The internet is awash in plans for backyard chicken coops, which are a great place to look for inspiration, but all coops have two main components: an enclosed space for sleeping and laying eggs and an open air ‘chicken run’ to roam around in during the day. The enclosed space should open directly to the run, but should be elevated at least two feet above it so there is space to collect the droppings that fall through the floor. (More on that in a moment.) There are many possible ways to configure a coop, but here’s how to build a basic model that can easily be customized according to your aesthetic tastes.
Set Your Goal
Depending on whether you plan on doing it small time to save up on your monthly grocery expenses or whether you wish to turn this into a full blown business, the size of your coop will differ substantially. Before you learn how to build a chicken coop, ask yourself these few questions:
· Why do I want to rear and raise these chickens?
· How many chickens do I need to keep?
· How much space do I have to build the coop?
If you’re unsure of any of these answers, you should start with a small chicken coop. You can easily expand it as you become more experienced or when you start seeing good results.
Build the Frame
As with most outbuildings, the simplest approach is to begin with a rectangular frame and then add on the various components that are needed. Use naturally rot-resistant lumber—such as cedar or redwood—rather than pressure treated lumber which contains heavy metals, like arsenic, that may be harmful to your chicken’s health. The open-air run should be covered with chicken wire (metal mesh) on all sides to prevent predators from entering.
Shelter & Protection – Ideally, you’ll want to use chicken wire to cover up the outer portion of the coop like in this picture shown here. The wire mesh is a little hard to see though, but it’s there.
This way, you don’t have to worry about predators dashing into your yard and snatching away the chickens even before they can retreat back into the safety of the coop. Dogs and skunks are some of the most common predators that often do this.
Outfit the Interior
The interior of the run needs nothing more than a thick layer of straw over the ground to absorb chicken droppings and moisture when it rains. A watering device may also be hung from one of the rafters (by bailing wire attached to a nail) so the birds can drink when they’re outside during the day. (The base of the waterer should be 6 to 8 inches above ground level.) If the run does not receive shade during the hottest hours of the day, add a layer of shade cloth on top of the chicken wire ceiling. Build a gently sloping ramp at least 8 inches wide from the ground level up to the platform for the enclosed area. Before this area is enclosed, outfit it with the following items:
A roosting bar made with 2×2 lumber along the back wall over the chicken wire floor (at least 8 inches in length per bird)
Nest boxes (at least one 12 inch square box for every 4 birds)
A watering device and a feeder (hang them 6 to 8 inches above the floor of the coop with bailing wire attached to nails that are pounded into one the roof rafters)
An incandescent bulb to extend the laying season (optional) ………..