By Jennifer Poindexter (courtesy of morningchores.com)
If you stumbled upon this article, there's a high chance that you're new to raising chickens and looking to build a chicken coop by yourself. Not buying a pre-fabricated one.That's great. For most people with basic woodworking skill, building a chicken coop isn't really that hard. You just need a detailed plan to build one.
This is extremely important especially if you don't have any experience in building something like this before.There are a lot of free chicken coop plans on the internet. In fact, Backyard Chicken alone (one of the biggest online chicken owner communities) has more than 3,000 of them, submitted by the members.
But, the problem is, not all of them are good enough to follow.While I'm browsing the collection a few weeks ago, among those 3,000 ideas only 10% of them are realistically can be built by beginners. Most of them are either too hard to build or don't have detailed plans. That's why I created this article. I gathered 61 of the best-looking, easiest-to-build, or the cheapest chicken coop plan available so YOU too can build it by yourself.
How to Build the Right Chicken Coop
Before we start to the free plans, it's important to know what makes a good chicken coop. A coop isn't just a shelter, it's a house where your chickens live. Just like a human's house, the happiness and healthiness of your chickens highly influenced by the coop.That's why it's important to know these things before you build one. I'll keep it short, but if you want to skip to the first free plan, click the button: straight to the plans!
1. Decide the size of your coop
As a general rule of thumb, one chicken needs 3-4 square feet of space of coop. So if you're planning to have 3, then you'll need 12 square foot coop (3×4, 6×2, or bigger).However, if you plan to coop them all the time, you need at least 10 feet each. If the space is too small, your chickens will not be happy. The coop will get smelly real fast, your chicken will be stressed out, they will start pecking each other, they will get sick, and eventually, die. You can technically provide less than 3 square feet per chicken, BUT they must be outdoors most of the time. For smaller bantam breeds, you'll only need 2 square feet instead of 4.
2. Decide the location
Consider these when choosing the location for your chicken coop:
- Sunshine and shade – your flock needs natural sunlight, but not all day
- Wind – a nice flow of air is good, but avoid places exposed to strong wind. Under a tree is often a good place for reason number 1 and 2
- Ease of access – you'll need to check the coop 2 times per day or more, make sure it's easily accessible for human
- Smell and noise – don't place the coop too close to your house, or your neighbor's
Pro tip: Don't decide a location right away, monitor the area for at least one week to make sure there's no major problem.
3. Plan the coop
Your coop isn't just a wall and roof to protect your chickens, there are things on the inside (and outside) to keep your chickens alive and healthy. Here are a few important things to plan.
- Nesting box – this is where your hens will lay their eggs. You need to have at least 1 box per 2 hens with the size of 12x12x12 inches and about 10-20 inches above the ground
- Windows/ventilation – your chicken will get sick easily if there's no light and proper ventilation
- Feeder and waterer – for obvious reasons
- Perch area – chickens love to sleep on perch
- The run – in the addition to the shelter, an outdoor fenced area is important to keep your chickens happy
- Dust bath box – chickens need to clean themselves with dust to stay healthy
- Poop boards – place it below perching area, it'll save you a lot of time cleaning the coop
- Lighting – in the winter, warm lights can boost egg production
That's the basic, but not everything. I can't go too in-depth in this article, otherwise, the whole page would become too long.
And that's all you need to know…now you're ready to build a chicken coop!