Rearing chickens in the backyard has become one of the most common hobby or activity. If you are new to raising chickens, you may be looking into building a chicken coop by yourself and not buying a ready made one.
The good news is that there are plenty of chicken coops designs available for you to choose from. Building a chicken coop on your own can be self-fulfilling and a really satisfying experience.
Building a chicken coop is not that really difficult. But just like building everything else, you will need a detailed plan.
There are a lot of free chicken coops designs on the internet. Some websites have more than 3,000 plans alone, submitted by members. The problem with free chicken coops designs on the internet is that they are not that easy to follow.
Generally, only about 10% of free chicken coops designs on the internet can be followed through by beginners. Most of the designs are just too fanciful and too technical to follow.
Before you start looking for chicken coops designs and building your first chicken coop, there are some things to understand. The chicken coop is a house for the chickens and the health and behavior of your chickens are very much influenced by the coop.
Here are the pointers.
How big should your coop be ?
As a guide, 1 chicken needs 3-4 square feet of coop space. So if you are planning to have 4 chickens, then you’ll need at least 16 square foot of coop space.
If the coop is too small, the chickens will be stressed out and start pecking each other, fall sick and eventually die. If you don’t have enough coop space, then the chickens will need to be outdoors most of the time.
The importance of location
Decide a suitable location for the chicken coop. It should not be too near the house or the neighbor’s house because of the smell and noise. Under a tree with natural sunshine and shade with fairly good wind is an ideal location.
There are things on the inside and outside of the coops that are important for the chickens, and here are a few of them.
Important to have
- Nesting box – this is where your hens lay their eggs. You will need to provide at least 1 box per 2 hens with the size of 12x12x12 feet and about 10-20 inches above ground level.
- Ventilation – to prevent your chickens from getting sick easily if there’s no ventilation.
- Waterer and Feeder – are obviously needed.
Nice to have
- Perch area – chickens are birds and they love perching.
- Outdoor area – in the addition to the coop shelter, an outdoor fenced area is important to keep your chickens running and happy.
- Bath dust box – chickens clean themselves with dust to stay healthy.
- Poop boards – to save you the time and hassle of cleaning poop, place it under the perch area.
- Lighting – to keep the chickens warm in winter.
These are just basic requirements, but you can add more as you go along with your hobby. Just like the houses that we live in, add-ons and new projects are common ideas.