Are you new to the world of chickens? Fear not these feathered creatures, for they will become your friends and the reason why you have fresh, organic eggs every morning!
In this guide, specifically made for beginners, we will show you how to build your own chicken coop and start taking care of your birds. We’ll enlist the steps necessary to adapt your home and backyard, the type of equipment you need, and a few basic tips to make the most out of your new coop experience.
Why Build a Chicken Coop?
Let’s first answer one of the most important questions: why should you build a chicken coop? Believe it or not, there are many benefits to having chickens in your backyard. The first and most obvious reason is simple: eggs. Fresh, organic, and full of flavor, your chickens’ eggs will make a huge difference in every morning’s breakfast.
“To me, this is the number one reason to get backyard chickens. The eggs are supremely good. The yolks are bright yellow and they stand up nicely. […] The colors of the shells are beautiful […]. Eating fresh eggs is a sublime culinary adventure. For this reason alone you should get your own chickens.”
Jason Price, a blogger from Modern Farmer.
Also, chickens are relatively low maintenance once you get the hang of everything. They mainly entertain themselves while roaming. And while ranging around, they are also picking grass, worms, beetles, and other insects, which makes them great at pest maintenance! And the third most important reason is that keeping chickens is eco-friendly. Chickens produce an endless quantity of manure, which you can reuse to make a compost, which can then be processed and re-added to the garden. You can also add any cracked shells from your delicious breakfast eggs into this compost, as well as the used chicken bedding materials. It’s a recycling process that will keep your garden blooming!
Before You Start
Before you start, we recommend that you review local laws to ensure that keeping chickens is allowed in your neighborhood, or if there’s a limit to the number of birds you are allowed to have. Because honestly, the last thing you want is spending all that time, effort, and money into a project you’re going to have to cut short due to local regulations or HOA covenants.
Also, the first thing you should know about raising chickens is that you need to be committed. Chickens, like any other farm animal, require attention, vigilance, and special care. You will need to keep your coop clean and fresh. You will need to check on them and change their food and water. You will need to ensure their safety from predators and make sure that none of your chickens catch any type of disease. It’s a 365-day job that is both time-consuming and extremely rewarding.
Now that you know why you need chickens in your life and backyard, you’ve checked that you’re both willing to commit and that your local ordinances allow you to have chickens, it’s time to look at how you can add them to your everyday routine.
How To Build a Chicken Coop
These are the 9 steps you need to take to build a chicken coop in your backyard:
- Get a Plan
- Provide Adequate Space
- Control The Temperature
- Include Nesting Boxes
- Get Your Roosts On
- Add A Chicken Run
- Ensure Their Safety
- Water Is Essential
- Food Is Key
Let’s discuss and explain each of them:
1. Get a Plan
Jason Price, a blogger from Modern Farmer, says: “I should have known better than to attempt to build a chicken coop without a plan.[…] $500 and about 60 hours of labor later – I have built a battleship. Yes, it’s pretty, but completely overbuilt and inefficient.” So believe us, it’s better to get a plan for a chicken coop or buy the structure from a specialized store. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and frustration.
If you plan on purchasing a chicken coop, then we have a few suggestions. All you have to do is pick the option that fits your needs, space and budget!
- Carolina Coops: dedicated to functional farming, offering custom & superior-grade chicken coops and accessories.
- Chick Chick Coop: provide quality chicken coop that’s essential to your backyard chicken productivity.
- Chicken Coop Company: practical & unique designs for backyard, urban, and home chicken coops. All their chicken coops have supported nesting boxes, as well as other cool features!
- Chicken Condos: here you can find coop & run combos, as well as modern urban, modern barn, and snap lock coop styles!
- Smart Chicken Coop: specifically designed for busy people and pampered hens! They have flexible design options and even a DIY approach so you can get your hands dirty.
- Paul’s Custom Coops: a site full of custom designs. Pick the one you like or contact them to build your own custom coop.
- OverEZ Chicken Coop: as their site states, here you’ll be able to find “everything you and your chickens need to keep clucking along.”
2. Provide Adequate Space
Your birds need to be able to co-habit peacefully, without the risks that come with overpopulation, such as mischief and picking and pecking at each other. An ample amount of space can help them be happier. Think of it like this: no human being likes being stuck in a small space with other people. If this situation extends for any period of time, we are bound to start fighting. And just like with each person, this could have been avoided with enough space for each chicken!
3. Control The Temperature
Just like you and your home, your chicks need their shelter to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This is why ventilation is crucial. Make sure that the coop you buy or build has the right amount of ventilation installed in order to keep your chickens breezy and happy. As for winter, we have a complete guide on how to winterize your chickens and your coop.
4. Include Nesting Boxes
The basic rule is that you need one box for every three hens. However, it never hurts to have more, since the chickens will probably fight over a particular favorite box. Leaving them more options will be better in the long run. We have some amazing metal nest laying boxes available in 1, 4, 6, 8, and 10 hole models that will make the accommodation a breeze for you, as well as chicken nesting pads with aromatic herbs that will keep your chickens comfy and your coop fresh.
5. Get Your Roosts On
These are basically the place where the birds get together to sleep at night. They normally prefer to sleep on the same perch – or roost – so you need to make sure they have the right fit.
6. Add A Chicken Run
This is their outside space! Chickens, just like you, need to go outside, get some fresh air, walk a little, and eat some worms. Alright, that last one might not be just like you, but they do need to have their little snacks and to have some fun.
7. Ensure Their Safety
Your chickens need to be safe. Don’t think for a second that a predator will not attack just because the chicken coop “seems” closed. Predators are hungry and will look for all the ways possible to get inside your coop and eat your chickens for dinner. And sadly, common predators may include your other house pets, like dogs or cats. This is where the Coop Defender can come in handy – it’s an automatic coop door opener that saves you the time to get up in the morning as well as keeping your chickens safe from predatory animals. We also have them in aluminum metal or oak wood!
8. Water Is Essential
Same as every living being on the planet, chickens need water to survive. We’ve made it easy for you with our Maxicup Automatic Poultry Drinker Cup, a semi-automatic drinker, a self-filling drinker with a cup that fills up with up to 1 pint of water! It’s ideal for outside or inside use, so you can attach it wherever you want and your chickens will drink whenever they’re thirsty.
But of course, not everything can be that simple. What makes matters a bit more complicated is that your birds’ water needs to be at the perfect temperature: not too hot, not too cold. And this is where we once again come to the rescue with our Poultry Drinker Heater Base, which will prevent your chicken’s drinkers from freezing in the cold winter months without getting too hot.
9. Food Is Key
And just like you need more than just water, your chickens need special food too! Chicken feed can range between different types, but the key is to feed them the correct type to make your chickens happy and have them laying eggs like crazy. We have a wide selection, including pellet, crumble, and organic chicken feed. And don’t forget their feeder: Grandpa’s Chicken Feeder is probably one of the most popular ones out there due to its automatic, time-saving and waste-reducing nature. Check out our full review here.
So, how big should a chicken coop be?
In a nutshell, you should be able to stand inside it to gather eggs and clean your coop comfortably. It also needs to be big enough to hold the water containers, a feeder, a roosting area, and a nest box for every 3 hens in your flock. The Old Farmer’s Almanac states that: “one medium-sized chicken needs at least 3 square feet of floor space inside the coop and 8-10 square feet outdoors. The more space, the happier and healthier the chickens will be; overcrowding contributes to disease and feather picking.” This means that they will need ample amount of space to live happily inside, as well as a good chunk of backyard space in order to be able to spread their wings and relax, so to speak. And don’t forget that this space should always be fenced to keep your chickens in and predators out!
The coop can be as big or as small as you want. Just make your measurements according to how many chickens you would like to have in your flock and as part of your family.
How many chickens should you start with?
Chickens are sociable birds, so plan to start out with 3 to 6 hens. This will keep them happy, playing, and ruffling each other’s feathers without getting on each other’s nerves (or yours, for that matter).
To start your own chicken coop, you need all of the things listed above: ample space, the right temperature, the right feeders, and even the right door! But once you have this formula down, it’s pretty much a breeze from there. You already have the space set aside, which means that you’re ready to start taking care of your lovable birds. And as we mentioned before, you can either buy a pre-made chicken coop or you can play carpenter and build your own (though we really recommend following a plan). Whatever you choose to do, whether to buy or build a chicken coop, keep these requirements in mind:
- The coop must be weatherproof: a wet or cold chicken is an unhappy chicken.
- It needs to have enough room for your chickens: ample space to spread their wings!
- It needs nesting boxes and a roost: to both sleep and lay some delicious eggs.
- It needs food and water: for obvious reasons!
- It needs to have good ventilation: for easy, breezy, happy chicks.
- It should have an outside roaming area: because we all need to stretch our legs, chickens included.
- It must be predator-proof: let your chickens live long and happy lives.
All of these will ensure the best quality space for your birds, making them happy little hens. And we guarantee that once you decide to start, you won’t look back! Welcome to the world of chicken keeping.