There are many benefits to keeping backyard chickens. They eat ticks and other insects, provide you with fresh eggs daily, and are simply fun to watch and care for. If you plan to keep backyard chickens, you need to build a chicken coop, which is a safe place for them to sleep, roost, and nest. This is necessary whether you choose to have a run or simply let them roam in your yard.
Chicken coops come in a range of styles, sizes, materials, and configurations, so there is a wide range of associated costs. The average range of backyard chicken coops cost between $300 and $2,000 to build, with most people spending around $600 for an 18sq.ft. coop with a 90-foot run to hold 6 chickens.
|Chicken Coop Costs|
|National average cost||$650|
Your chicken coop can be made in any shape or configuration, including elaborate plans with multiple levels. However, most fall into one of a few basic styles:
|Chicken Coop Style||Average Costs|
|A-Frame||$200 - $300|
|Tractor||$300 - $500|
|Walk-In||$300 - $1,000|
|All-In-One||$1,000 - $3,000|
An A-frame chicken coop is a simple structure that can be constructed in a matter of hours. It has two walls that slope sharply up from the ground to meet at the top so that the coop resembles the letter A. These can be large or small but are simple to build, so they remain relatively inexpensive. They are not meant for people to enter, so keeping them clean can be difficult when you have many chickens, but they work well for small flocks. They cost about $200 to $300 on average.
A tractor coop is a small coop on wheels that is moveable and lightweight. It may have a run or be just the coop. You move the tractor around your yard as needed, so if the chickens tear up an area, you can move them to a new spot. They need to stay relatively small to be portable. Making a tractor too large makes it too hard to move. They typically cost between $300 and $500.
Walk-in coops can be made in a few ways. They may be a repurposed shed or other existing building that you convert. Or, they can be large, box-like coops that you build yourself, which can be large enough for you to walk into. They can be simple or elaborate, depending on your needs, and have average costs ranging from $300 to $1,000.
Chickens need a coop as well as a run. These are usually separate, but you can purchase all-in-one coops that have runs attached. This is a good option for areas that do not allow chickens to roam free. They are very large and limit the number of chickens you can keep because each chicken needs room to run. They cost between $1,000 and $3,000 on average due to their size.
Chicken coops can be built out of many materials. Most people use a combination of lumber and plywood, but you can use a wide variety of different lumber types. You can also use other materials if you do not want to use wood:
|Softwood||$2 - $3/board foot|
|PVC||$5 - $6/linear foot|
|Pressure-Treated Lumber||$7 - $10/board foot|
|Redwood||$10 - $12/board foot|
|Plywood||$10 - $20/sheet|
|Corrugated Tin||$15 - $20/sheet|
|Plastic||$25 - $30/sheet|
|Mesh||$30 - $40/board roll|
Many people choose to use softwood to build an economical coop. You need to seal it to protect it from the elements and reseal it regularly. Softwood coops can be made entirely of lumber but are usually paired with plywood and mesh, with the softwood providing the frame. The cost of softwood varies depending on the size and quality but typical costs are around $2 - $3 a board foot.
Another economical way to build a coop, which many people find easy to work with, is PVC piping. You construct the frame from PVC and use either mesh, plastic, or other materials to secure it. PVC costs about $5 - $6 a linear foot.
Pressure-treated lumber is one of the more readily available materials on the market. It is treated against rot and insect activity but requires a stain or paint to prevent moisture damage. Many people do not like to use pressure-treated lumber on their coops because the chemicals could leach into the soil where their chickens scratch. It costs between $7 and $10 a board foot.
Redwood makes a great alternative to pressure treated-lumber and holds up better than softwoods. Redwood is naturally insect- and rot-resistant and does not require additional chemicals or sealing. It is expensive at around $10 - $12 a board foot.
Plywood is used in many coops, whether for the walls, roofing, or flooring. It is used in conjunction with lumber like redwood, pressure-treated wood, and mesh. Plywood comes in many forms from builder-grade, which you need to side over, to better grades you can simply paint. They cost between $10 and $20 a sheet on average.
Metal like corrugated tin makes an excellent chicken coop. It is durable, long-lasting, and can be used for the walls or roofing. You will likely need lumber for the frame, but tin makes a low-maintenance exterior. It costs between $15 and $20 a sheet.
This is rare, but plastic coops exist. Most are found in kits or readymade coops, but you could use plastic sheeting to construct your own. Plastic sheeting cuts and screws together easily and costs between $25 and $30 a sheet.
Your coop will likely contain mesh, whether over the windows, surrounding the run, or as part of the walls. Good-quality mesh costs between $30 and $40 a roll.
Your coop does not necessarily need to have a floor. Some areas require it, and in many instances, having a floor keeps your chickens safer from predators. There are several flooring choices, each with attributes that may make one a better fit than another:
|Vinyl||$2 - $8/sq.ft.|
|Wooden Board||$7 - $9/board foot|
|Rubberized Roofing Material||$7 - $9/sq.ft.|
|Plywood||$10 - $20/sheet|
|Rubber Mats||$45 - $80/sheet|
Vinyl flooring can easily be used on the floor of a chicken coop. Lock-together floors are easy to lay and keep clean. Use a plywood subfloor to put the vinyl over, which increases costs. Vinyl costs between $2 and $8 a square foot on average.
Wooden board or slat board flooring is a quick way of constructing a wood floor. You can use nearly any cut wood from recycled pallets to pieces of plywood. Expect to spend roughly $7 - $9 a board foot.
Known as a membrane, rolls of rubberized roofing material are a quick way of creating a floor. This is a fairly easy-to-clean material, but it can tear easily when used long term, requiring repairs every few years. It costs about $7 to $9 a square foot.
Plywood makes an excellent floor. It is fast to install and relatively easy to care for, but it can absorb odors and be chewed through by burrowing predators. It costs roughly $10 - $20 a sheet.
If the only thing you are worried about is keeping predators out, create a quick floor out of wire mesh. This stops most burrowing animals from trying to get in. Since you will likely cover the floor with sand, sawdust, or straw, you will not notice it. Wire costs around $40 a roll.
If you want something easy to clean, long-lasting, and good for your chicken’s feet, consider rubber mats. Thick rubber mats can be easily hosed off, keep out predators, and are relatively soft underfoot. They cost about $45 - $80 a sheet.
If you really want to keep out all predators, you need to pour a concrete pad. This is the most expensive option, and you need to keep a soft surface down on top of it to protect your chicken’s feet. But it completely prevents rats and other animals from burrowing up into the coop. Concrete costs around $110 a cubic foot poured.
Your chicken coop can be as big as you want it, but for smaller structures, consider how many chickens you want to keep. Every chicken needs at least 3 square feet of interior space. If you want 6 chickens, your coop needs a minimum of 18 square feet, and more is often better.
In addition to the coop, you must account for the run. Each chicken also needs at least 15 square feet, meaning your run needs to be at least 90 square feet, making the entire enclosure at least 108 square feet. Some people think runs of 25 feet per chicken are better.
If you plan on adding more chickens later, build a bigger coop now so that you can add over time. Since the average backyard coop starts with 3 to 6 chickens, aim for a coop and run of at least 110 square feet in total.
The larger your coop, the more it will cost to build. Many coop plans include the size of the finished coop and the average cost to build (DIY) so that you have an idea of the size/cost comparison.
If you want your chickens to lay eggs, you need to include nesting boxes. Nesting boxes are enclosed cubbies that your chicken can nest and lay in. You can build them yourself from lumber or purchase readymade boxes for around $30 a box. Have at least one box per chicken and fill them with fresh straw or other bedding material regularly.
The roost is an elevated plank or bench for your chickens to sleep on. They can be a simple tree branch or an elaborate setup with multiple tiers. They are typically built of lumber but can be constructed from other materials.
You need enough room for your chickens to comfortably spread out along the roost. Most people use tiered roosts because they hold more chickens comfortably.
If you only have a few chickens and want to save money, install a tree branch across the back of the coop for your chickens to roost on. Ensure that it is sturdy enough to hold their weight.
Most people who build a backyard chicken coop do it DIY, which means you only pay for materials. Others purchase kits, which they assemble at home themselves or pay a handyman to assemble for them for around $100.
If you choose a custom-built coop, you can hire a carpenter at around $70 an hour. Simple designs take about 5 to 6 hours, and more elaborate designs take 5 to 6 days. For a very basic 6-chicken coop professionally built, expect to pay around $350 in labor costs.
Unless you are building a tractor, which moves around your yard, you need to consider the location of your coop. Chickens need some shade, so make sure that at least part of your coop and run are located in a shady area.
Your chickens will dig and tear up the ground. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, do not put the coop in a bare area because this could lead to mud and dirty chickens
Make sure you have good access to the coop for cleaning, feeding, and egg checking. Do not put your coop against another building or fence because you will likely want to navigate all the way around it.
Your chickens need good airflow and ventilation to be healthy. A completely closed-in chicken coop may keep out predators, but it will not help your chickens stay well. Provide plenty of ventilation by including windows on at least two sides for cross ventilation. You can cover the windows with mesh wire to help keep out predators and install shutters over the windows that you can close in inclement weather.
Your chickens live in the coop where they will roost, sleep, drink water, fight, and poop. It will get messy, so you need to clean it regularly to reduce the smell and keep your chickens healthy. Many people put down an absorbent material on the floor that they change out weekly. This can be straw, sawdust, wood shavings, or sand.
Make sure that your coop has doors that are wide enough for you to open and access the interior easily. If your coop is too small for you to enter, consider a sliding tray on the bottom so that you can slide out the floor to clean and change the material.
Chickens love to take dust baths by rolling around in dry dirt or sand. They do this to keep their feathers clean. A chicken with a lot of access to the outdoors will easily find a spot to dust bathe, but in winter or for smaller runs, you may need to provide a place.
If you use sand for the base of your coop, many chickens use that. Otherwise, fill a box with sand, dirt, or earth, and place it in the corner of the coop.
No matter where you live, your chickens will face threats from predators. This can be anything from hawks and coyotes to foxes and rats. Threats come from above and below, which is why your chickens should have access to a covered shelter at all times. A safe floor in the coop prevents digging and burrowing by some predators.
Make sure that your coop and run are fenced in with a material that keeps out predators. Mesh is one option, but if the mesh is too large, raccoons and other predators can reach through it. At the very least, your coop should be fully enclosed and secure with a lock on the door that only an adult can operate. Some predators, such as raccoons, learn to open handles, so make sure the door has a way to latch securely to eliminate this threat.
Backyard livestock and chickens are strictly governed in many areas. This often is determined town by town, rather than on a statewide level, with each town having regulations and rules for the coop type and size and how much land you need.
If you belong to a homeowner’s association or a neighborhood association, there could be further regulations regarding what you may or may not keep in your yard. This can extend to chickens and even the type of chicken. Many people in urban and suburban areas may be barred from having roosters, for example.
Always check at the town and state level, then check with any neighborhood or homeowner’s association before building to avoid disappointment or a major change in plans mid-project.
Some people who have chickens also like to keep ducks. Duck eggs are good for baking, and many ducks are friendly and good to have around. Duck coops have many of the same regulations as chicken coops, but ducks also have more needs.
Ducks require more room than chickens, so plan on having 4 to 6 square feet per duck, depending on their size. For 6 ducks, you need roughly 30 square feet for the coop, rather than 18. Your duck run also has to be larger and incorporate some type of pool, even if it is a kiddie pool full of water. Your ducks need a ground-level coop because they roost and sleep in straw rather than on a bench or pole. They also lay their eggs in the straw and not in boxes. Some crafty ducks try to lay their eggs near their water source, so you may need to spend extra time checking on them.
While both ducks and chickens can be kept in the yard, you keep chickens in a smaller area that you want to keep dry. Ducks need more room, more maintenance, and access to water.
If a chicken gets sick or you bring a new chicken to your flock and need to quarantine it, a backup coop is a good idea. This can be a small coop, roughly 3 - 6 sq.ft. because it is not intended for long-term use. Purchase a small one or build your own for $50 - $100.
If it gets cold in your area, you may want to add a temperature control to your coop. This heats it on the coldest days and lets you know what the temperature is inside. These cost from $50 to $200, depending on the features.
If you have a lot of chickens or have issues with predators stealing eggs, invest in an egg catcher, which fits into the nesting box and traps the egg, rolling it to the back for easy harvesting. You can build this yourself or purchase one for around $100.
If you DIY the project, it is cheaper to build. Otherwise, it comes down to how large a coop you want. Some large coops are cheaper to build than to order kits.
This depends on how many eggs your family eats each week. If it is a dozen or more, then it is likely cheaper long term to raise chickens.
You can, but ensure that it has good ventilation, nesting boxes, and a roost.
This depends on the coop and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
This depends on your chickens and their laying habits. Some lay once a day, some every other day, and others go weeks without laying. Three chickens could easily give you a dozen or more eggs a week.
Fresh eggs do not require refrigeration unless you wash them. Unwashed eggs stay fresh longer. Wash the eggs just before using them.
This depends on how many eggs you eat. Chickens can lay as many as one a day, so three chickens could produce 21 eggs a week.
You could have up to 7 chickens in a coop this size.