If you’ve always dreamed of having chickens and are ready to make your dream a reality, then you will need a great chicken coop. Coops are more than simply a place for your chickens to rest at night – they keep them safe from predators, protect them from bad weather, and provide them with a safe place to lay their eggs. Choosing the right coop for your flock can make a difference in how enjoyable you find raising chickens. That’s why I have put together this list to help you make a decision about which is the right coop for you and your family.
Table of Contents
- What You Need to Have a Small Chicken Coop
- Get the Space You Need for Your Massive Flock with a Large Chicken Coop
- Take Advantage of Easy Maintenance with a Mobile Chicken Coop
- Build Your Own Chicken Coop Out of Pallets
- Learn How to Complete a Chicken Coop Conversion from a Home Depot Shed
What You Need to Have a Small Chicken Coop
I have found that you don’t have to give up on your dreams of owning chickens even if you only have a small backyard to keep them in. While you may think that chickens need a ton of room to roam and roost, you can provide them with a great smaller coop that they are sure to love, but it does take some planning. Just like with a larger chicken coop, when you build a smaller coop, you have to make sure that you provide your chickens with everything that they need.
Small Chicken Coop Necessities
While the design of smaller chicken coops may vary some because you need to make sure that they will fit in the space that you have, there are a few things that you will need to include. No matter how much room you have in your coop, you have to make sure that you have:
- Nesting boxes for laying hens – the general rule of thumb with nesting boxes is that you will need either one square food of nesting space or one nest box for each four to five laying hens. You have to make sure that they are elevated two feet off of the ground and that they are about one-foot square so that your hens will readily use them and you don’t have to hunt for eggs every morning.
- Roosts – I have found that most chickens like to roost, and you can encourage this by providing them with 6-10 inches of space for each bird to roost.
- Coop Ventilation – your coop will get surprisingly warm in the summer, so you need to make sure that they have the ventilation that they need. Additionally, this will ensure that there isn’t any buildup of gas from their waste and ventilation.
- Protection – unfortunately, a lot of animals think that chickens make fast and delicious meals, so you need to make sure that you take steps to protect them when they are in your coop. You can build a solid floor, use hardware cloth that extends into the ground, rely on electric wire or netting, or keep a dog around your coop for protection.
- Dust Baths – most people have seen chickens bathing in dirt or sand before and know how much these birds love it. Providing your flock with a pan of dirt on the floor will give them a great place to bathe.
Plan your Small Chicken Coop
All in all, when planning smaller chicken coops, you really are taking a larger coop and then simply sizing it down. You still need to provide your birds with all of the amenities that they would enjoy in a larger coop, but you are just going to be more aware of the size of your coop, as well as its location in your yard, as these will play a huge role in how happy you are having chickens in your backyard.
Even if you don’t have a lot of property, the more time that you allow your chickens to free range, the happier they will be. These birds don’t want to be locked up inside all day long, and it’s also not healthy for them. By making sure that they have plenty of time outside of their chicken coop, you will have a much happier and healthier flock and will find that they are willing to go inside when it’s time for bed.
Get the Space You Need for Your Massive Flock with a Large Chicken Coop
If you have more space in your yard for a larger flock, then you will need to upgrade to a larger chicken coop, as these birds require a lot of space. You have a lot more freedom with what kind of coop you choose, as well as where you place it in your yard, when you don’t have space restrictions. I know some people who have gone overboard when choosing a new chicken coop for their large flock, which is why I think you need to consider a few factors when making your decision. This will ensure that you choose the right home for your birds and that they are as happy and healthy as can be.
Large Coops and Space for Chickens
One thing that you will want to think about when choosing a new coop is the breed of chickens that you are going to be raising. Not everyone realizes that different breeds of birds will have different space requirements. Consider if you are choosing a larger breed, such as a Buff Orpington, or smaller bantams, as the type of bird that you choose will play a huge role in your chicken coop size. You also need to take into consideration how active your birds are. Some birds are much more sedentary and will not need the space to run around that more active breeds will.
Even if you have a very large flock, you won’t likely need a huge coop. I have found that my birds need, on average, about three square feet of space inside the coop to be as happy as possible, which means that you can easily house five hens in a space that is 15 square feet. Of course, chickens like a little wiggle room, so buying or building a coop that is a bit larger is a good idea. Be careful though, as it is possible to choose a chicken coop that is too big for your flock.
Too Big Could be Harmful
While this may seem like a strange idea, if you have too much space in your coop and not enough chickens to fill it, then they will actually struggle to stay warm when it gets colder out. One way that you can rectify this problem is by adding more insulation to the chicken coop to help keep warm air in and cold air out. You can also use a heat lamp to keep your birds warm. Of course, my favorite way to take care of this problem is simply to get more chickens.
Just like with a smaller coop, when you have a larger coop you will still need to think about ventilation, protection, and space for your birds to roost and to lay. I have found that it can be a little more difficult to keep larger chicken coops as safe as possible, as there are more weak places where predators can get into the coop and attack your birds. This means that you need to always be on the lookout.
Large Coop Cleaning Duties
I have also found that larger chicken coops obviously take a little more work than their smaller counterparts do. While you can easily house more chickens in this larger space, you are going to be spending more time cleaning out the coop when it gets dirty, as well as performing any necessary maintenance.
Take Advantage of Easy Maintenance with a Mobile Chicken Coop
Most people have heard the term “chicken tractor” before, and while it may conjure up a funny mental image, they are actually just mobile chicken coops that allow you to move your birds from one location in the yard to another. This portable pen allows you to provide your chickens with a supply of fresh grass every day so that they can easily eat the bugs and dirt that they want. If you are still on the fence about what kind of pen, coop, or tractor is right for you, then you may be wondering how you make the decision about which is the best choice for your birds.
Pros of a Mobile Coop Over a Traditional Coop
- You will prevent your chickens from running all over your land and destroying your garden
- It’s easy to provide chickens with access to fresh grass
- Your chickens will be safe from predators
- Your lawn won’t ever look better
- Mobile coops are often made out of recycled materials, which saves on cost
- You don’t have to worry about cleaning up inside a pen with a solid floor
What Problems You Will Run Into with a Mobile Coop?
- It can be frustrating to have to move the mobile coop in bad weather
- If you have a small yard, then it will quickly be scratched to bits
- You don’t have enough room for a large flock
- Some tractors are very heavy and difficult to move on your own
- They are not water or airtight
- It’s easier for predators to get into a tractor
- These are not ideal for all four seasons
Mobile Coop Equals More Production?
One thing that I hear over and over again from owners who use a mobile coop is that their hens actually lay more eggs. Because chickens need some protection from predators, it’s impossible to allow them to free range all of the time without them being in danger. Because of this, as the owner, you need to make sure that you keep them protected. Rather than keeping them in a pen where they have eaten all of the grass and scratched down to the mud, with a mobile coop, you can provide them with a fresh patch of grass every single day.
This is easily accomplished when you use a mobile coop as opposed to keeping them in a pen at all times. Not only will your chickens have access to fresh grass, but they will fertilize it for you when they are moved to each new section.
This means that you will have a bright green yard that is healthy and free of bugs. You do have to be careful and not use any chemicals or treatments on your lawn that could hurt your chickens, as they will be eating the dirt, bugs, and grass, no matter where you have the tractor located.
Less Coop Cleaning Duties
Additionally, by opting for a mobile coop, you won’t have to spend time cleaning out their dirty coop. I have never enjoyed this job. And anyone who has chickens knows that dirty coops can contribute to diseases, which is a great reason for your chickens to spend as much time as possible outside in the fresh air.
Build Your Own Chicken Coop Out of Pallets
If you love to DIY things around the home, then there isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t be able to easily build your own chicken coop using pallets. Before you get started, you will want to make sure that you avoid some critical errors that can cost you time, money, and chickens in the future. These include:
- Not carefully planning out your coop before you start building
- Not insulating the walls
- Not providing enough ventilation
- Not giving the chickens a good light source
- Placing the feeders and waterer in the wrong location
- Not protecting your chickens from bad weather or predators
Once you know for sure that you want to build your chicken coop from pallets and have a plan, then you need to gather all of the supplies that you will need for this project. Not only will you need plenty of pallets to use for the wood, but you also need screws, nails, insulation, plywood, 2x4s to frame out the doors and windows, and material for a roof.
Coop from pallets Step 1
Your first step is to decide how large you want your coop to be and whether or not you want to be able to stand up inside of it to make cleaning the coop as easy as possible. While some owners decide to break apart the pallets and use the individual pieces of wood to construct the coop, if you are in a hurry, I have found that you can easily use the whole pallet as the sides of the coop. This cuts down on a lot of the prep work that you would otherwise have to complete to get the pallets ready for construction.
Coop from pallets Step 2
After you have decided how large your new chicken coop will be, where it will be located, and if you want to use entire pallets for the walls, then you can start building your new coop. It’s easy to attach either the whole pallets or the pieces of wood from them to your new floor and build your walls. I have found that it’s a good idea to use 2 x 4s to frame the inside of the coop if you want to add extra stability to the entire building. This will ensure that your construction will stand up to bad weather, and is especially important if you live in an area that is prone to high winds.
Coop from pallets Step 3
Make sure that you frame outdoors and windows so that you and your chickens have easy access to their new coop. Depending on how you constructed the sides, you will need to cover the walls with plywood to keep your chickens safe and to protect the insulation you use from wet weather. After that, it is easy enough to finish the roof.
Coop from pallets Step 4
The roof can be a little tricky for some people to make, but I have found that one of the easiest ways to put a roof on your new chicken coop is by using a piece of corrugated metal. Others prefer to use shingles and make the coop match the home, but if this is beyond your skill set, then there is no need to worry. Your chickens don’t care what the roof of their new home looks like as long as it will help to keep them warm, dry, and safe.
Learn How to Complete a Chicken Coop Conversion from a Home Depot Shed
You may be one of the few lucky people who have an old Home Depot shed in your backyard, a desire to have chickens, and the willingness to put in some work. If you are, then I have found that you can easily convert your old shed into a coop that will keep your chickens safe and provide them with a dry home. I think that this is a great way to use your old shed and reduce a lot of the work that goes into traditionally building a new chicken coop.
It’s easy to complete this project by adding windows, replacing the door with one that has ventilation, and making sure that your chickens have places to eat, roost, lay, and bathe in the dust, just like they would in a regular chicken coop. Because you already have walls and a roof on your new building, with a little work and a few materials, you can easily complete this project. Make sure that your chickens will have easy access to the outside so they aren’t waiting for you to open the door whenever they want to go out. This can be accomplished by adding something small, such as a doggie door, to the building.
Shed to Coop Mistake 1
The biggest mistake that you can make when using an old Home Depot shed for your new coop is to think that you can simply put your chickens inside and that they will be happy and safe. Remember that chickens need plenty of ventilation to be happy and healthy, and so you need to make sure that you cut windows into the shed and then protect them with a screen or chicken wire. This will ensure that there is plenty of fresh air in the shed, but that predators can’t easily get inside.
Shed to Coop Mistake 2
Another thing that you will need to address when converting your shed is making sure that your chickens will have plenty of room to roost and to lay. This is much easier accomplished if you choose a wooden shed, as you can easily build shelving and roosts and attach them directly to the wall without worrying about damaging the plastic of the shed. If you choose a vinyl or metal shed, then you need to build a freestanding roosting and nesting area for your birds.
Shed to Coop Mistake 3
Another option that you have when completing a shed conversion is to opt for a fresh air coop. These are not nearly as popular as traditional coops, but there are some benefits to this style. Depending on the area in which you live, putting your birds in a metal building can be very detrimental to their health, especially if you deal with high temperatures for a lot of the year. In this case, your chickens will welcome the fresh air coming through their coop. Because chickens need a lot more ventilation than what you will have in a Home Depot shed, you need to be diligent about creating windows for cross-ventilation or simply opt for a more open style.
If you are really worried about how you are going to keep your chickens cool and keep the shed ventilated, then you may want to install a box fan. This is a great way to keep the air moving inside, but you have to be careful that you keep it clean so that it is not a fire hazard, which can happen when dust builds up on the blades and in the motor.
Do you think that this list of chicken coops will help you to decide which kind is the right one for you? Owning chickens is a lot of fun and has a lot of benefits, but you have to make sure that you choose the right coop for your needs. This list is important to me because it outlines various types of coops and makes it significantly easier to decide on the right one for your needs. Let me know what you thought about the list in the comments and please share the article with someone who can benefit from it!