The reward of designing and building a chicken coop for your hens from scratch is immense. This past spring, I decided to take a break from building log homes and built a couple of coops for my hens.
In this article, I share with you how to build a chicken coop and also some lessons learned from trial and error. I have broken this coop build down into two phases: Planning & Building.
It all Starts with a Plan!
When building a coop, you must start with a well-recognised design. This ensures you learn from mistakes other coop builders have made whilst having a design which is practical for your hens (e.g. enough space) and functional for your environment (e.g. well ventilated).
Backyard coop plans come in many different styles and sizes so it’s important to zero down on the style, size and purpose of your coop is. The coop I built was a traditional coop with an open-ended gable roof. Building a chicken coop can be a very fun DIY activity.
My coop was built for six hens with a purpose of egg laying so I built a 24 square feet coop with one 6 square feet nesting box. As the variety of coops is large, the easiest way to design your own is to look at designs and plans of existing coops. Once you have browsed different styles, take the best components (e.g. nesting boxes, coops, tractor runs, styles, perches etc…) and make your own.
Not too fast! You should make sure that your coop satisfies the following rules:
1. Four square feet per hen
2. Twelve linear inches of roosting space per hen
3. One square foot private nesting box per hen
Building Your Coop in Five Easy Steps
Start with the Frame
The frame is the structure for your coop. The frame is made in two stages. The first is by fixing together the side battens and vertical battens together. This makes two exterior frames which are then connected together with side connecting battens to complete the frame.
Attaching a Roof
Attach to the top of your frame roof trusses made with 45-degree triangles. The roof trusses are fixed into the vertical battens of the coop frame. Then, a ridge rail is installed in-between the trusses to complete the exterior of the coop.
Panel the Roof and Frame
The frame and roof make the exterior skeleton of a chicken coop. Panelling the root and frame with Oriented Strand Boards is very quick and easy. You will need roof, side, floor, entrance and front panels making for your coop. These boards are simply screwed down into the coop.
Take a roll of traditional roofing felt and nail it every 10 inches into the panels of your chicken coop. Make sure to cover your roof and ridge completely.
Interior and Exterior Finish
The final stages are to now fix coop doors with hinges and a locking bolt (to prevent unwelcomed guests!). The fixtures and fittings for your coop should include; nesting box(es), coop perch(es), coop access door, coop ramp, ventilation hole and hardware cloth. You can then paint your coop whichever color you desire; I went for blue and white.
You should now be able to build your own chicken coop! Below, I have included a few bullet points on pieces of advice and lessons learned through my own mistake.
1. Make sure you have 1 nesting box per hen in the coop
2. Use 4 square feet per hen when designing the size of your coop
3. Have a roosting perch of 12 linear inches per hen
4. Build a secure door and make sure all openings are predator proof
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