If you’re thinking of getting into backyard chickens, one of the first things you need is a coop. But instead of buying a pre-made coop, why not build your own? DIY projects are fun and satisfying, and you will end up with something very unique that you can customise to fit your backyard situation.
If you’re not sure where to start , don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll give you some tips and ideas on how to build a DIY chicken coop.
The first thing you need to do is decide on the size and style of your DIY Chicken Coop. Do you want a small, simple structure, or something more elaborate?
The size of the coop will depend on how many chickens you plan on keeping, and what breed they are. A flock of bantams requires far less space than your heritage or commercial egg layer type breeds. The smaller the breed and flock, the less amount of materials you will need to gather.
You will also want to consider if you coop is going to be just for their roosting and nesting or will you provide them a sheltered secure run on the coop as well. If you have no predator issues and the space to allow your flock to free range you will only need to build a place for them to sleep and lay their eggs.
Chickens have a few basic needs; appropriate food, clean water, a dry place to sleep and lay their eggs, good ventilation, appropriate hygiene. Location also matters, sheltered from fierce winds and scorching sun. Make your coop so it will fit in an area that is well draining area, if your section is sloped you want the coop to be on the higher end – this is to ensure that the material on the coop floor doesn’t get wet. Wet coop floor material + chicken poop = diseases = dead chickens.
You can read a little bit more about this in the post “beginners guide to chickens : 5 tips to get you started“
How fancy do you want to go? Chickens actually don’t care what their houses look like, just as long as they are secure, warm, ventilated and provide them with roosting and nesting areas.
There are some amazing looking structures that you can make for your flock which might make them look more in keeping with the sort of backyard you want to have.
These are all important factors to consider before you start building.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Use the internet to find some stylish coop designs that will take minimal tweaking to fit your backyard design. You can also find fully developed building instructions which will take all the guess work out of your project.
Materials for DIY Chicken Coops
If you have found building instructions you should be able to swap out some of the materials so you can use recycled instead of new. There are some amazing designs around here is one as an example.
If you are designing your own coop you will be able to adapt with the materials you have on hand.
A great place to find recycled materials is Craigslist, Freecycle, facebook marketplace or the local dump, also your local hardware store may have samples or seconds that they are giving away. You are only limited by your imagination and like I said before Chickens don’t actually care how fashionable their home looks. Our chicken coop is made from our unused trampoline frame.
Once your coop is built, it’s time to start thinking about the finishing touches. How are you going to insulate it? What kind of flooring do you want? What about perches and nesting boxes?
Chickens are lil walking puffer jackets. They are actually well equipped to deal with wintery weather, as long as they can stay DRY. If a chicken is dry they can regulate their body temperature with their feathers. If the bird gets wet they will be in serious trouble especially in areas that have fierce winters. If you live in an area that has extreme winters you will want to have a sheltered area separate to their coop for the chickens to stay out of the wind, rain and snow. This area doesn’t need special insulation, but having something to break the wind is essential. Chicken feed bags are perfect for this – just staple them to the inside frames like wall paper.
Again this needs to be dry to reduce places where disease can live and multiple. Sand can be an excellent flooring material, it is inert so it want decompose, and it lets moisture drain away.
Another method can be wood shavings using the deep little method. This requires you to have a good supply of shavings that you heap on top of dirty shavings. The idea is that the lower levels will start to compost naturally with microbes from the soil assisting. You replace the whole lot at the change of a season. This is the method we use at Becs Backyard. The litter goes onto the compost heap and in a short period of time we have nutrient rich soil to put back onto the gardens.
Perches / Roosts
These need to be off the ground. We have found 4 x 2 wooden lengths to be ideal because they are sturdy, easily sourced, ease to clean and provide an area where the bird can relax their claws while they sleep – if they have doweling or smaller branches they are continually having to ‘hold on’ which doesn’t make for a restful nights sleep.
There are endless possibilities, you can make someting that is accessible from the outside, or you can put stand alone boxes inside the coop. We use a mix of both , the favourite is a recycled lawnmower catcher.
And that’s it! With a little bit of planning and some hard work, you can build yourself a great DIY chicken coop. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!