How to Plan a Backyard Chicken House: DIY Coops and Accessories
How to Build a Chicken Coop
A common misconception is that building a good chicken house in your backyard or garden takes several weeks and is difficult to do. In all honesty, this couldn't be further from the truth!
Equipped with some basic hand tools and a good set of plans, you can easily construct a great-looking chicken coop in a couple of afternoons. A successful coop will provide protection from the elements and predators and will be accessible and easy to clean.
Locating a decent set of easy plans can get complicated. This article aims to provide a number of useful tips for building your own chicken coop, along with some helpful husbandry advice.
Keep the Cost Down and Use Recycled Materials
If you are considering building a scaled-down hen house, you may be able to get away with making use of recycled timber as a substitute.
Asking around for scrap items of wood may be one method to track down some materials to work with, but keep in mind that there is a greater chance you will need to pull a few nails and could find yourself having a chicken coop that's not exactly uniform in appearance. Should you be truly searching for the absolute most economical method, then it is probably something that you'll want to think about and take into account.
Plan Your Supplies Carefully
Often, it can save you more than half the price of the hen house by simply searching carefully for building supplies that will suit your needs correctly.
As a result, before you decide to dash out to purchase whatever you think you need, give some careful consideration to building and materials. It is essential that you have a firm understanding of the properties of the materials you intend to use before you get started. In some cases, it might become difficult to begin with a specific type of material and then switch over halfway through. Getting it all figured out before you start is going to be your best bet.
Next, we'll take a closer look at what you can do to ensure you are constructing a chicken house which will last for many years to come.
Select the Right Materials for the Job
There are a lot of factors to think about when deciding on the type of backyard chicken house you would like to build. This is very important because, before going forward with the building process, you'll want to be certain you are getting some key factors correct so that what you build is what you really want. Once it's constructed, you and your birds may have to live with foul results.
Let's talk specifically about the building materials for your chicken house. This will have a major impact on the amount of money you will end up spending on the chicken coop, so understanding the various kinds of supplies is going to be essential to making an informed decision.
What Should I Use?
Many people tend to think you need a ton of expensive materials to successfully create a hen house; however, this is not really the case. Chicken coops can be built from many different materials, including scraps from an old shed, extra lumber, PVC pipes, 50-gallon barrels, or other recycled materials you might have on your property.
Wood Is Long-Lasting But Expensive
Typically, wood is the most common material used to construct a chicken house. However, it is also the most expensive, so you need to weigh the pros versus the cons. If you would like your chicken coop to last for many years to come, it might be smart to invest in a wooden coop to make sure that it will withstand various climate changes.
Keep in mind that that wood varieties will also differ in price tags, which can also influence your decision. Going through the various kinds of wood options is important.
Choosing a Coop to Meet Your Needs
The Right Size Matters
You may be having a common problem that many of us had in the initial stages of finding a chicken house or good set of chicken coop plans. Whether you decide to buy the materials and build one yourself, or you opt to buy one already constructed, there are a few things you need to think about before you dive in.
If you are going to invest your time and/or money in a chicken coop, starting out on the right foot is always a good idea. Here are a few basic ideas we need to look at first, and the following guidelines are presented to help get you started.
Size and Dimensions
One of the biggest deciding factors to be considered is the size of the hen house you need. There are small, medium, and large designs, each built to house a certain number of chickens. The biggest mistake you can make is to get a coop too small to hold the number of chickens you plan on raising. It's better to have too much room to start out, then you can make adjustments as your flock size grows.
Portable as Opposed to Stationary Coops
The next question to consider is if you desire a portable coop or a stationary one. Both have advantages, the main difference being in how the coops are kept clean. With a portable chicken house, you simply move the house to another area, leaving the previous spot to recover and regrow.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something more permanent and structurally sound that also has a way to reuse or dispose of the chicken droppings, then a permanent chicken house may be what you want. You will reap the benefits of having a chicken coop that will last a few years longer than a portable one.
The Safety of Your Chickens
One of the most important factors to take into account is protecting your investment from predators who will steal your chickens and/or their eggs. If you are raising baby chicks, more protection may be in order. There is nothing worse than going out to collect eggs in the morning and find out a predator has made its way into your chicken coop.
The farther out in the country you live, the more variety and number of potential animals that can pose a danger to your flock. Although living in the city doesn't completely absolve you of a need to provide protection for your birds, there certainly are fewer dangers to worry about.
One last thing to consider is the appearance of your chicken coop. This is certainly a matter of personal preference, and for a lot of people, good is good enough. This is particularly true if you decide to build one yourself from spare materials you may be able to round up. Logically, the fancier chicken coop, the more it will cost.
If you keep these points in mind, when it comes time to lay out money for a chicken coop or plans, you will be well on your way to saving money, and getting more bang for your buck.
Next, we will take a look at some ways to keep your costs down when it comes time for selecting supplies and materials.
Built to Last
Cheaper Doesn't Mean Better
Since we've covered the different types of chicken coops you can build and the different building supplies that you could consider using, it's time to take a look at what you need to do to maintain the structural integrity of one's backyard chicken coop.
One problem that a lot of people encounter is that they build a chicken coop and do a decent job at it, but the way they have built it doesn't stand up over the long run. Gaining an overall view of the construction process to build a lasting coop can ensure that the money spent makes it worthwhile.
Prior to starting to build the coop, you need to ensure the land you want to build on is level and landscaped properly. You've two options here, you may either landscape a piece of land that you want to construct the chicken house on or you can choose a lot which will already be landscaped to build on.
The latter option is going to be cheaper than the former, however, this can come down to your own personal preference. As a result, you'll build a coop that lasts longer since it'll have a more sturdy foundation which you built it upon.
Purchase Good Materials for the Base Structure
The structural base is the next major area that you will need to invest a bit more time on. Choosing really cheap building materials here could return to haunt you in the long run. You can still find cheap options that you could certainly consider which are very effective, but there still are limits. Knowing which cost-effective materials stand the test of time will help.
Make Use of Windows
Windows are a critical element inside the chicken house because they will allow for enough light so that your chickens still lay eggs as they should. Using windows within the coop not only ensures the chickens maintain a positive attitude over a long time, but tend to also lower your building costs if you are using the proper materials.
It's important that you consider the structural design when thinking about windows, because placing them in the wrong position on the coop might lead to the walls to become less sturdy. Yet again, having a proper plan to guide you is critical.
Choose Your Feeders Wisely
Finally, you need to choose your feeder position wisely. When the feeders have reached an incorrect height level, the chickens will either not be able to get to their food comfortably or they may begin to scatter their meals all over the floor.
When that occurs, they're sure to start picking at the floor and potentially the areas of your coop, which could lead to damage over time. By making the effort to correctly plan your chicken coop so that it lasts over time, you may prevent yourself from having a larger investment in future renovation projects.
Next up, we are going to take a look at how to protect your chickens, so that's one segment you won't want to miss. Considering a predator could easily take out your entire coop, this is something you have to protect yourself from.
Protecting Your Investment
Build a Fence to Keep Predators Out
By now, you should have some basic knowledge on the "musts" for creating a backyard chicken house, including choosing the best type of coop for your needs, choosing the proper materials that allow you to bring down costs, and building a chicken coop that will last for a long time to come.
All of these are important so you're fully satisfied with the chicken house you have built and didn't spend more money than you absolutely had to.
Now, you have to take a look at what you must do to keep your chickens protected. Again, this is an important element that must be tended to if you wish to maintain your chickens for the long term. Without protection, there is a very good chance that at some time or another, a predator will come around.
First, you should assess what potential predators you might have in your area. This could include coyotes, foxes, larger dogs, or rodents among many others that could attempt to dig beneath a fence and get into the coop in that manner.
For those who have not a clue what types of predators exist within your surrounding area, you might want to consult with your neighbors and see if they've ever encountered any kind of predator. This will provide you with a more precise idea of what you're potentially dealing with so you can take proper precautionary measures.
It is essential to identify the most effective location to place your coop. As we've already discussed, location is partially going to be dependent on the landscape available, but getting the coop within a close distance (eye's range is even better) can help you keep a closer eye on your chickens and ensure their safety.
This is where having a mobile chicken coop can come in handy since you can easily transport it to wherever you need to be to keep watch over them.
Type of Fencing
It's also important that you consider the kind of fence that you will want to use with your hen house. Think about the kind of predator you're looking at, and research the different types of fences that exist to select the right fit.
If you're going to encounter digging animals, it will be most important that you build the house low enough into the ground so that it's difficult for them to burrow beneath it.
Should you be looking at the possibility of larger predatory animals, then you will want a fence that's incredibly sturdy. This is why using a good guide to follow may help—it's vital that you pair your needs with the type of fence you construct. Otherwise, you may be thinking you are protecting your chickens, but you really haven't done much more than add some decoration to your chicken house.
So be sure you are keeping fencing and protection in your mind. You could build the perfect chicken coop ever, but when another animal decides to venture in, that perfect chicken house could possibly be no more.
Positioning Your Backyard Chicken House
Location, Location, Location!
Next, we will discuss the proper placement of your new backyard chicken house. This topic is a very important one to take note of because like the others it will have a direct influence over the number of eggs your chickens lay and therefore, how happy you will be with the outcome of your chicken house.
Selecting the ideal spot in your yard is important to ensure you're pleased with it for years into the future. Ponder over it from a number of angles, because many things will be influenced by where the coop is located.
A look at a number of things to consider:
First, you should take into consideration predatory animals. In case you didn't look at last article on this topic to a much greater depth, so you might want to return and browse that now. The essential concept is that the closer you place the hen house to where you will be, the easier it will be to keep track of the coop.
Also, if you have a large farm, you may simply have certain parts of your yard that attract other animals, so choosing to place the coop as far away as possible from that danger might be an incredibly smart move.
Another factor to be considered regarding the location of your hen house is the climate. Do you get lots of rain regularly? If you've found it rains frequently, you could possibly consider building the chicken house in the area that is protected by nearby trees, helping to reduce the amount of direct rain which hits your structure. You will also want to build the coop far from any areas of the yard where water typically runs to. If you build in places like this, you may have a flooded chicken house to deal with.
If it gets very windy in your area, this is another reason to reconsider building the chicken house in an area that's near a decent amount of trees or other buildings to help you shield the chickens from the wind. Good ventilation inside the coop is important, so you do not need gusts of wind on a regular basis.
Finally, since your chickens will require a good amount of natural sunlight to lay eggs effectively, try to construct your chicken coop in an area that's well lit and faces sunshine. You need to maximize this aspect as much as possible, otherwise, you may need to run electrical light towards the chicken coop which could be an expensive venture.
So, keep these factors in mind as you go about deciding where to set your chicken house. If you do, you'll be pleased with it in the future and you will definitely notice a positive change in how many fresh eggs you have daily.
Next, we'll check out the different hen house accessories you can utilize, including feeders and nesting boxes among others.
Accessories for Your Backyard Coop
The Little Things Go a Long Way
After you have established the basic plans for constructing your chicken house, then comes thinking about accessories you can add to your backyard chicken house to boost the chances of a higher amount of fresh eggs every morning and to increase your chicken's comfort level.
There are many accessories you can add to your chicken coop and the decision as to what you add will be a personal preference. It is advisable to keep the basics covered however since they will be vital for the coop's health.
Here are some of the main ones to think about:
Choosing a good feeder in your chicken coop gives the chickens comfortable access to food, which in turns ensures they're eating properly. This is essential for their overall growth and egg development, so make sure you're providing a good quality feeder.
Most importantly, look at the height when you first set up your feeder since this can influence how comfortably they are able to get at their food.
You can get chicken nesting boxes in a number of different shapes and sizes and can build them from many common materials you've got around the house, such as a large plastic pale or an old wooden box. You should use one nesting box for every 2-4 hens that you have and also they should be relatively dark inside.
It's recommended that you build the top nesting box on a bit of an angle to discourage them from sleeping against any lamps or other heat sources.
Having a great watering system in the coop will help ensure your chickens have a good way to obtain fresh water on a regular basis. Again, you should use items you have right around the house to help eliminate the cost.
In case you are constructing a larger sized chicken house, it'll be smart to include two or more waterers if possible to give your chickens more access to fresh water when they need it.
Finally, another thing you should think about is adding chicken perches in your coop. This will help ensure your chickens are getting a good night's sleep so they are better able to lay their eggs.
Just like the waterer, make certain you're providing enough perches for the chickens so they do not have to fight for room. Also make certain your perches are wide enough to comfortably fit the chickens, since as they grow they are going to likely need more room to sleep comfortably.
So, keep these accessories in mind. You should make sure you are building your chicken house with plenty of space to add these accessories while still permitting plenty of room to maneuver. Having an overcrowded chicken coop will severely limit the eggs your hens produce and this isn't something to take lightly.
Maintenance of Your Chicken House
Schedules Work Best
We are ready to talk about one last factor: maintenance of your chicken house.
Since you have made great efforts getting the coop up and running properly, it would be a shame to allow it to fall apart as a result of lack of care. Fortunately, maintaining and repairing a chicken house isn't that difficult provided you stay on top of things regularly.
Below are a few things you should know about:
Take Notice of the Door
Since the threshold is one part of the coop that is going to be constantly moving when you go in and out to feed the chickens, it is something you should watch and look after regularly. If your latch has become loose, be sure you fix this immediately so your chickens don't find a way to escape.
If you find that you're regularly having difficulty with a particular door, you might consider either replacing it altogether, or finding a more secure latch and making certain it's bolted to the entrance properly.
Each farmer will have their particular preference when it comes to the door so find out what works right for you.
Regularly Check Your Fence
Another thing about the chicken house that should be monitored at least once monthly would be the structure of the fence. If you have predators that come around frequently, they might make an effort to get in which impact the stability of your fence, calling for some rebuilding if necessary.
Some fences are also quite susceptible to falling over after a great deal of time, so walk around and test various areas of the fences to view how well they standing.
Look Into the Feeders
Keeping a close eye on the feeders located in the chicken house can also be vital. In some instances, when feeders have been knocked down it may be an indication you should look at installing a different one. Sometimes this happens with chickens in the coop start fighting over food and picking at the feeder.
Also, make sure that you watch how your chickens are responding to the feeder height. Occasionally, you may get chickens who prefer a feeder to be slightly lower or higher than how you placed it, so adjusting this as time goes on is vital for the overall comfort of your respective chickens.
Usually, it will only need to be adjusted an inch or two, but this can be a massive difference in how easily chickens are able to access their food.
Overall, don't neglect the maintenance of your hen house. Should you decided to go with a mobile chicken coop, maintenance is usually quite a bit easier as you can just move the coop to wherever you might be. Should you not be able to do this, that simply means regularly planning maintenance into your weekly or monthly schedule while you think fit.
More Chicken Coop Designs
- BUILDING A BASIC LOW COST CHICKEN COOP SJ RANCH - YouTube
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- Chicken Coop Tour - YouTube
Here is a preview for the Seattle Tilth's City Chickens Coop Tour. The tour, featuring nine chicken coops from across the city, is this Saturday afternoon.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2010 Hal Gall