Choosing the Right Chicken Coop

Which coop is right for you?

Answering the following list of questions will assist you in choosing the coop that is correct for both you and your chickens needs:

1. What size coop is needed?
2. Are there any city ordinances that determine coop size and placement?
3. What type of climate do you live in?
4. What types of predators live in your area?
5. How much money do you want to spend?
6. Do you want to build it yourself or buy a pre-made coop?

What size coop is needed?

This is one of the most important factors to consider. The more chickens you have, the more space you need- but you can give 2 chickens an 800 square foot run if you want. Each of your chickens needs adequate space to move, lay, and perch, as well as have access to fresh air, sunlight, and soil. Your chickens will also tell you if their conditions are too crowded- they will develop health and behavioral problems if they don’t have enough space. Just use common sense. If you want 10 chickens, you need a bigger habitat, if you want 2 or 3, a smaller one is fine. You also need to consider how much yard space you have to devote to your coop. The area you choose to put your coop may limit the size and design of the coop you can have.

Are there any city ordinances that determine coop size and placement?

Some city ordinances require that you have permits to build a coop- which may include submitting designs. There may also be restrictions on where you can place a coop in relation to your property line, as well as what materials it can be made from.  Do some research and make a few phone calls to the local planning and zoning office or animal control to find out about coop building requirements.  More often than not you can build a coop as you wish, but it’s best to check so you don’t waste materials, time and money.

What type of climate do you live in?

Do you live somewhere that gets really cold, hot, wet, or windy? These are all things to consider when picking a coop design. Your chickens need both shade and sunlight, and a dry and draft free shelter. You need to protect your birds from the elements since chickens can get frost bite, die from heat stroke, or get sick from chilly drafts. Just use common sense. If you live in a hot desert- provide plenty of options for shade. If you live where it is below freezing for months on end, then a heater may be required. Your chickens will move themselves to be most comfortable, you just need to be sure the coop you have provides the correct options.

What types of predators live in your area?

Dogs, racoons, owls, hawks, foxes, mountain lions, coyotes, and many other animals are potential chicken predators. If you have predators in your area, you can still have chickens! A fully enclosed coop with run or a chicken tractor can keep out predators (but beware of smart dogs and racoons). The coop and pen design provides some protection, but not from climbing or aerial predators.

How much money do you want to spend?

Baby chicks are inexpensive to buy, and they are also hard to resist. Your 3 dollar chicken needs a place to live however, which can end up costing you a lot more depending on the coop you select. You can build an inexpensive coop out of scrap materials, or you can order a pre-made coop online that is much more expensive. It’s up to you- but be sure to plan for the added expense of building or purchasing a coop.

Do you want to build it yourself or buy a pre-made coop?

After you have determined what size coop you need as well as climate, cost, and predator considerations, it is time to decide if you want to build your own coop or buy one. Building your own coop can be much cheaper and allows for creativity and fun. Buying a coop on the other hand can be easier, and there are a lot of options to choose from.