Chicken Coop

Small Scale Poultry Housing.

Small scale poultry coops seem to be built in almost every possible shape and size. Those building a new coop often ask for plans for the perfect chicken coop. However, few plans for small poultry coops are available. Many existing buildings can easily be adapted to accommodate poultry. Poultry housing can be as simple or elaborate as you wish to build.

The ideal house should provide the birds with a comfortable environment and protect them from the extremities of the prevailing climate (rain, wind, sunshine etc). the coop should provide adequate space for the flock to be kept in the house. The ideal stocking density is two square foot per bird (2 foot²/bird).

Mandatory steps for building yourself a Chicken coop.

Step #1: Set Your Goal

Depending on whether you plan on doing it small time to save up on your monthly grocery expenses or whether you wish to turn this into a full blown business, the size of your coop will differ substantially. Before you learn how to build a chicken coop, ask yourself these few questions:

  • Why do I want to rear and raise these chickens?
  • How many chickens do I need to keep?
  • How much space do I have to build the coop?

If you’re unsure of any of these answers, you should start with a small chicken coop. You can easily expand it as you become more experienced or when you start seeing good results.

 

Step #2: Acquire A Chicken Coop Plan.

Regardless of how small your chicken coop will be, you will need to have a clear and detailed plan drawn up. You have the option of designing and creating your own coop but that should only be attempted by experienced coop builders. Assuming you’re a beginner at this, you should purchase some ready-made plans that have been proven to work before. Some of the more complex one would involve the use of different types of building materials and a higher skill level to build so make sure you start off with the easier ones. Here are a few essential factors to be considered for your coop:

1. Protection.

A good poultry house protects the birds from the elements (weather), predators, injury and theft.

Poultry require a dry, draft-free house. This can be accomplished by building a relatively draft free house with windows and/or doors which can be opened for ventilation when necessary. Build the coop on high, well-drained areas. This prevents prolonged dampness and water saturation of the floor of the coop and outside runs. Face the front of the coop, the windows and outside run to the south which allows the sun to warm and dry the coop and soil. Allowing an adequate level of space per bird also helps keep the humidity level in the coop to a minimum.

Keeping poultry totally confined to together with fence and covered runs are your best protection from predators. If you are building a new facility, consider laying a concrete floor, and start the wall with one or two concrete blocks. This prevents rodents, snakes, and predators from digging under the walls and the floors. Windows and doors must be securely covered with heavy-gauge mesh wire or screening when opened.

With outside runs, bury the wire along the pen border at least 12" deep, and toe the fence outward about6 inches. This stops most predators from digging under the fence. Animals always dig at the base of a fence. By toeing the fence outward and burying it, the predator digs down right into more fencing. Some people run electric fencing around the outside of their pens 4" off the ground about one foot from the main fence to discourage predators. If your outside runs are not predator-proof, you need to lock up yourpoultry before dark.

To prevent problems with hawks and owls, cover your outside runs with mesh wire or netting. A good ground cover of millet, broomcorn, sorghum or other tall leafy vegetation also provides cover for the birds to hide under. Many times a 3-4 ft. grid over the pen constructed of boiling twine will give excellent protection from flying predators.

To protect the birds from theft, lock your building and pens securely whenever you are not home. Have your neighbors watch for visitors while you are away. Some people actually have burglar alarms in their bird coops. A protective dog kept near your coop usually works well to discourage predators and unwanted visitors.

Build your poultry house to prevent possible injury to your birds. Remove any loose or ragged wire,nails, or other sharp-edged objects from the coop. Eliminate all areas other than perches where the birdscould perch more than 4 feet above the floor. Remove perching areas such as window sills, nest box tops, or electric cords whenever possible. These extra measures could eliminate any injury to you or your birds and may prevent damage to the coop, as well.

2.Perching Area.

Chickens sleep the best while they’re on perches so make sure you include these even if they aren’t shown in your chicken coop designs. Also, you should ensure that there is ample space for all your chickens so they wouldn’t have to cramp up in a small area as this could affect their health.If possible,include some electric lighting,this is useful for seasons where the days are shorter. With these lights, your chickens will still be able to lay their eggs.

3.Nesting Area.

This is where your chickens will be laying their eggs. Be generous with regard to this area because it’s easily the most important place of all. On average, a chicken will lay an egg every 1-2 days. The frequency will change based on the weather conditions as well as the breed of the chicken though. Under a controlled environment (commercial production), a single chicken can lay up to 300 eggs a year. So, unless you plan on collecting your eggs on a day to day basis, keep this area large enough so that all your chickens can lay as many eggs as they can comfortably. Here’s a creative example where these baskets are stuffed with straw and used as nesting areas.

4.Food & Water.

These resources should be kept far away from their litter so that they won’t get contaminated. Contamination of food and water in any way could cause diseases to spread through your entire coop. When building a chicken coop, remember to keep these in 2 separate areas if possible.Feeders and waters should be placed conveniently throughout the pen for birds' access. Place the bottom of the waterers and top lip of the feeders at the birds' back height. This will keep the feed and water clean and prevent wastage.

5.Ventilation.

As it is likely that the litter will be accumulated within the chicken coop, sufficient air flow is required within the coop to keep the place refreshing. You could cut out little windows or flaps at a few places but be sure to reinforce the openings with chicken wire.

Ample air movement is essential. Fresh air brings in oxygen while excess moisture,ammonia or carbon dioxide are removed the stale air moves out of the house. Dampness and ammonia build-up are a sign that there is not enough ventilation. For small coops windows or vents on one side of the house usually provide plenty of ventilation. Well-ventilated houses must also have plenty of insulation and a good vapor barrier. Failure to insulate or ventilate properly causes moisture to accumulate on the walls and ceiling in cool weather. Poultry can handle cold very well if they are dry.However, cool and humid conditions can create many health problems. Locate openings on the side away from prevailing winds.The south or east side is usually best.

6.Easy Access For You.

You’ll inevitably have to clean the chicken coop every now and then. Without an access door, you might have to lean into your coop to clean the inside and trust me, you do not want to do that. The smell will be overpowering and it will take you a long time to do it too. Access doors will allow you to reach in with both your hands easily and do whatever it is you need to do. You could also make it such so that cleaning the droppings becomes a simple process. The ideal chicken coop will have a droppings tray that can be removed from the outside so that you need not reach into your coop every time to clean up the droppings.

7. Appearance.

The appearance of any poultry house or outside run that is visible to the neighborhood should never detract from the over-all appearance of the surroundings. Exteriors of structures should be kept painted and well-maintained. Weeds and trash should be removed from around all facilities. Proper landscaping can provide screening and also help muffle sounds from the birds. Unsightly structures are not good for the image of bird raising and may lead to new laws restricting the raising of birds in your area.

8.Adequate Lighting.

There should be adequate light in the poultry unit. The light should be enough for a person to read a newspaper at the centre of the building. In a crowded house, some transparent roofing sheets should be fitted to improve lighting.One electric light every 40 feet at ceiling height is appropriate. Most small poultry houses do very well with one light above the feeding and watering area.
Windows placed on the southside of the coop will also be a good source of light and warmth in winter and a good source of ventilation in summer.

House plan and design

This poultry house is designed to accommodate 200 birds. If more than 200 birds will be kept, the length of the house can be extended by 3.9 meters for every 100 layers. The materials indicated can however be replaced by any alternatives available in your locality if convenient and less costly.

For example off-cuts can be replaced by bricks and cedar posts by ordinary tree poles. The space where wire mesh is used for ventilation can be altered according to local climatic conditions.One assumption is that there exists a room that can be used for rearing the chicks and another available as a store for feeds and other poultry materials.

Front view

Side view


Ground plan

 

Step #3 Gather Up The Required Tools And Materials

Hammers, saws, drills, nails, measuring tape, masks, gloves, wood, chicken wire. All these can be acquired from a hardware shop. These are only some of the tools that you’ll need to use for this though. Check your chicken coop plans for greater details on this.

Cost of materials and construction

Materials Required

Units

Qty

Cost (Kshs)

Total (Kshs)

2 m long corrugated iron sheets

No

40

800

32,000

Wire netting

roll

1

5000

5,000

Ballast

7 tonnes load

1

3000

3,000

Sand

7 tonnes load

1

9000

9,000

Cement

bags

7

900

6,300

Rails (3’ x 2’)

feet

400

30

12,000

Rails (2’ x 2’)

feet

400

30

12,000

Cedar posts

No

30

200

6,000

Off-cuts

pieces

150

120

18,000

Suitable material for deep litter e.g. wood shavings

load

1

1000

1,000

Labour cost @ 30% of construction materials

     

31,290

Total

Poultry equipment

Feeders

Feeders are distributed at one round feeder per 25 birds. Therefore 8 feeders are required for each batch of 200 birds. Each round feeder goes at Kshs 600. Cost = Kshs. 4,800.

Waterers

Waterers are distributed alternately between feeders therefore 8 are required for a batch of 200 birds. Each feeder goes at Kshs 600. Cost = Kshs. 4,800.

Laying nests

One box for every four birds is enough. Dimensions should be 12 inches base diameter and 8 inches high walls on the lower end and 12 inches on the higher end. These are usually made of wood. A slanted roof to deter buildup of manure should be placed over the nest boxes to ensure comfort and privacy to the birds.

Timber size

Length

Unit cost

Total cost

12” x 1”

200

30

6,000

8” x 1”

100

30

3,000

Total

 

 

9,000

Perches or roosts

Chickens prefer to roost at night on perches. Perching space of 15 to 20 cm should be allowed for each bird. The cross-section of each perch bar should be 2 to 3 cm.

  

 

No

Unit price

Total cost

12’ Rafters

140

40

5,600

Round poles

10

120

1,200

 

 

 

6,800

 

Step #4: Build Your Chicken Coop

 

Do not attempt to build the structures based on your whims. You need to do this in a systematic manner. Follow the step-by-step instructions from your coop plans if you have them. You’ll usually have to start by building the bottom foundation and move up gradually from ground up. The roofing, doors and windows should always be the last structures to be installed.