Raising chickens and harvesting the eggs can help save a lot of money, and it’s a fun activity for the entire family. Building the chicken coop yourself can be just as rewarding. The task can seem daunting, but with a little out-of-the-box thinking and some good old fashioned hard work, you can provide your hens with a warm and cozy place to lay their eggs.
Decide What You’re Going to Build
You can draw your own plans or use one of the many that are available for free online. If you’re not a carpenter or skilled with wood, it’s probably wise to use pre-made plans. They will walk you through the project step-by-step, just like a cooking recipe. Also, figure out if you want a mobile coop or a stationary one. This will help to narrow design elements so that you can focus on gathering material and preparing your yard.
Gather Materials and Tools
There’s nothing more annoying than getting part way through a DIY project to find that you’re missing a certain tool or don’t have enough material. Gathering everything together and taking stock will help you to limit these situations. Building something like a chicken coop allows you a bit of freedom with your material selection. Try to use as much recycled material as you can to limit costs. Things like used wood that’s not too busted up, old light fixtures for those short, cold winter days and egg crates as nesting boxes can all be used in a DIY chicken coop. Just be careful that the items are of decent quality. A warped window or rotted wood can lead to more problems than they solve.
Get the Yard Ready
If you’re going to build a stationary coop, find a place with plenty of room for the structure and a run. Try to find an area with a good amount of shade, too. This will keep the birds cool during the summer. Also, if possible, fence in the ranging area with some chicken-wire or hardware cloth. A safe hen is a happy hen and a worry-free owner.
Build Your Coop to Size
Giving your birds plenty of space to live and roost is essential to their health. If you have the room, it’s always best to give them an area in which to move around. A good rule-of-thumb for sizing up proper living space is to provide about two to three square feet in the coop and four square feet in the run per bird. If your hens are going to be cooped up all the time, try to allow for about five square feet within the structure. Also, be sure to elevate the nesting area. This can be a small ledge with straw or poles with crates on the end, anything that is at least two to three feet off the ground and snugly. Not only do chickens love to nest high up, but this approach will also keep them dry during wet months.
A DIY chicken coop is easy to build if you do a bit of planning and preparation. Just remember to take your time and plan for the comfort of the hens, and you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.