1. The coop and run are your chickens’ house and yard. They are also your chickens’ defense against predators—animals like raccoons, coyotes, hawks, rats, and foxes find chickens as tasty as many humans do. The run should be enclosed with wire mesh. It is important to bury the mesh in the ground to keep burrowing animals from digging under it.
2. The coop needs to have good ventilation, which helps prevent respiratory diseases while also protecting your chickens from the wind and the rain. Chickens can withstand cold temperatures, but they must be able to seek cover from a direct, cold wind.
3. The coop must be easy to clean so bugs and bacteria don’t accumulate.
4. The run should provide space. Ten square feet of roaming space per chicken is a good general rule, or half that for a bantam.
5. Provide a feeder and waterer. Hang the feeder about 6 inches off the ground to prevent the chickens from spreading food around the run.
6. Chickens like to roost—or perch—at night. Install roosting poles or elevated horizontal strips of wood for your chicken to sleep on. Place a removable tray under the roost to collect droppings and allow for easy cleanup.
7. Nest boxes should be approximately 1 square foot and filled with a soft material like wheat straw. This is where your hen will lay her eggs. These should be raised off the ground, but placed lower than the roosting poles. They also should be easily accessible from the outside for cleaning and egg-gathering.