How to build a chicken coop

Nick Oetken

Constructing a chicken coop is a fun little project that can be done by anyone so long as you have the right materials and at least some basic skills when it comes to carpentry. While building a chicken coop may sound like an intimidating process, the information in this article will show you that it’s really more straightforward than you probably think.

Why build a chicken coop?

Chickens are one of the most valuable livestock animals that you can raise for the purposes of being self-sustainable on food. A hen in good condition can lay five to six eggs a week, meaning that with just two to four hens in your coop, your entire family can have a healthy breakfast each morning.

Chicken coop on the grounds of the Tinsley Living Farm at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. – Author: Tim Evanson – CC BY-SA 2.0

Chickens can also provide you with a source of meat, and you can use the fertilizer from their waste for plants. They are incredibly easy to take care of and will eat practically anything that you give them, including weeds, insects, and even some of your dinner leftovers.

There are many reasons to raise chickens, not only for survival or prepping purposes but just in general. However, a chicken coop is absolutely necessary for containing chickens if you decide to raise them. Yes, you can allow them to roam free around your property, but it only makes them vulnerable to predators and to other accidents.

How to prepare for building the coop?

In our introduction to this article we mentioned how you will need the right materials to build a chicken coop. Specifically, you will need several pieces of plywood in a variety of different sizes, a hammer and nails, hinges, screws, litter, chicken wire, gloves, a face mask, drill, saw, sander, and measuring tape.

An easily movable henhouse or chicken tractor (without wheels) for a small number of hens. – Author: Jessica Reeder – CC BY-SA 2.0

Next, it’s time to plan out your chicken coop. Since this is your first coop, there’s no need to make it complicated or fancy, and a basic chicken coop will do. Your coop needs to be based around how many chickens you plan on raising, the purpose you have for raising the chickens, and how much space is available for the coop.

When planning out your chicken coop, you can either build it using your own design or you can base it off of another plan online. But regardless of what you choose to do, it is important that your coop meet some basic needs, which we will outline and discuss next.

Things the chicken need

The basic things that your chicken coop must have include following:

• A height of 2 feet off the ground

Chicken coop – Author; SoniaT 360. – CC BY 2.0

– Or more appropriately, a height of 2 feet off the ground minimum. A height of 3 to 4 feet will be better. The reason why you want your chicken coop to be up off of the ground is so that it will not be so vulnerable to predators. However, the actual pen can be on the ground.

– Since your coop is being elevated up off of the ground, you need to have a ramp of some sort so that the chickens can enter and exit the coop at will.

• Food and water stations

– Many people who raise chickens keep the food and water stations outside in the pen rather than in the coop itself, but regardless of what you decide to do, they both need to be easily accessible by the chickens.

• Insulation and ventilation

solar powered chicken coop door – Author:
Stephan Ridgway – CC BY 2.0

– Your chickens need to be warm inside of their coop, but they also need to have a source of oxygen flowing in as well. The amount of insulation you include in your coop needs to be based on the climate that you are living in. The colder the environment, the more insulation there must be. When it comes to ventilation, the best options are either small windows or vents that are closed off with chicken wire or flaps.

• Nesting boxes (1 per hen)

– The nesting boxes are where the hens will lay their eggs. They should be small spaces where the hens will feel comfortable laying their eggs, and there should be a small door or compartment right to the side of them so that you can gather the eggs from the outside.

• Resting perches (1 Per chicken)

– Chickens prefer to sleep while sitting atop a perch. Make sure that the perches are spaced apart from one another so that each chicken is given their own personal space while sleeping, and there must be a minimum of one perch per chicken.

Constructing the coop

We can’t give you a universal set of directions for building your coop since every chicken coop is different, but what we can do is outline the fundamental steps that you should follow:

• Always build the frames first


coop framing – Author: Derek Oyen – CC BY-SA 2.0


– Specifically, you will want to join the bottom frames to the side frames. To make sure that the frames are joined together extra securely, use both nails and glue. You want your chicken coop to be as sturdy as possible, which is why using both glue and nails is a wise idea.

• Add the perches, nesting boxes, and insulation

– With your frames together, you can now add in the perches, nesting boxes, and insulation on the walls and floor of the coop. Or if you’ve already built in the perches and the nesting boxes into the frames, that works, too.

• Add the ceiling next

– With your side frames and bottom frame now joined together and the insides of the coop worked out, it’s time to add the roof to the coop. You also want the roof to be sturdy, so again using glue and nails together is a good idea. There should already be insulation attached to the ceiling before you fix it on to the frames.

• Work on the doors and windows next

– Now that you have a basic structure for your coop, it’s time to cut out the doors and the windows. Do the main door to the coop first, since that’s more important, and then work on the windows.

• Touching up the coop

Mostly finished Chicken coop! – Author: – CC BY 2.0

– You can now work on touching up the coop by adding ventilation systems, installing chicken wire over the windows, and plugging up each of the joints and seams. Last but not least, you can color the coop however you see fit. Then you can add the chickens!

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