Backyard Chickens 101: Picking a Chicken Coop

Monday, February 10, 2014

Backyard Chickens 101: Picking a Chicken Coop

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Next up in our Backyard Chickens series is help selecting a coop for your backyard flock. You will want to have this ready weeks before you think you’ll need it to make sure there are no problems or backorders!
Backyard Chickens 101: Picking a Chicken Coop

Coops can be made out of a recycled kids play house, storage shed, scrap wood, or custom designed. They can be free to $1500+ depending on what all you want and how much of your own time you are willing to put into it. We built out own coop for about $300 using good quality, non-treated lumber.

How Big Should my Chicken Coop be?

As you may recall from the first post in the series (Backyard Chickens 101: Should you Get Chickens) you should plan on about 4 square feet of coup per bird and 10 square feet of run per bird. So if you were to keep say 6 chickens you would need a 24 square foot coup with a 60 square foot run.  Some can squeeze them in less or let them free range and have endless space, but that is a good place to start. But if you want a healthy flock that doesn’t end up picking on one another that is a good rule of thumb.

Option #1 - Buy a Chicken Coup Kit

   
There are semi-inexpensive kits you can purchase from Petco, Walmart, Amazon, etc. for $300-$500. There are even cute looking ones, but take a close look at their dimensions. Most will only really house 2-3 normal size hens. So if that is what you are looking for – great. But for me it was not. 

I was also disappointed in the poor review. Most commented on the poor quality of materials.

Option #2 - Get a Custom Built Chicken Coup

Alexandria Small Coop
The Green Chicken Coop has the most affordable built-for-you wood chicken coops I found. They have various customizable options including windows, flooring, paint colors, and size/run options. They have coop/runs to accommodate 2-3, 4-6, 6-8, or larger flocks of 20 and more!

I appreciate that they acknowledge the backyard chickens need for a secure run and had adequate space to truly meet the chicken’s needs. A complete coop for 6 including a 6 foot long run delivered to your driveway assembled will cost you $1000. So depending on how handy you are and how much time you have, it’s not a bad option.

Option #3 - Get a Plastic Model Chicken Coup

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The first model above is the “Eglu” Cube which is made out of plastic. It is made out of plastic so is easy to clean, move, and maintenance free. This modern coop will accommodate 10 hens, although for that number you will need to purchase an extra large run (also available). There are 6 modern colors to choose from. It is toted as predator proof, although I don’t have it myself to vouch for it. If you have the $1500 to drop on it, it would be quick to set-up & maintain.

The second model, Snap Lock Chicken Coop is a coop only so you would need to fashion your own run or allow your birds to free range. It is also made of easy to snap together plastic, boasts being predator proof, and would be a breeze to clean!  At only $695 it is an affordable coup, but don’t forget you need to provide a secure run.

Option #4 - Building Your Own Chicken Coop

The cheapest and most effective way is if you can build your own coop. This way you can build it to the exact space requirements, orientation, and durable quality building materials you need.  Backyard Chickens is a great place to be inspired! However, don’t expect to find step-by-step directions. You can also find plans on eBay (although the one we originally got was ridiculously hard to follow) and elsewhere on the internet.

If you want step by step instructions laid out for you The Garden Coup would be a good way to go for a flock of 6.  It seems to be well reviewed and you can find many people’s derivations on You Tube. The reason we didn’t use this was the material cost. Our coup is a little bigger to accommodate our slightly larger flock and our run does not have a roof so it is cheaper in materials.

Meet Our Chicken Coop

My hubby and I love working together. So we enjoy projects like this. I am creative and build on ideas but have no idea what tools to use or have the tool know-how. My hubby wants step-by-step directions but can always make it work. Together we are a great team! We couldn't find a chicken coop that was pretty enough to be in our neighborhood, but still had the functionality and room it needed so we decided to design and build our own.

We planned on keeping 7-8 hens so needed a 28-32 square foot coop. We decided on a 5 x 6 coop would be perfect. We didn't find any one coop that had everything just right so we looked at various and winged it. I know someone is going to ask for plans, sorry I don’t have any. We were making it up as we went and didn't keep good enough notes. But I do have some great tips for you!
Febuary 2013 015

Because we started raising chickens in February (what can I saw we were eager!)  we had to build our coop partly inside our garage – it was still winter! I suggest checking all along if you can lift if to make sure you can move your coop.

NOTE: We used non-treated lumber as we are raising organic chickens. We added low VOC stain at the end. Make sure your dimensions allow enough room per chicken, especially if you live in a climate where they will be indoors much of the winter. Chickens who have more space are less likely to peck at one another and create other problems!
Backyard Chickens 101: Picking a Chicken Coop

You can see we still had snow on the ground when we moved our coop to our backyard. It was chilly!

NOTE: Make sure you prepare the ground to have a level surface. We added paver sand and stones to make it even. We also used hardware cloth not only on the side, but all along the bottom too! I highly recommend this as it will keep animals out!  We don’t have to worry about closing the run door at night in the summer for fear of rats getting in – they can’t even tunnel in. It is worth the extra expense – just don’t get chicken wire whose holes are big enough for mice/rats to squeeze through!
Backyard Chickens 101: Picking a Chicken Coop

It took longer to complete than we thought. Partly because of the cold and party because we had no plans so we were kind of making things up as we went. But it is coming together!

NOTE: Make sure you can reach all areas of the chicken coop from the doors you put in. You’ll need to be able to get out the poop, change the water, and get to any eggs that are not laid nicelyin the egg box. Word to the wise, chickens don’t always lay eggs where they are “suppose to”.
Backyard Chickens 101: Picking a Chicken Coop

And here you have our completed chicken Coop! All done just like we like, pretty enough for our neighborhood, and all for about $300.
March 2013 137

Next up …… Backyard Chickens 101: Moving Outside

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1 comment:

  1. This looks wonderful. I didn't realize that there were so many different styles of coops.

    ReplyDelete