Raising Chickens 101: How to Build a Chicken Coop

Want to Raise Chickens? Then You'll Need a Coop!

February 28, 2019

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Learn how to build a chicken coop for your backyard. Here’s a beginner’s guide to building a DIY chicken coop!

(This is the third post in our Raising Chickens 101 series.)

Designing & Planning Your Chicken Coop

The housing for your chickens can be as simple or fancy as your imagination and budget permit. The basic criteria will be dictated by the birds.

  1. First, decide on the size. You will need 2 square feet of floor space per chicken, and one nest box for every three hens. Nest boxes should be about a foot square. For larger breeds such as Jersey Giants, allow an additional square foot of floor space per bird. Learn more about the sizes of different chicken breeds to figure out which size chicken coop is right for you.
  2. Sketch the chicken coop on paper, with measurements. (Don’t know where to start? Check the plans for any size of flock here.)
  3. It might also be helpful to mark the ground where the coop will be erected, taking into consideration its location relative to the sun (southern exposure ensures greater warmth and sunlight); any nearby structures (will you attach it to a garage or barn?); and the need for a run, fenced or not (more on that in a moment). Build your coop and run on high ground to avoid battling water and mud problems!
  4. Do not forget to include a door and a floor in the plans. A door can be as simple as a piece of plywood on a frame of 1-by-2s, with hinges and a simple latch—make it large enough for you to enter and exit easily with eggs in hand or a basket. (Learn how to collect your eggs to determine what you’ll need). A dirt floor is perfectly adequate. However, if you build a wooden floor, plan to raise it 6 inches off the ground. A third option is poured concrete, if your time and budget allow. Also consider whether you will bring electricity into the coop: A low-watt bulb will prolong the day during winter months and keep egg production figures constant.
  5. Coop ventilation is more important than insulation. Plan to have openings near the ceiling for air circulation. (While chickens enjoy moderate—around 55°F—temperatures, ours survived nicely in the barn through fairly cold winters. Their feathers kept them warm.) Also plan to install a couple of 1½-inch dowels across the upper part of the coop; this will enable the chickens to roost off the floor at night.


Building the Chicken Coop

  1. When you’re ready, bring your plans to the lumber yard. Someone there can help you determine how much stock and what tools and/or equipment you will need. Plan to frame the chicken coop with 2-by-4s and use sheets of plywood for the walls. The roof can be a sheet of plywood covered with roof shingles, or simply a piece of sheet metal.
  2. A 5x20-foot run will keep a small flock—six to eight hens—happy. More space is better if you have the room. If predators are a problem in your area, bury a layer of chicken wire 6 inches deep under both the coop and the run in order to foil diggers like foxes, dogs, and skunks. Mink and weasels can slip through standard 2-inch wire. To keep them out, use a couple of 2-inch layers offset or 1-inch wire instead. Plug any holes in the coop walls as well.
  3. You’ll need to accessorize the chicken coop, at least rudimentarily: Waterers, available from farm suppliers, keep the chickens from fouling their water supply. Get one for every three or four chickens. Also get a feed trough long enough to let all of the chickens feed at once (or get two smaller ones). Learn more about chicken feed. Have enough wood shavings (pine) or straw to put a 6-inch layer on the floor and a couple of handfuls in each nest box and your chickens will have a perfect home. Change the bedding about once a month or if it starts looking flat.

Remember, a chicken coop doesn’t need to be complicated. Our first one was a small shed built with recycled wood. The run was screened in chicken wire and built onto the side of our house. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the job. Just keep in mind the two simple rules, “Measure twice, cut once,” and “Pointy end down,” and both you and your hens will be happy.

Feeling ready to raise chickens? Get more tips on building a successful hen house and cleaning chicken coops, as well as bringing up baby chicks and collecting, cleaning, and storing eggs!

More of Raising Chickens 101

See more of our beginner’s guide to raising chickens:

Have you built your own chicken coop? Let us know about it in the comments below!

About This Blog

Interested in raising chickens? Here’s our Raising Chickens 101 series—a beginner’s guide in 6 chapters. We’ll talk about how to get started raising chickens, choosing a chicken breed, building a coop, raising chicks, chicken care, collecting and storing eggs, and more. The author, Elizabeth Creith, has fifteen years of experience keeping chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys on her farm in Northern Ontario. She currently dreams of a new flock of fancy chickens!

Reader Comments

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neighbors chickens

My neighbors have a chicken coop with 6 to 8 chickens and it has no floor. It does have two wheels on one side and they pick up the other side and move the coop around their back yard allowing the chickens new feasting areas every few weeks. I know chicken poop is "hot" and will kill plants and grass but it will come back with time. This seems like a natural way of weed control and fertilization with the benefit of eggs.

Tree in fence


Please help!! I am not sure what to put over the bush that is growing in the middle of my chicken fence? To cover it would be a net or wire about 24 foot by 30 foot. What is that big that will keep foxes out of the pen? What material should I use?


my chickens

I've had poultry of various kinds (waterfowl, gamebirds, turkeys, and of course chickens) most of my life. We recently moved to North Augusta, South Carolina and last year actually built my very first coop of my own design, borrowing what I liked best out of lots of plans, and helped by my son-in-law whose dad and older brother are/were both contractors, so he had the know-how. Formerly I'd always used an already existing structure and modified it. My present coop is 8 x 8 ft with a raised wooden floor, plenty of ventilation for our climate zone 8a weather, and a 320 square foot run with a top. I know dirt floors work fine and have used them, but a raised wood floor is easier to clean and easier to keep burrowing vermin out of. I can't let my birds run because there are too many hawks here. I built the pen out of turkey wire because it is more durable and doesn't rust as fast. But I covered the sides with 1 inch mesh galvanized chicken wire to make the openings smaller so chicks can't get out and smaller predators can't get in. Hawks and owls, raccoons, and dogs are the worst predators I've ever had to deal with. Building a strong coop and a strong pen should therefore be your first priority in my opinion, and make it large enough that all of your birds can stay in it comfortably 24-7. The only poultry I've even been able to pasture successfully is geese, as hawks will kill anything smaller. A strong fence does well keeping out dogs, and a solid coop for night will keep out nocturnal predators, but only a top will prevent an aerial attack by day.

Poultry Care Sunday

It was amazing for me to build a chicken coop last week. I am Jenifer from Hickory. But I like this coop, will try next year when I will plan another coop. Thanks for share.

Would a shed be a good coop?

We are in the first stages of planning our chicken raising. I was looking at many coops then I happen to see a very nice shed. The shed is 8 ft x 6 ft. and I figured I could cut holes in the bottom for the chickens to come in and out. There is plenty of space for us to come in and out for cleaning and gathering eggs. Build a long feed trough a long one wall and the nest boxes on the opposite wall, and dowels across the upper part. Lastly waterers on the back wall. The shed already has ventilation long with the ventilation I was thinking small sky lights. I plan to have semi free range chickens though there will be a fence. We are setting aside 1/3 acre to my chickens. I plan to start with 6 chickens and move on up. We are in Texas if that matters. Also as we get more experienced maybe put another shed as a secondary coop as the flock grows.
Am I over thinking this? I just want something great for my chickens and only want to build once.

thank you

thx a lot for this chicken info

Thanks yoou

Thanks yoou

Our chicken coop!!

We took half of the TAC room in the barn on the outside wall, and using scrap wood and some old wire fencing. For the bottom of the wall we used plywood, the middle the wire, finishing the top with more plywood. Using some old 1×1's and more wire screen, made a door with a lock being a old chain dog collar. A couple of big limbs laid just right for our baby chicks to roost on, not far off the floor. A small box, ceder wood chips, a heat lamp, a couple of waters and a long feeder box for chicks some saw dust on the floor and a shallow pan of kitty litter. Our chicks are happy and growing daily!! And the six of them each have a name!!

great site

great site

we would like all news about

we would like all news about raise chicken hens for eggs

Well, you can build a chicken

Well, you can build a chicken coop yourself, it requires a little learning first. You can read more here

How often does a chicken

How often does a chicken coop/ shed need re wiring?
I am asking this question due to standard cable life being 25/30 years with frequent testing before changing and was wondering what the difference is.

Hello! My husband & I are

Hello! My husband & I are researching and getting ready to build our first coop. Would using corrugated fiberglass panels for the walls be an option? Also, we live in the mountains on a ridge with lots of wild critters (hawks, coyotes, skunks, raccoon, bears, and bobcats) Do I have to put electrical wiring around the entire 3/4 acre fence or just around the coop? Is it necessary to put them in a caged environment to run free, or do you think they will be safe if just the fence perimeter is charged? Any help is appreciated. Thanks!! Kymee

Ok, I admit, I am

Ok, I admit, I am inexperienced when it comes to keeping livestock, but my two cents is this: knowing raccoons and how they can figure out how to get into anything and apparently skunks are diggers, I would imagine a fenced-in run (possibly electrified since bears are a concern) would be best if you aren'tgoing to be able to shepherd over and watch your chickens when they are outside the coop.

Excellent tips

Excellent tips you've got here in this article, Elizabeth. I will surely incorporate your tips in my next coop plan. :-)

just build a new coop for my

just build a new coop for my one chicken. She likes it it seems but is sleeping either in the nest or on the floor of the coop - is there a reason? She had been sleeping on a roost in the old cage.

She could be feeling a little

She could be feeling a little vulnerable, being all alone. I recommend a friend for her!

I'm planning on building a

I'm planning on building a coop that's 18x20 attached to my shed with a tin roof. How many chickens should I raise in this size building and how many roosters and nest?

Here is a good page on how

Here is a good page on how much space your chickens need; do not build a coop if they can't spend a lot of time outdoors; chickens aren't inside animals. http://blog.mcmurrayhatchery.c...

i am building a coop that is

i am building a coop that is 4 x 8 and i will be able to hold about 15 chickens. so something that big will be able to hold well over a hundred chickens

Hello, Wondering how

Hello, Wondering how important insulation is in a small coop 3'x4'x4' I live in SE,MN. Temps can be -20F ? Home made coop/tractor/run, well built and would be sheltered from wind snow. Walls/nest box will be insulated. Would it be too hot if I did the ceiling ? I do have closeable vents in peak. Ray

Hi Elizabeth, I live in North

Hi Elizabeth,
I live in North Western Ontario, and we've been curious about considerations like keeping our chickens comfortable over winters (your comments were very helpful), and specific predators in our area. Is there any other regional specific info you could share? We're hoping to free range our birds, and we're in a rural area. Thanks :)


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