Raising chickens is a great hobby that provides you with fresh eggs, meat and fertilizer for your garden. As with any animal, chickens require some form of housing. This usually entails the building of a chicken coop. You don’t need special carpentry skills or overly complicated plans. Chickens will be happy and healthy as long as you meet their basic needs.
The number of chickens that you intend to have in your flock will determine the size of your coop. Birds that are raised for meat or hens raised to lay eggs require approximately two square feet for each inside the coop. The coop must contain one nesting box for every four or five egg laying hens within the flock. There should also be six to ten inches of perch space inside the coop for every bird. Each chicken also requires approximately 8 to 10 square feet of yard space. You should build your coop on a high spot. This ensures that the coop and the feeding area are not full of puddles after a rainstorm.
Draw your design on paper according to the space required for your flock. Your design should include a door so that you can collect the eggs and clean the coop. This design will help you to determine the dimensions of your coop and the amount of building materials required to construct it.
An A-frame design that is four feet by eight feet can comfortably house four or five chickens and fit in a backyard. Take two pieces of lumber that are 48 inches long and two pieces that are 96 inches to construct a rectangle. Miter the corners of four pieces of 48-inch long lumber to form an A-frame at either end of the rectangle. Attach two pieces of 96-inch lumber at the top point of the triangle, one piece on either side of the point. Connect the pieces together with glue, screws or nails to form a triangle. Cover each triangle-shaped end with plywood. Cut a hole that is 12 by 16 inches in one piece of the plywood to serve as a door. Cut a piece of plywood 30×48 inches to act as the floor for half the coop. Cut two pieces of plywood 32×48 inches and nail them to the A-frame at the same end to act as a roof over the floor. Hinge the roof to make it easier to access the eggs and clean the coop. Install a round dowel inside the house to act as a perch. Place one or two nesting boxes inside as well. Cover the floor with straw to keep the chickens warm.
The remaining portion of the coop, except the floor, should be covered with chicken wire and secured with staples. The open floor will allow the chickens to free range. You can easily reposition this coop within the yard after it’s finished.
Larger coops should be constructed so that they face a southerly direction. This will aid ventilation in the summer and heat the coop during the winter. The roof should slope away from the door. Cover any windows or openings with chicken wire to keep the chickens in and predators out. Install a latch on the door so that you can secure the coop if necessary. Secure the nesting boxes and perches along the walls. The perches should be three to four feet off the ground and the nesting boxes should be filled with straw.
Chickens aren’t picky about their coop. They will be happy as long as they have a safe place to lay their eggs and avoid unpleasant weather.