If you are considering keeping chickens in your backyard, you may have been surprised at the high cost of poultry housing. One good option is to consider a DIY Coop. Armed with some simple chicken pen plans and a few basic tools, you could keep the costs very low, whilst incorporating all the elements which are important for you.
There are numerous things to consider before starting and it is important that you take time in the planning stage to decide on the type of chicken pen which is suitable, based on the number of hens you will be keeping and your garden.
As a rule of thumb, each hen should be allowed 3-5 square feet of space in the nesting area and up to 15 square feet each in the run. Obviously, the outdoor space needed is considered flexible as it is partially dependent on whether or not they are allowed to free-range. In addition, you should ensure that the pen is at least 3 feet high as although hens do not fly, they like to jump and flap.
You should ensure that any plans you decide to use pay attention to the fact that you need easy access for both cleaning out your hens and for collecting the eggs. Have a good look at the plans-do you have the option of having a door on the external part of the run? Are the door openings large enough to see inside and to easily clear out the waste.
Check the plans through to satisfy yourself that importance has been given to protection from predators. When building a DIY coop, you should be using materials which are fox and raccoon resistant, such as heavy gauge mesh. In addition, the construction should be robust-do not consider plans which seem to skimp on screw points or at joints.
Ventilation is an important consideration. Ensure that any plans you use include provision for ventilation holes as failure to do this can result in a toxic build-up of gases from the hen’s waste products, which can ultimately harm or even kill the hens. You should ideally have ventilation holes near the pop hole, which is normally within the run, and at the back of the pen. As the back is usually exposed, these holes can be meshed for extra safety.
Another essential element to look for in chicken pen plans is the provision of a nesting box and you should ensure that there is sufficient space within the nesting area to accommodate this. You will only need one box for every 4-5 birds and very simple solutions are often the best. Some people will use a suitable sized cardboard box as a nesting box and change it weekly rather than having to clean it out. Another option is to use a plastic cat litter tray which can be hygienically cleaned.