UPDATED for 2017-2018: More people than ever before are choosing to raise chickens in their yards. For some, raising chickens offers the opportunity to put fresh organic food on their table. For others, raising chickens offers the opportunity to introduce children to the reality of where food comes from. Others do it for the manure which greatly benefits other plants.
Regardless of the reason that you want to raise chickens, you will need a chicken coop to keep them safe and well. There are many different commercial choices but building your own Custom Chicken Coop for your flock is a great idea because it will cost you less and also it will be tailored to your own needs.
In this article we will present you with a few important issues that you need to consider before building your own chicken coop (with some tips to have in mind), and then after that we have 30 ideas (with images, links to DIY Instructions and free plans at the end) to help you make a decision of the best type of coop to build in your yard.
Answering the following questions will allow you to build the best chicken coop (DIY Style) for your needs.
Table Of Contents
How Many Chickens Are you Going to have?
The first thing that you need to decide is how many chickens you are going to keep. Each chicken needs four square feet of space inside the coop. Chickens who are kept too close together fight and may ultimately end up killing each other. When you are constructing your coop, consider if you may want to keep more chickens in the future. You cannot have too much room.
Does the Coop Need to be Moved?
Chicken coops basically come in two different styles: Stationary (fixed) or Tractor (mobile) coops. Stationary coops are easier to construct using heavy duty materials. Therefore, they usually last longer than tractor coops which can be moved from one location to another. Furthermore, it is much easier to protect your flock from predators using a stationary coop. Alternatively, if you are worried about dead spots in your yard from chicken manure, then tractor coops are the way to go.
How to protect Chickens from Predators
Chickens are incredibly vulnerable to predators including hawks, owls, weasels, raccoons and coyotes. Therefore, it is essential that you protect them. Keep them inside wired or wood fences that have extremely small openings. Make sure to cover the top of the coop with solid wood or strong wire mesh or other material that will stop birds from swooping into your coop.
Realize that predators can burrow under the coop. Therefore, keep it up off the ground. If your chickens will be spending most of the day roaming outside, then plant small bushes inside their free-range area providing shade and insects for the birds. At the same time however, eliminate as many bushes, trees and plants that are directly outside of the coop, because they provide the perfect hiding spots for predators.
Where are the Chickens going to Perch (Roosting Bars) ?
Chickens naturally rest on a perch (roosting bar) at night. This is an instinctive behavior to keep them safe from floor predators. They love the highest perch. Therefore, make sure that you have a pole (preferably 4 inches wide) with enough room for them to perch as high as you can within your coop. If this is not feasible, then all perches should be at least 1.5 feet off the ground. Also, allow at least 8 inches of roosting bar space per hen.
Where are the Chickens going to Nest?
You can never have enough nesting boxes. This is where the hens will go to lay their eggs. A good rule of thumb is to have one nesting box for every three hens. These boxes should be completely closed in on three sides with a small opening in the front. The size of the nesting box depends on the chicken breed that you are raising, but they should be at least 1.5 times the size of the bird.
Will the Chickens get too Hot or Cold?
While many people worry that their chickens might get too cold, the tiny down feathers under their top feathers naturally work to insulate them from the cold. In fact, chickens can handle low temperatures without any warming devices. However it’s a good idea to provide some thermal insulation in between the side walls of the coop if you live in a very cold place. Also, make sure to close any large holes on the coop (broken wood openings etc) to avoid cold air from entering the chicken house.
A much larger problem for chickens is ventilation. When building a chicken coop, make sure that has a couple of windows and other ways for the wind to move through the coop during warm periods.
Keeping chickens in a closed up (air-tight) coop without any ventilation can lead to respiratory distress. Of course, it is necessary that these openings be covered in some way to stop predators from entering the coup.
How easy is the Coop to Clean?
If you can smell a chicken coop, then the ammonia buildup within the coop is already harming the birds. Therefore, it is necessary to build a coop that is easy to clean. Having a concrete or wooden floor in a coop makes it easy to mop the coop. Consider how easy the nesting boxes and perches will be to clean, as each area needs to be disinfected on a regular basis.
After you have answered the above questions, then you are ready for your first chicken coop DIY. Keeping the various factors in mind will allow you to construct the best coop for your needs.
Now let’s see several design and DIY Ideas for building a Coop on your own. We have curated several DIY instructions and images that we’ve found them excellent choices. Moreover, make sure to read till the end of this article to find some free plan resources we have gathered for you.
Note: Have a look also here for Dog House DIY designs and plans if you want to experiment also with that type of DIY project.
Custom Chicken Coop Ideas
1) Chicken Coop from a playhouse
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Chicken-Coop-from-a-Playhouse/
The guy here is one of these people who believe in repurposing old things into a new useful object, that’s why he transformed an old wooden slide with a playhouse on top into a functional chicken coop.
The chicken coop he has built can accommodate 6-9 chickens and has the following features/specs (only the important features are listed below. Go to full instructions to see more):
- Both a chicken and human door.
- 2-3 external nesting boxes.
- Removable and easy to clean floor.
- Should be able to feed the animals without entering the coop.
- At least 2 windows which can be closed in cold periods.
- Elevated from ground to protect against water etc.
- Easy access for maintenance.
2) Backyard Chicken Barn
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Backyard-Chicken-Coop/
This is a chicken coop inspired by some barns as seen in Kansas by the builder. It cost only $40 to build but he used several material from old cabinets, old houses in the neighborhood etc.
The size of the coop can accommodate 3 to 5 hens and the rules followed when designing this specific one are:
- Enough room for the birds.
- Safety (predator protection).
- Room temperature control.
- Dry with good ventilation.
- Ability to easily keep it clean with fresh water and food.
The builder gives also some important tips when building chicken coops like:
- Use 1 nesting box (dark and comfy) per 3-5 laying hens.
- Do not use treated lumber wood since this can cause sickness to the birds.
- Make openings for windows in order to cool down the temperature during summer.
- Build solid tight walls to keep winds out during winter.
3) Big and Cheap Chicken Coop
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Chicken-Coop-BigCheapStong/
Total of 3 sheets of plywood were used to make this chicken coop (one sheet for front/back, one sheet for floor and roof and one sheet for the sides).
You can build it with just hand tools (hand saw, screwdrivers, hammer) so this makes it easier if you don’t have electric power tools in your home.
Here is a list of the supplies:
- 3 sheets of plywood.
- 2×4’s (6’ long) to build the four vertical legs.
- 2×4’s (8’ long) for the horizontal bits.
- Screws and nails.
- Wood glue.
- Outdoor paint (1 gallon).
- 2 hinges for the door.
This chicken coop above does not include egg boxes, ramp, lights, heater and outside fenced area which are essential for a fully functional coop.
4) Lollipop Chicken Coop
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/MY-120-Lollipop-Chicken-Coop/
This “popsicle” style chicken coop was built with less than $120 and contains front and rear windows, two-part staircase, side door, two egg boxes etc.
The main materials used for building this include pallets, wood 2×2’s and 2×4’s, shingles for the roof, laminated plywood board for the floor etc.
Here are the materials listed for this specific chicken coop:
- 10-12 2×2’s for wall structure roof struts( we actually found a pile of them and is why we used them)
- 2’x4’x.5″ thick base (laminated or treated)
- 6 ft 4″x4″ for stand of coop
- 4 ft 4″x4″ for stand of staircase
- 6 Fence pickets for trim on front panel and stairs
- Hardware= Hinges, toggle bolt locks, eye hole lock, hardware cloth, aluminum drip rail, misc. screws, roofing nails, toggle bolts-nuts-wing nuts.
- Misc- Scrap pieces of wood for side runners for stairs and back trim.
5) Large Chicken Coop using Recycled Wood and Pallets
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Pallet-Recycled-Wood-Chicken-Coop/
If you wanted to learn how to build a chicken coop out of pallets, this is the DIY instructions resource you will need.
This one is for more experienced builders and needs several days to construct. The person who constructed this said that it took him 2 weeks for the design and several weekends to actually build the coop. Also, since it’s a large construction, make sure you ask whether a building permit is needed.
The dimensions of this design is 2′ long, 6.5’wide and 6′ tall at the entry side, sloping down to 5’8″ on the backside (it’s built on a hill slope). With that size, it can accommodate 18-20 adult hens. Since the birds free range during the day, it’s mostly used for sleeping.
The main materials used for this coop were recycled lumber, pallets, laminate flooring etc. Concrete was also needed to fix and secure the posts of the frame in their holes. The total cost didn’t exceed $500.
6) Dog House Transformed into a Chicken Coop
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-From-Dog-House-to-Chicken-Coop/
This is a dog house converted into a chicken coop for housing 2-3 birds. The goal of the couple who built the coop was to be low cost, have plenty of room for 2-3 chickens, and be elevated off the ground.
The basic materials used (in addition to the old wooden dog house) are:
- Plywood wood for creating the oval door.
- 2x4s for the frame of the elevated base.
- 4x4s for the legs of the base.
- Jig saw, table saw, wood screws, hinges, lock etc
The final coop cost around $20 but still needs some enhancements like better chicken ramp, insulation etc.
7) Elevated Sturdy Chicken Coop
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Chicken-Coop-3/
This coop has received nice comments for the design and its 3′ square by 10′ long to house 8 hens.
The elevated and sturdy design make it a good choice for keeping the chickens safe from predators.
The floor is made from mesh wire but you can use wood if you want. Nesting boxes are on the one side and the other side is covered with wire again instead of wooden walls.
8) Mobile Chicken Coop
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Mobile-Chicken-Coop-with-some-automation/
The purpose of this mobile chicken coop is for the owner to move it around the yard in different places so that the chickens would not destroy the yard.
The dimensions of this structure are 4 feet by 3 feet with a height of 5 feet on the high side and 4 on the low. The elevation height of the coop is 2 feet above the ground.
One high-tech feature of this coop is that there is an electronic controller (Arduino) which closes the door automatically and also checks some sensors for low water level, temperature in the coop etc.
9) Home Made Chicken Coop
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/homemade-chicken-coop/
The dimensions of this are 5′ x 5′ for the inside area, and 10′ x 5′ for the outside area (total height is about 5-1/2′) and houses 5 chickens.
Three nesting boxes are also constructed inside the coop as shown on the link above. There are two doors, a top one for collecting the eggs and a lower door for cleaning the floor.
10) Large Tractor Coop
Source and DIY Instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/Large-Tractor-Coop/
This is a great mobile coop with 4 wheels (10-inch) that you can move around your yard.
It can house comfortably 14 chickens and the dimensions are 8 ft long, 4 ft wide, and 4 ft high (plus the roof). There are 3 nest boxes and four 4 ft perches inside. A watering system consists of a kitty litter bucket on the roof that feeds water via vinyl tubing to a PVC pipe that has four chicken nipples.
The materials for building this cost around $100 and include:
- 2 8-ft pressure treated 4×4’s (cut these into 4-ft lengths)
- Sheets of 3/8’s inch exterior plywood
- 4 10-inch or larger wheels
- Bolts, washers, and nuts
- Deck screws of several lengths
- Lag screws
- Primer paint and exterior paint
- Half-inch hardware cloth for the flooring and for the fenced in bottom run
- 3 foot of allthread pipe for the axles (diameter determined by the hub of the wheels)
- Plexiglas for windows (optional)
20 More DIY Custom Chicken Coop Ideas
We have collected 20 more Custom Chicken Coop design ideas for your DIY project. Enjoy:
Free Chicken Coop Plans
Here are also some free plans for your DIY Chicken Coop project:
How to build a Chicken Coop Step by Step
There are several book resources to help you build a chicken coop from scratch. I would recommend the following two books from Amazon:
- DIY Chicken Coops: http://amzn.to/2edmM4t
- Building Chicken Coops for Dummies: http://amzn.to/2edgAto