Having a Chicken Coop in Your Backyard

Having a Chicken Coop in Your Backyard
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So You Want To Raise Chickens

Have you always wanted to have a backyard chicken coop? Now is a good time to have one even if you live in a city. While there are some cities that don’t allow any type of farm animal, many cities do, and you’re allowed to have chickens.

However, some of these cities that allow chickens to be kept do not allow roosters due to the crowing and complaints from neighbors. You’ll want to check with your city to make sure you’re not breaking any animal nuisance laws.

The reasons for keeping chickens vary from wanting fresh eggs to wanting a different kind of pet to desiring a bit of the country in the city. Not only can there be a savings on the grocery bill by producing eggs for family use, but many neighbors are joining together to create chicken projects. They’re splitting costs of the materials to build the backyard chicken coops as well as the cost of the feed and incidentals.

If you figure that you want to have a coop for hens of your own, they’re not at all difficult to build, plus you can design your own plans to make the coop look like a little house or barn rather than the traditional coop you may remember. All it takes is a little planning before you get started.

You’ll need to make sure you plan enough space for each chicken as overcrowded conditions can lead to sickness among the chickens. The general rule of thumb for space is to have approximately four-square feet of space for each chicken though it never hurts to have more. As you’re building the chicken coop take into consideration the area where you live.

If you live in a northern state where snow and ice are a regular part of the weather, you’re going to need a coop that’s adequately insulated to keep the chickens warm. You don’t want to have to bring them indoors for them to survive. If you happen to live in an area where the winters are not as harsh, but the summers are scorchers, you’ll have to make sure the coop is built to provide maximum cooling.

When building the home for your chickens, you don’t have to spend a lot of money buying brand new materials. You can build it from recycled materials, such as wood left over from a home project – even hinges salvaged from old kitchen or bathroom makeovers can be put to use as hinges for a chicken coop door.

Tips For Chicken Coop Designs

Raising chickens is a fun hobby and can lead to a nice, small income for those willing to put the effort into it. Like people, chickens have to have lodging and that lodging can come in all forms. You can buy chicken coop designs for as few or as many chickens as you plan to keep.

Before you choose one design over another there a few points to consider that will affect your decision. Since a chicken coop can come in a range of sizes and weights, you need to figure out if there’s room enough to support the coop. If you rent a home or apartment, you’ll need to purchase or make a coop that can easily move from one location to the next.

Secondly, the layout of the design and how much room it will offer per chicken is important. You can’t crowd several chickens in a coop designed to house two to four chickens. The design will have to provide for a roomy enough nesting area.

Even though several chickens will often only use the two or three nesting boxes, sometimes that’s not the case and you’ll want to make sure the chickens have plenty of nests. You can get several nests built either side by side or on top of one another in situated in stacks to save space.

No matter what type of design you have for a chicken coop, make sure you use quality material in building it. It’s okay to use salvaged or recycled items as long as they’re in good shape and can provide the chickens with adequate shelter and warmth.

Choose a design that can withstand variations in weather. Some designs are very attractive and created to have that wow factor but they’re not sturdy enough to last. You don’t want to buy or create a design that will only be around temporarily.

If you’re not an expert in building and drawing up a detailed set of plans is a struggle, then you should look for a pre-made set of designs and pick on that you like. You can find designs in hardback books, eBooks you can download faster (and cheaper) and you can check out seed or hardware stores for designs for sale.

There are some designs that you can buy that will teach you how to build a chicken coop for well under a hundred dollars. There are some designs for coops that can cost close to a thousand dollars. The amount of money spent on the design should be decided by the purpose of the hens – whether they’re for pleasure or business.

Chicken coop designs can make the job of building a coop go a lot smoother than guessing which piece of wood goes where. With all of the choices, you should be able to find one that you like and suits your needs.

Why Choose a Small Chicken Coop Over a Larger One?

The practice of using a small chicken coop rather than a larger one is becoming more popular. There are several reasons why these coops are gaining in popularity. One reason is because hectic, busy lifestyles are better suited for these kinds of coops.

The reason cited most often for having smaller coops is because they’re not as hard to keep in a sanitary condition as the larger coops are. With a smaller coop, once the chickens are out of it, the coop can be cleaned in a shorter amount of time. There won’t be much (if any) scrubbing to do after the coop is washed down with the garden hose.

Cost is another reason the smaller coop wins out over the bigger one. They’re not as expensive to build because there isn’t the need for all the lumber larger coops need in order to construct them.

There’s a smaller amount of hardware to be used and a smaller area needed for ventilation. A smaller coop can be put together in a day versus the length of time it takes to build a standard size coop.

Because of the size, smaller chicken coops can be kept in nearly any location where they’re allowed. Even a condominium with what’s commonly called a postage stamp backyard has room enough to support the existence of a small chicken coop. With a smaller coop, if you build it in one area of your yard but notice a problem with that area, a smaller coop is a lot easier to move than a larger one. 

Small chicken coops are great for people who want to have chickens but don’t have the time or the space to give to larger coops. Not only are these scaled down versions of bigger coops easier to maintain, easier to repair when something needs to be fixes, but they also make it easier for the owners to provide food and water for the chickens.

For someone who wants to have more than four chickens, smaller coops are not a good option. These coops are specifically meant for no more than five or six chickens – maximum. If you want to have chickens specifically to make money from selling eggs, it’s better to go with the larger choice.

These coops are built with material just as sturdy as the bigger coops and are meant to last just as long. The small chicken coop is not an inferior version of the larger chicken coops, but rather a scaled down version.

The smaller coops operate much like the larger ones. They offer shelter, a place to nest and safety from natural enemies. If you’ve always wanted to have chickens but assumed you’d have to stick with the larger coops, now you know you don’t have to.

How to Build a Chicken Coop

Chickens need a warm place to live. They need a place where their natural enemies can’t break in and carry them or their young away into the night. They need shelter when the weather takes a nasty turn. You’ll want to make sure you build a snug coop as drafty ones are harmful for chickens. If you’ve never built a chicken coop before, you can learn how to build the best chicken coop.

Scout out the place where you want to build a chicken coop. Beginners often decide to build a coop without checking out the ground saturation before hand. If the area has a tendency to pool water, it’s a bad location to put up a coop.

Chickens have to have a dry space. You’ll need a level area to build the coop on, but never build a coop directly on the ground. Have you ever had a snack or rodent get into an outside building or shed? These same predators will easily get inside chicken coops that are built flat on the ground no matter how much chicken fencing you put up around the coop.

Predators don’t just arrive on the ground either. Hawks and other large birds will snatch smaller chickens and take off with them. When the chickens are outside of the coop, they need to be protected from these kinds of predators as well.

Humidity inside a coop isn’t healthy for chickens. You’ll want to make sure you have some type of opening for air to stir through. Some chicken owners use a simple vent, while other chicken owners put in a screened window that will open.

Those who take shortcuts carve a small hole in the plywood and nail a screen over that, but this isn’t a good idea.  The ventilation opening needs to be one that can be closed in the event of bad weather or built in such a way that rainwater and heavy drafts can’t get inside the structure.

Since chickens can’t fly as well as other birds, make sure you don’t place the perches too high off the floor where they can get hurt if they have a fall. Perches shouldn’t be built any higher than three to four feet off the floor.

Nesting boxes should be built lower than the perches (to prevent them from becoming the place the chickens prefer to sleep) and should be deep enough to make the chicken feel comfortable.

When constructing nesting boxes, make sure to slant the top of it because chickens love to roost on the flat surface of the boxes. The reason for the slanted top is because if chickens roost on the top, as they do their business, you’ll end up with quite an accumulation of droppings to constantly clean off.

Give the front of the nesting box a ledge so that the chicken can balance there when getting in and out of the nest. Follow these instructions and you’ll have built a chicken coop that lasts.

Building Chicken Coops the Easy Way

There are thousands of plans, designs and ideas for buildings used in housing chickens. They range from elaborate two story structures right on down to a small doghouse type dwelling surrounded by a few feet of chicken wire. Before you invest a lot of money and time setting up costly coops, learn about building chicken coops the easy way and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor sooner.

Chickens are not demanding critters. Their needs are pretty basic. They need a place to get in out of the elements where the freezing weather won’t harm their eggs. Next on the list, they have to have space for their nests in order to lay eggs.

Since both eggs and chickens are considered tasty morsels by a wide variety of predators, the place built for chickens needs to be sturdy and well protected. Add a little food and water and they’re happy campers.

There are standard ways to build a chicken coop, or you can create your own from scratch. Decide how large the dimensions should be for the area set aside for the chicken coop.

Take care not to put a chicken coop too close to your home for a couple of reasons. The noise can get pretty loud at times and downwind, a chicken coop doesn’t smell like roses. On the other hand, you don’t want to put the coop too far away either – both for the sake of convenience and so that you can keep an eye out for predators.

No matter how fancy a chicken coop is, don’t forget that it has to be cleaned on a regular basis to cut down on odor and bug infestations. One of the mistakes those new to raising chickens do is they build coops where the floor is completely level.

Isn’t that the way to build a house? Yes, but not a hen house – because when you go to wash it out, all of that stuff will pool right at your feet. Not a pretty thought or sight. Instead, you want to build the floor with a tilt at the back of it.

Building a chicken coop, the easy way includes an easy clean up. With a slightly tilted floor at the rear of the house, when you spray it down during cleaning, all that icky stuff will wash down the slant and right out the back door of the coop.

Put a chicken wire fence all around the coop to keep unwelcome guests out. Remember that some animals will dig beneath fences to get into the chicken coop, so play it smart and bury the fence partly below the ground.  Building chicken coops, the easy way makes the work of owning chickens easier in the long run.

How to Pick Chicken Coop Plans

You don’t have to be an architect to build a place for your chickens to reside. You don’t even have to be an experienced farmer. Many do it yourself chicken coop plans are available for purchase – or if you’re the adventurous type and you’re good with measuring and dimensions, you can even create plans for a unique coop. By following a set of plans, it won’t take long before your coop is complete.

There is no one right way to build a chicken coop. They come in all sizes, shapes and styles. Some are plain with absolutely no frills at all while others seem to be a work of backyard art.

The first step is to decide if you need a small, medium or large place for your chickens. How will you know what size to pick? The size you would want to build will depend on how many chickens the coop needs to house.

If you purchase a set of chicken coop plans, make sure the plans aren’t the bare minimum. The plans should cover all details, including the building of the chicken run. While chicken coops don’t require a Harvard degree to build, it’s not something you want to build by guesswork. To build a proper coop, you’re going to have to have some plans.

For those who think that any old set of plans will do, you could end up with a chicken house that won’t be suitable for use. The right kind of chicken plans will include height and width directions, where the ventilation should go, the best side of the coop to place the window if you want those and where and how to build perches and nesting boxes. All of that is part of building a coop.

Some plans show how to build a coop that looks like the letter A, while others show how to build a simple box structure. Some of the fancier plans show off coops built in the style of an old general store some look like a miniature home complete with a porch and wall decorations hanging on the outside.

To know what plans you should get, you need to ask yourself the following questions: How much money can I afford to budget for this project? How many hens will I be keeping? Will I be building this myself or will I hire the job out? If you’ve never built a coop before but want a fancier one or a custom built one, you might want to find an experienced coop builder.

Regardless of how you go about deciding your choice among the thousands of chicken coop plans available, the great news is that most coops are not that costly and can be built over the course of a single weekend.

Purchasing the Best Chicken Coop Kits

Chicken coop kits are materials gathered together in one order that you can use to build a place to hold chickens. All of the pieces to build the coop are enclosed in the kit and all you have to do is put the kit together. These are a great idea for anyone – including people who aren’t handy with a skill saw or measuring for precision.

Many kits are available for selection, and they come in choices of small, medium or large. These kits also vary in design. Some chicken coop kits are constructed with the intention that they can be moved from one location to another.

These kits are popular for those who live in cities and want to change the area of the coop over time. Moveable kits are the smallest of the kits, since they have to be light enough to be transported from one spot to another. Other kits are larger, heavier and are put together with the intention of remaining in one place.

The choice of whether to buy a portable coop or a larger one should be based on the number of chickens planned for the coop. Having more than two or three chickens means you’ll need a larger coop than a smaller, portable one.

Selecting the right kit to buy also depends on the plans you have for the chickens. If you plan to keep the chickens for your own enjoyment and for a supply of eggs for your family, you can have a kit that provides a small coop. If you want to sell eggs, you’ll need to buy the best kit you can get-one that offers plenty of room for the chickens.

When deciding which of the chicken coop kits is the right one for you, don’t focus only on the needs of today, but also look toward the years to come. If you think that keeping chickens may be something you’re going to want to grow as a business, then you should get the largest kit you can find.

Not all of kits are the same and some are better than others. Compare the kits as you do your research and make sure the kit was designed with expert knowledge about keeping chickens.

Don’t buy kits that don’t properly prepare for the correct ventilation installment and don’t buy kits that make cleaning the coop a monumental task. There are two main purposes of the coop – to shelter chickens in comfort and safety.

These kits are a great idea for people who want to have a chicken coop but don’t know how to build one or don’t want to take the time to do it. These kits are easy to assemble and provide everything you’ll need.

The kits come with the lumber already precut so there’s no need to measure and they provide all the hardware to put the lumber together. Some kits also offer technical support so if there are any problems, an expert will be on hand to guide the purchaser. Purchasing chicken coop kits are a quick alternative to the time it takes to build one yourself.

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