Knowing how to choose a backyard chicken coop to purchase for your flock can be a daunting task. Yet it is a necessary purchase that your flock will call home for years to come! We have broken this task into three simple choices to help you make the best decision for yourself and your flock.
What to Look for when Choosing a Backyard Chicken Coop
A hen's coop is her castle! Proper housing is the key to happy, healthy, and productive chickens. A good backyard chicken coop design must:
- Be predator-proof - not just from the sides, but from above and below. Predators to watch out for include but are not limited to raccoons, foxes, wolves, coyotes, and hawks. Tip: select the correct wire mesh. The holes in standard "chicken wire" are large. It will keep the chickens in, but raccoons can reach through those holes and access your flock. We recommend a one-half-inch square "hardware cloth."
- Provide enough Space - Be roomy: at least 4 square feet per bird if birds can roam freely during the day, and at least 10 square feet per bird if they are permanently confined within a chicken run. Chickens generally use very little indoor space, preferring to be outdoors except when sleeping.
- Provide Ventilation - Be breezy enough to prevent respiratory diseases, to which chickens are especially prone, but not so drafty during winter that they freeze their fluffy butts off! Chickens can withstand the cold so long as it's not drafty.
- Be easy to clean - so bugs and bacteria don't fester. Having an easy to clean chicken coop also saves you time on chicken chores!
- Provide roosting poles - for your flock to sleep on. We recommend 2" wide and allowing 5-10" space per bird side to side. Provide 10" between poles if more than one is necessary, using ladder-like grading, so the pole furthest away is several inches higher than the closest.
- Provide Nesting Boxes - Encourage egg-laying with one nest box for every four or five chickens. Nest boxes should be raised at least a few inches off the ground but lower than the lowest roosting pole. They should also be dark and "out of the way" to cater to the hen's instinct to lay her eggs in a safe place.
1. Buy Pre-Made
The easiest way to get a chicken coop in your backyard is to buy a coop. This is an excellent option if you don't have the right toolset or don't want to take the time. We founded My Pet Chicken to make it easy and fun for people to own chickens, and our line of coops includes everything you'll need to get started.
Some of our favorite Pre-Made Coops are:
2. DIY-Build your own
If your carpentry skills are up to par and you want to build your own, we offer several lovely chicken coop building plans. Each offers blueprints, materials lists, cut lists, and either building notes or complete "how-to" instructions. Tip: To help save costs, look into using reclaimed building materials, especially for wood and windows.
If you are looking for something a little more custom with accessories that pre-built coops don't offer but don't want to build yourself, consider a custom-made coop that is built for you. Our custom-made chicken coops include these upgrades:
- Automatic Coop Door
- Heated Roosting Bar
- Electric or Solar Options
- Epoxy Floor
Keep in mind when ordering a custom chicken coop, there is often an 8-week or more built time. Allow for this time in your planning.
Before making any chicken coop purchase, it is a good idea to consider local laws, your situation, and how much room you feel your flock needs for your management style.