Building a chicken coop is an inexpensive alternative to purchasing a prefabricated one. However, there are a few things you should take under consideration first.
Where will the chicken coop be located? Deciding on a good location is very important, not only from an aesthetic viewpoint, but from a practical one as well. Make sure you can easily carry feed and water to your chickens. Also, if you have nearby neighbors, address any concerns they may have regarding the location of your chicken coop.
Do you need any building permits? Depending on the size of your structure, you may be required to obtain a building permit prior to starting construction. Research your local ordinances to find out what steps, if any, you need to take before starting.
How many chickens do you plan to keep? You will need to make sure your chicken coop is adequately sized for the number of birds you plan to keep, as well as the types of breeds. As a general rule, allot a 3 foot x 3 foot space for each chicken, give or take depending on the size of the breed.
How much do you have budgeted for the project? Even if you are working on a tight budget, make sure you use materials that will last and provide adequate protection and shelter for your birds.
Make sure you include adequate ventilation and natural light. Your chickens also need these to thrive and be healthy.
What's your climate? If it's hot and sunny, you may want to position your chicken coop in a shady area of your backyard. If you have bitterly cold winters, you may want to consider adding some extra insulation to the interior of your coop.
Provide nest boxes and perches. You should have one nest box for every three to four birds. A twelve inch square 8-10 inches deep is a good size box for most birds. You should also provide roosting perches for the chickens to use at night when they sleep. To avoid any chicken fights, make sure to position all perches at the same height. They should be placed well above floor level and higher than the nesting boxes. If necessary, build a ramp or ladder to make the perch more easily accessible for your birds.
These are just a few pointers for building a chicken coop. A good set of chicken coop plans will also help. If you would like more information, stick around awhile and do some more reading...
photo credit: erix!