Getting a chicken coop is probably the biggest (and most expensive) piece of kit you will need if you are just starting out, but chickens need more than just a roof over their heads.
They will also need equipment to help them drink and eat, help them sleep and help them to come and go as they please.
There are a lot of all-in-one coops out there nowadays which come with the vast amount of things you will need. Some even come with chicken runs, although you may also wish to give them a larger area to explore in nice weather.
To ensure you are ready to go before your feathered friends move in, read our guide on how to keep chickens and then the checklist below.
Everything you need in your chicken coop
Hens will be laying eggs. In fact, this is one of the reasons you may have decided to start keeping chickens in the first place!
A nest box will give them somewhere a bit more private to go. We recommend lining it with a bit of straw or something similar which they can lie on, and it means that the eggs will be there for you to collect in the morning.
It should be one box for every 2 to 3 hens and each box should be at least 12”x 12”. If you buy an all-in-one coop it may have a sufficient box, but double-check.
Chickens like to sit and sleep on a perch or roosting bar next to one another. Don’t ask us why they don’t prefer a nice lot of soft bedding which is a bit cosier!
This roosting area needs to be large enough for them all, so you may need more than one bar. If they are on the bars, it also means that any waste they make drops down into the gaps, ready to be collected in the tray which you can empty daily.
Ideally, it should also be in an isolated area of your coop, protected from the elements and with good ventilation.
Chickens rub their feathers in dirt and dust to get clean. You should provide them with a sufficient bath filled with dust or dry dirt in which they can fit in and have enough room to get clean.
This will keep parasites at bay and can be very simple. They may also have a spot directly on the floor in which they can clean themselves, but it’s good to have a spare anyway.
Food and drink areas
Whether it is simply some bowls or a more innovative setup, giving your chickens somewhere safe to eat and drink out of can prevent pests from being attracted to the area.
It also should allow you to keep track of how much food you are giving them and how much they are eating.
They need a way to get down from the roost area when they want to explore. The ramp, or ladder, must be secure and able to allow the chickens to grip onto it safely.
Do you want your chickens to be able to come and go as much as they want, in and out of the coop?
An automatic door will be able to sense when they are wanting to enter or exit, freeing up your time a bit and also ensuring they are comfortable and can go wherever they need to without relying on you.
Removable waste tray
Just like other bird cages, having a tray that you can slide out and clean means you can clear their waste daily and you don’t need to get right in there.
It is a good idea to also have an easy access coop, such as a roof which opens, for when you do need to clean inside the house.
Not an item as such, but more a way of being able to tell if you have a good coop.
Always look out for ventilation options before buying a chicken coop. It needs to be airy enough to prevent mould and bacteria from thriving and get the dampness out, yet not too airy as it could make them cold and vulnerable in the winter.
Look out for coops that can be opened up and aired, or which are designed with aeration in mind.