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Chicken Coops For Happy Hens

Updated on September 14, 2014

What Is Your Favorite Breed Of Hen?

There are literally hundreds of chicken breeds, but these are some of my favorites, in no particular order. So far the Rhode Island red is leading, by a small margin from the Plymouth Rock, but let's have your own favorite.

Which ones would you like to have in your backyard?

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What Do The Best Chicken Coop Plans Provide?

If you are new to the joys (and there are many) of keeping hens, you might be feeling that there seem to be more costs than advantages to your new pastime, and are looking at every angle that could save you money. You know that your birds will need some sort of proper chicken coop but are aghast at the sky-high costs of those great looking hen houses down at the hardware store. The obvious alternative is a bit of henhouse DIY.

This is a good idea. You will save a fistful of cash and, even better, get to customize the chicken coop design exactly the way you want it.

Best of all, your hens will be happy too - and that leads to more eggs!

OK, So How Do I Design And Build A Chicken Coop?

Henhouses are not difficult to make. Some people simply lash a few bits of wood together with some wire and - hey presto! - they have a coop. Of sorts. I'm not sure quite what their chicks think about it, and maybe their chicks' opinions don't matter too much, but I think they are wrong.

Hens need a safe, comfortable, peaceful and healthy environment, just like any other animal. This is especially true if you want lots of lovely, fresh eggs every day.

There is a simple equation where hens are concerned.

Poor Coop = Unhappy Hens = Lousy Egg Production

Good Coop = Happy Hens = Lots of Good Quality Eggs

Great Books About Raising Chickens

From time to time you will need to refer to expert advice on keeping hens. It might be about detecting and treating common poultry diseases, or how to stop some chicks being bullied. Or the best diet. Or lots of other problems that might need the hard experience of others to solve.

Here are some great books to help you keep your hens happier, healthier and more productive (ie, lots of fresh eggs!):

Raising Chickens For Dummies
Raising Chickens For Dummies

Still the essential reference boook for chicken-lovers, it has up-to-date and detailed guidance covering all aspects of hen caring. Choosing and purchasing chickens, designing and building hen houses, proper feeding, security and health. Click here for eggs, meat, or backyard entertainment made easy!

 
The Chicken Health Handbook
The Chicken Health Handbook

Essentail reading for everything that can go wrong with your hens: diseases; problems with overcrowding;cannibalism; vitamin deficiency and what it causes; and predators. Click here to find the best preventative measures, culling practices and balanced diets for your flock.

 
Keeping Chickens:  Getting the Best From Your Chickens
Keeping Chickens: Getting the Best From Your Chickens

A must-have book for everyone involved in the growing pastime of keeping hens, either for eggs or meat. Everything from egg-laying to ease of keeping more than 70 different breeds, including such things as how to set up and maintain a healthy coop to keep your chickens warm, dry and safe from predators. Click here to discover all the issues you need to know about.

 

That's settled, then. You want to build a good chicken coop. How do you go about designing it?

One way is to take a look at a good hen house diagram or two but, unless you already know exactly what you want, you will quickly find that you need some sort of professional guide to help you. Luckily there are many good ones on the market, and some of these are available online to download.

Let's take a look at what the best hen house DIY guides provide - I think you will be surprised!

First - A Design Guide

There are lots of things that will shape the design of your henhouse, and it is worth getting hold of a good chicken-keeping guide to help you - not just in the beginning but also as your brood develops later. These are some of the more important design considerations:

Space. Allow about 4 square feet per bird inside the coop and about 16 square feet per bird in the outside run. These are rough dimensions, and you will need to adapt them to the breed of hens that you have. You should plan on a chicken run (see below for reasons). A good guide will help you calculate these areas and also help you select the right location.

Safety. Check out the common poultry predators in your area. These could be rats, racoons, foxes, dogs, eagles, snakes - you get the picture! The hens will need a good, strong, predator-proof run during the day. Their coop must be a safe haven from night-time prowlers as well. A good guide will help you considerably in the design of your coop and run, putting your mind at rest about these potentially fatal threats to your flock.

Weather. Chickens are reasonably tolerant of most weather conditions but, again, the best chicken coop guides will show you what you need to include in the design to protect the birds in your particular environment.

Food and Water. What food to give your birds and where to get it at good prices - the best guides will cover this in detail. Also how to provide enough water and to prevent the hens fouling it too much. There are all sorts of design choices here.

Ventilation. The coop must be warm enough but not too warm, cool enough but not too cold. It must have adequate ventilation but be free of direct drafts.

Maintenance. You need to keep the coop clean and secure from vermin. This means good access for you, difficult access for those darned racoons!

Egg Collection. Probably the whole point of the exercise. You need to be able to collect the eggs easily but without disturbing the hens too much. Nesting boxes per every 3 laying birds is a good idea.

These design aspects will be covered by the best chicken coop design manuals. They will also present you with a good range of designs, probably grouped around the budget you have in mind. This is most useful.

Second - Coop Assembly

Once you have selected the design of your coop you will need some good assembly plans. These need to be a good mixture of diagrams and drawings, showing the assembly in a simple step-by-step process so that nothing gets overlooked.

The good guides not only provide you with clear dimensions and instructions but also include full lists of all the materials and tools required. This is quite difficult to prepare yourself unless you are an experienced woodworker, so having an expert do it for you will save you a whole lot of time and anguish.

Believe me, nothing is more annoying than getting to a critical stage of assembly and then finding you are missing a vital fastener or piece of lumber.

Given proper preparation you will find the actual building of the chicken coop to be easy and straightforward. It's really a lot of fun, probably helped by your hens getting under your feet and offering lots of advice in their own particular way!

Building A Chicken Coop Is A Family Affair! - How One Family Made A Home For Their Chicks

Making your own coop is a whole lot of fun. Here's how one family did it.

Anything Else?

The best hen house diy guides will be a source of reference for all areas of poultry management, from selecting the breed through raising your flock from day-old chicks to proper husbandry of the adult birds. They are much more than just a set of simple chicken coop plans.

People who keep chickens are often independent sorts who dislike paying anything more than absolutely necessary for anything. Saving on the build costs by doing a bit of henhouse DIY is one thing, but they begrudge spending the few dollars to find the best design and to get some proper plans. I think that this is a mistake and, in the end, it is the hens that suffer.

I really believe that a good set of plans is a small but sensible investment that will ensure the health and happiness of your hens.

Check Out The Best Hen House DIY Guides

Here is one of the best hen house DIY guides currently available online. It includes all of the design and assembly aspects for chicken coops that I have outlined in this Lens, as well as a huge amount of information and guidance on chicken keeping, provided by an expert in this field.

Chicken Coop Step By Step Guide for Beginners
Chicken Coop Step By Step Guide for Beginners

No advanced carpentry skills required - this little book tells you exactly how to design and build your own chicken coop, literally from the gound up. Check out all the details by clicking the button.

 

There's Always eBay!

Sometimes there are some useful bits and pieces that you know you need for finishing off your chicken coop but don't know where to find them. Often eBay has some good ideas. Here's today's recommendation:

Your Comments Are Welcome!

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    • kgracie profile image
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      Kieran Gracie 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Tricia Deed: Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment. I'm glad I was able to add something to your lens. And many apologies for my tardy reply - family health issues have prevented me from spending as much time as I would like in Squidoo.

    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 3 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Good advice. You offered some information which I did not include in my lens.

    • kgracie profile image
      Author

      Kieran Gracie 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @flycatcherrr: I hope that your neighbours' hens don't annoy you too much with their squawking - they love to announce the arrival of each new egg, don't they?

    • kgracie profile image
      Author

      Kieran Gracie 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @anonymous: Thank you, Tipi. Maybe one day you will have them?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very well done. Wishing I had the coop and chickens. :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      I don't have chickens myself, but a number of neighbours have a few in their backyards so it's interesting to notice the different styles of chicken coops.

    • kgracie profile image
      Author

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      @flinnie lm: Thanks flinnie, glad you found it useful. Hope you get around to building a chicken coop someday soon!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi great info and tips on designing and building a chicken coop.

    • kgracie profile image
      Author

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      @JoshK47: Thank you, JoshK47. Happy that you found this interesting.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Excellent information! Thanks for sharing. :)

    • kgracie profile image
      Author

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      @RCGraphicsDesign: You're welcome, RCGraphicsDesign, and thanks for dropping in. Glad you liked this lens.

    • RCGraphicsDesign profile image

      RCGraphicsDesign 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great info.