By RamboMoe on July 4th, 2012
This article is about building your own chicken coop. Read this article for an introduction on raising chickens.
This article is a guide to building your own chicken coop and run. It isn’t a specific design, but rather a set of guidelines to consider when designing and building your own coop. if you’re looking for specific design instructions, check out back yard chickens, a great resource on the subject.
Before buying chickens and building a coop, check your local zoning laws so you know how many hens you are allowed to keep and if you can keep a rooster. you may need to keep your coop a certain distance from your neighbor, and you may need to have your coop inspected when it’s done.
HOW BIG TO MAKE YOUR CHICKEN COOP?
Most chicken coops have an indoor section for the chickens (known as the coop) and an outdoor section for the chickens to roam (known as the run). You’ll want at least 2-3 square feet of room in your coop for each chicken, and 4-5 sq/ft in your run. More space is better, as it allows you to expand and makes cleaning easier. you want to make sure your chickens have enough space, or they may resort to some nasty behavior, such as pecking each other (or worse).
GO WITH QUALITY
Resist the urge to go cheap, and use good timber to build your coop. It will have to endure the elements for years, and once it starts to warp or rot, your coop will essentially be rendered useless. Keep all of your wooden surfaces smooth and flat, with no cracks. any crevices can be a hiding place for red mites, which will make your chickens lives very difficult during the night.
FOOD & WATER
You’ll want to have a chicken feeder and waterer included in your coop. this will allow the chickens to feed themselves. These should be designed for minimal maintenance- the food should replenish itself, and it should be difficult for the chickens to poop in their food and water areas (you’d be surprised how often this happens). Read this article to learn how to build a cheap chicken feeder and waterer.
HOT & COLD
You’ll want to make sure there are no holes that can lead to drafts moving through your coop. A cold draft could kill your chickens. Chickens do produce a lot of heat, however, and you should have some roof ventilation for it to escape. Make sure these holes are covered with welded mesh (so predators can’t enter), and consider a sliding cover so you can adjust their size during the winter.
Within your coop, you may want to consider nest boxes and perches. A nest box is a place for chickens to lay eggs, and you’ll need one drawer-sized box for every 3-4 birds. A perch is an area for your chickens to sleep. These features are more common in coops where the chickens are bred to lay eggs. They are less important in coops for chickens bred solely for meat.
RUN, CHICKEN, RUN
It’s a good idea to have a chicken run, an open section for your chickens to move around and get some fresh air. this area should be fenced off, ideally with chicken wire that runs a few inches deep underground to keep predators out. Some predators can be quite resourceful, so make sure your chicken coop and run are near impenetrable. Have a bolt on all doors and windows, as foxes have been known to open simple latches.
CLEANLINESS (aka CLEANING UP CHICKEN POOP)
You coop and run will need to be cleaned out regularly, so make sure you can reach all areas. Consider covering the grounds with pine of wood shavings, which will collect droppings and are easy to sweep up. These droppings can later make a very effective fertilizer.
If you’re going to raise chickens from birth, you’re going to need an incubator. Read this article to learn how to make your own chicken egg incubator.
Good luck and stay prepared!