Ever considered raising backyard chickens but have no idea where to begin? 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 landscape designer Doug Scott will walk you through what to consider before building a chicken coop—and raising chickens—of your own.
Benefits of Raising Backyard Chickens
- Great family activity. Adults and kids alike can find enjoyment in 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 going back to store-bought varieties.
- Excellent organic fertilizer source. 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 in your garden, flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns. This all-natural fertilizer will save you money, and help produce healthy, productive plants in the process.
Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to raise chickens, there are several things to consider before getting 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 homeowner’s association covenants to ensure you’re allowed to raise them.
- Type of structure. Determine if you’ll be converting an existing structure, buying an off-the-shelf premade coop, or building a custom coop?
- 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 Doug Scott created in his backyard.
Backyard Chicken Coop Design Considerations
No matter what kind of chicken coop build you decide on, these six considerations will factor into any build plan.
- Style. If you love spending time in your backyard, consider how your coop design will fit in with the rest of your yard. This video contains plenty of ideas to help make your chicken coop build a reality!
- Coop dimensions. You’ll need to make sure your chicken coop is large enough to hold all of your chickens, and provides them enough space to roam about. A good rule of thumb for a free-ranging flock is three to four square feet per chicken. If your flock will be spending a majority of their time in the coop, you’ll need at least 10 square feet per chicken.
- Coop layout. How many nesting boxes you plan to have and how you’ll access them are things to consider when laying out your coop. Nesting boxes are where your hens will lay eggs; using a ratio of three hens per box should provide ample space for most flocks. To encourage your hens to use the nesting boxes, place them about 18 inches off the ground in an area that’s dark and quiet. And, 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’ll 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 then determine the best way to keep your chickens out of harm’s way.