Build a chicken coop

How To Build A Chicken Coop Cheap

So you want to build a chicken coop?

You’ve bought your land, you’ve got your own house sorted, maybe got your off grid energy running freely and your water supply under control.

Now it is time to think about pets, animals and livestock.

The first, easiest and most cost-effective would have to be chickens. Be sure to read our beginners guide to raising chickens  

Chickens are:

*       Surprisingly good family pets and great company (Read here to check out how many families in USA now keep chickens- and its over 13 million!)

*      Easy and cheap to buy  

*       An abundant source of nutritious food (healthy chickens that have space to run around are 2-3 times more nutritious than factory farmed eggs.)

*       Fabulous fertilizers for your gardens- simply add their waste to the compost heap

*        Great at eating many of the insects and bugs around the place

*        A constant source of side income- some people may have enough eggs that it can provide a little side income by selling excess eggs to neighbors or local farmers markets

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What is the purpose of a chicken coop?

A chicken chicken coop (or hen house) is a small house where female chickens(hens) are kept safe and secure. There are nest boxes found inside the hen houses for egg-laying, and perches/roosts where the birds can sleep.

The chicken coop should be cleaned every 2 weeks at least.

Having chicken in urban areas is now more popular than ever. Always check the rules and regulations with your local county if you live in urban areas and want to keep chickens.

Some will not allow urban areas to have chickens in the back yard. Some welcome it. Some will allow chickens but not allow roosters.

Others are fearful of noise and sanitation concerns. But cities like Albuquerque, Wisconsin, Seattle and NYC are welcoming chickens now along with many others.

How to build a chicken coop

Preparing to Build Your Best Chicken Coop

Decide whether you are planning to build a chicken coop or buy one.

Planning is essential before you start your project.  How big should it be? More space is better!

Each chicken will need at least 3-4 sq ft room to move around plus the same again in space to roam around. Remember this is minimum. So if you start with 6 birds, you should make the space AT LEAST 18-24 sq ft.

The likelihood is that you will love having chickens and want to add more birds. It is rather painful to have to extend the chicken coop.

So build the chicken coop with extra room first time around.  If you have planned extra room in advance, then you won't have to start again or have to face tricky extensions.

Chickens are social animals – never get just one chicken. They will die of loneliness.  Start with at least 4-6 chickens.

Also crowded chickens have been know to peck savagely at each other. Give them more space.

The chicken coop will also protect them from harsh weather and provide a safe place to eat and drink. Make sure they can be protected from the harsh hot sun and also severe wind chills or snow.

The chicken coop also needs to be robust enough to protect the chickens from predators like racoons, foxes, wild cats and local dogs.

build a chicken coop cheap

How To Build A Cheap Chicken Coop

If you have a few basic skills and can follow a plan, you will be able to build a basic chicken coop in a weekend and save yourself a fortune.

If you need a very large or elaborate chicken coop, it may take a few weeks but you will still save a ton of money and aggravation on buying a store bought chicken coop.

The 2 main components are an enclosed space for sleeping and laying eggs and an open air safe place for roaming about, called the “chicken run”.

Use rot-resistant lumber, such as cedar or redwood in a rectangular frame then chicken wire on all sides to keep predators out.

Get detailed plans for your chicken coop.

The interior of the chicken coop should be filled with straw to absorb chicken droppings and moisture when it rains.

Ensure you have a nest box for every 3-4 chickens.

Provide a watering device and a feeder which hang approximately 6-8 inches above the floor of the coop.

Some people add an incandescent bulb to extend the laying season.

Make sure you provide roosts/perches which are higher than the nests. Chickens always tend to seek the highest point to sleep.

Also the chicken coop should not be in the burning hot sun all day. If it is, be sure to provide a shade over the coop to help them regulate their temperature.

Think about where the access points in the coop need to be to collect eggs and for easy cleaning. These must have fox and raccoon-proof locks as these are very cunning predators.

Ensure you have some ventilation in the hen house roof (covered with strong chicken wire to keep predators out).

The other factor to consider is whether you’d benefit from a chicken tractor. This is a moveable chicken coop that can take care of the tasks a tractor used to do. 

Chickens are great at pecking and scratching the soil, moving and aerating the earth, fertilizing it and removing weeds.

If you design the coop to be movable, you can move it around different parts of the yard, ensuring all  the soil remains healthy.

build a chicken coop

Common Mistakes When You Build Your Hen House

The first mistake nearly everyone makes when they first keep chickens is to underestimate how tricky and resourceful the predators are.

It is devastating (especially if you have young kids) to wake up in the morning to find a bunch of feathers and no chickens.

It does not take long to become attached to these lovely creatures, to know them all by name and to mourn their loss for years after.

And feel a considerable dose of guilt- as you did not protect those animals in your care because your predator- proofing was not good enough.

Use the highest quality wire. Cheap chicken wire and even locks can easily be unravelled by clever, hungry predators. Make sure the wire is low enough that they cannot dig underneath.

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