My Chicken Coop Start
Choosing a chicken coop can depend on many things and how much money you have to spend. Some people want to go new and some want to repurpose things. Some people are handy and some are not.
Making a homemade chicken coop, or have someone build it for you can be expensive and daunting.
I am a huge fan of reusing or repurposing things. Needing a chicken coop, this building was just what I needed. Look for people selling or giving away old granaries, sheds, play houses, old lumber, pallets, etc.
Repurposing or Reusing– Use your imagination
A little elbow grease and know how, a chicken coop doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. If you want a homemade chicken coop, old lumber or pallets are a great way to go.
Reusing granaries, shed, play houses or anything similar doesn’t require any building skills, though you may have to do some renovations to benefit the chickens and yourself.
My chicken coop is an old granary building. My husband had purchased a couple of small buildings at an auction and this one was adapted to store oats for our meat goats.
When we quit using oats to flush our goats and supplement their feed, the building was just standing there with no use.
I started to think that maybe having a few chickens for fresh eggs would be a great use for the old empty building.
If you do decide to go new, I’m not judging. Finding chicken coop plans online is easy and if you can afford to go fancy, go nuts! There are so many cute little coops for all numbers and sizes of chickens. The choices are limitless. Chickens just need a basic one room building. The main purpose is to keep them dry, safe, warm, and healthy.
Inside the Coop – Making it cozy
I had lined the inside of the 8×12 building with OSB for grain storage, so I was happy the walls were double sheeted, though not insulated, it would do. Insulation for the extreme cold weather and even in warm weather would be beneficial, but beggars can’t be choosers at this point.
It already had high vent windows with doors for checking grain levels. I covered the inside of those windows with hardware cloth to keep out cats, owls, hawks and birds in general. They were perfect for ventilation and air circulation. These vent windows are a must in a coop to keep your flock healthy, especially in winter.
I cut another door into the one end of the building for cleaning purposes. I didn’t want to throw the old bedding out into the chicken run. Instead I throw it out of the house to the outside, and if need be, it can be hauled away or left to compost. This side door also serves as an exit and entrance for my chickens to free range outside of their fenced chicken run.
Since I don’t have any windows in my coop, I cut the main door and the side cleaning door in half. I can keep the top halves open for extra air circulation. The side door being cut in half allows me to open the bottom half only to let the chickens free range out and keeps birds from flying in the coop.
The main door has a small chicken opening with door cut out of the bottom half. This way they can still be in and out of the coop in the winter but keep the heat in as much as possible. The door allows me to close the opening if I need to enclose the chickens into the coop for any reason.
The floor of the coop is standard plywood. I lay straw on the floor of the coop to give them something to scratch in and to keep the floor warm for them. Even in the summer it makes cleaning much easier if you put straw or shavings on the floor. I prefer straw as shavings are harder to clean out with a fork and they can absorb a lot of water.
Windows for the Coop – Do they need windows?
Windows are another great addition to making a coop cozy. It helps to bring natural light into the coop for the chickens and can add air circulation if they open.
Having windows can help heat up the coop in winter as well. When the weather is very warm, just open the window and let the breeze flow through.
I do not have any windows in my current coop. I want to put windows in, but am trying to convince my hubby to build a new insulated coop. I have old recycled windows set aside, that I found at a garage sale, I will hinge them to open to the outside. I will have hardware cloth fastened on the inside of the coop, as well, for safety.
Chickens don’t care if there are curtains on their windows. You can place curtains on your windows just for esthetics; they will only get dusty and dirty. Chickens create a lot of dust and it clings to the coop in the rafters and along windows.
Nesting Boxes and Roosts – Chicken Comfort
Chickens like a nice roomy nesting box that is private and comfortable for their size. For a standard chicken, a nest size at 10.5” length x 12” width x 12” tall (if enclosed) is a good start. Larger birds need bigger nests and vise versa for the smaller chickens.
For a nest, you can re-use milk crates, pails, or plastic flower pots that are large enough for nests. You can build out of wood or purchase pre-built nesting boxes as well. This keeps the chickens from laying eggs on the floor of the coop.
Raise your nests off the floor 12”-18”. You may need to build a little ladder put on a slight angle for your chickens to use to get into the nest if the nests are mounted too high off the floor.
You don’t want your chickens laying eggs on the floor. If an egg gets broken, it will be a frenzy in the coop. Chickens love to eat eggs. Keeping eggs from being broken and eaten is important to keep your chickens from starting to get a taste of eggs. Nesting boxes keeps the eggs cleaner as well.
Chickens need a nice place to sleep at night. They like to roost on branches or wood lumber roosts. You want at least one foot of space per chicken. I like to have removable roosts to be able to clean the coop without banging any part of my body on a roost.
I made holders out of scrap wood that the roost boards fit in so that they can come off the sides of each wall by lifting them out of the holders. It also makes cleaning the roosts much easier when they are removable.
I have seen coops with actual tree branches for roosts. Just make sure they are large enough in diameter to handle the weight of several chickens per branch that may roost on them. You want them big enough in diameter so they have space to roost properly without falling off.
I use a 2×2 lumber that I cut to fit across the 7’ width of the building. I have my roosts on an angle, meaning not a flat surface at the top. Many will say the roosts should have a flat top surface for the chickens to roost. I do not find my chickens care.
Roosts should start 12” off the ground and be spaced 15” apart and another 12” staggered width so they are rising like stairs. This keeps the chickens from pooping on each other.
The chickens in the highest pecking order of the flock will be roosting on the highest roost.
Chickens will be Happy! – They poop on everything
No matter if you spend hundreds of dollars on a prime cute little coop that looks just like your house, or if you have a coop pieced together with pallets, or out of an old shed, your chickens will be happy. If they have enough space and all the essentials they need to stay healthy and lay eggs, you have done your job.
Chickens don’t like to be wet or cold. They need shelter to keep them safe, happy and healthy. They will not judge you on what their home looks like as long as it does what it is supposed to.
Paint or no paint is up to you. Your coop will last longer if you do paint inside and out. It won’t matter to the chickens…they poop on everything!
Please feel free to tell me your Chicken Coop set up inside and out! I would love to hear about it and maybe it will give others more ideas for their start of Going Chicken!