Are you trying to join the community of flock keepers and backyard chicken enthusiasts? Or are you just trying to learn to create something new? Learning how to build a chicken coop is what we are going to show you in this article.
A chicken coop is a pen or cage in which chickens are kept. There are also nest boxes found inside for chicken to lay their eggs on, and perches on which they can rest.
It also serves for protecting your chicken whether from cold and hot weather as well as from cats or other predators. You can build one for your chickens if you are planning to raise them in your backyard as it is a necessity to have it for your flock.
If you like animals, raising chicken could start as a hobby for you, but you can also make some money out of it which we are going to show you how to do it later on this article.
Easy Backyard Chicken Coop Plans
Deciding where to place your chicken coop is very essential for their well-being. What we always recommend is to choose a place ideally under the shade of a large tree.
Although chickens show that they adapt very well to temperature changes, their health deteriorates during high summer temperatures. If there is not tree around, it will be necessary to shade the run of the chicken coop with a shade cloth.
One of the first things to consider when building a chicken coop is the size. The decision of the size will depend on the number of chicken that you are planning to raise.
The minimum size to have per chicken is 2-3 feet square inside the coop and 4-5 feet square in the run. However, we recommend leaving extra space so that the flock will be healthy and there won’t be lots of squabbles between the chickens.
You also have to consider if you are going to be expanding the size of the flock by adding more chickens in the future.
You don’t have to worry much about the design as the chicken don’t care about the aesthetic look of the coop or if the corners aren’t perfectly square.
So just start and everything else will come along the way. Overall the design will be based on the number of chickens that you have and the degree of difficulty of the building process.
The easiest material to use when building a chicken coop is wood. As long as it is heat-treated it is fine to work with.
Chicken wire will also be needed to use as a fence around the run of the coop to keep the chickens in. A misconception that so many people have and even coop builders are that the wire fence will be enough to protect your flock from predators which is not true.
Therefore the material that you should use is wire mesh (hardware cloth) and it will protect your flock from cats, rats, snakes…etc.
Ventilation is another element that you should take into consideration during the building process. This will provide the coop with fresh air during summer-time and also allows the moist air out during winter.
So how to do it? Cut several ventilation holes around the top of the coop. In a cold climate, the size should be 1 square foot per 10 square feet of floor space. In warmer climates, it’s better to make the holes bigger.
You can also add a window to the coop to add more ventilation and sunlight to the coop.
The first thing to know is that chickens are very sociable so plan to get 4 to 6 birds in minimum. There exist numerous types of chicken and the choice you are about to make will depend on many factors such as space, noise level, climate, eggs production…etc.
One of our favourite breed types that we found work in almost any space and which also has a high laying egg production are these two types: Rhode Island Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks.
They are very docile, not very noisy and take confinement very well. You can them in any local hatchery or just small suppliers.
The requirements that you should take into consideration before buying the flock is that the hens must fully be vaccinated and in good health. They should also be at the stage where they are just about the lay their eggs (within 2-3 weeks).
Also, make sure to buy them from a reputable supplier who will be having no problem to share his contact details with you for follow up advice and questions.
Feeding and raising the hens
To properly raise your hens you should properly feed them and take care of them especially when they are laying hens. Chicken basically feed on grass and weeds in a field. They eat the growing tips as well as the seeds of the plants.
You can also provide them with food scraps such as beans, garlic, onions or citrus. They love grains, fruits and vegetables however there are certain components that you should include in their diet especially when your goal of raising chicken is to produce eggs.
One of these essential elements to include is grit sand or coarse dirt. Including one of these two elements is important because it helps the hens digest the food they forage.
It’s vital to prepare their food ahead and not just let this process be arbitrary. Another important element for their food consumptions is crushed oyster eggs as it provides the hens with calcium which increase their egg production.
Finally and most importantly, your flock should always have access to clean and fresh water. This will keep them happy, active and productive.
Make sure to change it as often as you can. One last thing which you will notice over time is that their consumption will increase during winter as they burn more calories and it will decrease during summertime, so do not be afraid it’s totally normal!
Best coop bedding materials
Bedding inside the chicken coop is also one of the most important elements to consider during the building process.
It’s not about luxury but it’s about providing your hens with sufficient litter but also a good quality one.
To first understand what bedding is, it is the layer that you will be using on the surface inside the coop to help cushion the hens’ feet when they walk and also when they lay their eggs.
There is a wide variety of beddings that you can choose from but here is one of the best suggestions that we chose for you:
1-Straw and hay: This is one of the most used beddings for chicken coops. Most people like it because of its earthly smell, easiness for the cleaning and the cheap price.
However, it doesn’t do well when it’s raining as it does not dry out easily which can create a mouldy environment for your hens. If you are opting for these options make sure to change it once per week.
2-Hemp: Although hemp can be a more priced option many farmers say that it is one of the best beddings they have used for their coop.
Hemp is made of the stalk of the cannabis plant which makes it an organic product and it is fully absorbent.
It keeps the coop clean for a longer period of time so changing it should be done once or twice per year.
3-Sand: Sand is also one of the best and safest options to use for the bedding. It is natural, very clean and tends to dry out much quicker as long as it raked out frequently. Although it’s expensive but it needs to be changed only once or twice a year.
Tips to take care of your chicken coops
- It is very essential to look after your hens especially from dangers such as the predators that might come and prey the hens such as cats, snakes, and foxes.
As we said before in order to protect your flock use wire mesh to prevent the predators from getting into the coop.
- To keep your chicken healthy it’s also important to have routine coop maintenance. Cleaning the coop will depend on how many hens you have bus once you smell chicken manure, it is time to clean up.
This way you will keep your hens healthy and productive and prevent them from getting infections. Also, any wet bedding should be removed right away.
- During winter hens will need to be fed more than normal days as they burn more calories. Also during summer and winter days, make sure to ventilate the coop.
The ventilation hole can be enough but you can also open at the same time the window for extra ventilation.
Making money from the chicken coop
Turn your hobby of raising hens to a money-making source. There are many ways from which you can make money from your flock and the first one is selling eggs.
A hen on average will produce 200 to 250 eggs per year and you can sell them at the local farmer’s market, to your friends, family or neighbours. The price range is about 3.5-5 dollars for a dozen.
A second way to make money is by selling hatching eggs. If you have a rooster in company with the hens then your eggs are fertile.
Their price range is about the same as eating eggs but sometimes depending on the market you can sell an egg up to 4 dollars.
Another know way is selling meat. This will preferably work better if you are raising broilers as they take only 8 weeks to grow.
You can sell the whole butchered bird for 20-25 dollars or 3-5 dollars per pound. This is by far one of the most money-making ways in the poultry business.