3 Accessories You Don't Want to Forget for Your Chicken Coop

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There are many accessories and extra items that you will need to raise chickens in your backyard. When you first get your chicken equipment set up, there may be a few items you don't realize you need, but will come in handy later on. Here are three accessories you don't want to forget to add.

Wire Mesh over Chicken Coop Windows

Your chicken coop needs windows which can help with ventilation throughout the year and let in sunshine during the winter. You can open a coop window to let in fresh air and allow the accumulation of ammonia from chicken droppings to exit the chicken coop. A buildup of ammonia can be harmful to your chickens. 

Because you don't want predators getting to your chickens through the coop window, you should secure the coop windows with wire mesh. With screws, attach a section of steel wire mesh to fit over the exterior of the coop's windows. You will still be able to open the windows to let in fresh air, but nothing can enter through the windows. 

A wire mesh with smaller openings of 3/4 to 1-inch wide would be ideal to protect your chickens. The wire is durable enough that no animal can get through it. 

Water Trough Heater

Baby chicks are always available in farming and pet stores in the springtime. Most first-time chicken owners get their chickens in the springtime, well past threats of freezing weather. But, when winter arrives and temperatures reach freezing, the water trough for your chickens will begin to freeze over. 

The best way to prevent a watering trough from freezing over is to get an electric heating element that you can set inside the water trough. This will heat the water enough to keep any ice from forming on your chicken's water. As chickens need to have access to plenty of water during the day, you will want to keep their water thawed.

Chickens can drink an average of 500 milliliters of water every day, which is a little more than 16 ounces. A chicken sips the water, then tilt their head back to drink the water. To drink 16.9 ounces of water a day in sips take a lot of sipping. To get in this 16.9 ounces of water every day, your chickens need to be continually drinking. 

A laying hen needs to have non-frozen water to drink all day. If the trough water freezes at night, your chickens won't have any water until you thaw it or replace it. This can affect their egg production and their health as they become dehydrated.

Sand for Clean Coop Bedding 

Inside your chicken coop your chickens will roost, walk around, and nest. During each of these three activities they well be actively pooping. As the accumulation of their droppings collects on the floor of the coop, you will need to keep it cleaned out. Chicken droppings contain ammonia and a lot of moisture which can create a smell that you don't want in the coop.

Cleaning up the chicken droppings is easy when you have the right type of bedding material spread on the floor of your coop. This bedding collects, and soaks up the droppings and moisture so you can keep your chicken coop clean. 

One of the best types of bedding for your coop floor is coarse sand. Sand in your coop soaks up chicken droppings and isn't going to get stuck to your chicken's feet to be tracked out to the chicken run. And, you can scoop the chicken poop out of the sand every few days, or wash the sand and let it dry for reuse. Chickens also love to have dust baths in the sand, and it will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

To clean your chicken coop sand bedding, attach a section of small-opening wire mesh to a mulch rake. Scoop the chicken poop out of the sand, sifting the sand through the wire mesh holes as you would use a scoop to clean out kitty litter. Toss the chicken poop onto your mulch pile.

These three additions to your chicken coop will make your chickens healthy and happy and your job as chicken owner, easier.

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14 January 2015

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