Advice on Building a Permanent Chicken Coop

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Advice on building a permanent coop for your backyard hens. Information on ventilation, rest, nesting boxes and making your own boxes

You can build a chicken coop from almost any existing structure, or build it from scratch if you wish. The two most important things to consider when choosing between the two options are protection from predators and providing adequate ventilation. Building a cage from scratch can be very expensive, but there are ways to save money by reusing what you need. When we built our house, we had to buy new timber and roof, but we were able to use the things we got for the frame, windows, insulation, front door, and screen door. Needless to say, this helped cut costs considerably.

If you are thinking of building your own chicken coop, there are various factors to consider. This includes size, flooring, nesting boxes, windows, nesting and ventilation. A chicken run is also required if you do not allow the hens to graze during the day. Let's look at the basic requirements of a permanent chicken coop.

Advice on building a permanent chicken coop for backyard hens

Chicken Coop Size

Unless your town limits the size of your herd, plan for expansion when building your pen. This is much more cost effective than having to start over in a few years if you are raising a flock. Our actual size depends on many factors, but {i.e. bird size, restrictions, or whether they are grazing}, a general rule of thumb is 4-5 square feet per bird.

Chicken Coop Flooring

Commonly used flooring materials include concrete, wood or earth. Concrete is the easiest to clean and dirt is more difficult. For us we chose a wooden floor and used pine shavings as garbage. As long as we keep a few inches of crumbs in our cages, cleaning is a breeze.

Advice on building a permanent chicken coop for backyard hens


Nesting Boxes

Hens prefer dark and safe places to lay their eggs. Nest boxes are useful for chicken breeders because they fit the needs of the hens to make it easier to find and collect the eggs they lay. Eggs are also clean and, in most cases, remain unbroken.

In general, you should plan for one nesting box for every four birds. This doesn't seem like enough, but trust me most of the days queuing up to use the same box. We made the box 12″ wide x 12″ deep x 14″ high and this seems to be plenty of room for bigger girls too. We also tilted the roof to prevent being able to sit on it {hence poop}}. The nested box string is just below the window.

Advice on building a permanent chicken coop for backyard hens

Chicken Coop Windows

Proper ventilation is essential to the health of chickens in all seasons. They are prone to respiratory diseases, so fresh air passing through the chicken coop is essential. It is important to cover all window openings with a small {1/2 inch to 1/4 inch} galvanized mesh wire to prevent animal intrusion.

The chicken coop needs ventilation even in winter. That is why it is essential to have one of the window openings higher than the chicken perch. Provides unventilated ventilation in the cold season. In the warmer months, all windows will be left open to provide constant cross ventilation and a sense of relief.

Build your own hen house with these tips on what is needed: roosts, ventilation, entries, nesting boxes, and more #chickens

A brief description of the "found" window. When we bought the farmhouse there were treasures in the barn attic space, including some old windows. To get them to work, my husband attached two hinges to the top of each window and then attached them to the inside of the cage. He then used straps and cleats to open the windows and barrel bolt clasps to the window locks to prevent drafts in winter. You can wrap it around the cleat and open it as much as you want.

Perch and Roosts

Chickens prefer to sleep on the ground in perch or nests, and the best material to make them is wood. A 1-3 inch thick round piece of wood allows the bird to comfortably wrap its paws and catch the perch with its toes. You can choose from wooden dowels, twigs, an old wooden ladder leaning against a wall, or an old wooden drying rack. If using the stacking system {cascading}, make sure the pieces of wood are 12 – 18 inches apart. Each chicken needs about 8-10 inches of perch space.


Chicken Coop Doors

If your cage can accommodate, you'll need a human-sized door that can enter the cage for egg collection, cleaning, caring for sick birds, etc. If you have a connected outdoor run, you'll also need a small door. You can keep it open for chicken access between the coop and the run.

We found it best to open the front door based on our previous experience. A small door opened inside the cage that came with the house. When the girls are stumbling out on an impatient morning, it is very difficult to open the door past them.

Advice on building a permanent chicken coop for backyard hens

Chicken Coop Latches

The reality is that predators can unlock several styles of latches if they are determined to get into your home. Different types of intruders have different abilities, so it's best to use two different locking systems for each door. For example, we use a metal clip that must be gripped to open, and another clasp for each item.

We also installed a "find" screen door on the front door from spring to fall. It's just a wooden door. My husband attached the hinges and then used springs to close them behind us. If we let the girls run around, we can release the hinges and keep them open.
Advice on building a permanent chicken coop for backyard hens

Chicken Feed & Watering Stations

Feeders and drinkers should be kept away from the ground to prevent standing or defecation at food and water sources. We found that making a small platform for the drinker and hanging the drinker from the ceiling worked well for us. Make sure this station is away from the sleeping area to avoid filling the feeder with chicken manure.

Advice on building a permanent chicken coop for backyard hens

Insulation & Heaters

Whether our insulation or heating depends on the climate of the area where we live. Access to electricity and exactly what you have installed in your home are also factors. Our house has electricity and solar panels, so we have a lighted flat panel heater and a water heater.

If you don't have access to electricity but live in an extreme climate that's hot or cold, it's worth the effort to insulate. We insulated the floor, front door and roof of our house. It should also be planned that the drinker is not in a well-ventilated area to avoid freezing in the winter. There is no direct line from the chicken door to the outside if it remains open in winter.

Advice on building a permanent chicken coop for backyard hens

Staci Ducharme lives with her convenient husband, Jay, on a small backyard farm in upstate New York called Cobble Hill. Their lives revolve around the animals on the farm, both indoors and outdoors. They are working full-time farming and trying to lead a self-sufficient life. You can read more about them and Cobble Hill.LifeAtCobbleHillFarm.com.


  1. Nice, You can add all product related to a chicken coop. This is a perfect chicken coop including door, feeder, waterer and much more.

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