A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Chicken Coop at Home

For your feathered flock, here's everything to know about chicken coop plans, tools and materials, assembly, and choosing the right location.

Although raising backyard chickens is a lot of work, the payoff (fresh eggs!) is often worth the maintenance. But before you can reap all of the amazing benefits of owning chickens, you need to first provide them with a suitable habitat. Begin by building them a chicken coop, which not only protects them from predators and the elements, but also gives them a place to lay their prized eggs.

Eggs aren't the only reason why you should consider giving your chickens a designated home in your yard: "In addition to providing fresh eggs, with thicker whites and more flavorful yolks, chickens offer wonderful, all-natural bug control for your lawn and garden," says Lisa Steele, founder of Fresh Eggs Daily. "Their manure also makes a great garden fertilizer."

While buying a pre-made chicken coop is an option, you can also build one yourself with sheets of plywood and chicken wire. The DIY route will give your birds an equally safe space to nest and rest.

father and daughter feeding chickens in coup
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Necessary Materials

Most DIY coop frames are made out of wood and metal chicken wire. "Hardware cloth is the material of choice for keeping openings like vents and windows secure from predators," Schneider says. Along with sheets of plywood and chicken wire, you'll need a few common power tools to assemble the coop.

  • Plywood
  • Metal chicken wire (or hardware cloth)
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Cordless screws
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Staple gun

Location of the Coop

Before you can begin building a reliable DIY chicken coop, you need to find the right place to put it. "If you live in a place where it's hot most of the year, then situating the coop in the shade is a good idea, because keeping the coop cool will be a major concern," says Steele. "However, if you live further north, then a sunny location will help to warm up the coop in the middle of the winter." No matter where you position the coop, make sure it's on high ground so it won't flood when it rains.

How to Build a Chicken Coop

Your chicken coop must be predator proof—so a secure door and floor and sturdy walls (sans holes or too-large cracks) should be its most important features. "Chicken owners must be willing to spend the time and money necessary to implement a coop that's safe from predators," affirms Andy Schneider, founder of The Chicken Whisperer and author.

Choose a Coop Style

For design inspiration, start by researching chicken coop plans online for guidance—chicken coop A-frames, for example, are a popular choice. "Once you've settled on a design, draw a paper diagram with measurements of the floor, walls, and roof, and cut the boards accordingly," Steele says.

Chicken Coop Measurements

The coop needs to be the right size for your flock. "A good rule of thumb is generally 3 to 4 square feet of floor space per bird, but since chickens roost and don't sleep on the floor, for me, a better guideline is 8 to 12 inches of roosting bar per chicken," Steel says. "That way, everyone has plenty of room to perch at night."

Build the Frame

Once your materials are cut, assemble the floor of the coop first and build from the ground up, securing the walls at the corners before attaching the roof. A solid coop floor made of cement or plywood will help protect your chickens from digging predators.

If the floor of your backyard chicken coop is composed of wood, not cement, raise the coop off the ground with short legs to prevent it from rotting. Whether it's made of cement or wood, the floor of your coop will need cushioning. "The floor should be covered with some soft bedding, such as straw, pine shavings, or even dried leaves or pine needles," Steele says

Add Chicken Wire

Once the frame of your coop is finished, staple welded chicken wire—or hardware cloth—over all the vents and windows, using washers at the corners for even more stability. "Lastly, install a front door with hinges," Steel says.

Build a Ramp

While this step isn't necessary, adding a ramp to your coop makes it more accessible for your chickens. "You can make a ramp out of a plywood scrap to help the chickens get in and out of the coop more easily," Steele says.

Build Nesting Boxes

Once your chicken coop is assembled, you can add in nesting boxes with plywood. "If you don't have enough plywood leftover to build nesting boxes, you can secure wooden crates, baskets, or even plastic kitty litter pails secured to the walls instead," Steele says.

Add Ventilation

It's also imperative that a coop provides your chickens with a dry, but ventilated place to rest and, of course, lay their eggs. "Chicken poop creates ammonia fumes that can be harmful, so vents up high under the eaves are essential for letting not only heat but ammonia out," Steele says.

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