Fall Chick Days 2021 is upon us, and a safe and secure chicken coop is necessary. The practice of keeping chickens on hobby farms, in suburban backyards, and even in urban gardens is growing. Many who are pondering the possibility of keeping chickens get stuck on how to properly house chickens. The following is a list of tips to design the perfect coop to keep your chickens happy and thriving: Basic Needs for Chicken Coops These days chicken coops come in a wide variety of designs, but all coops should have the following basic elements: four walls, a roof, proper ventilation, nesting boxes, and roosts\/perches. Many coops are also attached to a chicken run, so the hens can have an opportunity to stretch their legs and enjoy the fresh air. Some coops also require insulation and electricity, depending on your climate. Roof and Walls Create a blueprint indicating how big you want your chicken coop before building. Each chicken must have at least 4 square feet of space, so keep this in mind as you plan. When you are ready to begin building, use wood to construct the frame and walls of your chicken coop. The roof of a chicken coop must be air and water-tight. For this reason, many chicken keepers opt for strong roofs made of sheet metal, shingles or PVC. Proper Ventilation Proper ventilation is a must for all chicken coops. This can be done with ventilation holes or windows. It's important to make sure your ventilation method does not produce too much of a draft on your hens and is properly screened to keep out unwanted guests, such as rodents. Nesting Boxes and Roosting Areas All coops need nesting boxes in which your hens can lay their eggs. There should be one box per 2 to 3 hens and each box should be at least 12"x 12". Your chickens also need to sleep, so it's important you provide a roosting area in your coop. Your roost can be an elevated bar, branch, or narrow plank where your chickens can perch to sleep. If you have an abundance of chickens, be sure to build a structure that contains enough bars, branches, or planks for all your chickens to sleep comfortably (it's alright to stagger the rungs so chickens can sleep above or below one another). Be sure your roost is secured, elevated above your nesting box, and is located in an isolated area in your coop. This is due to the fact that chicken droppings will quickly soil the area beneath the roost. Runs with Fencing Runs are also an important addition to a coop to ensure the happiness and good health of your hens. Your chicken coop's run should be about 4 - 5 square feet per chicken. Be sure your run is built using the proper fencing. It's recommended to use chicken wire with either T-Posts, U-Posts, or Wooden Fence Posts to construct your chicken run. As you're building the chicken wire fence for your run, be sure to bury the chicken wire 12\u2033 underground to deter predators and rodents who dig. It is also wise to have a mesh roof over your run to keep out wild birds, which often carry disease. Heating and Light For cold climates, chicken keepers use electricity for heating the coop and chicken waterers. Many chicken keepers use either heat lamps and\/or flat panel heaters which have the extra benefit of being cool to the touch. It should also be noted, hens need 16 hours of daylight to lay eggs. So, during the shorter days of winter, chicken keepers use artificial lighting to replicate the 16 hours of light a day. In addition to lamps and heaters, cold climate coops are outfitted with extra insulation in the floor, walls, and ceiling of the coop. Chickens love light. South-facing windows offer lots of natural light and even extra warmth in the cold winter months.