Chicken coops are an extremely important aspect of chicken care. Not only does the coop house the chickens, but it keeps them safe. Before you decide your coop plans, I highly recommend you go to YouTube and search around for “predator in chicken coop” videos. They give me nightmares. Its pretty incredible how persistent and creative predators can be. Main chicken predators:
When planning for your coop, the most important thing is security. It needs to be a Fort Knox for chickens. Chicken wire is the most standard tool for keeping predators away. We even put chicken wire down on the ground that our coop sits on so predators can’t dig under to get it. With any gates, hatches or doors, make sure you get a latch that locks (any hardware store sells hook and eye latches with a spring closure on them). Raccoons are especially good at opening these latches without the spring closure. They will even lure chickens to the wire and snatch them through the pen. Its brutal being a chicken sometimes!
If you google chicken coops, you will literally come up with thousands upon thousands of results. You can also spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on coops. I was absolutely shocked at the price of some chicken coops, there are some that are so nice, I wouldn’t mind living in them.
You can either choose to build your own coop or purchase an already built coop. There are many free coop plans on the Internet, so if you are crafty and skilled at building, this is usually the cheaper option. You can use recycled wood to save some money. Wood pallets are a cheap way to build a chicken coop-search Pinterest or Google for plans. This also gives you the luxury of building exactly what you want. The library and Amazon have a good selection of chicken coop plan books.
If you plan on buying an already built coop, here are the main options:
- Ebay (look under rabbit hutches/pen as well-if you are only getting 2-3 chickens these will work and are cheaper than “chicken coops”)
- Private coop companies
We searched Craigslist for weeks to find a reasonably priced coop. Plan to spend anywhere from $200-$400 as a ball park estimate. Again, if you are frugal and carpenter inclined there are cheaper options. You pay for convenience where coops are concerned.
What your chicken coop needs to have:
- Coop-shelter from weather, good ventilation
- Nesting boxes-typically inside the coop
- Roosting area-inside the coop, natural branches off the coop’s floor-different heights for variety
- Run-enclosed with chicken wire, secure-where feed and water can be placed
Chickens coops are HEAVY. If you are buying from someone local, bring plenty of help. We purchased ours from a family that were no longer keeping chickens:
We used the base of what we purchased and then added some personal touches.
Those are the basics of chicken coops. Next we will explore hen behavior.
Until next time…