Building your own chicken coop is a wholesome and unbelievably rewarding experience. It is an essential part of getting your "backyard homestead" up and running and it's important that you build something strong that will last through anything the elements can throw at it. These free chicken coop blueprints are simple to follow and can be made in a relatively small amount of time with very little equipment.
How to Use This Coop
The design of this coop is meant to be fairly simplistic and should not be difficult for you to put together or use. If you need help downloading the printable instructions, check out these helpful tips.
The blueprints included with the article are fairly self-explanatory. However, there are a few extra tips that you should keep in mind while constructing it.
- Build your frame inside on a flat surface if possible. This will make it much easier for you to get all of your pieces attached evenly so there are no warped or misshapen sides.
- Build the rest of the coop after moving the frame to where you want the finished coop to stand. When all of the wood is in place, the coop will be very heavy and difficult to move into place.
- Use heavy gauge hinges and latches. These latches are meant to keep predators from breaking into your coop. It would be very bad to underestimate the strength of raccoons when there is food at stake.
- Whenever you cut wood, it is important to do two measurements every time you make a cut. Once the wood is cut, there is no going back.
Where to Place Coop
The coop should be placed in an area that does not get bombarded with sunlight for the entire day, so the eastern side of your home would be optimal. This way, sun will hit the coop early in the morning to warm up your chickens after a cold night and will not be pummeling the coop all day long.
You should also place the coop in a spot that is relatively close to your compost bin. This is because this coop is meant to be stationary and will therefore require the use of bedding materials that must be composted when they're soiled. This can be great for gardeners since chicken waste makes an excellent fertilizer.
If you are going to use this coop in a small backyard, you should build a separated run around it. Some coops, such as chicken tractors, are meant to be moved around from place to place as a way to protect chickens from acquiring parasites or over-grazing on grass. Since this coop is stationary, you'll need to create separate environments for your chickens to roam in during the day that will simulate this effect. The run can be created very easily with a roll of 4 foot fencing and some garden posts. The size of your run will depend entirely on your space constraints, but you should try to shoot for roughly 5 square feet per chicken if possible. Of course, none of this is necessary if you intend on free-ranging your chickens.
Pros and Cons of Building the Coop
The two most common types of chicken coop used today are stationary hen houses and chicken tractors. Tractors are mobile coops that are usually designed to completely house your chickens so they stay in specific areas around your lawn. Some people use chicken tractors in small lawns because it gives them more control over where the chickens graze and how long they graze there, effectively stopping them from over-grazing or over-scratching. You also don't have to use nearly as much bedding material with a mobile chicken tractor. On the other hand, many people prefer the greater deal of security and weather resistance that can be offered by a stationary hen house, such as the one in these plans.
Pros of the Design
- It requires very little skill in construction to complete and uses very basic materials.
- It is exceptionally sturdy, with a full floor that protects your hens against predators that can burrow under a chicken tractor.
- It is designed to be weather resistant and keep your hens protected from the elements.
- It is designed to be easy to take apart and fix. This is very important because accidents happen and things break. You don't want your coop to be too difficult to fix.
- It is very easy to clean out.
Cons of the Design
- It can be fairly heavy.
- It will require you to either free-range your chickens or build a separated chicken run to allow your hens exercise while keeping them from developing parasites.
- It is stationary, which requires you to be very careful about things like placement.
Other Free Chicken Coop Blueprints
Keep your backyard chickens safe and secure with these other plans found on the web.
- North Dakota State University Extension Service: This is a great resource for people that are looking to build something a little bigger than the coop above.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: This resource offers plans for a 20 x 20 house and a 8 x 8 house.
- The University of Tennessee: Find an interesting chicken house that can be great for a larger amount of birds in these plans.
- Small chicken house from Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology: This coop is big enough for 15 to 20 hens. It isn't very detailed with building instructions, but it does give you a clear idea of what a good chicken coop should look like and how it should be put together.
- Harriet's House Coop from Organic consumers is a bit more challenging to construct, but it will hold four to five chickens.
Build Your Own Chicken Coop
Building your own chicken coop may be an adventure that is altogether new for you. The printable plans above are ones that can be accomplished with very little expertise and in very little time. It is a great project to get your feet wet in carpentry and it is a very important part of your push to start raising your own chickens.