If you’ve taken an interest in chicken-raising, either as a hobby or a pastime to get eggs and chicken meat without needing to purchase them from the supermarket, how to house your brand-new birds will be among the very first things you wish to deal with.
The requirement for housing poultry is to construct them a comfy chicken coop to reside in.
Naturally, how you build it will differ depending upon your particular situation, the number of chickens you intend on keeping, what sort of location you reside in, etc.
Regardless, however, there are some elements of chicken coop styles that equal no matter the situations.
The chicken coop may be a basic structure, but it plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and contented chicken flock.
While the specifics of your coop will change depending on the type of birds you keep and your geographic location, the general steps and key points outlined here will help anyone construct a secure and reliable home for their poultry.
Your chickens need to be protected from predators, weather, disease, overheating, chilling, and escape when you build a coop for them. For the sake of your flock’s health, you must take care to do this properly.
10 Tips for Building Your Own Chicken Coop
1. Size of the Chicken Coop
The University of Georgia reports that, even with access to outdoor space, each chicken needs at least three square feet of coop space.
For standard breeds, we recommend a floor space of at least 4 square feet. It follows that a coop measuring 24 square feet is adequate for a flock of six chickens.
Chickens need at least 4 square feet of outdoor space, or a “run,” in addition to the coop they live in. To make up for the lack of an outdoor roosting area, hens should be given more space inside the coop.
Without access to an outdoor range, it is recommended that each bird be given 8-10 square feet of indoor space. This is essential if you intend to keep chickens in a winter coop.
The ideal indoor temperature, door height, and the amount of vertical space required all differ from breed to breed.
Nesting boxes, roosting bars, room for a feeder and waterer, and ventilation holes are all necessities in a coop, in addition to a sturdy framework.
Having these things in mind when drawing up plans will ensure that the chickens have enough room to roam.
Problems arise when a backyard flock is overcrowded in a coop.
For instance, because chickens tend to fight more when they’re overcrowded, the weaker birds in the flock may have trouble getting enough to eat and drink, and they may even show signs of injury from being pecked and slashed by their dominant peers.
It’s more likely for parasites or insects to infest an overcrowded coop because of the rapid accumulation of feces and bacteria.
2. Chicken Coop Flooring and Materials
There is a wide variety of materials available for use in constructing a coop, but not all of them are created equal.
Flooring should be plain, unfinished plywood with a thick layer of shavings, as suggested by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Not only is plywood inexpensive, but it also lasts for a very long time without being replaced.
The coop for a backyard flock can be easily ventilated by cutting holes and windows in the plywood walls. The fact that wood can rot and harbor mites should be kept in mind.
Because of its low cost and low maintenance requirements, some people choose to nail rolled linoleum directly onto the wood.
3. Chicken Coop Location
The cleanliness of the coop and the safety of the birds both depend on where you put it on your property. A chicken coop needs to be constructed on higher ground in order to prevent any potential issues with flooding, mud, or moisture.
You’ll need to construct a raised coop if you can’t find a spot above the flood plain to keep your birds safe.
As an added precaution against predators, Oregon State University suggests placing the coop near the house or in a heavily traveled part of the yard.
A backyard flock can be protected from predators by constructing a coop away from large plants and lots of foliage.
Making sure the coop doesn’t spend all day in the shade will increase egg production.
More heat and light will enter a room facing south. While a shade tarp over the run is an option, situating your coop beneath a tree with a large canopy is preferable for keeping your hens comfortable during the warmer months.
4. Chicken Coop Ventilation
Your coop needs vents on one fifth of its walls. It’s important to have good ventilation and air flow in order to prevent illness. Ventilation holes should be drilled into the uppermost walls of your coop. As such, they need to be placed above the roosts.
Predators can’t get inside if you cover the holes with hardware cloth (half an inch thick) and secure it. Wire mesh made from a heavier gauge metal is used to create hardware cloth.
To clarify, chicken wire’s intended purpose is to keep chickens contained, but it’s not a particularly effective means of keeping predators out. Chicken wire is easy prey for a hawk or other determined predator to tear through.
While a temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for a chicken’s comfort, a chicken can live comfortably in a barn during relatively cold winters due to the insulation provided by its feathers. Some breeds also fare better in colder environments.
5. Chicken Coop Roosting Bars
In addition, each chicken will need about 8 inches of roosting space (even if they often crowd together). That way, the chickens can roost in a safe place rather than on the floor.
To ensure the chickens’ dryness during the winter and wet months, you should plan to install 112-inch dowels across the upper part of the chicken coop, at least 2 feet off the ground.
Think about whether or not you want to wire the coop so that the hens can lay eggs in the dark. The use of a low-wattage bulb can help maintain a steady egg supply throughout the year by elongating the day during the shorter winter months.
7. Nesting Boxes
For every three hens, you’ll need one nesting box. Nesting areas should be at least 1 square foot in size, or 1 foot by 3 hens. You should put them lower than your roosts to discourage your chickens from using them as perches.
Many hens will try to share a nesting box, but this is perfectly normal. You should plan on one extra square foot of floor space per bird for larger breeds like Jersey Giants. The sizes of various chicken breeds are described in detail.
Straw or sawdust will be used to line nesting boxes and prevent eggs from breaking. To the tune of one or two eggs every day, chickens are the most reliable layer of all.
8. Secure Door
A door doesn’t need much more than a sheet of plywood mounted to a 1-by-2 frame, some hinges, and a latch.
A doorway that is too narrow will make it difficult to enter and exit while carrying a basket of eggs. (Learn egg-collecting techniques to estimate your needs.)
It’s also a good idea to provide some sand in the form of “dust boxes” for the chickens to use as a form of self-cleaning, as this will discourage the development of mites.
9. Secure Latches
Some predators might take the more tried-and-true route of trying to open the chicken coop door. It’s for this reason that you should install sturdy latches on the coop’s doors and any venting windows.
Raccoons are adept at manipulating a wide variety of objects, allowing them to open doors, pull up on bungee cords, slide deadbolts, and turn knobs.
The use of a padlock or carabiner in conjunction with a spring-loaded eye hook is also highly recommended.
10. Predator Protection
How to keep predators out is a major factor to think about when designing a safe haven for your flock of chickens. Raccoons, coyotes, fisher cats, dogs, and snakes are some of the most common predators of backyard chickens.
Some snakes enjoy eating young poultry and may try to squeeze through the space between the coop’s floor and walls.
A chicken coop needs to be elevated 8 to 12 inches off the ground, just enough so the chickens can walk underneath without fear of being stepped on, but not so high that snakes or other predators can easily gain access.
Since rodents and snakes prefer to nest under floors, a dirt floor (with wire underneath to prevent digging predators) may be preferable to a low-raised floor; if the chickens can get in, they will keep it clear for you.
By keeping the chicken coop off the ground, you can reduce the risk of the wood rotting. These days, pressure-treated lumber is the material of choice for the coop’s legs (and the rest of the coop with unfinished lumber).
However, if the legs are supported by something other than the ground (such as bricks or concrete), then you could theoretically use lumber that has not been pressure treated.
-Make sure your birds have enough living area. Inside the chicken coop, you’ll wish to provide a minimum of 4 square feet each in overall location.
This means that if you have 5 chickens, you require to have at least 20 square feet for them to live conveniently in the coop.
-Make sure you leave space in the plan to connect a chicken run outside the cage itself. Chickens require 10 square feet each to walk in, otherwise they will feel confined.
Other than these area issues, much of what you look for in your chicken coop styles is up to you. You can develop the outside of the cage to appear like anything you desire, from a greek temple or a victorian home to a minimalist and practical wood box.
Something you need to ensure to remember, however, is that your cage will require to be huge enough for you to enter for cleaning up purposes.
If you can’t get into it, your task of keeping your chickens delighted and healthy will be that much more challenging.
A couple of other things you desire to add, regardless of your chicken coop styles are appropriate ventilation and predator security. Of course, you should not utilize wood to frame your chicken run; for that task, wireframe mesh is simply great.
Ventilation is essential since chickens do not like extremes in temperature levels regardless of whether it’s too cold or too hot. Make sure you add some windows when preparing out your chicken coop designs to account for this choice of your birds.
Other concepts consist of adding nesting boxes for your hens to lay eggs in, roosts for them to sleep on, and easy-to-clean bed linen boxes for the chicken droppings to fall into.
Regardless of how you make your chicken coop styles, simply make sure your chickens have sufficient space and remain comfy.
A Guide to Chicken Coop Construction
Depending on your level of expertise, designing a small chicken coop will take several weekends, and building it will take another couple of weekends.
It will take more time and more trips to the hardware store than you think it will. It’s an exciting experience, for sure, but also a learning opportunity.
1. Get Things Ready: Prepare the Ground
Don’t start construction until the ground has dried out from recent rains; otherwise, you may have trouble laying a solid foundation.
However, before beginning construction, you should clear the area of any debris, such as rocks or sticks, and prune any nearby bushes or trees with low-hanging branches.
These, as well as nearby sheds, woodpiles, or other dark and shady hiding spots, can harbor predators and make it easier for them to attack your hens. You might want to move or get rid of these, too.
2. Decide on Your Plan
If you’re starting from scratch with your coop design, make sure it follows all of the criteria we outlined above. There are a plethora of beginner-friendly chicken coop plans available on the internet, and many of them can be downloaded for free.
Contrary to what many plans would have you believe, building a chicken coop need not be overly complicated. Our initial structure was a modest shed framed from salvaged lumber.
We attached the run to the side of our house and screened it in with chicken wire. Though unsightly, it served its purpose.
3. Frame Up Your Chicken Coop
The above chicken coop is a simple 4 by 6 feet in size. Eighteen plywood “battens,” as they are called in the plan, are needed to construct the entire frame, and another eight are needed to construct the roof’s sharp angles.
The necessary plywood can be purchased in bulk from a hardware store. When you take your measurements and blueprint to the store, they can often make the necessary cuts for you, saving you a ton of time and effort.
It’s vital that you take your time with the frame itself; if you skimp on quality to get the job done quickly, you’ll pay for it later when you have to fix the issues that it causes.
You run the risk of losing your chickens to things like leaks, drafts, predators, and coop collapse if your coop’s frame isn’t solid and secure.
We have no problem with you making use of recycled or repurposed materials, but if there is one place to splurge on quality lumber, it would be the frame.
The time spent now verifying the accuracy of your frame’s angles, measurements, and fastenings will pay off in the form of a more stable and secure chicken coop later on.
Most of the time, we’ll paint the exterior components first to prevent deterioration from the elements, and then screw the battens into place.
4. Reinforce the Coop’s Walls
To finish the walls of the coop, you will now attach panels to the frame (and two roof panels). Again, lumberyards and hardware stores offer plywood cutting services.
The panels are then firmly attached to the framework and lie flush along all of its edges, leaving no openings for potential intruders or drafts.
It’s also important to trim your vents now to avoid respiratory illnesses and heat stroke. Make sure any vents under the perches can be closed off for the winter by covering them with hardware mesh.
5. Installation on the Ground
While using dirt for the floor of your coop may be the easiest option, a wooden floor will provide your chickens with a much more secure and comfortable environment.
The boards on your floor don’t have to be perfectly flush, but they should be securely fastened so that they don’t squeak. Pick wood that doesn’t have any huge knots or holes that predators could squeeze through.
To further fortify your home against burrowing pests, be sure to string hardware mesh under the floorboards. You can find the measurements for a floor panel in the main plan.
When the side panels are in place, the floor panel can be inserted and screwed into the coop’s framework.
6. Add Your Doors
The birds and you will each require separate access to the coop. Depending on the type(s) of chickens you keep, you’ll need a different size and height of bird door.
Some chicken keepers prefer to make a whole wall removable so they can simply climb in and out, while others construct larger bird entrances and squeeze through them.
The two openings must be easily reached and closed securely to prevent predators from gaining access to the chickens inside. You could replace the wooden door at the hens’ entrance with hardware mesh to allow for air flow during the hotter months.
7. Constructing Nesting Boxes and Perches
In this area, you need only provide nesting boxes and perches, as chickens are not picky about decor. Your hens will lay their eggs in nesting boxes, which can be any kind of box with some soft bedding inside.
Ideally, you’d have one nesting box for every three hens, but two would be preferable if you’re keeping a particularly broody breed. A 2×4 will do as a perch, provided it is elevated above the hens’ nesting boxes.
8. Construct a Running Frame
Similar ideas to those we went over when constructing the coop’s framework should be used here.
The run frame does not need to be as sturdy and flawless as the coop frame because it will only be supporting fencing made of chicken wire, hardware mesh, and other materials and not walls and a roof.
Fencing is important for keeping predators out of your yard, so make sure it has a sturdy frame.
9. Fence in Your Run
Hardware cloth or hardware mesh may have been more frequently mentioned than chicken wire. That’s because most predator-proof fences are made of hardware mesh.
Chicken wire won’t work because its holes are too big to keep out most predators on the ground. However, chicken wire can be used above three feet off the ground if hardware mesh is too pricey.
If you want to keep burrowers out, you should definitely use hardware mesh along the bottom and bury it at least six inches. A predator would need wire cutters in order to gain entry.
When it comes to your family’s well-being, it’s important to know that you can afford to spend a little more.
10. Accesorize the Chicken Coop
Waterers, which can be purchased from agricultural supply stores, prevent the chickens from contaminating the water supply. Invest in one for every three or four hens.
The ideal coop for chickens requires a 6-inch layer of wood shavings (pine) or straw on the floor and a few handfuls in each nest box. Once a month, or whenever it begins to look flat, give the bedding a complete makeover.
Having done that, your first hen house should be ready to go! It’s important to double-check your work before calling it good and moving in, so that you know the walls will keep the elements out and the animals in.
The key to keeping your coop in pristine condition for as long as possible is regular maintenance and inspections for warping or damage.
Keep in mind that investing in a high-quality coop now will pay off in the long run by ensuring the health, happiness, and productivity of your chickens.