How to Make a Chicken Coop: A Step-by-Step Guide

Alex Birch

How to Make a Chicken Coop

Did you know that the global chicken population has tripled in the last 35 years? There are now more than 34 billion chickens roaming planet Earth. Owning chickens has been popular for many years, particularly in rural areas, but the pandemic triggered a huge increase in demand for domestic chickens.

Spending long periods at home and moving from urban areas to the countryside or suburbia made many consider embracing a new way of life. There has also been a shift towards sustainable living, with many new chicken owners keen to take advantage of fresh supplies of eggs.

There are lots of benefits to owning chickens, so it's no surprise that this is a trend that has gathered pace. But how do you keep chickens at home, and what are the best ways to make a chicken coop?

If you're thinking about adding some feathered friends to your yard or smallholding, and you're wondering how to build a chicken coop, this guide has got you covered. We've put together a handy step-by-step guide that is packed with cheap DIY chicken coop plans and highlights the best easy chicken coop build ideas.

How to make a chicken coop: Before you begin

If you're ready to flex your chicken-rearing skills, there are two main options to explore. You can either buy a chicken coop or build your own.

DIY chicken coops are usually significantly cheaper, and this option gives you the freedom to customize the build to suit your preferences and the needs of your flock. In this article, we'll focus on how to build a simple chicken coop that checks all the boxes without blowing the budget.

Before you pick up your tools, don your overalls, and put on protective goggles, it's wise to plan and ensure you're ready to start building. Here are some top tips to help you get ready:

1. Identifying a location

The first task to check off your list is to choose a location for your new chicken coop. Ideally, it’s best to position your chicken run on high ground to offer protection against the elements and predators.

Opt for a spot that gets some sunlight during the day and try to ensure that your coop is within easy reach of your home or the central hub of the site. This will deter predators and keep your flock safe.

If you live in a flat area, and it’s not possible to build your DIY coop on high ground, you can simply elevate your chicken coop.

2. Size matters

When it comes to building a chicken coop, size matters. As an aspiring owner, you need to ensure that each bird has sufficient space. We recommend at least 4 square feet per chicken within the coop and access to an outdoor run.

If you’re not planning to add a run, you’ll need to increase the amount of space inside the coop to at least 8-10 square feet per bird. Crowded coops can spell trouble for the following reasons:

  • Increases the risk of fighting
  • Puts smaller or less dominant birds at risk of falling down the pecking order and struggling to get the food and water they need
  • Elevates the risk of illness spreading through the flock

3. Choosing the right materials

You can use all kinds of materials to make a DIY chicken coop, but some are better than others. For an easy-to-build chicken coop that doesn't cost the earth, we recommend plywood. It's relatively inexpensive, durable, and hard-wearing.

4. Security

If you're making your own chicken coop, it's crucial to ensure that the structure is stable, safe, and secure for the birds. This means creating a robust, secure door and adding latches to keep any predators that may be sniffing around for a snack at bay.

Bear in mind that unwanted visitors, such as raccoons and foxes, are very crafty, and they will be able to gain access if the door is flimsy or you haven't used secure latches.

5. Nesting

Comfortable, spacious nesting areas encourage egg laying and provide a cozy spot for hens to rest and sleep. Allow at least one nesting box per three hens. Each box should measure around 1 square foot unless you have larger birds, such as Jersey Giants, which will need more room.

We also recommend adding a dust box to your chicken coop, as hens like to clean themselves by rolling around in dust.

6. Ventilation

Ventilation is essential for reducing the risk of disease and keeping hens fit and well. Creating openings at the tops of your walls will enable air to flow freely around the coop. Once you've made the cuts, add hardware cloth (a strong wire mesh) to keep predators out.

How to build a cheap chicken coop

Once you've considered all the factors listed above and you’re ready and raring to go, follow these steps to build a safe, comfortable hen haven:

1. Preparing the ground

The first job is to prepare the ground. Clear the area, remove debris, and cut back any nearby branches or bushes. It's best to tackle this task on a dry day so that the ground isn't soft or heavy.

2. Choose your chicken coop plan

If you're on a mission to build a cheap or simple DIY chicken coop, it's best to use a ready-made plan. These are widely accessible online, and some are available free of charge.

We'll share some of the best easy chicken coop plans we've found later in this guide, but we recommend researching online, reading reviews and articles, and asking fellow hen owners for advice. It's worth noting that you don't have to follow a plan to the letter. You can make changes to suit your needs.

3. Build the frame

To build the coop frame, you'll need to choose the materials and figure out how many pieces you'll need. This is a critical part of the build, so it's worth double-checking every measurement and using the best quality materials you can afford.

A sturdy frame will help ensure that your chicken coop lasts and provides ample protection for your flock. If you have the measurements to hand, you may be fortunate to find a lumber store that will cut the batons or pieces of plywood to size for you. Painting the plywood can enhance aesthetics while also offering additional protection against the weather.

4. Add the walls and floor

It's now time to add your walls and floor to the chicken coop. Check the measurements and make sure that there are no gaps or spaces when you lay the panels out and secure them. If the boards are not lying flush, this will impact structural stability and it could also increase the risk of predators snooping around.

Once all the pieces are in place, create openings in the walls for ventilation and add the hardware mesh. Some people opt for a dust floor, which is an easy option, but we usually recommend installing a wooden floor. This not only looks smart but it also helps to reduce the risk of excess moisture and enhances safety.

The floor should be even, but it doesn't have to be pristine. It's a good idea to add a layer of hardware mesh under the wood.

5. Fit the doors

You'll need two entry points for your chicken coop: one for you and one for the flock. The most important considerations are accessibility and security. There should be sufficient space for the birds to get through without having to squeeze through a small gap, and the door should close firmly and securely.

6. Add the nesting boxes

The next step is to add the nesting boxes and perches. Think of this as the furnishing stage. The perches should be higher than the nesting boxes.

7. Build the run

Now that the interior is sorted, it's time to focus on the outdoor space. To encourage free roaming and outdoor exercise, add a run to your chicken coop. Start with the frame, following the steps for the chicken coop frame to create a solid, stable structure.

Once the frame is in place, add the fencing. We strongly recommend hardware mesh, as it's a lot more robust than standard chicken wire and the holes are much smaller.

8. Accessorizing

Your chicken coop is now finished, and it's a matter of adding accessories t to make the space functional. Accessories you'll need for your chicken coop include feeders, waterers, and a supply of straw or wood shavings for the floor and nesting boxes.

Easy chicken coop plans

If you type "easy chicken coop plans" into Google and hit the search button, you'll find hundreds of links. Some designs are much more complex and luxurious than others, but if you're looking for an easy and cheap DIY chicken coop, you'll be spoiled for choice.

The best thing to do when scouring the Internet for inspiration is to narrow down your search by adding descriptions to your keywords and filtering results. You could specify how big the coop is, how many chickens you're building a home for, or whether you want chicken run plans, for example.

To help you create a simple chicken coop, we've put together a list of our favorite easy chicken coop plans:

1. Urban Chicken Coop

Urban Chicken Coop

This a great free chicken coop plan for prospective owners looking to learn how to build a small chicken coop. For more information and instructions, click here.

2. DIY Chicken Coop

DIY Chicken Coop

Based on a very bougie designer chicken coop plan, which costs over $2,000, this free plan could be the perfect option for you if you’re interested in prime real estate for your flock. More information is available here.

3. Shed Chicken Coop

Shed Chicken Coop

Adapting a shed is one of the simplest and most effective ways to build a cheap DIY chicken coop. More information and instructions are available at here.

Build a cheap chicken coop

To build a cheap chicken coop, here are some top tips and tricks:

  1. Find a free chicken coop plan
  2. Make a DIY chicken coop rather than buying a ready-made chicken house
  3. Shop for recycled materials or repurpose materials you already have at home
  4. Use social media groups or contact local reclamation or salvage yards to snap up free items, such as plywood and used pallets
  5. Opt for inexpensive materials such as plywood
  6. Be creative when adding nesting boxes: you may already have items at home you could use, such as milk crates
  7. Shop around for the best prices for accessories
  8. Make use of free paint samples or leftover paint to spruce up your DIY chicken coop

Chicken coop with run plans

It’s an excellent idea to add a chicken run if you’re building a DIY coop for your new feathered family members. You can find chicken coop with run plans online. Some great examples we found include:

1. Kerr Center Coop

Kerr Center Coop

This simple, fuss-free chicken coop offers ample space for up to three hens with plenty of room for an enclosed chicken run. For details, click here.

2. Free chicken coop with run plan

Free chicken coop with run plan

This is a super cute, chic chicken coop with a spacious outdoor run. Instructions are available at here.

How to build a small chicken coop

Small chicken coops cater for 2-6 birds. If you’ve decided to make your own chicken coop, you can copy or adjust a step-by-step plan or repurpose a structure you already have, such as a shed. Remember to allow at least 3-4 square feet per hen. If you don’t have a run, you’ll need to increase the amount of indoor space.

To make a small chicken coop, follow the instructions listed in the ‘How to build a cheap chicken coop’ section.

Before you start the project, follow the steps in the first section to make sure you’re fully prepared. Choose a suitable location for your coop, determine how big you want the coop to be and whether you want to add a run and consider which materials you want to use.

Once you’re ready, you can start building. Prepare the ground, build a sturdy, stable frame and add the walls and doors.

Use small chicken coop plans to guide you and give you design inspiration. You’ll need one nesting box per three hens. Add perches for sleeping.

DIY chicken coop for 10 hens

If you’re building a DIY chicken coop for ten hens, or you’re searching for chicken coop plans for 12 chickens, you’ll need a fair amount of space. A group of 10 or 12 chickens is a relatively large flock for a domestic owner.

Set aside an area that gives each hen at least 3-4 square feet if there is a run and 8 square feet if there is no run. The same rules apply for building a larger chicken coop as a small one, but the cost may be slightly higher, as you’ll need more materials.

Here are some bigger chicken coop plans to give you ideas:

1. For up to 18 hens

For up to 18 hens

2. For 7-12 hens

For 7-12 hens

This functional plan caters to up to 12 chickens. More information is available at here.

Best chicken coop designs

If you took a moment to browse online galleries of chicken coop designs, you’d find everything from rustic, DIY boltholes to palatial residences for hens with a taste for the finer things in life.

The beauty of making a chicken coop and taking advantage of guides that show you how to build a chicken coop step-by-step with pictures is that you have scope to decide what you want and customize existing plans or designs to suit your preferences, requirements and budget.

To give you inspiration, we’ve added a few of our favorite designs below:

1. Country cottage chic

Country cottage chic

2. Cape Cod vibes

Cape Cod vibes

3. Cute and compact

Cute and compact

Easy chicken coop DIY

If you’re taking on a DIY chicken project, here are some tips to execute an easy to build chicken coop with minimal stress:

  1. Find a suitable chicken coop plan online
  2. Choose your location
  3. Make sure you have all the materials and tools you need before you start building
  4. Always double-check measurements before buying materials
  5. Keep checking the fit along the way: you don’t want any gaps or holes apart from openings for ventilation
  6. Use the best quality materials you can source: shop for recycled or reclaimed materials if you’re on a budget
  7. Use step-by-step guides and video tutorials
  8. Carry out a final inspection before you house your hens

Summary

Making a chicken coop can save you a lot of money and it’s also a great way to create a custom-made hen house. Building a chicken coop is simple if you prepare fully and you have everything you need to make your coop.

There are some incredible free chicken coop plans available online, and you can also adapt ideas taken from ready-made chicken coops to create a bespoke base for your flock.

Take the time to get yourself ready before you start building and make sure you know what your chickens need in terms of the size and location of the chicken coop and protection against predators. You can save time and money by following guides and using plans that focus on cheap and simple chicken coops.

Key takeaways include:

  • Choosing the right location and getting the size right are key to protect your hens, keep them safe, healthy and warm and ensure they have enough space.
  • There’s a huge range of free chicken coop plans available (you can also find plans online that you have to pay for)
  • Follow each step of the planning and building phases to make sure your chicken coop is sturdy, stable, safe and durable
  • Use recycled, repurposed or reclaimed materials to save money

Other Popular Products

Roosty's Naturals - Dust Bath 5.5LB | Made in the USA
Roosty's Naturals - Dust Bath 5.5LB | Made in the USA

$29.99

Roosty's Naturals Chicken Dewormer
(3)
Roosty's Naturals Chicken Dewormer

$21.99

Roosty's XL Chicken Feeder and Waterer Kit
(24)
Roosty's XL Chicken Feeder and Waterer Kit

$49.99