How Do I Build the Best Chicken Coop?
Whether you are building a large chicken coop or building a small chicken coop, the cost will usually be around 60% less if you build it yourself, than if you buy a ready-made Chicken Coop, however there are 12 important tips to building the best Chicken Coop, you should definitely consider.
In this guide we will help you understand how to Build the Best Chicken Coop, and we will answer a lot of questions about your chicken coop plans that should save you time and money and make a long-lasting solution. Whatever your chicken coop ideas are having the right Chicken Run Roof will make a critical difference to the lifespan of the Chicken Coop, but also importantly help ensure your Chickens are protected and remain happy and healthy egg layers.
If your project is a Chicken Shed for your garden or a commercial sized Chicken Shed, these important tips will give you some key insights to the best practices when building your own Chicken Shed.
Best Chicken Coop – 12 Important Tips You Need to Know
Below are Top 12 Important Tips when making your own DIY Chicken Run:
- What is a Chicken Coop and Run?
- Do Chickens really need a Coop?
- Can Chickens stay in the Coop all day?
- What Size Chicken House do I need for 6 Hens?
- How to Make a Fox-Proof Chicken Coop?
- How do you make a simple Chicken Run?
- What are the advantages of a walk-in Chicken Pen?
- Why is it important to have a covered Chicken Run?
- Do Chickens need to be on grass?
- Is it a lot of work to have Chickens?
- Does having Chickens encourage Rats and Mice?
- Do Chickens like shade or sun?
1. What is a Chicken Coop and Run?
A Chicken Coop is an indoor area for chickens where they sleep, roost and lay eggs in their nests. This indoor area helps them to keep warm and provides protection from predators. A Chicken Run is an outdoor area which is normally fenced off with wire mesh, and provides a safe enclosure for chickens to eat, forage, scratch in the ground, sunbathe or have a dust-bath.
Chicken Coops are sometimes called Chicken Houses, and are typically made from timber-frame shed-like structures. Chicken Runs are often called Chicken Pens of Chicken Cages and are normally made with a frame or posts with wire mesh around the outside.
2. Do Chickens Really Need a Coop?
Chickens are perfectly capable to live as free-range chickens, with no Chicken Coop or Chicken Run, however this does put them serious risk of attack from Foxes and even birds of prey. As a minimum you should provide a Chicken Coop, as a safe place for them to sleep. If your prime reason for having Chickens is for egg production, then in addition having a Chicken House provides a place where they can lay eggs and make it a lot easier for you to collect the eggs in a single area, rather than finding they lay the eggs in some place in your garden which you may not find.
Important Warning: Should I Shut my Chickens in to their Chicken Coop at Night?
You should always try and make a habit of shutting your Chickens in to the Chicken Coop each night as they are vulnerable to predators, and this will keep them safe from Foxes which will otherwise dig in and attack you Chickens.
3. Can Chickens Stay in The Coop all Day?
You can keep chickens in a Chicken Coop continuously, but you should ensure they have enough space and get plenty of fresh air and light, as this will help them keep healthy egg layers. So, the question is then; Do Chickens Need a Chicken Run? – It is much better if you can provide your Chickens with a Chicken Run (Sometimes called Chicken Pen) this provides them with several advantages which we have set out as follows:
- More Space: The more space a Chicken has the happier it will be, provided you still provide a warm and save Chicken House for them to sleep and Roost in.
- Fresh Air: Who doesn’t love fresh air? Chickens love fresh air too, and the happier you keep your Chickens the longer and healthier lives they will have.
- Added Nutrients: Chickens love to scrape and scratch around in the dirt and forage around, pecking away and eating grubs and bugs, which provide them with lots of natural nutrients, which in turn make for much nicer and healthier eggs.
- Natural Grit: When pecking around in the Dirt Chickens will also eat some grit (small stones) which go in to their gizzard to help grind and digest their food.
- Sunlight: Having Sunlight in a Chicken Run will greatly help your hens to feel great and keep happy, as with most animals this is an important factor in keeping them well.
Top Tip: What should I do if I don’t have enough Space for my Chickens?
If you are concerned you don’t have enough space I your garden for your chickens, you could consider, either reducing or limiting the number of Chickens you have. Having fewer chickens to make sure they have enough space, rather than having them in a smaller area, will increase their happiness and egg laying capacity and also increase their health and life span. Another suggestion is to allow them to be free range in your garden for certain times a day, much like taking a dog out for a walk, this will give them time to spend on their own and get some real outdoors benefits.
4. What Size Chicken House do I need for 6 Hens?
Having 6 Chickens is a great number for Egg laying for most families as it can provide enough eggs for eating and cooking. The Chicken Space Chart below shows how much space you should ideally provide for your chickens if you can, to help them keep happy, healthy and productive:
Ideal Space Calculator Chart for Chickens
NO. OF CHICKENS
Chicken Coop Only (Shut In)
Chicken Coop + Chicken Pen
0.5m2 + 1.5m2
1.0m2 + 3.0m2
1.5m2 + 4.5m2
2.0m2 + 6.0m2
2.5m2 + 7.5m2
3.0m2 + 9.0m2
Chicken Coop + Free Range
0.5m2 + ∞
1.0m2 + ∞
1.5m2 + ∞
2.0m2 + ∞
2.5m2 + ∞
3.0m2 + ∞
5. How do I Make a Fox-Proof Chicken Coop?
Foxes are clever predators and will try every way they can to get your Chickens. It’s a natural instinct for Foxes to try and hunt and eat Chickens and unfortunately once a Fox gets inside a Chicken Coop it will instinctively attempt to kill all the Chickens before taking one or two away to eat. This is why it is very important to make sure you design your Chicken Pen and Chicken Coop to be Fox Proof using the following Top Tips:
Best Materials and Methods to Making a Fox-Proof Chicken Pen:
Fox-Proof Chicken Pen:
Best Material & Method:
Fox-Proof Chicken Coop Walls
Use Robust Timber such as Shiplap or Exterior other side Cladding of at least 10mm thickness so that it has the strength to withstand Foxes trying to prise open any gaps.
Fox-Proof Chicken Pen Mesh
Foxes can bite through thinner gauge DIY wire mesh so consider a heavy-duty Grade. Always ensure the wire is fixed securely to a timber rail on all sides including the base. As Foxes Burrow under these base rails, it is key to extend the heavy-duty Grade wire mesh 300-600mm down below the base rail in the ground.
Fox-Proof Chicken Coop Roof
Foxes are unlikely to attack from the roof, so the main concern here is waterproof material. Two great products for this are Corrapol®-BT Sheets or Corramet® Roofing Sheets, which are available in Four Colour choices, and provide excellent waterproof properties as well as being relatively low cost.
Fox-Proof Chicken Pen Roof
Foxes can jump and climb, so it’s important to put a low-cost Chicken Run Roof on to your Chicken Pen, however its important that it lets light in, and ideal if it can be waterproof also, as this will give the Chicken Pen shelter and avoid it becoming very boggy and messy for the Chickens. The best Chicken Pen Roof Sheet is Axiome Clear Twinwall Sheets, but there are also other lower cost options such as Corrapol® Stormproof sheets and an even lower cost Corrapol®-PVC Sheet option depending on your budget.
Fox-Proof Chicken Coop Floor
What is the best base for a chicken run?
Inside the Chicken House it is critical that the floor us well fixed down with strong flooring that cannot be dislodged or chewed through by Foxes. To make cleaning out much easier and to give extra security it’s well worth considering covering the floor with Axgard Clear Sheet which is very strong and provides a smooth easy-to-clean surface. Another option is to make a solid concrete floor, but the cost on this would be around 40% higher.
Fox-Proof Chicken Pen Floor
Ideally you want to keep this as earth to allow your Chickens a natural living habitat, however try and ensure the perimeter has a 300-600mm vertical barrier under the outer fence to prevent a Fox burrowing through under the fence perimeter. You can use a thin gauge of Axiome sheet for this which is very strong and relatively low cost.
6. How do you make a simple chicken run?
Making a cheap Chicken Run is easy to do with very simple materials. Once you have made your Chicken Coop follows these steps to make a low-cost Chicken Pen:
- Mark out the rectangular area you want to use for the Chicken Run
- Dig a hole for a Fence Post in the Four Corners
- On one side dig the wholes deeper than the other side which makes it easier to create a sloped Roof
- Use PostCrete Quick-Setting Concrete to concrete the Posts in to the Post holes.
- Once the Concrete has set, stretch heavy gauge Wire Mesh from Post to Post.
- Add Timber Joists between the Posts which is strong enough to hold a roof. The Joists should slope due to the chosen posts’ height difference.
- Add timber purlins across the joists in the other direction at approximately 500mm centres
- Screw on Corrapol Clear Roof Sheets with Corrapol Fixings, so the corrugated sheet drains rainwater down the direction of the slope
Be Aware: Why Are My Chickens Staying in the Chicken House?
When you open the door in the morning your Chickens will tend to rush out in to the Chicken Pen to get fresh air and food. If any your Chickens stay inside the house it could be for several reasons:
- Your Chickens could be Broody
- They are feeling unwell or ill.
- The Chickens have gone in to the Egg Laying Box to lay.
- Its in too Cold for them outside.
7. What are the advantages of a walk-in chicken Shed?
When making a Chicken Shed, or Chicken Run, then you will want to consider the best height to make it; building a low-level Chicken Shed and Run will save you money, but he advantages of making a full height Chicken Shed and Run are as follows:
- Easier to Clear Out the Chicken House and Chicken Pen
- Quicker to catch Chickens you need to do a health check on
- Better access to Chicken Feeders & Water
- Easy access to dig over the Chicken Run which turns the earth and provides fresh nutrients for the Chickens
8. Why is it important to have a covered chicken run?
Although it may add a bit of extra cost there are several reasons why it is a great idea to have a covered Chicken run, which help the life of the Chicken Run and also improve the health and wellbeing of the Chickens. The best Chicken Run Roof is a waterproof roof which is transparent and lets lots of sunlight in. Chicken Run Roof Sheets are easy to install and provide a waterproof cover which keeps the timber structure dry and helps reduce weathering and rotting, at the same time as, protecting the Chickens from the worst of the elements and helping keep their feet dry and providing a nice dry earth floor to scratch around in and dustbathe in. You can also get Opal Chicken Run Roof Sheets which reflect 35% of the sun’s heat which still keeping a bright airy outdoors feeling.
Important Warning: Why are my Chickens pecking each other?
9. Do chickens need to be on grass?
Chickens don’t need to be on grass; however, they do love grass and if you give them a healthy diet of fresh grass and allow them to roam around in to new areas, you will find the Egg yolks will be a deeper colour and the Egg shells will tend to be stronger too.
10. Is it a lot of work to have chickens?
Looking after Chickens does involve work feeding and cleaning out their pens, however they require very little attention themselves.
3 three ways you can make it easy to look after Chickens:
- Use larger Feeders and Drinkers that need topped up less often
- Line the Chicken House with Axgard sheets so that you can clean the muck out really quickly and easily.
- Always make sure the Chicken Run and Coop have good waterproof roofs using Waterproof Roofing Sheets such as Polycarbonate Twinwall Roof Sheets or Corrugated Polycarbonate Sheets.
11. Does having Chickens encourage Rats and Mice?
When you keep Chickens, it is important to keep a good level of good housekeeping in place as otherwise there is a possibility you could attract vermin such as rats and mice due to the smell and food leftovers, however we can share some precautionary steps to ensure that you don’t get any rats or mice in your Chicken Coop or Chicken Pen:
- Clear up and leftover scraps of foods
- Take feeders out of the Chicken Run at night and put in a secure place such as a garage
- Seal the Chicken Coop floor and walls with Polycarbonate sheets like Multiwall Polycarbonate Sheets or Solid Polycarbonate to prevent access from vermin
- Always close the Chicken Coop up at night leaving no gaps for vermin
- Keep secure Rat and Mouse poison or traps around the outside perimeter of the Chicken Run and Chicken Coop.
12. Do Chickens like shade or sun?
Chickens love both sun and shade, particularly if you keep the Chicken’s Pen dry with a good waterproof Chicken roof on it, made of Corrugated PVC Roof Sheets for example. Having a great Chicken Pen roof means the earth below will be nice and dry where Chickens will love to relax in the sun and have mud baths. You should also create a dry shade area for hotter days where the Chickens will want to retreat to on hotter days. To create a dry shade area, simply cover over one part of the Chicken Run with waterproof Bitumen Roofing Sheets which will keep the area shaded and dry.
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