Chicken Coop - Hen House
If you have a small (urban) area, raising chickens can be a great choice. Of course the first thing you need to do, is check your local by-laws. Some residential areas to not allow you to raise chickens or any other fowl (birds). Others restrict the number of chickens (hens) and outlaw rosters (crow in morning). At the same time, it’s a good idea to bounce the suggestion off your neighbours to see if they have any objections. Chickens will make some noise and there can be a bit of aroma in the air.
So you are ready to raise your own chickens. You’ll need a chicken coop!
A chicken coop, also called a hen house, will protect your chickens from weather and predators. You’ll need about 3 sq. ft. of floor space inside the chicken coop, for each hen and another 5 sq. ft. of space outside the chicken coop or hen house. Inside the chicken coop you will need nesting boxes, a watering device (waterer) and something for feeding your chickens.
Build or Buy a Chicken Coop?
This question usually comes down to how handy you are. A chicken coop does not need to be fancy, the chickens won’t complain, but it does need to be functional and sturdy. You may find it hard to locate someone who sells chicken coops as well. Farmers can buy in bulk and get better pricing. Most farms I know, make their own chicken coops as well. There are many free designs to be found on the Internet.
Things to keep in mind when buying or making a chicken coop.
- access for cleaning - chickens will make a mess. Ensure it’s easy to clean the coop.
- local weather - you need ventilation and if you are in a cold climate, you may need heating (light bulb). Most DIY chicken coop plans we have seen on the internet do NOT have ventilation built into the design. Don't make this mistake.
- gathering eggs - again, easy access is important. A door over or behind the nesting box is nice.
- portable - you may want to move it around, providing fresh grass, every other week or so?
- locks - need to keep the chickens in and predators out. But make sure your lock can be accessed from inside the coop, just in case!
DIY Plans for a Chicken Coop - Hen House
** we'd love to hear about the chicken coop you built. Feel free to respond via our feedback page -we may even add your plans: feedback
1) Backyard Chicken Coop
2) The Bantam Roost
3) Storage Bin Hen House
Backyard Chicken Coop
Here's a small-mid sized chicken coop from Instructables. We like these plans - easy to build. I think we would keep the eves open. The cupola on the roof is a good idea for ventilation. Note the last page where the author has made changes to the plans as listed - removed storage space and made outside area larger.
Click on picture to open plans.
The Bantam Roost
Here's another small sized chicken coop from TheBantamRoost. This house is easy to build and made for easy access - to can reach everything while standing outside the door.
Bill of Materials
- 3 - 4 X 8 X 3/4 --Plywood for walls and floor
- 1 - 4 X 8 X 1/2 --Plywood for roof
- 10 - 2 X 2 X 8 --Straping
- 2 - 2" hinges -- door to yard
- 2 - 4" hinges -- Door
- 1 box - 2" nails
- 2 - 4" latches
- 1 - 24" X 24" wire cloth -- cover window
- 1 - 4" door handle
- 12 - 4" nails--connecting walls to floor
- 4 - cinder blocks -- to raise floor off the ground
- 1 - roll roofing paper
- 3- 8' metal flashing for edges of roof
- 1-2 tubes of caulking compound for seams along corners, roof, and walls.
Start by cutting out the different walls. Then cut the 2 X 2 strapping. Attach the strapping by laying it under the plywood and nail the plywood to the strapping instead of nailing the strapping to the plywood. The back wall needs to be spliced together, as it consist of 2 "leftovers". This is done when the building is assembled, by nailing it to the side walls.
If 2 are being built, remember that one is the mirror image of the other so when the strapping is nailed to the walls they are placed on 1 side for one house, but for the other house the strapping needs to be on the other side (outside) of the walls as shown in the plans. This will put it on the inside when the walls are set in place.
For the roof, the width is 4 feet (48 inches). However the length depends if there is to be 1 or 2 buildings. For one building a length of 5 feet (60 inches) is needed. This will allows for overhangs. If 2 buildings are being built, the length is 4 1/2 feet (54 inches) Metal stripping is placed on the sides and bottom of the roof(s) in either case.
Set the floor on the cinder blocks , using one for each corner. If 2 buildings are being built than 2 are also need in the middle for support. With 2 buildings, use a 4 X 8 sheet, instead of 2 - 4 X 4 sheets. Make sure that the floor covers the cinder blocks to prevent tripping on an exposed block. Raising the floor on the cinder blocks allows for good air circulation under the floor. This prevents dampness thereby preventing illness.
Once the walls, and roof are cut out and the strapping has been attach to the walls, with the floor is in place, the building can be put together. Start by nailing the right wall to the floor. Once the right wall is in place, the front wall is nailed to the floor and the right wall is nailed to the front. Then the same thing is done to the left wall. Once the front, and side walls are up, the lower section of the back wall is nailed to the floor and side walls. Then the upper part of the back wall is put in place and nailed to the side walls. Use the caulking compound to seal the seam. The seam will be covered when the siding of choice is put on the building. Also caulk all seams where the walls meet each other, the floor, and the roof when in place. Staple the wire cloth over the window. Hinge the door to the yard, and the entry door, so that they swing out. Place the roofing on the roof. Roofing paper is the easiest to put on.
Two modifications that we done is to cut out vents on the front and back walls. These are 4 inches by 12 inches. One is located 4 inches above the door on the front. The other is directly across on the back wall. The vent are high enough to prevent a draft on the birds when roosting, but allows for air exchange. A window was also cut in the door. This allows us to look in at the birds without having to open the door. Both vents and the window in the door are covered with wire cloth. Clear plastic is placed on both windows during the winter. The vents are left uncovered, for air exchange during the winter. All plastic is removed for the summer.
A suggestion from Brett West of Decatur, Texas
"Here in Decatur, TX we get some serious winds and storms. Last year a storm picked up the coop and set it on its roof! One of our banty hens was sitting on a pile of eggs but somehow rolled with the coop and never let and egg move. After the storm was over, a neighbor helped me right it again. Since then I drove some screws down through the floor and into the cinder blocks so that they are permanently affixed to the coop and serve as anchors. I am also going to drive swing set anchors into the ground and strap or chain the base of the coop to them for added stability. I recommend this reinforcement for anyone who lives in stormy or wind swept areas."
Once the house is done it needs to be furnished. Nail a scrape 2 X 2 ( about 2-3' long) to both right and left walls about 2 1/2 feet from the floor. On these nail whatever is going to be used for the roost. Use 1 about midway from the back wall and the window for either bantams or standards ( we use 2 roost as to have a place to set the breeding cage on). Just inside the door, on the front wall nail the nests. This location makes gathering the eggs easy, just reach around and pick them from the nest. Place the nest about 2 1/2 feet from the floor. This will allow space for a water fountain to be placed under them.
Our coop has clean, crisp lines, that would fit in most backyards. The siding used can even be the same as on the house, thereby tying it to the landscape. Daily care of the birds is easy as there is no need to enter the house, soiling the shoes. Chores can be done in the morning on the way to work and in the evening when getting home.
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Storage Bin Hen House
Here's a great adaptation by Rachel Whetzel, using a storage bin. The pictures speak for themselves. Note the need for ventilation. We're recommend some even larger vents in both ends of the storage bin.
. Add vents to the Bin .
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