Raising chickens is a great way to provide healthy, organic nourishment for your household sustainably. It also comes with the added benefit of companionship since chickens make excellent pets. A good chicken coop is essential to making sure your fowl friends stay healthy and safe from predators and harsh weather. Fortunately, building one at home is much easier than you think. Whether you're a rural resident or a city dweller, there's a DIY chicken coop plan to suit your needs.
Every DIY chicken coop needs access to sunlight, and clean space for your chickens to enjoy the fresh air. Free-range birds need 2 square feet of space in the coop. If they are confined full time, they'll require 8 to 10 square feet. An enclosed run should allow 3 to 6 square feet of room for each bird to exercise. Hens will lay eggs in the privacy of individual nesting boxes, and a convenient access door makes collecting them a breeze. First-time chicken farmers should start with two or three hens, but a large enough henhouse allows room for expanding your flock.
A basic backyard chicken coop is functional for both its feathered tenants and their human keepers. The coop's interior is only for roosting at night and laying eggs, so an outdoor chicken run should be part of the design unless the chickens are free-range. A fully enclosed coop and grazing area provide enough room for comfortable birds, and ventilation to discourage infections. Make cleaning more straightforward by including hinged access doors in the design, or build a walk-in coop for the most convenience.
You might not have enough space in your yard for a large coop and adjoining chicken run. Raised DIY chicken coops are perfect if you have limited room, and raising free-range chickens is not an option. This raised design gives chickens shade from the sun while keeping them close to the coop. It also keeps your feathered friends out of reach of daytime predators like coyotes, hawks, and stray dogs and cats. Consider a small raised pen for a few chickens or housing baby chicks.
Raised coops not only provide respite from the sun, but they also create enough room under the shelter for chickens to take dust baths. This ritual rids the skin and feathers of dirt, built-up oils, dead skin, and parasites. The added square footage also helps to keep the chickens less stressed since they aren't competing for space. Another benefit of some raised coops is convenience. A waist-high henhouse could reduce the likelihood of back injury during cleaning.
If you have the square footage, a prefabricated shed makes an excellent start for a spacious, DIY weatherproof chicken coop. A dog door adapts well for the chickens, and household windows work with sturdy chicken wire for added protection. Inside the roomy coop, you'll have space for multiple nesting boxes, food and water, and a roosting ladder. Chickens defecate when they sleep, so arranging their perches to mimic stadium seating effectively keeps hens from making a mess on each other.
Portable poultry pens, also known as chicken tractors, are useful for controlled grazing. Chickens pull foliage and turn the soil as they scratch at the ground for food. Chicken tractors are portable pens that allow you to guide your birds where they are needed without letting them disrupt flowerbeds and gardens. One person can comfortably move a small coop made from PVC pipe and metal wire. Tractors can pull larger pens across the yard, ensuring your lawn receives a healthy layer of chicken manure.
A-frame chicken coops are perfect for beginners. The construction is basic, easy to build, and potentially uses fewer materials. It is also an appropriate design for chicken tractors since the structure is more lightweight and efficiently pulled. Free-range chickens can use the sleek coop overnight, moving to a new location each day. The most appealing design includes an open bottom, which allows the manure to reach the soil and keep the coop clean. Many DIY A-frame coops lack perches and nesting boxes in their design. Be sure to add these features for the health and safety of your fowl.
Portable mini chicken coops are a smart choice for keeping small flocks, petite breeds, and baby chicks in the yard. Its modest design makes the structure easy to move and can be assembled in a day. An old doghouse works perfectly as a mini chicken coop and, with a few modifications, can roost Bantam chickens year-round. Replace the original flooring with plywood to keep predators away, and use the spare wood for nesting boxes. Finally, add a coat of paint to match your home's decor, and your DIY chicken coop is now a charming focal point.
Keeping chickens in a city environment means you have to be considerate of your neighbors. A good coop design for urban gardens is visually pleasing and keeps your birds clean to reduce odors. Shelter your chickens until well after sunrise in a larger structure, limiting the chances that they will awaken sleeping neighbors. A greenhouse makes a lovely DIY chicken coop and limits noise while keeping your chickens safe from the dog next door. A covered chicken run will also protect your birds from predators and keep them from flying into the neighbors' yard.
The ideal breeds of chicken for your brand new coop depend upon your location and living situation. Bantam breeds are smaller birds and a better choice for urban farms. Not only can you keep more bantams in a smaller space, but they are also easier to handle. Their eggs are slightly smaller than those laid by larger fowl, but they contain more yolk and less white. Cold-hardy birds, like the Easter Egger, are sound choices for regions with harsh winters, while the Leghorn is known for its heat tolerance. Households with children should opt for friendlier varieties, like Silkies.