17 Things to Consider when Planning your next Chicken Coop

  1. Ventilation
  2. Easy to clean
  3. Clean, dark nesting area for layers
  4. Easy access to nesting area
  5. Coop size
  6. Heating
  7. Cooling
  8. Aesthetically acceptable
  9. Dropping board
  10. Easy to move
  11. Floor type – open to the ground, or closed?
  12. Protection against decay
  13. Sufficient predator protection
  14. Sufficient protection against wind, rain, and cold
  15. Sufficient roost space
  16. How many chickens do you plan to keep in it?
  17. Are you raising the chickens for eggs, meat, as pets?

This list is just a start. If you think of other things to consider or want to discuss these in more depth, please add a comment below this article.

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21 Responses to 17 Things to Consider when Planning your next Chicken Coop

  1. mountinangel says:

    FLORIDA-We get hot, cold, wet, sometimes windy. I like to hang covers on my coops windows. Removable with hoops. I tried insulating foam with aluminum covering. Light to raise to hooks, easy to store and transport. Fast to hang. Worked well, for years until one girl started to pick, then made holes. next year I’m trying light latex plastic, see thru.

  2. Paul Schooley says:

    I live in Michigan – Zone 5 on the garden scale. Some people have said that when you live in a colder environment, you should insulate the coop. What material would you advise and what do you do if the chickens peck at the insulation? I’m sure it would not be good for them.

    • Roy Neudecker says:

      Hi Paul,

      I live in Kentucky so what I did might not work in your longer colder region. I used R19 for the insulation. On the first 4 feet I have 1/2″ plywood. I could have used the cheeper 1/4″ plywood but I had some reclaimed 1/2″ material. Behind the plywood I had used plastic sheeting which is recomended for insulation without backing on it. So above the 4 foot level there is nothing but plastic sheeting over the insulation. My roost goes up to that level so the birds have the opportunity to do what they want in that area but they don’t even bother it. I have insulation on all the walls and in the ceiling. We are in the zone 6a area.

      Roy

  3. Cyndi McClain says:

    We just built our first coop, 8′ x 10′. It is made from both new and recycled items. The main structure is new lumber. The nesting boxes are a bookcase I purchased at a garage sale. One other set of nesting boxes are reycled drawers from a pine waterbed. The two top nesters are wooden boxes with wooden toilet seats mounted on them. The Silkies love to pretend they are in college and see how many silkies they can fit in a cubbie. Outside we have two “porches” that were salvaged from an outdoor playset that was being discarded. The ladder to the playset was mounted on the outside of the coop for an outside roosting spot. We cut the sea-saw in half and used these for the ramps into the coop. Each ramp opens out to a separate pen. We have an old dog house in the smaller pen for a place for the ladies to get away from danger or an aggresive rooster. It is fun to watch them hop up and roost on the porch.

  4. Claudia says:

    Any experiences using sand as a coop floor covering for easier cleaning? Good idea or bad? (We’re working on a new and improved coop design for spring 2012.) Thanks!

    • Roy Neudecker says:

      Hi Claudia,

      I’ve read the experts say that sand in the run is a good idea. It’s better then mud and easier to clean. It might work in the coop, too. I would check into it some more before you go with it.

      Roy

  5. Susan says:

    I have a 12 x 12 barn with 8 x 12 runs plus large yard either side, with 10 chickens, 6 ducks, 6 guinea fowl – thought this would be plenty of room, but…
    Biggest problem I have is that the runs end up just MUD…what is best solution? Also, best seed for yards…clover, ryegrass, etc?

  6. Donna Foster says:

    1. Good insulation in the walls so we don’t need much heat to keep them healthy in the winter.
    2. Adequate lighting for cleaning their room.
    3 Soft lighting so we don’t disturb them too much if we need to check on them at night.
    4. Plenty of ventilation to keep them cool in summer.
    5. Reduced (but adequate) ventilation during the winter.

  7. Meg says:

    Protection in run area from red-tail hawks. We have a truck cap our hens can run under when they’re alarmed. Our run is too big to cover the whole thing. Also, bushes in the run they can nibble on.

  8. Eileen Grant Szeto says:

    Lady Eve Balfour rotated her laying hens so they never wore out an area. This seems ideal and easier said than done. However, it does seem to be the best way to keep hens protected from predators and pastures well maintained. I’m think about using 16′ fence panels, that I can move.

    • Mary Taylor says:

      How can you keep the ground around the coop and inside clean? What do you use on the ground outside the coop to keep it fresh and clean? I do have some big plants that help a lot, but any grass I grow in the fenced area is gone before it gets a chance to grow. Thank you. Mary

  9. Terry N. McArdle says:

    I’m just getting started. I have small bantams and cornish chickens.

  10. Susie says:

    I bought the first portable coop to see what features I wanted, and it was a good thing. The first change to the purchased coop was to rip out the 2×4 ‘perches’ and whack some nice branches out of the woods and replace them — it gives the birds something truly comfortable to grasp and (cutting intentionally crooked ones) has a bit more variety of height and circumference. The next coop — which I intend to build — will be on an 8×4 plywood bed with larger wheels (easier to move) and some non-toxic epoxy floor coating; BOTH double-door ends will open like barn doors so it can be totally accessible and easily cleaned and/or hosed out if desired. In process is a PVC watering system with chicken nipples which is a must for a cleaner and drier environment though we haven’t gone through a winter, some heat may be required.

  11. Beth says:

    Things for entertainment…..besides the dust baths. Shaded area…can be as simple as ours: and old satellite dish leaned up against the fence, things to ‘get on’. Large piece of firewood that will get buggie and they like that plus get on it and we have an upside down plastic tote that molasses/grain comes in from the feed store that the rooster loves to get on to crow in the morning. Small roosts in the run. And the most important thing we did was put a piece of tin up either leaning on the fence or against the coop that the lesser chickens can get in to get away….plus it is a good place to scratch for bugs.

  12. gerald bernier says:

    I’m thinking that my next coop in the Spring will also be a 8×12 coop. I’m going to build it 45 feet away from the coop I’m using now, and I’m going to build the run to go from one coop to the other one so it will be 12 wide and 45 feet long. I’m going to try to somehow put up enough roosts so I can keep up to 40 chickens between the 2 coops. I’m also thinking about moving the dog kennel I’m using now for my run and using it for a batch of meat chickens. I think that the 10×16 should be plenty of room to keep a batch of 50 meat birds in. I’m going to try to run 3 or 4 batches of the meat chickens next year and if somehow I can get some extra cash this year, I might build the 2nd coop, and then I could do a batch of the meat chickens this Fall

  13. Roy Neudecker says:

    Litter storage (wood shavings and/or straw).

    I built my coop at the end of last year. I have 27 chickens and the coop is 12′ x 12′. I feel it has enough room that they can go through the winter with less cabin fever. There is enough room to keep the feed, some wood shavings in bails and straw. Of course the chickens can’t leave the straw alone. There is an access door to the run and a people door. There is a large roost and 8 nesting boxes. Even though there is a large roost area every night I go in they are all roosting on a 36″ high 1/2″ plywood wall that guards the people door to keep the chickens from darting out the door when opened. I have the water and feed containers suspended from the ceiling; it keeps them much cleaner.

    I wanted a way to keep the wooden floor from rotting which seems to be a problem in many coops. So I coated the surface with a light coat of epoxy resin. There is plenty of ventilation below the floor. I don’t have any openings in the floor for droppings. I use a wide bladed shovel to scoop up the shavings every couple of weeks to haul away.

  14. Patty P says:

    Forgot to add:

    One-inch welded wire or hardware cloth, not chicken wire, for open air coops. Racoons and other predators tear through chicken wire quite easily. Runs can have larger 2″ x 4″ welded wire as long as chickens are not in run before dawn or after sunset, and if feral (escaped) ferrets are not a problem in your area.

    Runs must be covered with wire as well.

  15. Patty P says:

    1. Room to stand up fully inside for whoever will be cleaning the chicken house out.
    2. Automatic door opener on a timer or latched door open and closed daily by a human, 365 days per year?
    3. Automatic waterers that can easily be rinsed out daily.
    4. If run is large enough, fold up bench in run for seating when visiting pet chickens.
    5. Electricity for automatic doors, lighting, fan, heat lamps, water defrosters, etc.
    6. Type of roost – stair stepped bars or one long bar?
    7. Chicken house that is open air with solid enclosures only for the nests and roost, or a house mostly enclosed? (Depending on climate)
    8. Separate human doors for run and coop?
    9. Hiding places for hens lower on the pecking order to escape from sight.
    10. Dust bath box in run, filled with soft gritty sandy loam and diatomaceous earth, with room enough for most the flock at all once. (communal activity)
    11. Shade cloth over run and misters inside run for summer in very hot climates.
    12. Type of bedding for hen house floor and for chicken run. Deep mulch? Sand? Pine shavings? Peat Moss?
    13. Natural hay (gets poopy and mites like it) or plastic nest box liners with plastic grass (easy to disinfect and clean)?
    14. Located as far as possible from neighbors but still close enough to keep an eye on the flock/predators, etc.?
    15. Not inside utility easements on city lots in municipalities that allow backyard chickens.

  16. Cindy says:

    Lightening

  17. ernest says:

    Consider town and city ordinances also.

  18. Jan says:

    Feed & water provision and access is pretty important.

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