Ever considered raising backyard chickens but have no idea where to start? You’re not alone. Raising chickens is a trend more and more homeowners are embracing. In this Done-In-A-Weekend Projects video, host and expert backyard designer, Doug Scott, will walk you through what to consider before building a chicken coop and raising chickens.
Benefits of Raising Backyard Chickens
- Great activity for family time. Adults and kids can enjoy backyard chicken farming together. Believe it or not, chickens have their own individual personalities and are affectionate toward humans. Each is its own bird, as they say, with some being sweet, shy, grouchy, or playful and this just adds to the fun.
- Daily supply of fresh eggs. Raising chickens gives kids the opportunity to participate in raising and caring for animals that feed the family. And, once you’ve tasted a homegrown, farm-raised egg, there’s no turning back.
- Chickens create excellent fertilizer. Chicken manure contains a good deal of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – the primary ingredients in lawn and garden fertilizers. Chicken manure can be composted and added to the soil of your garden, flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawns. The all-natural homemade fertilizer will save you money and help produce great results.
Once you have decided that you are ready to raise chickens, there are things to consider before you get started with your own backyard chicken coop build.
Before You Get Started
- Legality. Make sure it’s legal to raise chickens where you live. Check your local ordinances and homeowners’ association covenants to make sure they will allow you to raise chickens.
- Type of structure. Will you be converting an existing structure, buying an off-the-shelf premade coop or doing a custom build?
- Budget. Converting an existing structure is probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to create a chicken coop. You can also purchase prebuilt structures for a variety of budgets. a custom-built coop build can range from simple DIY projects made from pallets or cinderblocks to complete custom builds like the one our host Doug Scott created.
Backyard Chicken Coop Design Considerations
Now matter what kind of chicken coop build you decide on, these 6 things will be part of any build plan.
- Style. If you love spending time in your backyard you should consider how your coop design will fit in with the rest of your yard. We’ve got plenty of ideas to help make your chicken coop build happen, so be sure to watch the video!
- Coop dimensions. You’ll need to make sure your chicken coop is large enough to hold all of your chickens and allows enough space for them to run. A good rule of thumb for a free-ranging flock is 3-4 square feet per chicken. If your flock will be spending a majority of their time in the coop, you will need at least 10 square feet per chicken.
- Coop Layout. How many nesting boxes you plan to have and how will you access them are things to consider for your chicken coop layout. Nesting boxes are where your hens will lay eggs. Using a ratio of 3 hens per nesting box should work out fine for most flocks. To encourage your hens to use the nesting boxes, place them about 18 inches off the ground in an area that is dark and quiet. Adding a trap door to the backside of the nesting boxes will allow easy access for egg collecting.
- Fresh water. Consider placing your coop near a water source. This will make it easier to keep your coop stocked with fresh water and help with maintenance tasks.
- Storage. You will want a convenient place to store your chicken feed and other maintenance supplies.
- Protection. Ultimately, you’ll also need to evaluate what predators you have in the neighborhood and how you can best keep your chickens protected.