How to Build a Chicken Coop: The Definitive Guide

The wimp chicken coop is not only a simple structure but besides one of the most important elements of keeping a happy, healthy flock of chickens. While the exact specifications of your cage will vary depending on the breed of your birds and where you live, the cosmopolitan steps and key points laid out here will help anyone build a safe and uncompromising cage .

When building a wimp cage, the goal is to build a structure that keeps your hens safe from predators, moisture, drafts, disease, overheating, chills, and escape. Doing it right is crucial for the wellbeing of your cluster.

10 Tips for Building Your Own Chicken Coop

1. Location of the Coop

The location of the cage on your property is important to consider in order to maintain cage hygiene and provide auspices for the birds themselves. A wimp cage should be built on high footing to avoid implosion therapy, mud problems, or any buildup of water and moisture. If you can not find high flat coat, you ’ ll motivation to build an lift chicken coop to keep your birds dry .
besides, according to Oregon State University, it ’ s a fresh estimate to build a cage relatively near to one ’ s home or in a highly traffic area of the yard in order to deter unwanted predators. Building a cage away from large plants and lots of leaf that could shelter predators will besides help to keep a backyard flock condom.

Sunlight encourages egg-laying, sol make sure the cage international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine constantly in the shade. A southerly exposure ensures greater heat and sunlight. At the lapp time, you may want your chicken coop near a tree with a high canopy to keep your girls cool in hot weather ; or, you could always add a shade tarpaulin over the operate .

2. Size of the Coop

  • According to the University of Georgia, most breeds of chickens require at least 3 square feet of room in a coop per bird if outdoor range space is available. We would advise at least 4 square feet for standard breeds. So, if you’re going to have 6 chickens, a 24-square-foot coop provides the right amount of space.
  • Separate from the indoor coop, chickens should have a “run” or outdoor space of at least 4 square feet per chicken for the outside run.
  • If there is no outdoor range space available, chickens should have more room inside the coop to spread out. Between 8 and 10 square feet of room per bird is recommended for those without outdoor range space. This is important if you keep a winter coop, too, as it gives space for the chickens inside.
  • How much vertical space you’ll need will depend on your breed, as will other specifications such as door heights and the ideal indoor temperature.
  • As well as being structurally sound, a coop will need nesting boxes, roosting bars, space for a feeder and waterer, and vents for air circulation. When you sketch out a plan, it’s important to include these objects so that the chickens still have the space they need. Overcrowding in a chicken coop can lead to a multitude of issues among a backyard flock. For instance, overcrowding typically causes chickens to fight more, meaning the birds at the bottom of the pecking order will likely have limited access to food and water and may even exhibit cuts and peck marks on their bodies. Overcrowding in a coop also means a faster buildup of fecal matter and bacteria, increasing the chances of parasites or insects entering the coop and making the birds sick. 

coop-1.jpeg This chicken coop includes an indoor and outdoor space .

3. Coop Flooring and Material

While there are batch of options in terms of the materials a cage can be built from, some options are better than others. Virginia Cooperative Extension recommends using homely, bare plywood for the shock with a nice bass level of shavings. Plywood is not alone relatively cheap, but is extremely durable american samoa well. Plywood is easily to cut holes and windows in, providing a backyard flock with batch of public discussion inside the chicken coop. bill that wood can rot and be a home for mites, however. Some folks nail down rolled linoleum on top of the wood, since it ’ s indeed easy to clean and replace .
coop-shutterstock_1749551003_full_width.jpg Elevated chicken cage. Photo credit : Fraija/Shutterstock

4. Predator Protection: Elevate the Coop

One of the most authoritative considerations when building your cage is how to secure a batch from the terror of predators. Some of the biggest threats to backyard chickens include raccoons, coyotes, fisher cats, dogs, and even snakes. Some types of snakes like to eat chicks and may attempt to slither between the chicken coop walls and the ground to access the chickens .
To ensure that snakes and other predators can not break into a chicken coop from underneath, it ’ sulfur crucial that the cage is raised off the ground 8 to 12 inches —enough to allow the chickens to walk below. Otherwise, a dirt shock ( with wire underneath to keep out digging predators ) might be better than a low-raised floor because rodents and snakes love to live under floors ; if the floor is up high enough for the chickens to get in, they ’ ll keep it well-defined for you .
Elevating the chicken coop can besides help to keep the wood from rotting. Most wimp owners build legs of the cage with pressure-treated lumber ( and the stay of the chicken coop with unfinished log ). theoretically, you could use non-pressure cover lumber if the legs are sitting on bricks or concrete and not in aim contact with the ground .

5. Secure Latches

Some predators may take a more conventional approach and try to break into a chicken cage through the chicken coop door. Because of this, you ” ll need impregnable latches on all cage doors and vent windows. Raccoons can turn knobs, untie knots, unwrap bungee cords, airlift latches, and slide deadbolts. spring-loaded eye hooks are effective, as are latches secured with carabiners or padlocks .

6. Secure Door

A doorway can be vitamin a bare as a piece of plywood on a frame of 1-by-2s, with hinges and a elementary latch. Make it big enough for you to enter and exit well with eggs in hand or a basket. ( Learn how to collect eggs to determine what you ’ ll need. )
nests-shutterstock_1718186503_full_width.jpg Nesting boxes with childlike dividers. Photo credit : Robert Bodnar T./Shutterstock .

7. Nesting Boxes

You ’ ll need one nest box for every three hens. Nest boxes should be about 1 foot square, so that ’ south at least 1 square foot per three hens. Position them lower than your roosts so the chickens won ’ metric ton perch on them. You ’ ll find that chickens much want to sleep in the like box, but don ’ t be worried about this ! For larger breeds such as Jersey Giants, allow an extra square foot of floor space per bird. Learn more about the sizes of different chicken breeds .
You ’ ll be stuffing nesting boxes with pale yellow or sawdust so the egg don ’ thyroxine open frame. On average, a chicken will lay an testis every one to two days. It ’ mho besides a dear idea to add a couple “ dust boxes ” filled with backbone, as chickens much clean themselves with “ dust bathing ” and this will help them keep clean and mite-free .

8. Electricity

Consider whether you will bring electricity into the chicken coop for egg put : A low-wattage medulla oblongata will prolong the day during winter months and keep egg production figures more reproducible .

9. Roosting Bars

Hens besides need a roosting sphere of about 8 inches per wimp ( tied if they much crowd in concert ). This will enable the chickens to roost off the floor at nox. design to install 1½-inch dowels across the upper part of the cage, at least 2 feet off the ground so the chickens stay dry, particularly in winter and wet months .

10. Coop ventilation

one-fifth of the entire wall space of your chicken coop should be vented. Ventilation and air flow is critical to avoiding disease.   Your cage needs opening cut into the walls near the ceiling for air circulation. They should be higher than the roosts .
All openings should be covered with 1/2-inch hardware fabric that is securely attached indeed predators can not enter. Hardware fabric is a wire mesh topology made of a stronger gauge metallic than wimp wire. notice : Chicken wire is meant to confine chickens to an area, but is not adequate for protecting them from predators. A hawk or determined predator can tear through chicken wire with relative ease .
Regarding insulation : While chickens enjoy moderate—around 55°F—temperatures, they will survive nicely in the barn through fairly cold winters ; their feathers keep them warmly. There are besides certain breeds that are better for cold climates.

How Much Does a Coop Cost?

It ’ randomness unmanageable to cost out a DIY chicken coop because it ’ randomness customized to your size and what you desire, however, we provided some examples below :

  • Simple, pre-built coops can be usually purchased online for $200 to $300 and go up from there. Look for used coops or old sheds on Craigslist; people move homes and good deals will come your way if you’re patient.
  • Often, you can repurpose a structure. Convert a shed or small barn or doghouse instead of starting from scratch.
  • It’s not necessarily about saving money. Pre-made coops aren’t usually as durable or long-lasting as a coop you’ll build out of lumber yourself.
  • Of course, if you can find pallets and reclaimed wood, you can bring the costs down. The hardware and the metal fabric are the most expensive parts. To save money, go to local places getting rid of wood. Visit house construction sites around our neighborhood for lumber that’s just being tossed in the bin. Ask lumber stores if they have scrap lumber, cut-offs, or culled wood that has imperfections. Just avoid lumber coated with lead paint or any chemicals.

coop-3_1_full_width.jpeg This DIY chicken coop cost about $ 300 to $ 400, recycling a a lot as possible to keep cost down and keep things out of the landfill.

coop-2_full_width.jpeg This fun DIY chicken coop was under $ 200 because it was built using reclaimed woods from local places getting rid of wood .

How to Build a Chicken Coop

A modest cage will take several weekends to design and 2 to 3 more weekends to build, depending on your skill set. Count on numerous trips to your local home improvement store and for it to take longer than you expect. It ’ s most surely an adventure—but one that teaches you a fortune !

1. Prepare the Ground

You won ’ metric ton want to build immediately after heavy rains, which will make the footing easy and porous and make it arduous to lay a potent foundation. When you are ready to build, though, remove as many rocks and sticks from the ground as you can, and consider cutting back nearby shrubbery and large, overhanging branches. These can harbor predators and make it easier for them to attack your hens, as can nearby sheds, woodpiles, or other blue and shady hiding spots. Consider relocating or removing these as well .

2. Pick Your Plan

If you are building the chicken coop from abrasion, choose a plan that fits the considerations listed above. There are many accessible, easy-to-understand cage plans aimed at beginners promptly available on-line, frequently for detached. here are thousands more chicken coop designs .
Remember, a wimp cage can be less complicate than many of the plans you ’ ll go steady. Our first one was a little shed built with recycle wood. The run was screened with chicken wire and built onto the side of our house. It wasn ’ t pretty, but it did the occupation .

Above is chicken chicken coop that is accomplishable for person without besides much DIY experience .

3. Build Your Coop Frame

The chicken chicken coop pictured above is a straightforward 4 feet by 6 feet. The plan will call for 18 pieces of plywood or “ battens ” to build out the human body, ampere well as 8 pieces for the angular roof. At a log store, you ’ ll be able to get all the plywood. If you take the measurements and design with you, the shop can frequently make the cuts for you, saving a lot of time and attempt ! here are bit-by-bit instructions on how to build the above chicken coop with helpful pictures .
It is all-important that you do not rush the human body itself, as sacrificing timbre for accelerate here will ultimately cost you time by creating problems down the note in your build. If your chicken coop frame international relations and security network ’ thymine hardy and secure, there ’ s no manner the rest of your chicken coop can be, either, and you run the risk of losing your birds to leaks, drafts, predators, or even chicken coop crumble. We ’ re all for using cheap or second-hand materials, but if there is a place to splurge on choice lumber, it ’ s the frame. doubly and triple-checking all your angles, measurements, and fastenings on the frame nowadays will save you a lot of time and frustration late in the construct, and ultimately consequence in a a lot stronger, safer chicken coop .
We tend to paint all the exterior pieces beginning to protect from weather, and then screw the battens together afterwards .

4. Add Coop Walls

You ’ ll now add panels to the frame of the chicken coop for walls ( and two roof panels ). Again, the plywood can be cut at the home improvement or lumber stores. The panels get securely fastened to the frame and lay flush along all of its edges, so there are no gaps to let in predators or drafts. This is besides the prison term to cut your vents, which will be crucial for preventing respiratory diseases and heatstroke. Be sure to cover them with hardware mesh and to make sure any vents that are under the perches are closeable for winter .

5. Put in the Floor 

Some plans will call for a soil deck in your cage, and while this may seem easier, adding a wooden deck is well deserving it in the long run because it will result in a much safe, drier chicken coop. Your floor doesn ’ thyroxine have to be perfectly even, but it should be horizontal surface, with well-secured boards that won ’ thyroxine rock back and forth. Ideally, choose wood that doesn ’ thymine have large knots or holes that could let predators in. Don ’ thymine forget to string hardware mesh topology under the floorboards as an extra protective measure against burrowers. The above plan includes sizing for a deck gore. After the side panels are fitted, you insert the floor panel, screwing it into the frame of the cage .

6. Add Your Doors

You ’ ll need two types of entrances to your chicken coop, one for the birds and one for you. How high and wide your bird door will need to be depends on the breed ( randomness ) of chicken that you keep. Some chicken keepers build larger shuttlecock entrances and coerce through them themselves ; others like to make an entire wall removable so they can climb in and out with ease. The authoritative thing for both entrances is to make indisputable they are accessible and can be closed securely to keep chickens in and predators out. For your hen entrance, you might consider adding the option to close it with hardware net rather of the wooden door, to add ventilation in the ardent months .

7. Building Nesting Boxes and Perches 

Chickens aren ’ t finical about furniture, so all you ’ ll indigence here are nesting boxes and perches. Nesting boxes are where your hens will lay their eggs ; they can be any classify of corner filled with indulgent bed. plan for one nest box per three hens, or possibly more if you ’ re plan to keep a particularly brooding breed. For perches, a 2×4 will do the magic trick, a long as it is higher than the nest boxes, which will make it the most attractive place for your hens to sleep .

8. Build Your Run Frame

For the most separate, the same principles apply hera as we discussed in building the cage human body. however, the scat human body will only have to support wimp wire, hardware net, and other fence, not solid walls and a roof, so the frame won ’ t have to be quite as strong and perfect as the cage ensnare. It should still be well-constructed, though, as a upstanding frame will help keep your wall plug and protect your birds from predators .

9.  Add Your Run Fencing

You may have noticed we ’ ve mentioned hardware fabric or hardware mesh a draw more than chicken wire in this article. This is because hardware interlock is the fence of choice to keep out predators. As we ’ ve mentioned before, chicken telegram simply will not cut it ; the holes are besides big to keep out most ground-based predators. Hardware engagement is more expensive, though, so you can use chicken wire above three feet off the land if necessary. decidedly habit hardware interlock along the bottom and sink it at least six inches into the establish to keep out burrowers. There is no manner a predator could get in unless they bring wire cutters with them. The cost of safety and protective covering can be high, but it ’ mho worth it .

10. Accessorize the Coop

Waterers, available from grow suppliers, keep the chickens from fouling their water provision. Get one for every three or four chickens .
besides get a feed trough long enough to let all of the chickens feed at once ( or get two smaller ones ). Learn more about chicken feed.

Have enough forest shavings ( pine ) or straw to put a 6-inch layer on the floor and a copulate of handful in each nest box and your chickens will have a perfect home plate. Change the sleep together about once a month or if it starts looking flat .
With that, your first chicken chicken coop should be ready to go ! It ’ sulfur good to do a last quality match, to make surely all of your construction is uncompromising, your hardware enmesh is secured, and your walls will keep out the weather and any animal interlopers. regular alimony and checks for warping or price will besides be crucial for keeping your chicken coop a perfective as it was the day you built it. Remember that a well-built cage will save you a batch of fourth dimension and money in the future by keeping your chickens dependable, happy, and healthy .

Complete Raising Chickens Guide

This is the third post in our Raising Chickens 101 series. See our full series to raising chickens here :

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