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Chicken Coops

A Chicken Coop for the Garden

4 February 2010
A small chicken coop

A small coop and henhouse for a small flock. Houses about six hens happily.

My husband built a chicken coop for our six young chickens that adds to my garden rather than detracts. To save money, we used recycled materials from the building of our house, and purchased some items (like the stained glass window) from garage sales.


This project was, unfortunately, not a one-weekend project and it took a little carpentry “know-how”.



Because we have critters that would love a morsel of chicken for their midnight snack, the coop had to be secure from foxes, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, bobcats, and hawks. To them, there is nothing more enjoyable than dining on a tender chicken breast by the light of the moon.

Sliding door on chicken coop

A vertical sliding door to the outside run is closed at night to keep out raccoons, foxes, and rats.



My husband’s assignment, from his favorite client, was to (1) build a coop that was safe for our beautiful hens, and (2) build a coop that “didn’t look like a coop” (if you know what I mean). The results were great. I’ve planted vines that will soften the edges and by spring will make it look like it has always been a part of my garden.













A Space for Chickens

31 January 2010

We do not live on a farm, nor do we want to turn over our garden to foraging chickens, so we designed a small coop with a partially covered run that nestles in a far corner of our half-acre next to “open space”. It has worked out fairly well. Had I stuck to my original plan for having four hens, instead of six, (see my entry on a “problem chicken”) it would have been even better.

When designing a coop and run for your backyard, consider this. Will your chickens be able to be outside most of the day? In our temperate climate, the hens go inside only to lay eggs or to run from a hawk flying over their pen, so inside space is relatively small. Even in the rain they prefer to be in the outdoor sheltered area of the run rather than indoors. Do you have predators that would threaten your birds, or could they free range (with only a shelter for food, water, and nesting boxes)?

According to most books, large breed hens only need four square feet of space per bird and 12″-18″ of roostingspace. While this is adequate, giving hens a little more space than the minimum requirements, makes for happy layers (you know how girls are). Design your coop for easy cleaning (it is inevitable). Provide a nest box for every four hens (even at that, ours have had to “double up” occasionally during a busy spell). Consider climate, lighting, ventilation and your neighbors, when designing a coop. A little research now will make for happy hens later.