When deciding to raise backyard chickens, the first you need to think about is how to build a chicken coop. This is going to be their home, where they need to feel secure and to roost overnight. This will be the place where they bathe, drink, eat, scratch, forage, talk or run around. That’s why it’s important to set up their home correctly, even before buying your flock.
How to Build a Chicken Coop Step by Step
Planning the Coop
1. Choose the Size
The best size for a chicken coop depends on the size of your flock. Ideally, you should allow for at least 2 square feet of space for each chicken. However, there are various types of chicken coops:
This is used only for keeping chickens in the winter. Most likely, you won’t be willing to take them outside when it’s extremely cold, so they should have more space. Ideally, each of them should have 7 – 10 square feet.
- Outdoor chicken run
This needs more effort than a regular chicken coop, but it lets the birds have more space and enjoy the outdoors. The coop should allow 2 – 3 square feet of space per chicken inside, and 4 sq. ft. outside.
- Coop without the outdoor pen
This is the easiest way you can build a coop since you only need to make the indoor structure. Chickens will stay here all the time until you let them out so allow a minimum of 5 sq. ft. for each bird.
Remember that hens that lay eggs need a nesting area (1 sq. ft./ 4 hens) and a roosting area (6 – 10 inches/ chicken). Ideally, roosts need to be elevated by 2 feet off the ground to keep the birds dry when it’s raining.
2. Choose the Right Place
Ideally, when deciding where and how to build a chicken coop, you should consider a space under a large tree. This can prevent overheating in chickens and offer them some shade during summer. If they stay directly in the sunlight, they will lay more eggs. If you want to increase the production, place some warm yellow lights inside the coop.
Keep in mind that the more things you add inside, the less space there will be for chickens. However, there are some elements you must place there:
- Dust boxes – as you know, chickens have the habit of cleaning themselves with dust boxes. Add some and fill them with sand or dirt.
- Ventilation – not providing a proper ventilation can lead to disease because of the stale air. Include some small windows with chicken wire to let the air flow.
- Nesting area – you can easily create a nesting area for your chickens with baskets or boxes filled with sawdust or straws. One nesting area is enough for 4-5 hens, so set up more according to the number of hens.
- Perching area – for this, you just need to use a stick or some wood and hang it between the walls of the coop. Not only you offer them more space, but they can sleep more comfortably there.
4. Building from Scratch?
If you think it’s too hard to learn how to build a chicken coop, you can always repurpose some old shed, dog crate, or garage. However, make sure that the repurposed space fits your and the chickens’ needs. If you decide to build, the method we will be presenting below refers to building a simple coop that can be adapted for an outdoor pen as well.
How to Build a Chicken Coop
A standard coop measures 4 x 6 foot. If you intend on growing more chickens, then you can scale these measures accordingly.
6. Make the Floor
Cut a piece of plywood into the right size. Make sure that it’s thick enough (between ½ an inch and ¼ inch). To make it sturdier, you can screw some 2x4s around the perimeter at the bottom. For extra security, screw one in the middle of the floor as well.
7. Make A Solid Wall
This is just one of the walls that will not present an opening. As such, it’s the easiest to build. Yet again, you will need some plywood that is 6 foot long. Use 2x2s to screw underneath the vertical edges. Check for the 2x2s to stop 4 inches above the bottom.
8. Secure the Floor and the Wall
Place the wall on the floor. Secure it in place with 1 ½ inch screws, as well as construction glue. Make sure that the 4 inches of the plywood cover the 2x4s you used for the floor.
9. Make the Front Wall
Use the same time of screws as above and some construction glue and attach some plywood to the front. Make sure it’s 4 foot long and has a thickness of ½ inches. Screw it into the 2x4s you had previously placed on the bottom, as well as the 2x2s found on the wall. Next, cut the door opening. The latter you should plan out before cutting. Ideally, you should allow for 2 – 3 feet in width, while the height remains to be chosen by you.
10. The Back Wall
Use the second 4 foot piece of plywood and place it at the back of the coop, just like you did with the front panel. Cut and reinforce any door opening if you want to include it, following the same steps as above.
11. Make the Last Wall
For this, use 3 small pieces of plywood, one that measures 4 – 5 feet and two that are 2 feet big. Take a 2×2 and place it to the underside of one vertical edge of a 2-foot plywood. Do the same with the second piece. Make sure that the 2x2s are 4 inches away from the bottom.
12. Attach the Wall
Take a 2-foot panel and screw it next to the front, and the other place it on the back. The longer panel should come between the 2-foot ones. Line the edge with what’s left at the top of the 2-foot panels.
Building the Roof
13. Cut the Gables
Cut triangular pieces of wood (gables) that will be placed on the front and back to support the roof. Ideally, they should be 4 feet long. Cut them from ¾ inches thick board. Finally, notch them and make sure they fit correctly.
14. Fix the Gables
Place it the front gable on the front wall and fix it there with screws and construction glue. Do the same on the back.
15. Build and Notch a Truss
The truss and the gables need to have the same angle to support the roof. It’s basically a triangle with reinforcements, which you will place in the middle. Set it up on the coop, notch the wood where you will place it and slip it in the top of the side walls.
16. Make the Roof
Use 2 40×84 inches pieces of plywood with hinges. Join them along the longer side so that you will have a roof. Place it at the top of the coop and leave an overhang on the front and back. Finally, screw the roof both to the gables and the truss. Add a rooftop cap to make it weatherproof.
Add Doors, Legs, and Ladder
17. Add the Doors
Finally, you need to build the door frames and the doors themselves. It’s important to know how big you want them when deciding on how to build a chicken coop for your poultry. Simply nail or screw the pieces of wood together, then use some hinges to attach them. Also include some closure systems that can’t be easily opened by dogs or skunks, for instance.
18. Add Legs and a Ladder
The final step in our guide on how to build a chicken coop is to add some legs and a ladder. It’s important to raise the coop, though not compulsory. This step protects the chickens from predators since the ladder can be too narrow for them. As such, it can be hard for them to get to your birds.
19. Train Your Chickens to Use the Coop
Finally, now that you know how to build a chicken coop by yourself, you should know how to make the birds use it. Often, they can become stressed when transitioning. One solution is to keep them inside the coop for a week. Just like with other animals, use sounds and treats to make them go inside the coop. Choose a specific sound and throw treats in the coop for them to understand that they should go inside.
This is one simple method of learning how to build a chicken coop. You may stumble upon various other more complicated types or methods, but it’s important to choose the one you can build. The best part is that you can customize the coop as you wish. Moreover, it’s important to train your birds to come back to the coop. This process may take longer, depending on their habits and whether they like it inside or not. However, you can motivate them with treats and trigger their behavior with sounds.