A quality coop is essential to backyard chicken production. Layers need nest boxes — one per 4-5 birds. Chickens are descended from jungle birds, which means they like to be up high, so a place for them to roost is important. Coops must provide protection from the weather and predators. There should be a well-insulated area with a light bulb or heat lamp for the winter months as well as ventilation for fresh air. Be sure to have a minimum 3-5 square feet per bird, including outdoor space.
Their main predators are raccoons, rats, owls, hawks, and cats. An enclosed space for them to stay at night is essential to their protection. Ensure that the coop is free of small holes for predators to sneak in. There is an endless variety of coop designs with just as much range in cost. Find a design that provides easy access and otherwise suits your situation. There are many books and websites with coop designs. The image at right shows a simple chicken coop schematic. The space should be free of unnecessary objects like woodpiles or equipment, as they attract predators.