top of your solid flooring will make a cozy area that can be easily cleaned.
Creating a space to raise chickens within your barn property can bring a sense of accomplishment and help you become more self-sufficient. While this activity can be rewarding and exciting, we must always respect and ensure the wellbeing of our farm animals. Remember, what benefits them will benefit us as well: healthy, happy hens lay more eggs!