So you’re raising baby chicks and they are getting big fast. It is time to start thinking about where they will live and lay those beautiful eggs. It is best to get started on that strong built and roomy chicken coop soon. There is a lot more that goes into Chicken Coop Plans, here are a few tips for a successful coop.
This was our coop half way through and before renovations, made from recycled pallets. We free range so this is where they basically sleep, find coverage or lay eggs. It still needs chicken-friendly plants to add and a paint job, but you get the idea.
1. How much space do you need?
Not only will overcrowding a coop lead to various health problems, but your chickens will get on each other’s nerves and start to fight. How much space is good for your chickens? A general rule is a minimum of 3 square feet per chicken inside the coop to move and to sleep. The chicken run is double that amount of space for per chicken. We have 3-4 chickens at one time so the coop would need to be between 9-12 square feet and the run would need to be 18-24 square feet.
*If you think you’re only going to raise 3-4 chickens, try to make space for 6 or more. Once you have experienced the fun in raising chickens, you will likely want to add more to your current flock and you’ll be thankful you started off with a bigger coop in the first place.
Here are my Chicken Coop Plans. I discovered I really like drawing up plans. If that’s not you and need some ideas, the folks at Homesthetics.net have a big list of chicken plans and tutorials.
2. Where will your Chicken Coop be located?
We decided to get chickens as pets, the need for their fresh eggs was a close second. We placed our chicken coop facing our large back window, so the kids could see the chickens even when they couldn’t go outside. Little did I know, Chicken’s love “People TV” just as much as we love “Chicken TV.” Will your chickens have access to the entire yard? In the beginning, ours had the entire backyard, but we decided to give our chickens a section of the yard instead. This way I can have more control of their chicken poo which by the way, chickens do a lot of.
3. What bedding is best for a Chicken Coop?
We have tried both straw and pine shavings. The Chickens love scratching around in the straw and they prefer it in their nesting box. Many of us use straw because it is cheaper, but I find it doesn’t absorb or dry quickly enough which makes for a big stinky mess. We prefer pine shavings for the run area. We get a large batch of pine shavings for the Chicken Coop and run from our local Tractor Supply Store its about $8. Traditional pet stores may only offer shavings in much smaller size bags and cost more. *Tip: lay some newspapers underneath the straw or pine bedding, this makes coop clean up simple.
Here is Stella laying her first egg. We use alfalfa straw in their nesting box and pine shavings everywhere else.
4. Food & Water
Chickens drink a lot of water. No really a lot of water. Be prepared to refill water twice a day or better yet, set up an automatic water feeder. We are still doing it manually, but I’ll be making an auto feeder with PVC pipe and Water nipples like these.
With food it is important they have enough room to all eat at once. Crowding at the feeding bowl can make them fight as well, try a chicken feeding trough like the one below or make your own. PVC pipe with large holes is a good idea.
3. Protection from Predators
Backyard predators are lurking everywhere; Raccoons, Dogs, Cats and Hawks just to name a few. To protect our chickens from predators, chicken wire is one of the most widely used materials. I’m not fond of it, not only does it scratch the daylights out of me while I’m trying to set it up, it doesn’t protect chickens from larger predators like dogs and coyotes. In our renovations, we kept the chicken wire but you could use poultry hex fencing or even hardware cloth since it is extremely tough and can last for a much longer period of time. We use Preditor Eye night time lights to protect the chickens from nocturnal animals.
5. Building Plans
If this is your first time a building a chicken coop it can be rather intimidating. I was lucky that I found free pallets, but unlucky high heat hit during my scheduled building time. I will never do it that way again. But if you have help, good materials, and draw out your chicken coop plans, it will be a success. If you feel less adventurous, there are plenty of, just search Google.