Raising backyard poultry can be rewarding not only for the production of consumable eggs and meat but also for the companionship and personal pleasure.
Backyard chickens are not very strict when it comes to housework. They do not need running water, electricity or carpets. A modified basic wooden box is in a pinch, but there are some crucial things you need for your flock to guarantee their safety and well-being. Backyard chicken coops are essential for chickens for safety, well-being, egg-laying, and even breeding.
The basic shelter requirements are the most important need of all, a place where they can escape the blissful heat, the howling wind, and the blowing snow. The backyard chicken coops have to be water-resistant because there is nothing more unpleasant than a wet chicken.
Some other requirements are in the below section.
An adequate habitat is important for backyard chickens to coexist comfortably. If they are crowded, they are likely to start antisocial behaviors such as picking and pecking each other. Winter is the worst season for these behaviors, hens get restless and cause problems.
Ideally, the chicken coop should be cool in summer and warm in winter. Proper ventilation of your backyard chicken coop is important when it comes to temperature control. Good airflow will keep the chicken coop at an optimum temperature for your chickens. You need to install more ventilation holes if you find it is too hot.
For nesting boxes, you will need approximately one box for every three hens, but it never hurts to have more. There is always a particular package on which they will fight, so more is good.
In addition to a safe chicken coop, your chicken will also need access to some outdoor space, either contained or free of charge.
A strong and formidable cooperative will keep your hens safe at night. Do not imagine, even for a minute, that wolves will not be brazen enough to get into their garden and try to kill your chickens they will go to and will do, with catastrophic results for your chickens and heartbreak to you.
Start Building The coop
Having cute chicks in your backyard means that you will soon have to build a suitable coop for them because they cannot live in a cardboard box forever. The first idea of building a chicken coop on your own may seem intimidating. But if it is decided, it will turn out to be a one-week project in case you want a basic chicken coop for a small flock of chickens. If, on the other hand, you want to build an elegant and more elaborate coop, you will need more than a week, in addition to some advanced carpentry skills.
Whichever option you choose, your chicken coop will have two basic parts:
- A closed area where the chicken will sleep and lay eggs
- An open area where the chickens will spend most of the day wandering around.
This enclosed area must be elevated two or more feet so that you can collect the eggs that will fall on the floor. Anyway, there are many different ways to plan your backyard chicken coop, but here is a basic plan, along with step-by-step instructions, that you can easily change and adjust to suit your tastes and needs.
Plan The Size And Choose The Location
Start by considering the size of the coop. Let this be your guideline: the minimum space per bird is 2 to 3 square feet for the closed area and 4 to 5 square feet for the open area. These are the minimum requirements, but it is not written in stone. Therefore, if you have additional space, feel free to plan a larger coop than necessary. On the contrary, it is not recommended to make a smaller chicken coop because if the chicken coop is crowded, the hens will fight frequently.
As for the location, try to find a space with a large deciduous tree. This would be ideal for chickens because it will create shade in summer and winter when the leaves fall, the chickens can bask in the sun.
If you don’t have that place, don’t worry. You will only have to use a shade cloth to shade the open area during the summer.
Required Materials To Build
As for the materials, you should try to find wood that is naturally resistant to rot, such as redwood and cedar.
On the other hand, you can also find pressure-treated lumber, but this is not a good option because it can contain heavy metals that can be harmful to your chickens.
In addition, you will need to obtain the metal chicken mesh to cover the open area and protect your chickens from predators. And finally, some hinges and nails, screws and baling wire will also be needed.
Step-by-step Guide To Build The Coop
Set up vertical 4×4 posts in concrete to form the rectangular shape you chose for the chicken coop. The front posts should be 8 feet tall, while the rear ones should be 6 feet tall.
Locate the place 2 feet away from the right front corner. Add a 4×4 post there; It must be 8 feet tall and will be compatible with the entrance to the open area of the chicken coop.
Take a 2×4 post and screw it horizontally between the posts mentioned in Step 2; To screw the post, locate the height of 6 feet on the right front of the open area.
Now you can build the door frame that should fit the space of the gateway. The size of this rectangle must be 2×6. As for the materials, use 2×2 lumber and screw or nail the posts together.
If necessary, to prevent the gate frame from sagging, you can use a non-slip gate kit. Once the frame is finished, use galvanized door hinges to attach it to the corner post.
Now you can go ahead and work ion the enclosed area. Therefore, locate the position that is approximately 1/3 of the distance from the left side corner posts and add two parallel 4×4 posts. The height of the posts must be the same as the height of the other front and back posts. In this way, it will support the enclosed area frame.
When you finish that, take a look at all the front and rear posts of the coop frame. You should now attach a 2×4 horizontal frame between the top of all these posts. In addition, you will have to add three more at an angle between the three pairs of front and rear posts, and they will be rafters.
Go to the left side of the coop frame, locate the four posts there and fix a 2×4 horizontal post frame. The frame should be 24 inches off the ground. These frames are to support the floor of the enclosed area.
Now you can add the floor planks at the top of the 2/3 front of this 2×4 frame. Use decking screws or galvanized nails to join the planks.
Measure the chicken wire and use it to cover the remaining 1/3 of the floor. As your chickens will use this part to rest, the droppings will fall through the hardware fabric so they can be collected from below.
The basic framework of the chicken coop is almost finished. You just have to make sure your chickens are protected against animal digging. Then, go to the open area of the coop and dig a trench around the perimeter of the area. It must be approximately 12 inches deep.
Take the chicken wire and stretch it between the posts of the open area to the right 2/3 of the frame. Stretch it vertically between the posts to form walls and horizontally to form the roof. To attach the chicken wire to the posts, use poultry staples. The chicken wire must reach the bottom of the trenches. Once you do this, refill the trenches with soil to keep the cable in place.
Use chicken wire to cover the door frame as well.
NOTE: Take a look at the diagram below to get a better idea of how the coop should be.
There really isn’t much to do for the open area. You will only have to cover the ground with a thick layer of straw that will absorb moisture during rainy days or chicken droppings.
It is also recommended to add a watering device that hangs about 6-8 inches from the ground. You can connect it to one of the rafters with bailing wire.
In case this open area doesn’t get any shade, you should definitely consider adding a cloth on the top of the roof. This will protect your chickens from warm weather.
And the last thing for the open area is a ramp that the chickens will use to go from the closed to the open area and vice versa. This ramp is nothing more than a wooden plank approximately 8 inches wide. Simply place the planks so that it goes from the closed platform to the ground level.
The closed area will need some more things to add there. First, add a 2×2 roosting bar along the back wall over the chicken wire floor. As for the length, you will need at least 8 inches per bird.
Then, there should be some nest boxes. Generally, one square, the 12-inch box is enough for 3-4 chickens. Nest boxes should be placed along the front wall and about 24 inches from the floor. If you don’t feel like making your own nests, you can find prefabricated or use plastic kitty litter boxes.
On the other hand, if you are excited to build these boxes on your own, you can use some simple wooden shelves, add some plywood to serve as dividers and fill the boxes with straw. One thing to think about is that nest boxes should be placed lower than roosters.
Since hens will always try to find the highest places in a chicken coop, if you place the nest boxes high and your chickens start using them to rest, the nests will get dirty quickly.
And finally, you will need a feeder and a watering device. They can be attached to the rafters with bailing wire so that they hang between 6 and 8 inches above the ground.
The final steps
The open area is finished, so you just have to finish the closed area and your coop will be ready for its inhabitants. Then, the walls and ceiling are still missing. For this purpose, you can use any waterproof material. (An additional 2×4 frame will be necessary for the walls and roof structure).
However, one important thing to keep in mind here is that you should not forget to plan access to clean the chicken coop and collect the eggs. To ensure that these access points are raccoon-proof, use a normal door latch with a carabiner on the turnbuckle.
It is recommended to have access on three sides. Therefore, you will need a door where you will establish the ramp that goes from the closed to the open area. As for the size, 12×12 inches are usually enough for this door.
On the front wall, there must be access to collect the eggs. The size should be hatches of 12×12 inches.
And to be able to clean the chicken coop and access the feeder and water, a 2×5 foot door to the left wall is good for this.
To build these access doors, a simple 2×2 frame will suffice. Do this in the same way as the main door frame that you will use as an entrance to the open area.
To cover these frames, use the same material you used to cover the closed area of the chicken coop. You will not need to use the anti-slip kit for these frames.
And the most important thing is ventilation, especially in summer. The part of the floor in the closed area covered with the chicken mesh, as well as the main door will let air in. However, hot air will have to have a way out of the chicken coop. To make these vents, just leave a space between the roof eaves or cut some vents near the top of the walls. As always, make sure your chickens are protected from animals, so cover these vents with chicken wire.
Check out the diagram of your backyard chicken coop completed below. Again, this is a basic coop, but you can modify it in any way you like.
Moving The chickens To The Coop
Once your chicks are between 5 and 6 weeks old, you can start moving them to the chicken coop. Basically, this is the time when they are no longer fluffy, but have a complete set of feathers that can keep them warm while they are outside.
Now, if you’re worried about how your chickens will accept the new home, you don’t have to worry so much. Some chicken parents keep their chickens locked in the chicken coop for several days to give them time to adapt and accept the coop as their safe home. In addition, you can place some dummy eggs in nest boxes, which will show the hens that they should use them to lay eggs.