Coop Dreams: The 3 Key Features of Chicken Coop Plans

Illustrations by Cam Pauli

Chicken coops run the gamut from humble DIY huts to, in the case of one Neiman Marcus model, a $100,000 poultry palace. But the basic gist remains the same: providing the birds with enough protected, well-ventilated space to roost and lay their eggs.

With a total footprint of 6 by 16 feet, the coop anatomized below, based on a $3,000 model from mypetchicken.com, fulfills that function for at least ten chickens and incorporates a generous run for exercise and play. Regardless of which coop you buy, or custom build, the following features of your chicken coop plans are key.

Run

A screened area like this one allows birds to peck at the dirt and “dust-bathe” safe from predators. To protect hens from vermin like weasels and mink, enclose your run using metal mesh with openings no larger than half an inch. If your run doesn’t have a roof, the mesh should extend overhead; it should also cover windows. Carabiner latches on all doors will foil even able-fingered raccoons.

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Deter tunneling badgers and foxes by extending the metal mesh a foot underground, then folding the bottom four inches away from the run, as shown.

Nesting Extensions

Wings protruding from either side of the henhouse—equipped with three nesting boxes apiece—make egg-gathering easier. A lip on the bottom of each brooding area prevents eggs and bedding (pine shavings or shredded paper) from falling out. Of course, you can also keep nesting boxes inside the henhouse: Count on one wooden or plastic box, roughly 12 inches square, for every three hens.

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Detail of nesting box.

Henhouse

The birds’ bedroom should be big enough to allow each chicken around 2 square feet of floor space (this one measures 6 by 4 feet), and 9 to 12 inches of roost, as horizontal beams for perching are called. Cover the floor with six or seven inches of pine shavings or shredded paper. Windows for ventilation are imperative, as accumulated moisture can lead to respiratory illness, and ammonia fumes created by decomposing manure can cause eye irritation.

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Rear of coop, open.

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Rear of coop, closed.

Plus: How to build your own chicken coop

Coop Dreams: The 3 Key Features of Chicken Coop Plans