Chicken Coop Plans - How to Build a Chicken Coop
Proud Owners of a Chick!
Several years ago when our older kids were in elementary school, the first grade teacher had a project each spring where they would hatch chicken eggs and give the new chicks out to willing families who would "raise" the little guys or gals. Somehow we thought this was better than a dog, so we became the proud owners of a little chick we named Quad.
When you get a chick, it's gender is not know until it develops and either starts crowing (a male or rooster) or starts laying eggs (a female or a hen). Of course we were hoping for the hen and that is what we got.
Inexperienced as we were, it was soon obvious that we needed to house our chick somewhere, and of course a chicken coop is the answer. From a small cage to a custom built coop, here's a selection of things to keep in mind when you are building a chicken coop to house your egg laying friends - and eggs they do lay!
Raising Chickens on Amazon
Key Factors for Your Chicken Coop
Appearance - Make sure you check your city ordinances as a first step. The coop can be somewhat attractive and yet inconspicuous. It may need to be mounted up and with some clearance so that the lawn could be mowed and edged around it. High bushes can form a natural barrier to neighboring homes.
Protection from the elements - Thunderstorms, high winds, and depending on your area snowstorms are real issues, not to mention the heat of the summer. You may want to situate the coop under trees, reducing both sunload and direct rain. The bushes or trees can act as a natural windbreak. (One time we found ourselves searching for our chicken as the tornado sirens were going off. Couldn't find her, gave up, hid in the closet and came out after it had passed to find the chicken hid herself behind a fence section that was blown off it's posts. Smart bird. She was unscathed!)
Size - How many hens are you wanting to house? A typical coop might be built to handle 6 hens, but it will vary. You may need somewhere around four square feet for each hen if they are allowed to roam, or at least twice that much if they stay in the coop. Or, you can plan for a roaming area around the coop like the picture above. Note: there is still "chicken wire" around the roaming area. Now we know where that item came from!
Nesting box - Above the ground, but below the perch, it needs to be away from the main activity area so the hens feel safe and secure enough to lay their eggs.
Protection from predators - Everyone wants a piece of the chickens or their eggs. Raccoons, squirrels, rats, wolves and hawks are just a few of the critters you want to keep away. Be sure the sides have a fine enough mesh to keep them away from the goods.
Perches - Providing even a simple perch keeps the chickens spread out, making the cleanup a little easier.
These are just a few ideas, and you can find more complete chicken coop plans to help you buid a chicken coop in several books at Amazon. Probably the most popular is "Fresh Air Poultry Houses". There are also a few sets of plans for under $5.
One House for One Chick
We did this exercise twice, and our first chicken lasted about a year and half. It's demise was met by a hawk or such by the evidence we found. Since we started out letting her roam freely, this is how we came to know you need a cage or coop!
Our second chicken lived for 4 1/2 years with many stories to tell. We still let her roam the yard, but put her in a coop at night. We named that one Pat (after the SNL character) and she really became a pet. Was very good at eating the bugs out of our garden. We could have written a book with the experiences we had! Instead, check out this one by Catherine Goldhammer, Still Life With Chickens.