Grit Blogs > One Acre Lott

How To Build A Good Chicken Coop: Part 5

Nathan LottAre you looking to build a chicken coop? Well, you've come to the right place! If you haven't read any of our previous chicken coop articles, feel free to check 'em out.

Part 1: Size
Part 2: Location
Part 3: Orientation
Part 4: Ventilation

Today, we'll be talking about:

Fortification.

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When it comes to chicken coops it's important to ask yourself: Are there a lot of predators where I live?

If you're living on an urban homestead, you probably won't have to worry too much about predators. Sure, there are some exceptions. I've lived in cities where skunks, raccoons, and possums were fairly commonplace. I've even heard of municipalities that boast a fairly large population of foxes and/or coyotes. But for the most part urban areas tend to be a little safer for chickens, with only the neighbor's dog or maybe a hawk or an owl to worry about.

Out here in the country, however, it's a whole different story!

At the One Acre Lott, we routinely have coyotes serenading us up on the hillside; hawks, owls and even the occasional eagle can be seen patrolling the skies; skunks are ambling all over the place; and it isn't unheard of to see foxes and weasels scurrying off the road when we drive home late at night. Heck, I even got into a bare-knuckle brawl with our neighbor's pet raccoon one time! (Twice, actually.)

Whatever your circumstances, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when you're talking about predators. It's important to fortify your chicken coop as much as possible. Use good, sturdy materials and make sure to cover all your bases — top and bottom.

True, I might have gone a little overboard with ours ... The chicken run is completely enclosed with 1-inch chicken wire on the top and sides, and then I dug an 8-inch trench around the perimeter and poured a rough concrete footer as kind of a dig-proof barrier. (I even buried a 24-inch swath of chicken wire all around the perimeter, just for good measure). What can I say? If I'm gonna keep chickens, I want to make sure I keep my chickens!

Now, I have heard some people complain about regular, old, 1-inch chicken wire, saying it's not strong enough to keep predators out. And that might be true. But that's all we use around here, and we haven't had any problems whatsoever (and it's been tested and tried by a number of different predators, a number of different times). You can take that with a grain of salt if you want to, but one way or another, it's worked out well for us; in all our years of keeping chickens, we've never lost a single bird to predation.


About the Author: Nathan and his family work and play and live on a 1.17 acre microfarm (a.k.a. "The One Acre Lott"), in a frigid Rocky Mountain valley, at the end of a long dirt road. He has been raising chickens for years, grows nearly all of his family's meat and produce, and loves every minute of it! For more of his exciting adventures, check out his personal website, www.oneacrelott.com.