CHICKEN COOP DESIGNS
There are hundreds of different designs available for your coop. A picture of my coop is posted here – It’s made of scrap lumber and left over house paint. If you’re looking to build a coop with the links to free plans below, you’ll be limited to only those designs…but at least they’re free, functional, and actually quite lovely! And you can always add your own design twists too.
How you design your coop will, of course, depend on your needs. If you are planning to have a small flock and want to build a smaller coop, you may want to consider a portable chicken coop. These are also called chicken tractors (see photo, courtesy of VanTucky)
They often do not have floors and can be moved every few days or weeks from one part of your lawn to another so the grass does not get trampled down. This is ideal for raising chickens in urban areas where there may be limited space for them to run around. It’s also beneficial for both your chickens and your lawn. The chicken droppings provide great fertilizer for your lawn and, by moving the coop often, the chickens get access to new bugs and fresh grass. Plus, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the droppings!
You can use any design you want, or create your own – the chickens won’t likely care. But do keep in mind your skill level when building it. I used a design of my own creation – now this worked just fine in the end, and I had fun building it. But I didn’t have a lot of experience in wood working or construction so it took me a lot longer to come up with a blueprint, to figure out how much wood it would take etc. I also encountered problems while constructing it since my blueprint wasn’t perfectly polished and ready to go – so the construction process didn’t always go smoothly either.
In hindsight, I wish I would have simply used an already available design that I found online since it would have saved me a ton of time and energy. But like I said – I do take great pride in my little 4’x8′ creation and the chickens seem perfectly happy in it! You’ll figure out what will work best for you.
If you want (or already have) a large flock of chickens, you will be looking at bigger designs. A coop designed for a large flock is less likely to be mobile, but I have seen pictures of some very large coops that are on wheels and can be moved. Generally speaking though, it’s more likely to be stationary which also has its advantages.
A coop similar to the one pictured above can likely house up to 50 or more chickens. You may not want that many chickens, but it never hurts to build your coop a little bigger than you think you’ll need. I realized this very early on in our chicken raising adventures.
Our original plan in 2006 was to house 8 – 10 chickens. So our 4’x8′ coop allowed plenty of space for that flock size. But we quickly found out that raising chickens was a lot of fun and we suddenly wanted more! We were fortunate in that we also had an another shed on our yard that we were able to convert into another coop. This allowed us to grow our flock size to nearly 60 chickens over a span of 9 years.
Perhaps you are more disciplined than we were in keeping your flock to a certain size…but I wanted to share our experience as something to consider when designing your own coop.
If you’re OK with using a plan or picture as simply a guide for building your own coop, that can really open up a lot of design possibilities. For example, you can check blueprints of coops online or try to simply replicate a design just from looking at a good picture of a coop. That’s essentially how I made my own coop. As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of points during the project where I felt overwhelmed and had to go back online or check in with a carpenter friend on what to do next.
But the advantage of using this type of method is that I can adjust the width, length, and height to suit my own personal needs. For example, if you see a design for a coop online and decide you want to build one similar but, after checking the dimensions, you realize it’s way too big or small for your purposes. Then you can simply adjust the dimensions to the size of coop you’re wanting to build. By really studying a good plan or picture of a coop, you can get a pretty good idea of what it will take to make a similar structure.
Obviously this will make building the coop a bit harder, but it still allows you to build a coop of the same design but to your own specs! If the thought of making these modifications scares you, I don’t blame you! We all come to a project like this with varying building experience. So if you want a detailed plan, you can simply find a free or cheap alternative on this website or pay for a detailed plan.
One such place to find great plans is here. There are an overwhelming number of plans to choose from on Ted’s site, but I like the detailed yet simplistic coop plans he provides.
If you have other ideas or feedback, please add a comment below. Thanks for visiting!