Image source: My Chicken Coop
The price of eggs has skyrocketed recently, causing more homeowners to consider raising backyard chickens. Just the idea of a steady supply of fresh eggs is enough to get anyone thinking about it.
If you’re interested in becoming a first-time chicken owner, you’ve probably considered where you'll keep your chickens. A few factors will play into its construction, whether it is a repurposed shed, building a chicken coop from the ground up, or shopping for a pre-made coop.
Here’s what you need to know when building or buying a chicken coop to ensure you make the best home for your chickens.
On this page
- How much does a chicken coop cost?
- Chicken coop size
- Chicken coop location
- Coop elevation
- Nesting boxes
- Types of chicken coops
- Coop safety and security
- Buying vs. building a chicken coop
- Is it time to buy some backyard chickens?
How much does a chicken coop cost?
For a backyard chicken coop, you should expect to pay between $200 and $2,500.
Backyard chicken coops can come in a wide range of prices and depend on several factors, such as size, type, and materials. The price will also be affected depending on whether you build or buy the chicken coop.
Chicken coop size
A specific guide should be followed regarding the appropriate size of a chicken coop. Every chicken should have at least 3 to 4 square feet of interior space for the actual coop. If you want to house four chickens, your coop’s interior should be at least 12 square feet wide.
Just as your chicken coop needs to be a particular size, an appropriately-sized chicken run is also necessary. Each chicken will need at least 15 square feet of run space, meaning your run needs to be over 60 square feet for four chickens. Of course, a run is low on your list of priorities if you plan on having free-range chickens.
Do you love raising chickens so much that you may want a few more? Many people start with just a few chickens; as they acquire more, they need to extend their coop or build a new one. To avoid this problem, you should always go for a slightly bigger coop than is required.
Chicken coop location
The location of your chicken coop requires special attention. Shading, aesthetics, easy access, and a water source are just some of the factors that need to be considered when choosing a spot for your coop.
To keep your chickens comfortable, make sure that a reasonable portion of your coop is shaded. Placing the coop relatively close to a water source and away from fences or buildings is also beneficial. Maintaining and accessing your coop should always be your top priority.
While raising your chicken coop off the ground is not essential, it can create a more secure home for your chickens. Raising your backyard coop at least 8 inches off the ground can prevent predators from burrowing into the coop and provide your chickens with more shelter from the sun, rain, or snow. A chicken coop can be easily raised off the ground using cement blocks or wooden legs.
Another essential element to include in your backyard chicken coop is a roost. This is an elevated plank or bench for your chickens to sleep on. A roosting bar can be something very simple, like a tree branch across the coop, or more elaborate such as tiered planks. Just about anything will do as long as the chickens have enough room to spread out along the roost.
If you’re looking at purchasing backyard chickens for a steady supply of fresh eggs, then having some nesting boxes in your chicken coop is a must-have. Nesting boxes are small enclosed cubbies that your chicken can nest and lay in. A nesting box doesn’t have to be too complicated and can be quickly built from some lumber, or using repurposed wooden crates can also be a great option.
When choosing your chicken coop, you should remember that you need room for at least one nesting box per chicken. The nesting boxes must also be regularly maintained and cleaned to help your chickens produce eggs.
Types of chicken coops
Types of chicken coops can differ in many ways, such as size, features, movability, and cost, so it’s important to know your options and what to look for. Here are some of the most popular chicken coop designs and what they entail.
An A-frame chicken coop is the most affordable and simple structure that even the most inexperienced DIYer can construct. The structure consists of two walls that slope inwards to meet each other at the top, resembling the letter A. Alongside the A-shape frame will be a small enclosed area for the chickens to come in and out of whenever they like.
This type of chicken coop is relatively small and can be easily maneuvered around the garden if required. However, due to its small size, only a few chickens can be kept in it.
As you likely assumed, a walk-in coop is a chicken coop that is big enough to walk in and out of while cleaning or collecting eggs. A walk-in coop could be a repurposed shed, an existing building, or something you build from scratch.
Unlike some of the other chicken coop types, a walk-in coop is not readily moveable and, in most cases, is fixed permanently. This means that you should take extra consideration in the location of a walk-in chicken coop.
A tractor-coop is a tiny, lightweight, and moveable chicken coop. The coop is on wheels so that if the chickens are tearing up an area, you can easily roll them to another area of the garden. Tractor coops can come in various designs, but they must stay relatively small to remain portable.
If letting your chickens roam free in your backyard is not an option, then an all-in-one chicken coop is the next best thing. This type of chicken coop combines a walk-in coop and a run. An all-in-one chicken coop is the largest option available but can only house a limited number of chickens as each chicken needs room to run.
Coop safety and security
Whether you’re buying or building your backyard chicken coop, one of the key considerations should be your chicken’s safety and security. No matter where you live, your chickens will face threats from predators such as hawks, coyotes, foxes, or rats. That’s why it is essential that your chickens not only have access to a covered shelter at all times, but the coop also keeps out any unwanted visitors.
Your chicken coop and run should be fenced in with chicken wire or hardware cloth to keep out any predators and have a safe floor that prevents burrowing. The coop should also be fully enclosed and secure at night with a lock or latch on the door to ensure your chickens are safe.
Buying vs. building a chicken coop
If you’re eager for the challenge and have even a little DIY experience, then building your own backyard chicken coop could be well within your capabilities. The benefit of a DIY chicken coop is that you can customize the design to your liking. This means making it the perfect size and including your desired features. Building your chicken coop will often be a cheaper option than purchasing a brand-new one.
However, if building things isn’t for you, that’s fine. Buying a brand-new chicken coop is still an affordable option.
Is it time to buy some backyard chickens?
For many people, waking up, walking to a chicken coop, and grabbing fresh eggs is already enough to win them over. Considering the price of eggs now, that thought now seems like even more of an incentive.
While it may come as a surprise, chickens can also be fantastic pets. They’re easy to maintain and relatively inexpensive to raise, plus they are a great way to teach kids how to look after animals. Add that to the unlimited entertainment they provide with their unique personalities, and you can see why more and more people are raising their own backyard flock.
Make sure that before buying backyard chickens, you have everything in order and are ready for the commitment, including having the perfect chicken coop.