Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to Build a Chicken Coop

If you dream of eating fresh-laid eggs every morning, you’re not alone.  Many people today are choosing to control their own food sources, and this includes more than just growing your own vegetable garden.

Of course, if you want quality eggs you must have quality chickens; and to have quality chickens, you must care for them in the best possible way. This means you must build a chicken coop with an area called a ‘run’ which allows the chickens to roam outside of the coop.

Before building your chicken coop, do some research and make sure that your local zoning laws allow it.  Call your local council representative, or check your local city’s website for more information. They may have restrictions on the size of the coop allowed, how many chickens are allowed, etc.

Following is a list of materials you will need to build a coop that will house approximately eight chickens:

·      Two  4x4s for skids (72”)
·      2x4s (36 lineal ft) for floor and boundary joists
·      Four 4x4s for corner studs (72”)
·      2x4s (150 lineal ft) for framing walls and roof
·      Seven 4x8 plywood sheets for flooring and wall cladding
·      2x2 (40”) for nesting perch
·      1x4 (120 Lineal ft) for cladding battens, door stop and nesting boxes
·      1x12 (9 lineal ft) for part of nesting boxes
·      1x6 (200 lineal ft) for roofing and litter boards
·      40 sq. Ft of tar paper for under the roofing boards

You can adjust the amount of materials needed based on how many chickens you plan to maintain. Keep in mind that the wood used for skids and floor joists need to be suitable for outdoor use. Don’t be afraid to add your own creativity: color, paint, automatic door opener, etc. It may not matter much to the chickens, but it will keep your backyard from looking like a farmyard.

Whatever type of chicken coop you build, it is important to leave an area outside for them to roam freely; this will ensure that you have the happiest and best quality chickens. Don’t overload your coop: make sure your chickens are comfortable and can establish their ‘pecking order.’

Building and maintaining a chicken coop can be a bit of work, but the rewards are enormous.  When you know exactly where your food is coming from, your food tastes better, is better for you and is better for the environment.  Happy egg hunting!

Photo:Tom Curtis

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