Chicken Coop 101

| 3/31/2011 5:22:00 PM

Tags: Building a Chicken Coop, Chicken Coops, Chicken Coop Plans, Staci Ducharme,

Photo of coop

You can make a chicken coop from just about anything.  I've seen rabbit hutches, tool sheds, and portions of barns converted into chicken coops.  If you're lucky enough to start from scratch, or your able to remodel an existing structure, there's a few things we've learned you might want to take into consideration.

Little red shed that was the coop 

The photo above of the little red shed was the existing chicken coop and tiny outdoor run when we purchased our farm house.  We knew we wanted to build a new, larger coop and run, and had hoped to do so prior to bringing chickens home.  It didn't happen as planned and I am now very thankful.  We learned a lot while using this small coop that wouldn't have have crossed our minds if we hadn't.  The girls and handsome Mr. Clyde lived there for about 3 months before the new coop was built.

As a start, regarding the size of your coop, the general number seems to be 3 feet to every chicken. (Our coop is 8 foot by 10 foot and around 8 foot tall.) Remember to also keep in mind you want a roost area, feeding area and egg laying area.  Think through the feeding area, because if it's too close to the roost area you'll end up with feeders full of manure. 

You also want to make sure the coop is safe from predators.  Even if your chickens free-range during the day, they need a safe haven to sleep in.  Make sure nothing can get underneath the coop or through the door or windows.  We use two types of locks on all our doors (hoping if they can get one open they can't get the other) and every window has a barrel-lock on the inside.  We also added a tough wire to all the windows so they can remain open during the hot summer.

7/24/2014 8:48:29 PM

Been literally looking for free information online that would take me step by step on how to build any size chicken coop. The plans available on this blog were the best I could find. Gives you all materials and step by steps for any design or size. I used it for a coop for 6 chickens only took me 4 days to build I highly recommend it. Your welcome lol

6/30/2014 3:26:51 PM

Idea! I have a workshop(wife calls it my doghouse)out back & instead of it running up the electric bill when I run the table saw & such, I built a windmill tower, topped it off with an alternator from a wrecked semi truck, propeller, and all the trimmings, so that now my workshop is off grid & I have all the power I could ever want. The windmill is wired to a bank of batteries(again, semi truck batteries) that I got for a song(that wasn't even in the top 40) & a dance, which is connected to an inverter which is connected to my workshop. I do not know what your finances are(not asking either), but maybe you could do something like that for the chicken coop.... The alternator from ANY motor car, heavy machinery, etc, will work...the alternator just need protected from the weather 24/7/365. If you look on the internet, wind generators can run about $1000 & up...I spent about $350 for my entire set up...tower(scavenged wood), alternator, batteries, inverter & wiring(the inverter & wiring I bought new). Just a thought...if you can do this, it could save you a TON of money over time....

6/30/2014 3:19:50 PM

Loved your ideas and photos! I used a lot of the same ones when building my coop last summer. May I suggest using a vinyl remnant over your wooden floor? Cleans up great! I'd like to know if you are using something in between the plastic waterer and your metal water heater. I'd heard the plastic could melting on the hot metal plate. The photo looks like something is sandwiched in between. I used a metal waterer last winter, but by spring it had started to rust from the Apple Cider Vinegar we routinely put in the water. Now we use our plastic one, but what to do, come winter?

12/24/2013 9:49:44 AM

Staci, I just wanted to say that you did a great job on your tutorial. We live in a climate that gets down to 20 below zero in winter at times. My rooster has had frost bite on his comb so we do have heat lamps on for them in the coldest times. They are free range. You did an excellent job on your pics and coop. Cudos to you and your husband. It is always a learning experience. Have fun with your chickens!

annette engelbert
12/23/2013 9:45:23 AM

Lesson #7 heaters in a coop are NOT needed. The other article from Gritt talks about chicken not needing heat I suggest reading this article. Chickens adjust to the colder weather and need a non drafty coop but do not heat it. What would you do if you lost power for a few days? The chickens would be non adjusted and freeze. The ONLY time I heated a coop was for immature peacocks and I have a generator for emergencies.

12/23/2013 8:21:24 AM

If this is a duplicate I apologize. Just wanted to say that this is a nice, well thought out article with lots of good information. Sue's comment about ventilation is valid, but in studying the pictures, ventilation portals are in evidence in the picture. Since my chickens coop sits within a wire cage, ceiling, walls, etc, I leave the coop door open. On the other hand, if it is too cold to do that then the ventilation ports under the eaves (as shown) do nicely enough for overnight air circulation. Proper ventilation is one more of those things that help avoid cannibalism in your chicks.

susan berry
1/6/2013 1:06:14 AM

Love this. It is exactly what I want for my Girls.

10/6/2011 2:26:09 PM

I am truely thankful you took the time to give us the 13 tips for us whom are newbies. I appreciate the common sense advice and tips for building the coop as well as the general information on chickens. Thank you so much.

9/3/2011 10:24:41 AM

I'm in the process of designing our backyard coop and run. The article mentioned a size guideline of 3' per chicken. Is this 3 sq. ft. or 3 cubic feet?

4/6/2011 5:04:26 PM

Of all the blogs I have read concerning chickens I've not read one single thing from anyone about "open air" poultry houses (or coops). Chickens need lots and lots of ventilation. If they are housed in a tight, heated coop they are most likely to fall ill. The only reason coops were ever "invented" were to keep PEOPLE from stealing each others chickens! Chickens will roost in trees, bushes, where ever they can find to be safe from predators while they sleep. If you slept in your car overnight on a chilly night and had the windows rolled up tight, what would happen? You'd be damp and uncomfortable. Chickens are weather hardy, if you pamper them they will get ill and/or not lay as abundantly. Read "Open Air Poultry Houses" by Dr. Prince T. Woods, poultry expert and let him open your eyes a bit more.

4/4/2011 6:46:37 PM

Thanks Nebraska Dave. We learned a lot from our short time with chickens and I thought it important to pass along.

nebraska dave
4/2/2011 9:26:22 AM

Staci, wow these photos and ideas are great for those that want to build a coop for their chickens. Your lessons on what to think about when designing a coop are clear and easy to follow. I'm sure those with desires to have chickens will benefit from your post. I really don't have the space to have chickens and the neighbors dogs would literally scare them to death. I expect that the zoning laws would permit it and I'm not one to go after city hall. I'm just sticking to gardening in my quiet mild manner. Have a great chicken day.

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