As interest in sustainable living grows, so does urban farming and the backyard chicken population. I’ve been raising backyard chickens for years, and I just can’t imagine living without them. There are so many benefits to keeping a few chickens in your backyard – here are just a few:
- Fresh Eggs. It doesn’t get much fresher than laid in your backyard that morning and into the pan.
- Quality. When you control what your chickens eat, you know exactly what you’re getting in your egg. Opting for an all-natural diet free of hormones and antibiotics and giving chickens access to grass and other green food leads to healthier eggs for you.
- Humane Choices. Backyard chickens tend to have a pretty great life vs. factory-farmed chickens that spend their lives in crowded environments or small cages.
- Pest Control. Chickens provide excellent natural pest control, and naturally fertilize your yard.
- Sustainablility. Producing your own food allows you to rely less on others and more on yourself.
Many people I’ve talked to are opposed to keeping chickens for one reason: chicken coops are ugly. But they don’t have to be. If you’re planning on building a coop for your new feathered friends, here are some tips to get you pointed in the right direction.
- Chicken Coops don’t have to be ugly boxes. Think Outside the Box and build a coop in a funky shape.
- Look to the style of your home for inspiration, and build a coop to match.
- Repurpose another object. People have recycled car parts, vintage RVs, play houses, and shipping containers, turning them into unique chicken coops.
- Pull inspiration from your favorite mid-century designs. Most mid-century modern homes use post and beam construction, which easily translates into a buildable chicken coop.
Keep in mind the function of your chicken coop is to provide a safe place for your hens to eat, sleep, and lay eggs. The fanciest coop is useless if it allows easy access for predators, or has nest boxes your chickens won’t lay eggs in.
- Make sure your coop is sturdy enough to keep large predators like coyotes out. Be sure to close up small openings that cats, raccoons, hawks and owls can fit through at night. Include predator-proof locks on all doors.
- Use heavy gauge mesh wiring – predators can easily tear through chicken wire.
- Include one nest box for every three-four hens. Construct the boxes to allow 3-4 inches of bedding. Chickens like to lay in cozy, dark, safe places. Place golf balls in the nests to encourage your chickens to lay there, instead of under the nearest shrub.
- Plan for a minimum of 10 sqft of coop/run space per bird. If your chickens will free-range during the day, plan for approx. 4 sqft of interior coop space for each hen. Allow 12-18 inches of perch/roost space per hen.
- Planning a space for a feeder inside the coop will help to cut down on wild birds coming in for snacks. Sealing up your coop with 1/2″ mesh will also help to keep out neighborhood birds.
- Be sure to design your chicken coop in a way that allows for easy cleaning. Large doors or a walk-in coop make the process go much faster.
- Ventilation is important – keep air flow in mind while ensuring your chickens have a dry place to get out of the wind and rain.
- Consider a convertible design. Use windows that can be opened in the summer and closed in the winter, or add clear plastic sheeting over areas screened with wire for the summer to provide a warmer space for the winter.
- Corrugated metal or plastic sheeting is available at most home improvement stores, and makes a great modern roofing and siding material.
- Opt for 2×4 construction rather than using 2x2s. Your coop will be heavier, but it will hold up much better.
- For areas sheeted in wood, choose plywood rather than MDF or particleboard.
- Caulk all cracks and spaces between framing to eliminate areas for pests like ticks to hide.
- Be sure to use exterior grade hardware so your screws don’t rust.
My Modern Coop
My chicken coop design was inspired by mid-century modern design. I constructed my chicken coop from 2x4s with a 4′x8′ plywood base. The roof is aluminum, and I used a combination of stained wood fencing and clear corrugated plastic for siding. The doors were constructed using stained 1×3 boards. Nest boxes are painted plywood. I chose to leave the framing exposed on the exterior, mounting the siding on the interior, and painted the framing a contrasting color.
Follow 61custom on pinterest for some great modern chicken coop inspiration. We can also design a coop to match your new custom home design or any of our house plans.