How To Build A Chicken Coop

How to build a chicken coop for limited space in the backyard, including diagrams, instructions, and photographs.

| November/December 1975


Diagram of home built chicken coop colony cage for the backyard.


Many town and city dwellers are becoming interested in homesite farming these days . . . and, where local ordinances permit, such an operation might well include a small flock of poultry. If you've always wanted to keep a few chickens, but held off because you thought that the project required more room than you can spare from your limited plot . . . well, it doesn't have to!

How To Build A Chicken Coop

When necessary, although they won't be as happy as they would in a large run, chickens can be kept in a very restricted area and still enjoy good health and a reasonable degree of comfort. That's the goal I had in mind when I planned the cage you see in the accompanying illustrations how to build a chicken coop. The coop measures 7-1/2 by 3 feet and provides brooding, growing, and laying facilities for 10 to 12 birds . . . enough to produce half a dozen eggs a day, which is more than sufficient for the average family. If you live in a mild climate where temperature, seldom drop to freezing, this system may be just right for you.

On the other hand — though I believe the cage is well suited to Figure 1 backyard poultry — keeping in the more temperate areas in the U.S. — it wasn't invented for that purpose. I designed it the island of Mauritius (where I served as a micro-farming specialist with the Peace Corps) for use by the Rural Reconstruction Project, a division of the Mauritian Economic Planning Unit.

Mauritius lies off the African coast to the east of Madagascar, and its climate forced me to a compromise between my own inclinations and the realities of life in that latitude. Personally, I prefer to keep chickens in roomy grow ground enclosures . . . but because of the severity of coccidiosis in many tropical countries, such confinement often proves less humane than the clean environment of a cage.

On the other hand, I hate battery cages. To allow a bird only enough room to stand and sit — without even space to turn around — is incredibly cruel. The EPU colony cage is, I think, by far preferable . . . and even offers a few advantages over the admittedly more natural surroundings of the conventional chicken run:

[1] Ease and economy of construction.

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