When you set off on your chicken-keeping journey, the first thing you need is a home for your incoming flock. Chicken coops come in endless sizes, styles, and functions. If you’ve decided to build your own coop for your birds, the only real limit is your imagination. However, all the options at your disposal can seem overwhelming—especially if it’s your first time building a coop. Fortunately, you’re not alone. When you do your research, lay out your plans, and keep the essentials of a successful coop in mind, you’ll be able to build the perfect home for your chickens. Best of all, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you made it with your own two hands. To help you along the way, we’ve gathered all the top tips for building your own chicken coop. Keep these in mind as you grab your tools and get to work.
PLAN IT OUT
The more you plan, the easier every step of the process will be. You can find premade plans in books or online. These are extremely helpful, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience in construction or DIY projects. The detailed, step-by-step processes will provide an easy resource for you to build your coop. Even if you don’t follow premade plans, they can still serve as good sources of information or inspiration.
No matter what, it’s important to lay out all the steps and materials your project requires before you begin. Take measurements of your materials and the area of your yard where the coop will sit. Planning out these details helps you catch and address any potential issues as well as get your thoughts down on paper at the start so that you’re more organized throughout the project.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR YARD
As you’re making your plans, take a good, long look at your yard and figure out the best spot for your upcoming chicken coop. Use preexisting elements of your property to your advantage. Do you have a space that will provide shade for your coop? Do you have any natural windbreaks such as a hedge or fence? In fact, a preexisting fence is the perfect cornerstone from which to build out your coop or run. Don’t forget your own needs as well. You want your coop to be somewhere that’s accessible for you to reach and work around.
REUSE AND RECYCLE
If you want to save money on materials, consider getting clever with your recycling. Using recycled or upcycled wood, bricks, and other materials can save you a lot of money as well as give your coop a unique appearance. You can also reuse preexisting structures and elements to build your coop. For example, if you have a storage shed you don’t use, you can turn that into a cozy, functional home for your flock. Don’t be afraid to get crafty with the materials to which you already have access. Just keep in mind the quality of these options as you collect them.
PLAN FOR ALL SEASONS
Chickens are hardy creatures that are used to weathering the elements. However, their coop should be a comfortable home in which they can rest no matter what the weather is like. Make sure your chickens stay cool or cozy all year round by planning and building for all four seasons. Create plenty of ventilation to keep the building cool in the summer. This will also prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to rotting wood and other complications. On the other hand, you also need to properly insulate your coop. A draft in the winter can make your coop a miserable place to stay. You should also keep rain and snowfall in mind. How will you keep the doorways or the run clear of snow? Can your roof hold up to heavy rainfall? Plan for the elements now so that you don’t have to struggle with repairs later.
KEEP PREDATORS IN MIND
You’re not the only one who loves your chickens. A flock is a temptation for predators such as raccoons, foxes, snakes, or birds of prey. Make sure your coop can stand up to them. Overhead netting is a great way to deter hawks, owls, and other flying predators. When you put up fencing, be sure to bury it about a foot in the ground so that predators can’t burrow underneath it to get to your flock. You can also add features such as an automatic door or motion lights to keep the building secure at night.
MAKE A COZY NESTING SPACE
Your nesting boxes are some of the most important aspects of your chicken coop. You want your hens to be as comfortable as possible so that they can stay happy, healthy, and productive. Make sure your coop is big enough to hold all the nesting boxes you need—about one for every four to five hens, at a minimum. Chickens like to hang out above the ground, so be sure to raise your nesting boxes a couple of feet off the floor of the coop. You should also place the nesting boxes far away enough from the door that rain or snow won’t hit them. It’s also a good idea to put them in a shady part of the coop. Too much sunlight can warm the interior of your coop and make the nesting boxes a stifling place to rest—not ideal for any laying hen.
Of course, one of the most important tips for building your own chicken coop is to enjoy the experience. It’s not every day that you get to craft a home for someone. As you’re focusing on the comfort and safety of your birds, let yourself get creative with your ideas and designs. Consider adding fun elements such as chicken swings or uniquely crafted roosting bars. No matter what you do, be sure to take a moment at the end of your project to look upon your work and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Are you preparing to welcome a flock of chickens into your yard? Stromberg’s is here to help you every step of the way. From coop supplies to chicken processing equipment, we have everything you need to become a successful chicken farmer.