The Complete Guide To Your Next Chicken Coop
Raising chickens is a fun hobby and can lead to a nice, small income for those willing to put effort into it. Like people, chickens have to have lodging, and that lodging can come in all forms. You can buy chicken coop designs for as few or as many chickens as you plan to keep.
Chickens need a warm place to live. They need a place where their natural enemies can’t break in and carry them or their young away into the night. They need shelter when the weather takes a nasty turn. You’ll want to make sure you build a snug coop as drafty ones are harmful to chickens. If you’ve never built a chicken coop before, you can learn how to build the best chicken coop.
The Complete Guide To Your Next Chicken Coop
You Can Have Backyard Chicken Coops Even in the City
Have you always wanted to have a backyard chicken coop but thought you couldn’t since you live in the city? While some cities don’t allow any farm animals, many cities do, and you’re allowed to have chickens.
However, some of these cities that allow chickens to be kept do not allow roosters due to neighbors’ crowing and complaints. You’ll want to check with your city to make sure you’re not breaking any animal nuisance laws.
Keeping chickens vary from wanting fresh eggs to wanting a different kind of pet to desiring a bit of the country in the city. Not only can there be savings on the grocery bill by producing eggs for family use, but many neighbors are joining together to create chicken projects. They’re splitting costs of the materials to build the backyard chicken coops and the cost of the feed and incidentals.
If you figure that you want to have a coop for hens of your own, they’re not at all difficult to build, plus you can design your own plans to make the enclosure look like a little house or barn rather than the traditional coop you may remember. All it takes is a little planning before you get started.
You’ll need to make sure you plan enough space for each chicken as overcrowded conditions can lead to sickness among the chickens. The general rule of thumb for space is to have approximately four square feet of space for each chicken though it never hurts to have more. As you’re building the chicken coop, take into consideration the area where you live.
If you live in a northern state where snow and ice are a regular part of the weather, you’re going to need a coop that’s adequately insulated to keep the chickens warm. You don’t want to have to bring them indoors for them to survive. If you happen to live in an area where the winters are not as harsh, but the summers are scorchers, you’ll have to make sure the coop is built to provide maximum cooling.
When building the home for your chickens, you don’t have to spend a lot of money buying brand new materials. You can make it from recycled materials, such as wood leftover from a home project – even hinges salvaged from the old kitchen or bathroom makeovers can be used as hinges for a chicken coop door.
Whatever materials you use to build your backyard chicken coops, make sure you’ve provided adequate ventilation in the snug home for your chickens; otherwise, you can get an ammonia build-up that’s not good for you or the chickens.
Why Choose a Small Chicken Coop Over a Larger One?
The practice of using a small chicken coop rather than a larger one is becoming more popular. There are several reasons why these coops are gaining in popularity. One reason is that hectic, busy lifestyles are better suited for these kinds of coops.
The reason cited most often for having smaller coops is because they’re not as hard to keep in a sanitary condition as the larger coops are. With a smaller coop, once the chickens are out of it, you can clean the coop in a shorter amount of time. There won’t be much (if any) scrubbing to do after the coop is washed down with the garden hose.
Cost is another reason the smaller coop wins out over the bigger one. They’re not as expensive to build because there isn’t the need for all the lumber larger coops to construct them.
There’s a smaller amount of hardware to be used and a smaller area needed for ventilation. You can put a smaller coop together in a day versus the length of time it takes to build a standard size coop.
Because of the size, smaller chicken coops can be kept in nearly any location where they’re allowed. Even a condominium with what’s commonly called a postage stamp backyard has room enough to support the existence of a small chicken coop. With a smaller coop, if you build it in one area of your yard but notice a problem with that area, a tinier coop is a lot easier to move than a larger one.
Small chicken coops are great for people who want to have chickens but don’t have the time or the space to give to larger coops. Not only are these scaled down versions of bigger coops easier to maintain, easier to repair when something needs to be fixed, but they also make it easier for the owners to provide food and water for the chickens.
For someone who wants to have more than four chickens, smaller coops are not a good option. These coops are specifically meant for no more than five or six chickens – maximum. If you want to have chickens specifically to make money from selling eggs, it’s better to go with the larger choice.
These coops are built with material just as sturdy as the bigger coops and are meant to last just as long. The small chicken coop is not an inferior version of the larger chicken coops, but rather a scaled-down version.
The smaller coops operate much like the larger ones. They offer shelter, a place to nest, and safety from natural enemies. If you’ve always wanted to have but assumed you’d have to stick with the larger coops, now you know you don’t have to.
How to Pick Chicken Coop Plans
You don’t have to be an architect to build a place for your chickens to reside. You don’t even have to be an experienced farmer. Many do it yourself chicken coop plans are available for purchase – or if you’re the adventurous type and you’re good with measuring and dimensions, you can even create plans for a unique coop. By following a set of plans, it won’t take long before your coop is complete.
There is no one right way to build a chicken coop. They come in all sizes, shapes, and styles. Some are plain with absolutely no frills, while others seem to be a work of backyard art.
The first step is to decide if you need a small, medium, or large place for your chickens. How will you know what size to pick? The size you would want to build will depend on how many chickens the coop needs to house.
If you purchase a set of chicken coop plans, make sure the plans aren’t the bare minimum. The plans should cover all details, including the building of the chicken run. While chicken coops don’t require a Harvard degree to build, it’s not something you want to build by guesswork. To create a proper coop, you’re going to have to have some plans.
For those who think that any old set of plans will do, you could end up with a chicken house that won’t be suitable for use. The right kind of chicken plans will include height and width directions, where the ventilation should go, the best side of the coop to place the window if you want those, and where and how to build perches and nesting boxes. All of that is part of building a coop.
Some plans show how to build a coop that looks like the letter A, while others show how to build a simple box structure. Some of the fancier plans show off coops built in an old general store’s style, and some look like a miniature home complete with a porch and wall decorations hanging on the outside.
To know what plans you should get, you need to ask yourself the following questions: How much money can I afford to budget for this project? How many hens will I be keeping? Will I be building this myself, or will I hire the job out? If you’ve never built a coop before but want a fancier one or a custom-built one, you might want to find an experienced coop builder.
Regardless of how you decide your choice among the thousands of chicken coop plans available, the great news is that most coops are not that costly and can be built throughout a single weekend.
Tips for Chicken Coop Designs
Before choosing one design over another, there are a few points to consider that will affect your decision. Since a chicken coop can come in a range of sizes and weights, you need to figure out if there’s room enough to support the coop. If you rent a home or apartment, you’ll need to purchase or make a coop that can quickly move from one location to the next.
Secondly, the layout of the design and how much room it will offer per chicken is essential. You can’t crowd several chickens in a coop designed to house two to four chickens. The design will have to provide for a roomy enough nesting area.
Even though several chickens will often only use the two or three nesting boxes, sometimes that’s not the case, and you’ll want to make sure the chickens have plenty of nests. You can get several nests built either side by side or on top of one another in stacks to save space.
No matter what type of design you have for a chicken coop, make sure you use quality material in building it. It’s okay to use salvaged or recycled items as long as they’re in good shape and can provide the chickens with adequate shelter and warmth.
Choose a design that can withstand variations in weather. Some plans are very attractive and created to have that wow factor, but they’re not sturdy enough to last. You don’t want to buy or make a design that will only be around temporarily.
If you’re not an expert in building and drawing up a detailed set of plans is a struggle, then you should look for a pre-made collection of designs and pick on that you like. You can find designs in hardback books, eBooks you can download faster (and cheaper), and you can check out seed or hardware stores for designs for sale.
You can buy some designs that will teach you how to build a chicken coop for well under a hundred dollars. There are some designs for coops that can cost close to a thousand dollars. The amount of money spent on the design should be decided by the hens’ purpose – whether they’re for pleasure or business.
Chicken coop designs can make the job of building a coop go a lot smoother than guessing which piece of wood goes where. With all of the choices, you should find one that you like and suits your needs.
How to Make a Chicken Coop
First, you will need to decide how big you would like your ideal chicken coop to be. Some chicken farmers enjoy using a shed, while others use a small shelter. What type of shelter will work best for your chickens depends on several factors, including the breed, their needs, and your wallet. Before you despair, know that it’s possible to make a chicken coop without spending a fortune.
Each full-grown hen will need two to three square feet. It’s essential to think about how many hens you would like to house. This will determine how big their shelter should be. Now is the time to choose your design plan.
While you can create your own plan, you’re probably better off buying a plan unless you’re an architect. Choose a plan that fits your image of the ideal chicken coop. Once you have your plan, it’s time to gather your materials.
Some companies throw out scrap wood and building materials that they can’t use. Try asking the owner if you can have their scraps in exchange for hauling it away. You can also ask neighbors and friends for any leftover scrap materials from their recent projects.
While you may get a fair amount of scrap material you can use, you will still end up having to purchase at least some of your material from a hardware store. This isn’t the time to scrimp on your feathery friends’ needs.
Now that you have your materials, it’s time to begin building your chicken coop. But before you pick up that power drill, check all of your measurements one final time. Are you sure you have ample space? Where will your chicken run be? Will placing your coop here obstruct your neighbor’s view?
If you’re ready, then it’s time to start on the frame. Be precise in your measurements. While a few inches here or there doesn’t seem like much of a difference during the building process, it will seem like a big difference later.
As you build the home your future pets will reside in; you need to consider the climate where you live. A well-ventilated coop is a must if you live in a warm climate. If you live in a cooler climate, then you’ll want to consider insulating your coop.
There are many considerations to take into account when building your chicken coop. But building your chicken coop has plenty of rewards, too. Remember that little details are of great importance when it comes to knowing how to make a chicken coop.
How to Build a Chicken Coop
Scout out the place where you want to build a chicken coop. Beginners often decide to build a coop without checking out the ground saturation beforehand. If the area tends to pool water, it’s a lousy location to put up a coop.
Here are 13 Free DIY Chicken Coop Plans we thought you might like!
Chickens have to have a dry space. You’ll need a level area to build the coop on, but never create a coop directly on the ground. Have you ever had a snack or rodent get into an outside building or shed? These same predators will quickly get inside chicken coops built flat on the ground no matter how much chicken fencing you put up around the coop.
Predators don’t just arrive on the ground either. Hawks and other large birds will snatch smaller chickens and take off with them. When the chickens are outside of the coop, they need to be protected from these kinds of predators.
Humidity inside a coop isn’t healthy for chickens. You’ll want to make sure you have some opening for air to stir through. Some chicken owners use a simple vent, while other chicken owners put in a screened window that will open.
Those who take shortcuts carve a small hole in the plywood and nail a screen over that, but this isn’t a good idea. The ventilation opening needs to be one that can be closed in the event of bad weather or built in such a way that rainwater and heavy drafts can’t get inside the structure.
Since chickens can’t fly as well as other birds, make sure you don’t place the perches too high off the floor where they can get hurt if they have a fall. Perches shouldn’t be built any higher than three to four feet off the floor.
Nesting boxes should be built lower than the perches (to prevent them from becoming the place the chickens prefer to sleep) and should be deep enough to make the chicken feel comfortable.
When constructing nesting boxes, make sure to slant the top of it because chickens love to roost on the boxes’ flat surface. The reason for the slanted top is because if chickens roost on the top as they do their business, you’ll end up with quite an accumulation of droppings to clean off continually.
Give the front of the nesting box a ledge so that the chicken can balance there when getting in and out of the nest. Follow these instructions, and you’ll have built a chicken coop that lasts.
Building Chicken Coops the Easy Way
There are thousands of plans, designs, and ideas for buildings used in housing chickens. They range from elaborate two-story structures right on down to a small doghouse type dwelling surrounded by a few feet of chicken wire. Before you invest a lot of money and time setting up expensive coops, learn about building chicken coops the easy way, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor sooner.
Chickens are not demanding critters. Their needs are pretty basic. They need a place to get in out of the elements where the freezing weather won’t harm their eggs. Next on the list, they have to have space for their nests to lay eggs.
Since both eggs and chickens are considered tasty morsels by a wide variety of predators, the place built for chickens needs to be sturdy and well protected. Add a little food and water, and they’re happy campers.
There are standard ways to build a chicken coop, or you can create your own from scratch. Decide how large the dimensions should be for the area set aside for the chicken coop.
Take care not to put a chicken coop too close to your home for a couple of reasons. The noise can get pretty loud at times and downwind, a chicken coop doesn’t smell like roses. On the other hand, you don’t want to put the coop too far away either – both for the sake of convenience and so that you can keep an eye out for predators.
No matter how fancy a chicken coop is, don’t forget that it has to be cleaned regularly to cut down on odor and bug infestations. One of the mistakes those new to raising chickens make is they build coops where the floor is completely level.
Isn’t that the way to build a house? Yes, but not a hen house – because when you go to wash it out, all of that stuff will pool right at your feet. Not a pretty thought or sight. Instead, you want to build the floor with a tilt at the back of it.
Building a chicken coop the easy way includes an easy cleanup. With a slightly tilted floor at the rear of the house, when you spray it down during cleaning, all that icky stuff will wash down the slant and right out the back door of the coop.
Put a chicken wire fence all around the coop to keep unwelcome guests out. Remember that some animals will dig beneath fences to get into the chicken coop, so play it smart and bury the fence partly below the ground. Building chicken coops the easy way makes the work of owning chickens easier in the long run.
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Check Out Free Chicken Coop Instructions
There are free chicken coop instructions, and they’re available to you in this very article. Have you thought about building a chicken coop but held off because you didn’t know anything about what kind of material to use, how to put the material together to make the coop or because you thought it might cost more than you wanted to spend?
Building a chicken coop doesn’t have to dent your bank account, and some of the best things in life are still free. To keep down the cost of building a coop, the material you use can be anything that will provide shelter.
Some people have even used old lawnmower sheds. If you’d rather have a nicer coop, though, you can create a structure without relying on something that’s already standing. Go to a lumberyard or an area where new homes are being built.
Ask if you can have the scrap pieces of lumber they’re not going to use. Yes, many lumberyards and home construction companies throw unused wood away. Not only could you get the material free, but you’d help keep the scrap wood out of the landfills.
While you’re at the home construction site, ask if you can have any leftover shingles, too. Most of these end up in the garbage as well. Some cities have a waste exchange program where members can exchange or buy useful, secondhand items that would typically end up as trash.
You can either nail up wood for the chicken roosts such as a two by four or two by two or use small tree branches nailed in place. Don’t build the roosting perches directly above where you’ll need to reach in to gather eggs (for smaller coops) or where you’ll walk in (for larger coops).
You can find old windows that aren’t suitable for a house for the windows but are perfect for a coop at some thrift stores. The first thing you need to do is to build the frame for the walls and floor.
The frame and size of the walls depend on how large or small you want your chicken coop. The front and back wall of the coop are usually longer and the sides smaller. Secure the walls and frame to the flooring.
The materials used to build a coop can be old wood boards or plywood if you don’t have enough boards. Once the building is complete, and the perches are in place, install the nesting boxes. Inside the boxes, place straw for the eggs. With these free chicken coop instructions, you’ll be on your way to enjoying your new chickens fast!
Purchasing the Best Chicken Coop Kits
Chicken coop kits are materials gathered together in one order that you can use to build a place to hold chickens. All of the pieces to build the coop are enclosed in the kit and all you have to do is put the kit together. These are a great idea for anyone – including people who aren’t handy with a skill saw or measuring precision.
Many kits are available for selection, and they come in small, medium, or large choices. These kits also vary in design. Some chicken coop kits are constructed with the intention that you can move them from one location to another.
These kits are popular for those who live in cities and want to change the coop area over time. Moveable kits are the smallest of the kits since they have to be light enough to be transported from one spot to another. Other kits are larger, heavier, and put together to remain in one place.
Whether to buy a portable coop or a larger one should be based on the number of chickens planned for the coop. Having more than two or three chickens means you’ll need a larger coop than a smaller, portable one.
Selecting the right kit to buy also depends on the plans you have for the chickens. If you plan to keep the chickens for your enjoyment and a supply of eggs for your family, you can have a kit that provides a small coop. If you want to sell eggs, you’ll need to buy the best kit you can get one that offers plenty of room for the chickens.
When deciding which of the chicken coop kits is the right one for you, don’t focus only on today’s needs but also look toward the years to come. If you think that keeping chickens may be something you’re going to want to grow as a business, then you should get the largest kit you can find.
Not all kits are the same, and some are better than others. Compare the kits as you do your research and make sure the kit was designed with expert knowledge about keeping chickens.
Don’t buy kits that don’t properly prepare for the correct ventilation installment, and don’t buy kits that make cleaning the coop a monumental task. There are two primary purposes of the coop – to shelter chickens in comfort and safety.
These kits are an excellent idea for people who want to have a chicken coop but don’t know how to build one or don’t want to take the time to do it. These kits are easy to assemble and provide everything you’ll need.
The kits come with the lumber already precut, so there’s no need to measure, and they provide all the hardware to put the lumber together. Some kits also offer technical support, so an expert will be on hand to guide the purchaser if there are any problems. Purchasing chicken coop kits are a quick alternative to the time it takes to build one yourself.
Setting Up Portable Chicken Coops in Your Backyard
Portable chicken coops boast many advantages for new or aspiring chicken farmers. The benefits include free fertilizer, pest control, and, best of all fresh eggs. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a large farm or several acres to devote to your chickens. Many designs can fit easily into your backyard, even if you live in a large city.
Portable chicken coops may also be called chicken tractors. Some chicken tractor designs even attach to wheels for easy relocation when your chickens need a fresh patch of grass. Chicken tractors are often built in an A shape, and some don’t have a bottom.
Before you even consider setting up portable chicken coops in your backyard, you will want to check your city ordinances. Some cities prohibit raising livestock while others don’t.
You’ll want to ensure you aren’t breaking any laws by keeping hens on your property. Even if no city ordinances are preventing you from raising livestock, you will still want to keep your chicken coop looking and smelling nice, so you don’t irk your neighbors.
Another consideration before setting up your portable chicken coop is what will happen to your hens after their egg-laying years. Hens stop producing eggs around six or seven years of age, yet they can live around fifteen years. This is a very important consideration if you will be housing only a few chickens in your backyard and keeping them for egg production.
If you have or plan on building a portable chicken coop, you’ll need to provide your chickens with some protection from the elements. This shelter should be a source of warmth during colder seasons.
Insulate your chicken coop or use a heat lamp to keep your hens warm. Some chicken farmers even report moving their portable chicken coops into garages or sheds to temporarily protect hens from the elements or prevent predators from accessing them easily.
Also, keep in mind is that you will most likely need straw, pine needles, or some padding to put in the bottom of your nest boxes. The eggs are less likely to crack if you have some padding underneath the hens.
Before setting up your portable chicken coop, you need to think about how you will protect it from rats and mice. You can’t always protect your portable chicken coops, but you can take precautions such as covering holes and gaps with sheet metal, feeding your chickens in the early morning and late afternoon, and only feeding chickens what they will eat.
As you can see, before setting up portable chicken coops in your backyard, there are some special considerations you need to make, so you don’t end up an unhappy chicken farmer.
Other articles we think you might find interesting:
- Tips for Raising Chickens: Everything You Need to Know
- The Best Chickens for Beginners: Which Breed is Right for You?
- Raising Chickens for Eggs and Meat: A Beginner’s Guide