So you’ve either built or bought that sweet chicken coop for your flock…now what? When it comes to raising farm animals of any kind, whether it be sheep, cattle, pigs, goats, turkeys or of course chickens, they’re generally quite simple to look after if you have the right equipment. We’re talking basic needs here…food, water, and shelter.
We’ll take a look at a few of the most basic (but necessary) chicken coop accessories and those that would be awesome to have, but not completely necessary for the overall function of your coop.
Many of these items can be built or bought online, depending on your preference. As a fellow chicken farmer, I have a combination of DIY coop accessories and those I bought online. All work just fine – but I like to make them myself whenever I can to save some money…I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind saving a few bucks here and there either.
But there are some really cool accessories I’ve been interested in having just to make my life a bit easier too, and I’ll discuss those as well. Ok, let’s get to it!
Basic Chicken Coop Accessories
Roosts can be as simple or complicated as you want to make them. From a 2×4 board, a 2×2 board, a sturdy branch from your yard, a closet pole or whatever you have laying around in your garage or attic. All can easily be used for your chickens to perch on every night.
If you don’t want to make a roost, they can be purchased from your local farm store or online..
Placement of perches is up to you, but I do know that the higher up you can place them the more likely the chickens are to use them. But having said that, if you place them even 6 inches off the ground and it’s all they have access to – it’ll work just fine.
In my coop (above), I’ve placed the roosts about 15 inches off the ground. For a frame of reference, my coop is about 4 feet wide by 7 feet in length. Inside the coop it’s about 4 feet in height (in the area where they roost and hang out). So the 15 inch height (pictured below) works pretty well and it allows me enough room under the roosts to clean it. More on roosts can be found here.
Like roosts, nest boxes are pretty simple to make or buy as well. Egg crates, boxes, 5 gallon buckets, shoe boxes, have all been used as nest boxes so the sky’s the limit here! Most people like to use a traditional wood nesting box that they make themselves, or buy online. Either option will work just dandy and the hens will love it!
Nest Box Size: The suggested size is around 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches. However, it can be larger or smaller than that and MANY people vary this by a few inches.
A great thread on this topic can be found at the Backyard Chickens forum. There you’ll see that opinions vary greatly, but honestly, as long as your chicken can fit comfortably in the nest box, you should be fine.
Making a chicken feeder was one of the most fun tasks I’ve ever done! There are so many options here, it’s crazy. I’ll discuss a few of them here to get your creativity flowing.
As with anything in your coop, it’s up to YOU to decide what feeder will work best for you and your brood. If you’re short on time and don’t want to bother with gathering supplies to make your own feeder, no big deal – you’re local farm store will plenty of good options. You can also find dozens of really cool products online.
A few DIY feeder ideas are making a wooden trough feeder, a PVC pipe feeder, or my favorite – the 5 gallon bucket feeder. A 5 gallon feeder is ample for most people. And it was great for me until I decided to rapidly grow my flock at one point so I added another bucket on top! I love it and it easily holds a 40 lb bag of chicken feed. If you want to learn how to make it either a 5 or 10 gallon feeder, I show you here.
Here’s an example of an easy to use PVC feeder…I also like this design for it’s simplicity. If positioned correctly like the one in the picture, you should have minimal spillage.
Chicken Watering Systems
A simple water container or trough is all that’s really needed to keep your chickens happy. Chickens are messy and like to scratch and dig, so keeping the trough off the ground a few inches is important for keeping all that debris out of the water. It will also require you to make sure the trough is clean and has enough water for your flock.
There are DOZENS of chicken watering systems available. These systems can also be handmade or purchased online. When I created my watering system I ended up buying a few items at my local farm store combined with a 5 gallon bucket…below is the end result!
Not Necessary…But Really Cool Chicken Coop Accessories
Ok we’ve looked at the basics needed for most chicken coops. Beyond that, there are a few items that you can easily get by without…but nevertheless they would awesome to have in your coop!
Portable Chicken Run
This could almost be added to the above list of essential coop accessories, but I put it here since many coops already come with a built in run or area where the chickens can run around, find bugs etc. Chickens should have at least some space to run around in for this purpose, which is good for their overall health.
Many coops already have a run built into the design but if it doesn’t, a simple run can be built or bought online for your brood.
Automatic Chicken Coop Door
Depending on where you live, there can be predators that would love to get in your coop at night for an easy meal. So shutting them in at night can eliminate this problem. Automatic coop door mechanisms are a relatively new product but have helped many people save a lot of time and hassle shutting their chickens in at night, and reopening the doors first thing in the morning.
These automatic door openers can be bought as a kit which includes the door, motor, and all hardware. But for those of you wanting to keep your existing coop door, some companies also sell the mechanized device that attaches to your existing door.
If you prefer to keep your existing door, you may have to make some modifications, but it can save you some money by doing it that way…we can all use some extra dough in our pockets right!
Above is a cool video of a DIY Automatic Chicken Door Opener.
I noticed some of these automatic door products in my area farm store recently, but you’ll find the vast majority of them online.
We’ve researched automatic doors and the full scoop can be found in this article..
Egg incubators are all the rage these days! Many people are wanting the thrill and adventure of raising their own chicks by an incubator.
What I love about the incubators is that you can buy them online OR build one yourself! Since they’re becoming more popular and there are more options to choose from, the price is inching downward a bit as well.
Don’t get me wrong – most models are still a bit pricey but if your goals in raising chickens is to also have your own chicks from a Rooster of your choosing, the price tag may be worth it.
If you have the time and patience, you may want to consider making your own Egg incubator! There are dozens, likely hundreds of youtube videos on how to do it using styrofoam coolers, a basic small fan, some light bulbs, and a lot of ingenuity. Here’s a link to Youtube if you’re up for the challenge!
If you live in a cold climate and you’re coop isn’t well insulated, a heater would make your hens very happy! Chickens are hardy creatures, but warming the temperature in your coop a few degrees when it’s freezing outside may actually keep egg production up and feed consumption down since they don’t have to expend valuable energy just keeping warm.
A Few Heating Ideas…
I’ve used 100 Watt light bulbs and/or Brooder bulbs similar to the ones for keeping your chicks warm when you first got them. These work great for the colder winter nights to provide enough warmth to stave off the biting cold. I live in the Pacific NW, though, and temperatures don’t get nearly as low as in the Midwest or Eastern states.
Simply placing the light in the coop near the roost is fine. It’s purpose is simply to provide a bit more radiant heat all through the coop. I live in the Pacific NW, though, and temperatures don’t get nearly as low as in the Midwest or Eastern states.
For harsh cold winter conditions, a more robust heater may be more helpful. Personally, I’d be careful of using higher powered heaters like you would use in your home as there is greater fire potential and it’s really overkill for a chicken coop.
Your area hardware store, farm store, Home Depot etc. will have something that puts out less wattage but can safely heat your flock!
Since there is a product for just about ANY situation, there are also some great heaters designed for chicken coops at Amazon. These are great because not only will they provide adequate heat for your chickens, they’ll also use far less electricity – a real win win!
Chicken Coop Predator Deterrent
If you live where the coyotes, fox, and owls/hawks reside, this may be a good idea. It’s a motion sensor light that comes on at night if/when the animal lurks outside your coop. When the light comes on, the predators run off.
Over time, if the predator is persistent, it may no longer be afraid of the light and try to get into your coop anyway. It’s at that point, you may want to consider shutting your chickens in. This can be done by going to the coop each night and shutting the door to the coop before bed, or by making or buying an automatic chicken house door opener.
You can find motion sensor type lights at your local hardware store. You can buy them online here!
I hope you learned which accessories you may want for your coop! I’ve barely scratched the surface here but you can find more accessory ideas for your coop here. From chicken swings to nesting pads to t-shirt, it’ll be there:)
Please leave a comment if there’s an accessory you love that’s not listed here – the more the merrier! Thanks for stopping by.