Chickens and other backyard fowl don’t need much. Just make sure they have a clean and safe space with plenty of food and water and they’ll stay pretty happy. However, there are plenty of things you could add to your chicken coop to make their lives (and yours) a bit easier. Here’s a list of some additions you might consider for your flock’s home.
Sand offers a lot of benefits when used in place of bedding for your chicken coop. Sand drains well, preventing the growth of mold and mildew that can make your birds sick. It is easy to clean and can be sifted like a litter box. Sand also provides your birds with a place to take a dust bath, which prevents mites. The grittiness of sand also gives your chickens a natural nail trim!
2. Solar Light
You can buy a solar-powered ground light at almost any gardening or home goods store for just a few dollars. This simple add-on will attract bugs at night, giving your chickens additional protein that they will pass on to you through their eggs.
If your flock likes to use the rim of their feeder as storage for dirt and droppings, consider hanging the feeder a few inches off the ground to keep their feed clean and dry.
4. Cinder Blocks
Cinder blocks and bricks will act as a natural heater when left in the sunlight during the day, providing residual warmth to your birds that will help them stay comfortable in the winter.
5. Dust Bath
Chickens and other birds require a dry place to “bathe” in order to remove excess oils from their feathers and prevent mites. Keep a shallow bucket, a crate, or even an old tire filled with sand, ash, or food-grade diatomaceous earth in a dry corner of your coop.
6. Garden or Compost Pile
Taller plants such as sunflowers and tomato plants will provide your chickens with some much-needed shade in the winter, and you can enjoy a little chemical-free bug control while providing your flock with extra protein. Compost piles will attract bugs for your flock to snack on as well, and will retain heat during the winter. Check out other ways having chickens will benefit your garden.
7. PVC Pipe Feeder
You can find PVC pipe at any home improvement store and make one of these yourself, or look online for something pre-made. A PVC pipe feeder keeps your flock’s food clean and dry while also giving them a steady supply without the need to refill as often.
8. Fresh or Dried Herbs
Different herbs will give natural benefits to your coop without the need for harsh products that might irritate your chickens. Try adding mint or lavender to your coop’s bedding to keep mites and rodents away. Herbs such as fennel, marjoram, and parsley are laying stimulants that may increase egg production. The herbs will also act as an air freshener to keep your coop smelling better. Read more about adding herbs to your coop.
9. Fresh Vegetables
Being cooped up (get it?) all the time can lead to boredom if your hens aren’t free to roam your yard, so give them something to occupy their minds as well as provide some added nutrients that they’ll pass on to you through their eggs. Try hanging a cabbage a few inches off the ground and watch your flock play a little tether ball!
10. Dropping Board
Cleaning out droppings is a necessary chore if you want to keep your chickens clean, healthy, and happy, but it doesn’t have to be tedious! Consider building a dropping board underneath the roosting bars. In addition to making your life easier, having a dropping board will also allow you to quickly identify problem droppings that may indicate illness. Read more about dropping boards.