Chicken coop plans and tips for homesteaders and backyard farmers. Maybe you’re dreaming of a backyard chicken coop and looking for free DIY chicken coop plans. Or maybe you are already keeping chickens and you’re finding your chicken coop is not meeting your needs. This is the article for you!
Today I’m going to share my best tips for chicken coops, chicken coop tips and maintenance and some free chicken coop plans for you to consider for a DIY project!
Chicken Coop Plans and Tips
What purpose does a chicken coop have?
The purpose of a chicken coop will vary on the goals of the homesteader or backyard farmer. The basic purpose is to keep your hens safe (especially if you don’t or can’t have a rooster). Even in a backyard, chickens can fall prey to a variety of hungry animals. Your chicken area must be predator proof! See Backyard Chicken Predators.
But a chicken coop will also serve to keep your chickens from eating your garden, laying eggs in undesirable places and pooping on everything. A secure chicken coop will also keep nasty rodents from eating your feed and drinking their water. See Keeping Rats and Mice Out of Your Chicken Coop
Not to mention they need a place to sleep at night!
Isn’t Better to Free Range My Chickens?
I think it is great to free-range chickens! Better for their health and better for your eggs. BUT you absolutely still need a chicken coop (see reasons above). For me, my hens remain in their coop from sundown until they’ve laid their eggs for the day. Then they are allowed to roam the backyard happily eating bugs, weeds and grass. But I keep my raised beds protected from the hens, otherwise I could not allow them to free range in our mini homestead.
How big should the chicken coop be?
Everyone has a different opinion on how big you should build your chicken enclousure. First if you cannot allow your chickens to do any free ranging you want to give them as much space as you can “afford” on your property. I always side on bigger is better.
Here a things to consider when you’re planning your backyard coop:
- What size chickens will you be raising? Smaller bantam breeds, like a Silkie, will need a minimum of 2 square feet per bird in the coop and 4 square feet of run space. A standard sized chicken, like a Rhode Island Red should have at least 4 square feet in the coop and 8 square feet in the run per bird. Now if you are choosing a larger chicken breed like the Jersey Giant then you’re looking at chicken coop plans for 6 to 8 square feet in the coop and more than 10 square feet in the run.
- Coop all the time vs some free roam time.
- Some people plan to only have a coop and no run because chickens are free ranging during daylight hours.
- How many chickens will you be keeping?
- How often will you be cleaning? A smaller coop is going to get messier and smell much faster!
- Do you want to be able to walk in your chicken coop and run? You’ll need to consider height of your enclosure too.
Chicken Coop Plans for Location
When it comes to real estate, location is key, right? That is true when planning your chicken area location as well. Of course these tips will vary on how much actual space you have to offer. Here are a few things to consider in your chicken coop plans:
- Does your area offer sun and shade? They need access to both but shade will be extremely important in hotter months. How to keep chickens cool in the summer
- Will your coop give your chickens protection from the elements? Can they get out of the rain? Wind? Cold and heat?
- Will it be easy enough for you to clean? You have to have access to nesting materials, coop and run to keep it clean for the health of you birds.
- Will your coop protect your neighbors from being disturb by noise, flies, etc? If you don’t have a large plot of land or you’re a backyard homesteader be sure to check your city’s zoning laws! See How to Keep a Secret Chicken Coop and How to Fight Your HOA for Backyard Chickens and Fight Flies in Your Chicken Coop
What Does My Chicken Coop Need?
When you are planning your chicken coop you need to consider what the coop itself will need.
- Nesting Boxes – Your Guide to Chicken Nesting Boxes
- Protected Food – or you’ll be feeding rodents. I recommend investing in a treadle feeder that can only be opened by weight (chicken’s weigh a lot more than rats).
- Water dispenser – a hanging waterer may offer you some protection from pests.
- Plenty of light and ventilation in both the coop and run
- A perch or roosting bar with room enough for all birds to sleep there at night or multiple perches if necessary.
- Lighting – hotly debated but if you want more eggs in the winter you may need supplemental lighting.
- A area for dust baths. Chickens need to take regular dust baths to keep clean and parasite free. You can offer them and area or make sure you have room for the to dig their own.
What is it like to start a backyard chicken coop?
A small backyard chicken coop is a wonderful addition to a home. Fresh eggs, poop to compost and funny little winged dinosaurs to entertain you. But you need to know what you’re getting into. They don’t lay forever – yes you’ll need an “exit plan” for hens when they are done with laying.
10 Reason NOT To Be A Backyard Farmer
How to build an inexpensive chicken coop?
You can build your own chicken coop with these free DIY Chicken Coop Plans. A DIY chicken coop sounds like a money saver but before you decide to DIY ask yourself these questions.
- Are chicken coops really easy to build?
- Does the person giving you plans actually know how to build a chicken coop?
- Do I have any building experience or expertise? Nothing will cost you more than trying to build a coop with absolutely no knowledge of basic instruction. So if you don’t have it and can’t find someone to help you for free then is a DIY Chicken Coop Plan really saving you money?
- Are the materials available to me for a discount or free? Again if the materials make the coop more expensive than the kit, is it worth it? Now the difference may be that the quality of the coop is much better and will last a much longer time; making the more expensive initial investment worth it.
- Do you have the time to build a chicken coop? I think this one speaks for itself.
Free Chicken Coop Plans for DIY
If you are set on building a DIY chicken coop here are a few plans worth checking out.
- Happy Chicken’s Tiny Coop Plan
- HGTV’s Free Chicken Coop Plan
- How to Build a Chicken Coop for Less Than $100
- Perfect Suburban Chicken Coop Plan
- Home Depot’s Free Chicken Coop Plans
Buying a Chicken Coop on Amazon
You really can buy just about anything on Amazon, including some decent chicken coops that you can put together yourself. But be sure to read the reviews, carefully check the dimensions and consider the materials for your area (will they hold up to the elements?). An Amazon chicken coop might be a great starter coop or one to use while you’re building your dream chicken coop.
- Wooden Backyard Chicken Coop with Garden Box, Run Area, Nesting Box
- Green Ritz Chicken Coop Hen House
- SnapLock Formex Large Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House