Building a chicken coop is challenging in itself; however, if you have no DIY experience or have never tried to build a coop before then it’s likely that you will fail without clear direction. When you do succeed though, finally being able to raise chickens and harvest their eggs makes it all worth it.
Raising and caring for chickens as best you can all comes down to creating a safe, clean and dry environment for your flock, which is not as hard as you may think, provided you are given correct guidance at every step along the way.
1. Have a Plan in Mind
Before you begin, you should have a plan in mind. If you know what you are doing at the beginning then you won’t run into any unexpected surprises further down the line. We find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the reason you want to raise chickens?
- How many chickens do you want to keep?
How big do you want the coop to be (how much space do you have)?
2. Use a Proven Design Plan
It doesn’t matter if you’re building a very small chicken coop or a large one. A detailed, easy to follow and proven plan is a must. You can find a few plans for free if you do enough digging on the internet, but we personally feel that it’s better to use plans that have been proven to work for both beginners and more advanced users alike. The hassle and extra costs involved if you make what even seems like a single small mistake are simply not worth it and can actually set you back substantially in your quest to successfully build a chicken coop.
A while ago we asked our readers to recommend their favorite chicken coop plans and designswith the most important criteria being how easy they were to follow, value for money, and the end result. 86% of readers recommended getting the plans from here. The 60-day money back guarantee was also another plus.
3. Shade & Protection
A good starting point is to build the chicken coop beneath a large tree. This will result in keeping the chickens cool in the summer and warm in the winter. However, there is also something else to consider, such as using wire to protect the outside of the coop so wild animals like foxes, raccoons etc. will be unable to hurt the chickens.
Not only does elevating the nesting area’s floor a couple of feet off the ground and building a ramp that leads down result in keeping the flock dry in wet weather conditions. But it also means that the chickens can move freely, they are better protected against larger wild animals who have managed to chew through wire, and the coop will be easier to clean too.
Many first time chicken coop builders have found out the hard way that without some sort of lighting egg production will substantially decrease, particularly in the winter months. Thankfully, bulbs that cast a warm glow can counter this.
6. Nesting Area
As the nesting area is where your chickens will be laying their eggs, getting it right is a must. It’s a good idea to use baskets padded with straw as this will result in a comfortable environment for your chickens to lay their eggs. Frequently cited by others and something we’ve noticed ourselves is that a chicken will lay an egg every 1-2 days, so it’s also a good idea to ensure that the nesting area is large enough if you’re not planning on collecting the eggs every day.
7. Install Vents
If there isn’t good circulation within the chicken coop then your chickens will get sick, which is the last thing you want to happen after having gone through the trouble of dedicating time and money to building a chicken coop. Inevitably, litter will also accumulate inside the coop which will result in a less than ideal environment for your chickens. Therefore, make sure your design includes locations for cutting out a couple of windows or flaps. Cleaning often is not something you should overlook either.
8. Food & Water
Your chickens need food and water to survive and thrive. However, you need to make sure that both the food and water is kept as far away from their litter as possible. If not, contamination could occur and diseases may spread.
And that’s all there is too it!
Remember, building a chicken coop can be fun and rewarding if done right. As mentioned, make sure you find plans that are easy to follow and have been proven to work. We personally recommend this guide, particularly if you have never built a chicken coop before or have had failed attempts. But you can also try to find some free plans if you don’t want to go down that route, but please, please make sure you’re thorough in your search as finding good free plans is a challenge in itself and you should be wary of their quality.