If you’re thinking about rearing chickens in your backyard, the first thing that you need to do (even before you buy chickens to lay the eggs or to breed) is to build a good, roomy chicken coop. Below are a few sources of chicken coop plans which we suggest that you take a look at if you want to do it right the first time around.

Before you do that though, you might want to take a look at some of these useful tips and pointers for building a coop of your own.

Planting some flowers or just having little pots of them around the chicken coop can make it look a lot more homey and presentable. Photo courtesy of Amy Rawson and her husband, Brian East.

In terms of the size of your coop, you should ideally build a coop that is as large as you possibly can. Even if you’re thinking of rearing only 3-4 chickens, try to make space for 6 or more. Once you have seen some success in raising chickens, you will likely want to add more to your current flock and you’ll be glad you started off with a larger coop in the first place.

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when you’re building a chicken house:

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when you’re building a chicken house:

a lot of hens and two roosters in the yard of poultry farm

1. Make Sure There’s Ample Space

If your coop is overcrowded, soon your chickens will start fighting with one another for more space and end up hurting or killing each other in the process. So, how much space is sufficient for your chickens? As a general rule, try to keep a minimum of 3 square feet of space for every chicken you have inside the coop for them to sleep and move about in.

For your chicken run (the outdoor area where your chickens are free to roam about for exercise and sunlight), double that amount of space for every chicken (6 sq ft per chicken) and you should do just fine. It is thus recommended that you build a coop based on ready-made plans (more on that below) since the ideal dimensions would have been laid out for you already.

2. Bedding Materials

Straw is often thought to be the best material to be used as bedding on the floor of the coop as they’re cheap and can easily be acquired.We personally do not recommend using straw because they do not absorb the moist from the poop or water very well, which will simply cause a mess.

The smell that emanates from your coop will also be much worse if the moist doesn’t dry up properly.

A superior alternative to straw would be pine shavings (we personally use this) or pine chips thanks to their greater absorbent capabilities and they also dry up much quicker.

Pine shavings are a better alternative to straw if you can get them

A huge batch of pine shavings/chips should only cost you about $8 at most and can be acquired from Tractor Supply Company, Wal-Mart or any pet/feed store near your area.

Pet stores tend to sell these in small bags though (for hamsters) so you might have to tell them that you’re looking for larger quantities for rearing chickens and the employees should be able to get the bigger bags from their storage.It’ll also be of great help if you could lay some newspapers underneath the straw/pine bedding so that when it comes to cleaning the coop, you can simply roll everything up and replace it with a fresh set of bedding.

3. Predator Protection

Surround your coop with hardware cloth. Chicken wire is less preferable.