If you’re like me, you love fresh eggs. There’s nothing better than the taste of a farm-fresh egg, and nothing is more frustrating than trying to buy them at the store. So when we decided to start raising chickens, building a chicken coop was at the top of our list. In this post, I’ll show you some hints to make constructing your coop go more smoothly. Let’s get started!
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you want your chicken coop to be moveable or if you’d prefer it to be permanent. Portable chicken coops provide the benefit of allowing you to relocate them as needed. Also, having a mobile chicken coop allows for easier maintenance since you can simply move the chicken coop to wherever you need to clean it. On the other hand, if you’re seeking for something with a little more structural integrity than a free-standing chicken coop, you’ll want to go with a fixed chicken house since they’ll be sturdier and able to endure wear and tear.
There are several methods to construct a chicken coop, and what works best for one person may not work as well for another.
However, there are a few things to bear in mind when creating your coop:
Chickens need plenty of fresh air and sunlight, so make sure you choose a location for your coop that is sunny and well-ventilated. To keep your chickens happy year-round, try to look for a location that offers a variety of environments so your chickens can move about depending on the season and the weather.
There should be shady areas for the chickens to get some relief from the heat of the summer sun.
They also need a place to escape from the harsher elements like rain and sleet. Chickens do not like to be pummeled by rain, so there should be someplace for them to hide when the weather turns.
Don’t place their chicken coops where they will not get any sunshine. This is just as important, especially in the winter months.
Make sure the location is in an area that has adequate drainage and is not prone to flooding or standing water in the rainy months. Some owners who live in wetter areas choose to lay a concrete foundation to ensure the floor stays dry and doesn’t shift after frequent rainstorms.
The size of your chicken coop will depend on how many chickens you plan to keep.
Current RSPCA recommendations are for a minimum floor/run area of 3 m2 for housing up to six bantams or three large birds. Additional birds will require an increase in enclosure size of at least 0.4 m2 for every large bird and 0.3 m2 for every small bird.
However, these recommendations are the bare minimum. The more space chickens have, the happier and healthier they are.
- Nesting box:
A nesting box or boxes is required for chickens to lay their eggs, so make sure they have one in your design. One nesting box is usually enough for up to three hens. If you have a very tiny flock, it’s not necessary to provide extra nest boxes. If you have four hens, for example, consider providing two nests instead. For all our nesting box tips read here.
- Roosting Perch:
Chickens like to roost (or sleep) off the ground, so include a roosting bar in your design. Chicken roosting bars should be around 4cm wide. Provide a minimum of 25cm per bird. Less space may be required for bantams. If in doubt it is always better to give them extra space on the perches so that they can spread out and flap their wings without knocking their neighbour off the perch. Read all our roosting perch tips here.
Many chicken keepers are concerned about their feathered flock being preyed upon. Your chicken coop plans should include a chook house that has galvanized wire mesh and lacks significant gaps in the design. The wire mesh can resist strong claws and teeth and prevent anything from slithering or crawling into the coop.
If your chicken coop plan also includes a run, you’ll need to build some sort of foundation beneath the coop so predators don’t dig in. Concrete, timbers, and wire mesh are excellent for keeping undesirable animals out and protecting your flock. Check the rest of the articles in our blog for more predator control solutions.
You may use almost any materials to construct your coop, but make sure they are robust and weatherproof.
Once you’ve decided on a design for your chicken coop, it’s time to get started building!
Here are a few tips to help make the process go a little more smoothly:
- Start with the foundation:
The foundation of your chicken coop is crucial, so take your time and make sure it’s done right. You have two alternatives: you can either revitalize an area of land that you want to construct the chicken coop on, or find a piece of property that is already prepared to build on without having to landscape it.The latter option is going to be cheaper than the former, but again this will come down to your personal preference. By doing this first though, you’ll build a chicken coop that lasts for a longer period of time since it’ll have a more sturdy foundation that you built it upon.
- Use treated timber:
Treated timber is resistant to rot and decay, which is optimal for a chicken coop that will be exposed to the elements. There are newer less toxic options for treated timber too.
- Make it easy to clean:
Chickens can be messy, so make sure your coop has plenty of access points for cleaning.
- Ventilation is key:
Make sure your coop has plenty of ventilation. Ideally, the coop should be cool in summer and warm in winter. Correct ventilation of your coop is crucial when it comes to temperature regulation. A good flow of air will keep the coop at an optimal temperature for your hens. If you think it’s too hot you need to add more ventilation holes.
The best way to build a chicken coop is with the help of a friend. A little bit of skill and some very low-cost materials are all you need for this project, but make sure you have predator control in place before bringing your flock home! You’ll also want nesting boxes so that they can lay eggs in peace.
Once your chicken coop is finished, it’s time to stock it with some chickens! We recommend starting with four or five chicks and gradually adding more as they grow. For a beginner’s guide to keeping chicken’s click here.
Have you built a chicken castle yet? Let us know how it went by commenting below!