By definition, a chicken house or chicken coop is a building where chickens are kept. Interiors have nest boxes for egg laying (only necessary if raising chickens for egg laying), feeders and waterers, as well as perches for the birds to sleep on.
Inside the coop, there may also be an attached outdoor run to offer opportunities for the chickens to get outside for fresh air. Both the interior and exterior floor of the chicken house is often covered with a material, such as straw or wood chips, to hold the chicken waste and to allow easier cleanup of the chicken house. Chicken houses must have some sort of ventilation system in order to allow toxic fumes from consuming the coop.
There is an ongoing discussion over the purpose of a chicken house. On one hand, people say that chickens are hardy creatures that do not survive well in confinement. Poor air quality and darkness is considered confinement. These individuals say the chicken house needs to be highly ventilated in order to simulate the outdoors, even in winter. This is called the “fresh-air school.”
On the other hand, it is said that chickens cannot tolerate outdoor conditions and are prone to illness from drafts and poor weather, and need a controlled-environment house. With these two thoughts in mind, very different housing designs have come about.
Two main housing designs include one being very open with only wire mesh between the chickens and the outdoor climate and the other a more closed frame. The open chicken houses tend to be easier to build and can be quite large, offering a closer to nature feel. The closed coop option offers usually wooden based contructs with doors and windows. These also have hatches that can be closed to eliminate cold air entering the house.