Keeping your chickens happy and healthy can be strongly connected to how you decide to house them.
Chickens require dry conditions with the opportunity to seek refuge from the wind and rain, a must. Many illnesses in poultry are brought about by chickens housed in damp, dirty conditions. It is also vitally important you do not over crowd your coop space with too many birds, as this stress can bring on many ailments.
If you are handy and have the time to build your own pen it is essential to have some sort of enclosure which is waterproof. This will give your chooks protection from the harsh elements. Within this area you need to provide a nesting box of some sort for your hens to lay, they like private, cosy areas and once one has laid there the others will generally follow suit.
It is worth noting that if deciding to get a metal coop the extreme conditions in Australia can cause these coops to turn into chook ovens in summer, so only go this way if you have a cool shady area to place the coop in. A metal coop left in direct sunlight during summer spells disaster!!
Each laying hen requires a minimum space of about 0.37sqm and as often as possible the opportunity to free-range.
Straw, shavings or sugar cane mulch are all good options for floor litter in your coop. If you do a general coop clean weekly, you can clean out and refresh the floor litter every few weeks. Use this to fertilize your garden, one of the many benefits of keeping your own chickens!