Chicken Coop FAQ
Q: What size coop do I need?
A: The size coop you need depends on:
- Breed of chicken. Do they like or hate confinement? Are they Bantams or Standard hens?
- Number of roosters. The more roosters you have the more space you’ll need. Roosters are territorial and will fight if confined in a small space with other roosters.
- Size of run and amount of time outdoors. If your chickens will mostly be staying outside all day, every day, then your coop can be smaller. If you must keep your hens closed inside the coop for long periods of time due to weather, your schedule or availability etc., then build a bigger coop.
- Number of chickens. If you plan to get more chickens, to raise chicks, to integrate new chickens or to regularly harvest your hens, get a bigger coop.
- See our post on Chicken Coop Math for specific square feet/meters needed per bird
Q: Is there such a thing as too large a coop?
A: No. Chickens, like humans, love space. They will be healthier, happy and better laying hens if they have more room. Just because you find a lot of websites or books that give you a minimum square footage, don’t assume that’s all the size you need. A minimum square footage is just that—the absolute minimum. There’s a reason chickens crammed into cages at large poultry farms need so many antibiotics. They’re sick from being overcrowded. The more room your chickens have to run, play, feed, roost and lay eggs, the healthier they’ll be and the fewer veterinary bills and losses you’ll have. Chickens who have enough space are also quieter and less prone to fighting and bullying and behavioral issues.
We always suggest to have an accompanying run to your coop, or let them roam freely during the day (make sure to lock them up safely at night).
Q: Do I need to be a skilled carpenter to build these chicken coops?
A: Certainly not! It helps if you are, but even rank beginners who have never built anything in their lives have told us they were easily able to build a chicken coop.
It’s more about patience and an ability to follow the plans than anything else. If you can swing a hammer, operate a drill, use a screwdriver and make a few simple cuts with a saw, you’ll be able to build one of our coops. I advise you to find a partner, spouse or friend to help you. Our plans can make for a very rewarding and fun family project!
If you’re still not convinced you have the skills to build it, consider hiring a local handyman or carpenter to build it for you. Check your local classified ads, Craigslist or ask your local feed or farm store, co-op or hardware store to recommend a carpenter.
Q: How long will it take me to build?
A: That depends on how skilled you are, and the size of the coop you select. You can create temporary coops for your hens while working on larger structures. Some of these plans can be constructed in a weekend, but many of our customers report it takes them two to four weekends, or about 24 to 72 hours.
Q: Which coop plan is best for me?
A: A lot of that depends on:
- How many chickens you have
- How many roosters you have
- Where you live—city, suburbs or rural area
- What breed of chicken you have
- What size chicken you have (Bantam or Standard)
- What personality of chicken you have – do they hate or like confinement?
- Your work schedule and availability to let your hens in and out on a daily basis
- How much space you have
- Whether you intend to raise chicks
Every chicken farmer and their situation is different. The two major things to remember is that your coop has enough space (do the Chicken Math!) and proper ventilation.
Q: Is it safe to use pressure treated lumber for my chicken coop?
A: Yes! Many studies have proven that pressure treated lumber is safe for chickens and humans. Older pressure treated lumber was treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), which contains arsenic which almost always leaked into the soil and was toxic to touch or breathe in when cutting or burning. The newer treated lumber is treated with Micronized Copper Quaternary (MCC), not arsenic, making it non-toxic to handle, touch or cut. If you’re still worried you can seal any wood before using it to ensure the preservatives don’t leak, or you can also use a new kind of treated lumber called “Accoya wood.” It outperforms all pressure treated lumber, is 100% natural, sustainable, non-warping and very strong wood. Read the labels of any wood you buy to ensure its safe to handle and to use around livestock and people.
Q: Can I use branches instead of lumber for roosts?
A: Yes. You can adapt your plans any way you like. Hens like natural roosts. Just make sure the branches you use aren’t too wide or too narrow for them to grasp. About a 2.5 to 4-inch diameter is good, but use branches that have a variety of diameters. Their comfort is usually dependent more on who’s roosting next to them than on their roost. Make sure you put up enough roosts so they can move around and find a good spot next to someone they like. You might also want to consider using both natural roosts like tree limbs, but also the standard 2×4 on end. A 2×4 roost allows them to sit on their feet. In the winter this prevents frostbite of their toes. If you’re in a warm state or heat your coop this may not be a problem.
Q: What if I like one of your plans, but I need something larger?
A: Our plans can definitely be modified and expanded to accommodate any size flock. However we only advise you do so if you have previous carpentry experience, as it may be more difficult for a novice builder to make modifications.
Q: What tools will I need to build my coop?
A: At the bare minimum you will need a saw, hammer, nails, a square, a level, screws and screwdriver/drill. You may also want to use a heavy duty staple gun to attach hardware cloth to your run or coop. These tools can be hand or power tools. You can use a hand held saw, hammer and nails, or you can use a nail gun and a circular saw or other power saw. You can even use alternative methods if you choose. Review the plans carefully to see what you will need.
Q: Do you have other publications about chickens?
A: Yes, we do. Visit http://buildacoop.com/product-category/ebooks/ for more information about selecting the right chicken breed and more!