More people than ever choose to raise chickens in their backyards. For some, keeping chickens is a way to put fresh organic produce on the table.
For others, raising chickens is an opportunity to bring children closer to the reality of where food comes from. Others do it for fertilization, which is very beneficial for other plants.
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Whatever your reason for wanting to raise chickens, you need a chicken coop to keep them safe and healthy. There are many different business options, but building a custom-built barn for your herd is a good idea, because it costs you less and is also tailored to your own needs.
In this article we present some important things to consider before building your own chicken coop (with some tips), and then we offer 30 ideas (with photos, links to do-it-yourself tutorials and free plans in the end) to help you choose the best type of chicken coop to build in your garden.
By answering the following questions you can build the best chicken coop (do-it-yourself style) for your needs.
How many chicks do you want?
The first thing you have to do is decide how many chickens you want to raise. Each chicken needs four square meters of space in the henhouse.
Chicks that stay too close, fight and eventually kill each other. If you are building a chicken coop, consider breeding more in the future. We can’t have too much space.
Does Co-op need to be moved?
Chicken houses are basically available in two different models: Stationary (fixed) or towed (mobile) berths. Permanent poultry houses are easier to build because they are made of sustainable materials.
So they tend to last longer than tractor cages that can be moved from one place to another. Having a permanent cage also makes it much easier to protect your herd from predators.
Also, if you’re worried about dead spots of chicken manure in your garden, tractor cages are the answer.
How to protect chicks from predators
Chickens are incredibly vulnerable to predators such as hawks, owls, weasels, raccoons and coyotes. So it’s very important that you protect them.
Keep them inside wire or wooden fences that have very small openings. Make sure you cover the top of your chicken coop with solid wood or solid chicken wire or other material that prevents birds from entering.
Understand that predators can bury themselves under the chicken coop. So don’t leave it on the floor. If your chickens are outside most of the day, plant small bushes in their run to give the birds shade and insects.
At the same time, destroy as many shrubs, trees and plants that are directly outside poultry house as they are ideal shelters for predators.
Where are the chickens in the house (cocks)?
At night the chickens rest naturally on their perch. It’s instinctive behaviour to keep them away from earth predators.
They like the highest perch. Make sure you have a perch (preferably 10 cm wide) with enough space to sit as high as possible in your poultry house.
If this is not possible, all perches must be at least 1.5 feet off the ground. Give each chicken at least 15 cm space for the cock.
Where do hens nest?
You can never have enough birdhouses. This is where the hens will lay their eggs. A good rule of thumb is to have a nesting box for three chickens.
These boxes must be completely closed on three sides and have a small opening at the front. The size of the nest box depends on the breed of chicken you raise, but it must be at least 1.5 times the size of the bird.
Are the chickens too hot or too cold?
While many people are worried about the cold of their chicks, the small down feathers underneath their upper feathers work naturally to isolate them from the cold.
In fact, chickens can withstand low temperatures without heating. However, if you live in a very cold place, it is a good idea to put some insulation between the side walls of the henhouse.
Also remember to close large openings in the chicken coop (broken wood holes, etc.) to prevent cold air from entering.
A much bigger problem for chicks is ventilation. If you are building a poultry house, make sure there are multiple windows and other means to let the wind blow through the house during warm periods.
Keeping chicks in a closed (airtight) room without ventilation can lead to shortness of breath. It is, of course, necessary that these openings are closed in some way to deter predators from committing the coup.
Is the Co-op easy to clean?
If you can smell the smell of the chicken coop, the ammonia formation in the chicken coop is already harmful to the birds. It is therefore necessary to build a shed that is easy to clean.
A concrete or wooden floor in the poultry house makes it easier to clean the house. Consider how easy it will be to clean the nesting boxes and perches, as each area will need to be disinfected regularly.
Once you have answered the questions above, you are ready for your first do-it-yourself project in the barn. By taking different factors into account, you can build the barn that best suits your needs.
Now let’s look at some design and do-it-yourself ideas for building a co-op. We designed tutorials and do-it-yourself images that we liked.
Don’t forget to read the end of this article to find some of the free resources we’ve put together for you.
Pay attention: You can also view the do-it-yourself projects and plans for dogs if you want to experiment with this kind of do-it-yourself projects.
Ideas for individual chicken co-operatives
1) Playhouse tipping kettle
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Chicken-Coop-from-a-Playhouse/
This guy is one of those people who believe in turning old things into something new and useful. In this way he transformed an old wooden slide with a playhouse on it into a working henhouse.
The house built by him accommodates 6 to 9 hens and has the following characteristics/specifications (only the important characteristics are listed below). See full instructions for details) :
- And the chicken and the human door.
- 2-3 outdoor nesting boxes.
- Removable and easy to clean base.
- It must be possible to feed the animals without them having to enter the henhouse.
- At least 2 windows that can be closed during the cold season.
- Raised from the ground to protect against water, etc.
- Easy access for maintenance.
2) Backyard poultry house
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Backyard-Chicken-Coop/
It is a chicken coop inspired by a number of barns seen by Kansas builders. It only cost $40, but it used materials from old cabinets, old houses in the neighborhood, and so on.
The size of the poultry house can accommodate 3 to 5 hens and certain rules are observed in the design of this specific poultry house:
- Plenty of room for the birds.
- Security (protection against predators).
- Room temperature control.
- Leave to dry with good ventilation.
- The ability to easily keep it clean with fresh food and water.
The builder also gives some important tips for the construction of poultry houses:
- Use a nest box (dark and comfortable) for 3 to 5 laying hens.
- Do not use treated wood because it can make the birds sick.
- Make openings in the windows to cool down the temperature in summer.
- Build strong, waterproof walls so there is no wind in winter.
3) Large and cheap chicken
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Chicken-Coop-BigCheapStong/
A total of three sheets of plywood were used for the loft (one for the front/rear side, one for the floor and roof, and one for the sides).
You can build it using only hand tools (hand saw, screwdriver, hammer), which makes it easier if you don’t have any power tools in the house.
Here is a list of accessories:
- 3 sheets of plywood.
- 2×4 (6 feet long) to build four vertical legs.
- 2×4 (8 feet long) for horizontal bits.
- Screws and nails.
- Wood glue.
- Outer paint (1 gallon).
- 2 door hinges.
The above barn does not include the laying hens, the ramp, the lighting, the heating and the enclosed outdoor space necessary to operate a complete barn.
4) Lollipop chicken house
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/MY-120-Lollipop-Chicken-Coop/
This ice house was built for less than $120 and has front and rear windows, a two-piece ladder, a side door, two egg crates, etc.
The most important materials used in construction: Pallets, 2×2 and 2×4 wood, tiles, plywood panels, etc.
Here are the materials for this specific cooperative farm:
- 10-12 2×2 for the roof posts of wall constructions (we even found and used some).
- 2’x4’x.5″ thick base (laminated or treated)
- 6 feet 4″x4″ for a henhouse stand
- 4 ft 4″x4″ for ladder support
- 6 fence posts for front panel cladding and stairs
- Equipment= Hinges, eye locks, eyes, fittings, aluminium gutters, screws, roof nails, eye bolt nuts.
- Miscellaneous – demolition wood for steps and rear upholstery.
5) Large chicken stove made of recycled wood and pallets
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Pallet-Recycled-Wood-Chicken-Coop/
If you want to learn how to build a chicken coop from pallets, you need a source of do-it-yourself instructions.
This model is intended for the most experienced builder and takes a few days to build. The man who built it said it took him two weeks to design it and a couple of weekends to build the chicken coop. Because it is a large building, you also have to ask if you need a building permit.
The dimensions of this structure are as follows: 2′ long, 6,5′ wide and 6′ high at the entrance side, descending to 5’8″ at the rear (it is built on a slope). At this size it can contain 18 to 20 adult chickens. Because the birds can move freely during the day, it is mainly used for roasting.
The main materials used for this chicken coop are recycled wood, pallets, laminate flooring, etc. Concrete was also needed to fix and anchor the frame spacers in the holes. The total cost did not exceed $500.
6) Doghouse converted to henhouse
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-From-Dog-House-to-Chicken-Coop/
It is a doghouse that has been converted into a henhouse to house 2 or 3 birds. The goal of the couple that built the chicken coop is to be cheap, to have enough space for 2-3 chickens and to be lifted off the ground.
Simple materials are used (next to the old wooden niche):
- Plywood to make an oval door.
- 2x4s for a raised base frame.
- 4×4 for basic legs.
- Jigsaw, table saw, wood screws, hinges, lock, etc.
The final cost of the barn was about $20, but there are still some improvements to be made, such as a chicken coop, insulation, etc. The final cost of the barn was about $20.
7) Chickens in strong band
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Chicken-Coop-3/
This cooperative has received good reviews about the project and its square 3′ by 10′ long to accommodate 8 chickens.
The high and robust design makes it a good choice to protect chickens from predators.
The floor is made of gauze, but wood can also be used if desired. One side of the nest boxes and the other side, instead of the wooden walls, is covered with wire again.
8) Mobile home
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Mobile-Chicken-Coop-with-some-automation/
The purpose of this mobile chicken coop is that the owner can place it in different places on the yard so that the chickens do not destroy the yard.
The dimensions of this construction are 4 feet by 3 feet with a height of 5 feet on the high side and 4 feet on the low side. The chicken coop is two meters from the ground.
One of the high-tech features of this poultry house is that it has an electronic controller (Arduino) that automatically closes the door and also controls some sensors on water level, temperature of the poultry house, etc.
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/homemade-chicken-coop/
The dimensions are 5′ x 5′ for indoors and 10′ x 5′ for outdoors (total height about 5-1/2′) and can contain 5 chicks.
Three nesting boxes have also been built in the chicken coop, as can be seen in the link above. There are two doors: the upper door for collecting the eggs and the lower door for washing the floor.
10) Large tractor cooperative
Source and do-it-yourself instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Large-Tractor-Coop/
This is a large 4-wheeled (10 inch) mobile henhouse that you can move around in your garden.
It is comfortable for 14 chickens and is 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high (plus roof). Inside there are three holds and four 4-foot perches. The irrigation system consists of a bucket with cat litter on the roof leading the water via vinyl tubes to a PVC tube with four chicken nipples.
The cost of materials for construction was about $100 and included :
- 2 pressure impregnated 4×4 lumber (cut in 4-foot lengths)
- Exterior 3/8 plywood panels
- 4 wheels with a diameter of 10 inches or more
- Bolts, washers and nuts
- Deck screw in different lengths
- Bearing bolts
- Primer and exterior paint
- Half-inch floor and fenced floor material.
- 3-foot threaded tube for axles (diameter determined by the wheel hub)
- Plexiglass for windows (optional)
20 Other ideas for custom-made chicken co-operatives
We have another 20 ideas for the design of chicken clubs tailored to your do-it-yourself project. Take advantage of it:
Free chicken coop plans
Here are also some free plans for your do-it-yourself project:
How to build a chicken coop, step by step
There are several books available to help you build a chicken coop from scratch. I recommend the following two books by Amazon:
Do-it-yourself chicken ideas.
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