Welcome to building your chicken coop, an article in my series raising chickens for beginners.
In this article we will cover all of the basics of picking your chicken coop plans and preparing to build your coop.
Buying a coop can be expensive, but despite how intimidating it may be, building a coop is really easy.
Especially with the right plans and advice.
So first things first, what kind of coop do you need? It all depends on what chicken breed you have and how much space you have.
If you have chicks, you want a warm small coop that can be closed off so they are not outside or in a run. Chicks are very fragile and can easily hurt themselves.
You also want to make sure they are close to you and safe from predators because chicks are very vulnerable and have no defenses.
You will want easy access to them because you will want to check on them often.
If you have laying hens you will probably want a nice big house with lots of nest boxes, easy access to the boxes, and a run that you can close up.
You will want ventilation and a way to easily clean the coop. You may also want a door in the run so you can release them for the day while you clean.
You could also put your hens in a mobile tractor.
If you put them in a tractor then you will want it to be tall enough to put nest boxes far off the ground and perches for your hens to sleep on.
Chickens love to perch, it keeps them safe from predators.
If you have meat birds, you will probably want a low to the ground, mobile tractor.
This prevents jumping and perching that can cause heavy birds like Cornish Cross to break their legs.
If they find a high place they may try to perch and end up falling and possibly breaking a leg.
You don't want to have perches in your tractor either, they could hurt themselves.
You won't want to let your meat birds free range if they have big chests or weigh a lot either.
If your meat chickens are an heirloom chicken breed, you won't need to worry about that as much.
If you live in a place that gets cold, rainy, or harsh weather in the winter then you will probably want to move your chickens to a winterized pen.
You probably will want to send your meat birds in to the butcher before winter, so I wouldn't worry about them too much, however they can go into the same kind of pen as your laying hens, though I wouldn't put them together.
When you are building your chicken coop for winter you will most likely want a small, easy to heat pen with thick walls, maybe insulated, and a place for you to put a light if necessary.
They do a pretty good job of keeping themselves warm, but if you want eggs all winter a light is a good idea.
I always close mine off from the run if there is one and give them extra bedding.
I would suggest using just regular, untreated wood for your coop, your chickens won't care, and you can always add a stain, outdoor paint, or a waterproofing agent later to make you coop picture perfect and help keep your coop for many years.
A word of caution, don't use chicken wire. It may keep your chickens in, but it's so flimsy that any predator can rip it open easily. I would suggest using welded wire fencing.
Once you've finished building your chicken coop, you will need to regularly maintain and take care of your coop.
Scooping out old bedding and replacing it, spraying it out with a hose, and using bleach occasionally are all great ways to keep your coop clean.
You will want to replace nest bedding frequently.
I hope this article helped you to get started building your chicken coop and good luck on your chicken raising journey. Be sure to check out the rest of my raising chickens for beginners articles.