Preparedness blog

How to Build Your Own Chicken Coop

By Jeff and Amy Davis
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Recently, we’ve noticed a lot of neighbors starting to build chicken coops in their backyards. Chicken coops are a fantastic way for them to have fresh eggs and natural chicken on their dinner table.

Chicken coops allow you to be more self-sufficient, enabling you to raise your own food and implementing a stronger work ethic around your home. With neighbors and customers asking us about how they can be self-sufficient with their own chicken coop, we decided to write an article on how to build one.

If building a chicken coop is too much for you, you can always purchase one at a decent price. Also, don’t forget that you can always depend on freeze-dried Chicken or our EasyPrep Freeze-Dried Chicken Bucket. You get quality chicken without having to build anything.

Comment below and tell us what you’ve found helpful in building your chicken coop. Share this with a friend or family member to let them know you want to build one for yourself.

chicken coop blueprintWhere to house the flock
The first thing you’ll need to determine is where you’re going to set up your coop. Portable housing is ideal for chickens because it’s nice to periodically relocate them to fresh land. Many people rotate between three locations. However, this requires more land than normal.

If you don’t have a lot of land to move around on, it’s important to know where you are going to build your chicken coop. A good alternative is to divide the area around your coup into different areas and partition off certain sections at a time to allow vegetation to grow back. An ideal location for a coop is on a hill or slope that offers good drainage during rainy weather.

Depending on your maintenance restraints, you should consider building a fenced area onto the chicken coop. This keeps the chickens from getting into your garden and lets you control where they eat. The disadvantages to this, however, are that you have to bring them their feed each time.

Weather Accommodations
Depending on what type of weather you get throughout the year, you might have to install heating systems or good insulation in your chicken coop.

If you live in a mild-weathered area, your coop won’t need to be much more than a protective shelter from heavy rain and wind. In a harsh climate where the chickens are kept year-round, the insulation needs to keep chickens warm and keep combs and wattles from freezing.

How much space do I need?
The more room that chickens have, the better. Overcrowding your chickens leads to stress that can result in chickens fighting - pecking each other's feathers or flesh.

The minimum living space per chicken is usually figured to be about 4 square feet per heavy breed chicken and 3 square feet per light breed chicken. If the chickens are not allowed to roam around in a pen or yard, you need to make this space bigger. A heavy breed will need about 10 square feet while a light breed will need about 7.5 square feet of enclosed space.

Outdoor Indoor Only
# of Chickens Heavy Breed Light Breed Heavy Breed Light Breed
1 4 sq ft 3 sq ft 10 sq ft 7.5 sq ft
2 8 sq ft 6 sq ft 20 sq ft 15 sq ft
3 12 sq ft 9 sq ft 30 sq ft 22.5 sq ft
4 16 sq ft 12 sq ft 40 sq ft 30 sq ft
5 20 sq ft 15 sq ft 50 sq ft 37.5 sq ft
6 24 sq ft 18 sq ft 60 sq ft 45 sq ft
7 28 sq ft 21 sq ft 70 sq ft 52.5 sq ft
8 32 sq ft 24 sq ft 80 sq ft 60 sq ft
9 36 sq ft 27 sq ft 90 sq ft 67.5 sq ft
10 40 sq ft 30 sq ft 100 sq ft 75 sq ft
15 60 sq ft 45 sq ft 150 sq ft 112.5 sq ft
20 80 sq ft 60 sq ft 200 sq ft 150 sq ft
25 100 sq ft 75 sq ft 250 sq ft 187.5 sq ft

Remember that these are the minimum sizes that you need to make a chicken coop. The bigger the area, the more comfortable the chickens will be.

General rules to consider
A poultry house should be warm, dry, well-lit, and include ventilated shelter with convenient arrangements for roosts, feeding space and nest boxes. Fowls will stop laying eggs and their health will suffer when confined in cold, wet or dark conditions. Windows should be installed on the south or southeast sides. They should also be big enough to admit the sun freely and be able to slide open to increase circulation during the summer. During the winter, focus on providing enough light to the chickens while still keeping them warm.

Beyond those general requirements, your chicken coop can take on a lot of different sizes and designs. Here are a few that you might consider:


Small Coop Design
This design, is pretty small - 2x2 feet and 2.5 feet tall. It will typically house 1-2 chickens. The nesting box is located on the back of the coop and has a lid for easy egg collection.

• Accommodates 2 chickens
• Ventilated on the back wall
• Above ground for easier egg collection
• A roost for chickens to perch
• Two door entry

Check out the design images below and get instructions on how to build this design here.


Medium Coop Design
This is designed for about 4 chickens. It has an easy access side and is a sturdy design.

• 32 square feet
• Pitched roof for weather
• Above ground for easier egg collection
• Windows for light
• Insulation on the sides

You can click on the images below to see larger details or get instructions on how to build this coop here.


Large Coop Design
This house is pretty large. You’ll need about 8 ft by 12 feet to build it. Check out the images below and print off the free instructions.

• 8 ft by 12 ft
• Rock bottom to protect against burrowing predators
• 7 feet tall
• Door access on the side
• Easy coop access with retractable entries


You can find these designs and many others at backyardchickens.com. They have plenty of great designs submitted by users.

What do you think?
Comment below to tell us what you've found helpful in creating your own chicken coop. How has it helped you be more self-sufficient?

Don't forget to check out our complete DIY archives and food storage supplies for ultimate DIY preparation.

9 years ago
Comments
Brittany
9 years ago at 10:16 PM
Cool! The table will definitely come in handy! I'm forwarding this to my husband. He has some work to do! :)
Cyndi
9 years ago at 4:59 AM
We just built one this summer. We live in Florida. Things we have already learned.... No such thing as to much ventilation. No matter what you build "make" sure you don't have to bend or climb in to clean, it gets very tiresome and makes the chore something you dread. We are older and our backs aren't made to shovel without being able to stand. After spending way to much to build our chicken coop we built an A-frame style for our new turkeys from design plans we found online for less then a quarter of cost and love it. Would love to build one for our chickens but can't justify it because we put so much money into chicken coop already.
mark wise
9 years ago at 6:25 AM
THanks the large coop plans and pictures. They gave me lots of ideas. It is time for some chickens and fresh eggs!
shar
9 years ago at 8:16 AM
Thanks I really need all the info. Maybe add a material list.The pics are a great help. Also a follow-up on the different kinds,care. and food for the different chickens.
createsjg
9 years ago at 8:16 AM
Fresh eggs are so superior in taste and with the economy on the precipice it is good to have the food as it is a great source of protein. Thanks for the info and the chart to make it fit anyone's needs
PMEdge
9 years ago at 9:53 AM
I found that using 1" wire works alot better at keeping predators and SNAKES out of a chicken coop, it costs more, but the benefits are much greater. Nothing wakes you up faster than opening the chicken nesting area and coming face to face with a snake eating the eggs!!
Diversified Dan
9 years ago at 11:14 AM
Good information to have. I built one similar to the large one pictured, except I mounted it on 4x4 skids. This allowed me to move it occasionally by just hooking up to my lawn tractor and sliding it to a new location. This has to be done or the nitrogen rich "chicken exhaust" will kill all the vegetation in the enclosure.
Anne H
8 years ago at 5:41 PM
I have yet to see anything on what to do with chickens that are no longer producing eggs. I know they can get too old; so what happens in that case? Also, I recall my grandparents kept chickens and having fresh roast chicken for Sunday dinner. I never knew how that happened but now I can figure it out. But not sure I could do THAT to one of my chickens! Does anyone have an answer for me?
Dan
5 years ago at 7:05 AM
That's a great question Anne, what do you do after 3-5 years when your laying hens slow or quit production? Well this is when the decision to farm meets the owners responsibility to cull his flock. Fresh eggs are nice and chickens are cute pets....not. They are a food source and you would be hard pressed not to consider this because the time will come when it's time to put up or shut up if you don't consider that people don't want your non productive old hens. There's no old hen retirement homes. Old hens aren't very good to roast or fry but make excellent Stew broth, chicken and dumplings, etc.. Yes, the true responsibility comes in as a farmer and butchering is part of it and a fact of life or death in this case. At this time of actually killing your animals as your responsibility as a farm animal owner will need to be weighed. Do you have the stomach for it? Most farmers don't like butchering an animal for others that play weekend farmer and don't want to own the responsibility that comes along with it. They may show you the first time how it's done but expect you to to man up, or woman up in your case. Don't name your chickens, leave that for the kids or grand kids. You don't want to have to pay 50 bucks to have a vet put your chickens down do we?
Alex Smith
2 years ago at 12:58 PM
Many people have chickens and are not farmers... if you have chickens and the space for them to live out the rest of their lives that is a totally viable option. You do not need to kill chickens just because they stop laying eggs.. especially if you are attached to them. Commercial farming with no thought of the animals is disgusting and inhumane. PS i grew up on a dairy farm, i know what its like.
GODFFVJ
8 years ago at 4:01 PM
i have seen a lot of information and i think this is the best i've read and i had tested it out and it works.but i had a chicken that died cried alot
Zor
8 years ago at 7:31 AM
Anne H., The term 'spent' is used for hens that are done laying. As for what you do with them you have some choices. 1. Let them free range around yoyr yard where they will continue to serve as an excellent insecticide. 2. Slaughter tthem, but her meat will be very tough so will best best in a soup. Also note, breeds known as 'layers' don't have nearly the meat on them that 'fryers' or 'broilers' have. 3. Give them to someone who wants the fertilizer and insecticde services the spent hen can offer. I would like to offer that if you plan to eat your spent hens, you don't give them names.
Doug
8 years ago at 11:30 AM
noname, Different breeds of chickens do have different temperaments. In my experience the "easy going" chickens include the feather footed Brahams (an Asian breed), and Rhode Island Reds. Both can be a gentle breed, but the Reds' roosters can be a tad aggressive at times, but usually not if treated well, and hand fed. Hand feeding daily really makes a difference in having gentle birds.
betty
8 years ago at 12:03 PM
I didn't see any mention of the expense in raising your own chickens. It is not cheap for feed and bedding but like any hobby it does bring great satisfaction. And one side note, being the "favorite" grandparents cause we have pet chickens doesn't hurt. Lol
Ron
8 years ago at 7:40 PM
If you plan on eating your chickens do it before the local black bears wake up from hibernation. If your coop could be broken into by a couple of football players, it will be no match for a couple hundred pounds of ursus americanus.
audrey
8 years ago at 12:12 PM
I have some questions I want to build a plain box dose it have to be off the ground? What kind of feed do they need? When is the best time to start?
Drew
8 years ago at 12:40 PM
Does anyone have a rough idea how expensive it would be to build the large coop? Thank you
Kathy
8 years ago at 10:11 PM
The coop plan are great. Personally I am looking for much larger. Also something for a northern Minnesota winter. The coop needs to be big enough to house egg laying chickens indoors all winter, but they can be indoor/outdoor in summer. Your large coop is to small to house them indoor all winter here. Plus I'm looking at around 60 hens. I need all the help I can get in finding some plans. Currently using a friends coop that is attached to her garages.
jon
5 years ago at 2:48 PM
I put wheels on the heavy end of the coup and it is nice to move around.