Keeping your backyard chickens safe and contained while raising chickens can be a constant battle, especially if you live in an area that has a lot of natural predators around. You may find yourself getting creative with your chicken coop ideas to try and address this issue.
Or, maybe you’re going to get chickens for the first time and you’re not sure which chicken coop ideas will work best. Whatever the reason, we’re going to give you several great chicken coop plans you can use to build your own custom coop that has plenty of space for your animals to run around and thrive.
Coops are essential to have for raising chickens if you have a flock of birds because it can help protect your birds from predators and provide shelter.
What is a Chicken Coop?
Better known as a hen house, a chicken coop is a small contained area for raising chickens where you keep your female chickens or other birds securely locked up at night. Inside a simple chicken coop, you’ll have several nesting boxes where your hens can lay eggs. There are also perches where your hens can roost at night. You usually fill these nesting boxes with straw to give your backyard chickens a comfortable place to sit.
The outside of the chicken coop usually contains a fenced-in run where the chickens can go out in the day time and still stay secure. Chicken coop ideas combine safety with functionality because predators can get inside a poorly constructed coop and kill the chickens. The goal of a chicken coop is to have someplace safe and secure for your chickens to stay. In order to get this, you have to consider which predators are in your area because this will give you a good idea on which chicken coop ideas will work and which ones won’t for you.
14 Chicken Coop Ideas
Depending on where you live and the predators you have around, some of these DIY chicken coop plans may not be viable. However, they can give you inspiration to improve on your existing setup or build a chicken coop with these DIY chicken coop plans included.
1. Build Your Chicken Coop on Stilts
Traditionally, chicken coops sat on the ground. But, the ground can easily get damp each night or after it rains, and this wetness can encourage termites and mold growth. It also puts your chickens right at prime predator level, and it could make it easier for them to get inside. Elevating your chicken coop with stilts gets it up in the air and off of the ground to reduce the dampness.
Also, a predator is much less likely to try and grab a chicken that is up in the air then they would be if the chicken was on the ground. If you don’t fence your chickens in or lock them in to secure them at night, make sure your chicken coop includes a removable ramp. This way, it makes it more difficult for anything to get at your chickens, and your chickens are more likely to stay put until you prop the ramp back up.
An elevated DIY chicken coop is a good idea if you live in a wet environment because it keeps the floor of your coop dry.
2. Illuminate the Interior
During the winter months, the shorter days and less light can cause your chicken’s egg production to drop way off or stop completely. This coop idea seeks to get rid of this phenomenon by giving them soft lighting that makes them think the days are longer. You can rig up a light in the upper portion of the coop that illuminates the entire inside.
You do want to make sure your light has a warm bulb in it because a bluish-white light won’t prompt your chickens to lay their eggs. You can switch this light on when it starts to get dark in the early afternoon and shut it off later in the evening. You could leave it on all night too, but this isn’t strictly necessary. You should try a few ways and see which one boosts your chicken’s egg production.
3. Fence in the Run
The run is the area of the coop where your animals can go out during the day and stay safe. This is usually fenced in. Ideally for this chicken coop idea, you’ll use sturdy hardware with a screened-in run because this is an excellent deterrent for predators. This is where you can get creative too.
This requires your run to attach directly to the coop so all you have to do is open a door in the morning and let them out to walk around. You can get chicken wire from Amazon and build a tunnel or two that leads around the run before funneling your chickens back into the main area. Make sure there are no gaps or tears in the fencing, and it should have small holes that something can’t reach through.
This poultry netting is very easy to bend into whatever shape you want, and you can cut it to fit your run or tunnels to ensure there are no gaps. It comes in different colors and sizes, and the wire resists rust and corrosion from getting wet.
4. Have Windows or Vents
Did you know that your chickens can get sick if they don’t have good air circulation inside the coop? These chicken coop plans will help prevent that, and it can also help stop your chickens from getting too hot when the warmer weather hits. If you have a slanted roof on your DIY chicken coop, you can open up the area and put some chicken wire over it. This will keep the predators out while letting the air in, and the roof will prevent the coop from getting wet inside.
Another chicken coop idea is to install windows into the coop’s walls. You’ll have to put chicken wire over these windows so you can safely open them, but it’ll provide a way for air to escape and come in. When it gets cold or wet out, you can close the windows to seal out the elements and keep your chickens comfortable.
Smaller windows allow natural light to flood into the coop, and this coop idea also gives you great ventilation to keep the area cool.
5. Create a Walk-In Coop
You’ll have to pull everything out and clean your coop sooner or later, and this coop idea makes this process less of a chore. Instead of having a box with a small hole for your chickens to come and go, consider having a doorway that leads into the coop itself. The run can have a separate doorway that allows you to go in and clean it out periodically.
Just make sure you never leave the doors open when you’re not around to watch your chickens. The doors should have secure latches on them too to keep it closed in different weather conditions. Ideally, you’ll use something like a barrel bolt latch that you can slide over and down to secure your coop’s doors when you lock them.
This barrel bolt makes it very difficult for you to accidentally latch it halfway. Once it’s latched, it won’t come open due to the wind or bad weather conditions. This makes your coop very secure.
6. Add Ramps
This coop makes it easy for your animals to get in and out of the coop quickly. If your coop is up off the ground, you want your ramp to be at a 45° angle. This is the ideal slope your chickens will use when they need to enter or exit the coop. If you want to add a hook system, this allows you to detach the ramp during the night to deter predators.
The ramp should have pleats or ridges on it to create small bumps that your chickens can use for traction when the ramp gets slick due to snow or water. Your ramp shouldn’t have any gaps between the coop ledge and the ramp itself because your chicken can injure themselves if they step in it, and the ramp should reach all of the way to the ground.
A small ramp leading up to the door of the coop will reduce the stress on your chickens because they won’t have to jump down each time they want to leave.
7. Create a Mobile Chicken Coop
If you’re not sure about the best place to put your coop, why not try a mobile one? This chicken coop idea gives you the freedom to move it around as the weather or your mood changes. For example, maybe it’s nice out but your chickens aren’t getting any shade in their current position. You could move the coop to a sunnier area and let them out.
You do have to ensure that everything in the coop won’t move when you move the coop itself, so this coop does require some planning on your part. You may not be able to have a run attached to the coop, and you have to have a very sturdy foundation that will tolerate shifting the coop around. If you live a mobile lifestyle, this is the perfect opportunity to take your chickens with you.
8. Add Unique Nesting Spaces
Yes, traditional nesting boxes are nice. However, this coop brings other opportunities to the table if space is at a premium. Maybe you don’t have the floor space to stack nesting boxes for all of your chickens, or you’re not sure where to place the roosting perches. The good news is, you most likely have a few sturdy wicker baskets laying around. You can attach them to the wall and fill them with straw for nesting boxes.
This is great for smaller coops that don’t have a lot of space. Another possibility is to buy a wood closet rod and put it up to create one long roosting perch. This is more than big enough for several chickens to sit on at once, and you can add supports along it so it won’t go anywhere. You can get both of these items mentioned in these chicken coop ideas off Amazon.
These four seagrass baskets aren’t too deep for your chickens to have problems getting in and out, but they’re sturdy enough to give adequate support when your chicken sits in them. You get four identically-sized baskets per order.
9. Consider A Rain Collection System
You’ll have to feed and water your chickens every day, and this can be a huge chore with larger flocks. Lugging water to and from the coop can be a time-consuming process that puts a lot of strain on your body, and this coop takes the stress away. Instead of carrying water from the house, consider adding a rain collection system.
This rainwater you collect with this coop will be cleaner than regular tap water because it won’t contain the chemicals water treatment companies put in it. It’s also attached right to the coop, and this means you only have to go a few steps to get your water instead of back to your home. This is really nice in colder months when you don’t want to spend a lot of time outside. Match the rain barrel size with the coop.
A simple rain collection system is an easy way to keep fresh water close to your chicken coop all year round.
10. Attach Storage Space
One simple way you can keep your chickens safe is by using this coop to attach secure storage space to the side of the coop. As with all of the doors, you want to make sure you use secure locks on the storage space to keep any animals out that could be interested in getting in and eating your chicken feed or other tools.
You can attach this storage space to the side of the coop opposite of the run using this coop. If you’re worried about it not being secure enough, you can put it in the run itself. This way, it has wire around it that any predators have to get through in order to reach the storage. You can put the food, water pans, cleaning supplies, hay, and extra nesting boxes in here before locking it up.
11. Repurpose a Shed Into a Coop
If you don’t have a chicken coop but you have a shed sitting in your yard, you can repurpose it into a secure coop. This coop idea will help you upcycle something and repurpose it into something useful. Since most sheds have larger doors on them, it makes getting into the coop and cleaning it out our collecting eggs easy.
Just remember that your chickens need 10 square feet of space in the coop for every bird so they can stretch out. If they don’t have it, you have to ensure they can get out during the day to stretch. You can add nesting boxes in a stacked pattern along the wall if you don’t have a lot of space with this chicken coop idea, and hang a roosting perch or two on the top of the shed.
A small shed is easy to convert into a nice coop for a smaller flock of birds. You can add nesting boxes, roosting poles, and secure it at night to keep your flock safe.
12. Add Natural Elements
If you’re trying to save money but what to give your chickens things to sit on, use this chicken coop idea. All you have to do is find a larger tree branch and rig it up out in the run for your chickens to sit on. You can hang it a few feet off the ground with a chain. This will give your chickens a place to get up high if something scares them.
Add dirt to the bottom of your chicken run if there isn’t any because your chickens will take dust baths to help them cool down if they get too hot. You can split the floor of the run into half grass and half dirt and let your chickens wander during the day out of the reach of predators but out in the fresh air to keep your chickens safe with this chicken coop idea.
13. Pour a Concrete Floor
If you’re not afraid of a heavier DIY project, use this chicken coop idea and pour a concrete foundation for your chickens to help seal out moisture and keep your chickens healthy all year round. Also, predators can’t dig through concrete, so it makes a more secure building when you finish constructing the coop over the concrete foundation.
The concrete will also work to keep the coop cooler in the hotter summer months. It prevents termites and mice from getting in, and it can help minimize mold growth and wood rot due to the moisture seeping through the ground up into the floor and walls. You can add a layer of wood shavings to the floor to protect your chicken’s feet.
This cement is resistant to mildew and mold, and it mixes with just water. It has a self-drying formula that is easy to spread and apply. It sets up quickly, and it’ll create a solid foundation for your chicken coop.
14. Curtain the Front of the Nesting Boxes
The final tip with our chicken coop ideas is adding small curtains to each nesting box. These curtains certainly don’t have to be anything fancy, but they can help block the chicken’s view of the other hens. In turn, your chickens can relax more and their egg production may not drop off as sharply in the cooler months.
For the best curtains, you want something that mites can burrow into, and they should be relatively inexpensive. Shower curtains do very well for this use because they’re easy to wipe clean when you clean out the chicken coop, and mites can’t get into them. They also are lightweight enough for the chickens to move in and out of the way.
A single shower curtain can cover several nesting boxes, and you can easily cut them to fit. They’re inexpensive, easy to manipulate, and easy to replace when they wear out.
Benefits of Having a Secure Chicken Coop
These chicken coop ideas will help you build a secure and safe area for your animals to stay in, but what other benefits come with having one? If you’re on the fence and trying to decide if you should build a coop and incorporate some of these chicken coop ideas, read on.
- Keep Predators at Bay – A single predator can devastate a flock of chickens in one night, but a secure chicken cook can keep them at bay. You should lock your chickens into the coop at night with secure locks. During the day, they can have the coop open but go out into the run at their leisure. The run should have fencing on all sides and the top to keep your chickens healthy and safe.
- Improve Your Garden – As your chickens are out and about in their secure run, they leave droppings around. Chicken droppings have higher nitrogen, and nitrogen can enrich your soil. You can use it in your compost too and mix it into your soil when you turn it over to create your garden area.
- Fresh Eggs – Chickens can lay one or two eggs every few days, but if you have a decent-sized flock, it’s easy to get a dozen eggs a day. These eggs can be healthier than the eggs you get in the store, and you know exactly where they come from.
- Teaches Responsibility – If you have kids, you can get them in on helping with the chickens. Teach them how to harvest eggs every day and keep the chickens healthy. They’ll start to understand the farm-to-plate chain, and they’ll have fun learning the chicken’s personality.
- Clean the Yard – Healthy chickens in a secure coop will help clean your yard. For example, they can eat the weeds out of your garden, and they’ll eat any fallen fruit in your yard to prevent it from rotting and attracting bugs.
- Control Bugs – Your yard can quickly become overrun with bugs like crickets, slugs, snails, and grasshoppers that can damage your garden. Chickens can help you control the bugs when you let them out into their run during the day because they like to eat them.
A coop is a must if you own chickens. You can easily customize it to suit your needs and the size of your flock, and these chicken coop ideas will help with that. You can also consider a portable chicken coop.
These 14 chicken coop ideas can help you build a unique and secure space for your birds to hang out, roost, and sleep. Building a chicken coop can be a lot of fun. You can repurpose an existing coop to incorporate some of these ideas or build a brand new one. Whatever you choose, you’ll end up with a more secure are that will lock the predators out.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.