Top 10 Tips for Building a Chicken Coop

Building a chicken coop may seem like a daunting task at first. But, if you have some basic woodworking skills and a lot of patience, you can build a great coop that will house your hens comfortably for years to come. Review a few tips before you get started.

  • 01 of 10

    Take Your Time and Think It Out

    A set of hens on piles of eggs
    Lauren Ware

    Do not rush through the construction of your coop. Make sure you have solid plans, sketches, and have thought about all the variables involved in a coop—cost, size, portability, and ongoing maintenance. Consider the functionality of your coop. The doors must be open inwards and not outwards; otherwise, your birds might find their way out. Think about ventilation, perhaps add some sliding windows for those hot summer days. Most importantly, figure out the maximum number of birds you plan to house in this coop.

  • 02 of 10

    Look at Premade Plans

    If you're new to woodworking and the world of do-it-yourself projects, find a chicken coop plan in a book or online that goes through the steps in detail. You might want to use that or build upon those plans. You may even get a great idea while pouring over those plans.

  • 03 of 10

    Write Down All Your Ideas

    Write out your steps. Make sketches of your coop. Develop a list of materials and equipment needed and flesh out all the details.

  • 04 of 10

    Size Your Chicken Coop Properly

    You may plan on allowing your chicken to free-range, but are you prepared to bet the farm that you will let them do it all the time? Chickens are healthier and happier when they have more space to roost comfortably. Cramped coops make for aggressive birds pecking at each other and disease spreading faster.

    If your birds have access to an outdoor run, give a minimum of 2 to 3 square feet per bird inside the coop and about 4 square feet per bird in the run. The bigger, the better. If your birds are cooped all winter (chickens don't like snowy surfaces), allow for 5 to 10 square feet per chicken. For birds confined in a chicken tractor without an outdoor pen, make sure you have a minimum of 5 square feet per bird.

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  • 05 of 10

    Provide Ample Roosting Space

    Chickens love to roost or perch on woodpiles, the tops of their waterers or feeders, and even the roof of the coop. They prefer to roost off the ground to discourage ground parasites. And, they do not like sitting in their droppings.

    Provide roosting poles that are at least 2 to 3 feet off the ground (they don’t like to be too low). Plan for at least 6 to 10 inches of roosting space per chicken. If the roosting poles are more than 4 feet high, they will need a way to get up to them, such as by a plank with wooden strips for makeshift steps.

  • 06 of 10

    Keep Predators Out

    Your coop needs to be sturdy. It also has to have a solid floor to keep raccoons and other predators out. If you have some wily creatures hunting your birds, you can look at electric net fencing. But there's no need to go overboard on the construction.

  • 07 of 10

    Save Money With Recycled Materials

    You can save money on the cost of your coop by upcycling or taking used materials and making something great out of them. Using recycled materials is terrific but to a point. You do not want to use worn, rotting wood or low-quality materials that will end up wearing out quickly. Sometimes the irregularities of a scavenged window may be too hard to work around. If you're a beginner, this can add up to a lot of frustration quickly, and the item might not be worth the time. Be willing to scrap the idea if it is.

  • 08 of 10

    Create Cozy Nesting Boxes

    Free range hen sitting on eggs

    Loop Images / David Cheshire / Getty Images

    Aim for one nest box for every four to five hens at a minimum. The nest boxes also need to be a couple of feet off the ground, or they generally won't get used. Think about how you will access the nest boxes from outside the coop, so you can gather eggs easily.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Consider Movable Vs. Stationary Coop

    ree range chickens feeding outside a mobile coop

    Stephen Zeigler / Getty Images

    When it comes to coops, there are two options: portable and stationary. A movable coop is going to be smaller and lighter. You can move the birds to pasture them on fresh grass. Also, if you relocate homes, you can take this coop with you. On the contrary, a wholly fixed coop is usually more substantial and more expensive. This type makes the most sense if you are going to have a large flock.

  • 10 of 10

    Make It Easy to Clean and Maintain

    If you have a fixed coop, remember that you will have to muck it out several times a year. You will need to include a full-sized door in the plans to allow for a human to enter easily and clean it out. If you use the deep litter method for the floor of the coop, you will eventually have compost for your garden.