Chicken coop ideas and expert advice on raising chickens | Manna Pro

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So you want to have a flock of chickens in your back yard.  They will need a place to live.  That opens up an entire world of options.  Do you build a custom coop or do you buy a premade?  What size do you need? What about nesting boxes, ventilation, insulation, location?  Yes, there are a lot of possibilities.


First of all you should know how many chickens you intend to keep.  We started with 8 and now have 11.  Chickens need minimum of 2 square feet of space in the hen house and 4 square feet of space in the run.  The henhouse is the enclosed “house” where your chickens will nest and roost at night as well as be protected from weather.  The run is their protected outdoor space.


You can find some premade coops at your local farm store and even online.  They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  If you only want a couple of chickens in your urban backyard then that might be the best option. However, pay attention to what type of chickens the premade coops are for. For example, some premade coops are more suitable for smaller, bantam breeds and will not be comfortable for a large breed such as a Plymouth Barred Rock.


We live out in the country and tend to overdue everything so we decided to build our own.  (I should say that I decided that my husband would build me what I wanted.) We overdue most things that involve our precious animals.  I did not want any critter burrowing under the wall of the coop and harming my girls so I had a foundation poured for the henhouse and a foot wide around the run.  Let’s just say it is thicker that the barn floor that has to support our tractor. 


It was important to me to be able to stand up in the coop to do my chores of feeding, watering, cleaning and collecting eggs.  We have a full size walk-through door and installed 2 windows as well for light and ventilation.  We bought the door and windows at our local building supply store. 


The walls were premade in our big barn and hauled out to the location of the coop with the tractor.  Lesson learned.  Just build them at the site.  You shouldn’t worry about severe injury while building a coop! We made it without incident, but I was more than a little nervous during the transfer.


We secured the walls to the concrete floor with some impressive bolts.  This coop isn’t going anywhere! We also put up the frame for the run which was much less scary.  We stapled chicken wire on the frame of the run and then put trim pieces over the top to make it even more secure and of course, look pretty! My husband made a door for the end of the run with scraps of wood and chicken wire.


Then came the insulation.  We have R13 in the walls and then covered that with plywood and painted (of course!).  We put our own homemade trusses up and covered the roof with metal roofing with the help of a gracious neighbor.  In the winter we put some hard foam board insulation in the ceiling to keep the heat in.  I do use a well secured heat lamp up high in the henhouse in the very cold winter months here in the Midwest.


I purchased premade nesting boxes from our local farm store that is metal with 2 rows of 3 nesting boxes and roosts attached on the front that can fold up.  This nesting box was very easy to hang and has worked very well for us.  You do not need a nesting box for each hen, six is more than enough for our 11. We made a roost with a 2x4 that runs the width of the coop. At first the girls didn’t use it and just used the roosts on the front of the nesting boxes.  Now they spread out a little more and use all of them.


Our henhouse is 8x8 and our run is 8x12.  That is more than enough space for our 11 chickens.  In the run I use coarse sand for the base and am delighted with it.  After about 2 years I scoop it out and put in the compost pile and add new.  It has been a wonder base as far as I am concerned.  In the coop I use Manna Pro Fresh Flakes bedding.  The concrete floor in the coop makes it easy to clean.  I use the used shavings to cover the aisles in my garden.  We try to waste nothing around here.


I found a cute small mailbox at a thrift store that is by the girls “front door” where I keep a few tools like a whisk broom and a pair of scissors. I have plans to add a window box for plants to add to their “curb appeal” at some point.


The only thing I might have done differently would be to put the coop closer to the house.  In the winter when the hoses are put away I carry water to the coop.  That gets a little old on those really cold and windy days. 


My best advice is to just have fun with it!  Do what you want. Make it your own.  Chickens are a very entertaining addition to your family.  We laugh at ours every day.  They really do have personalities and deserve a safe home to live in.  After all they provide us with not only food but a lot of laughs.


Best wishes for a happy flock,





Kathy Sproules

Kathy Sproules

Hello! My name is Kathy. I am a retired physician that now lives a much less stressful life on our 15 acre homestead just outside of Kansas City, Missouri. My husband and I share our life with horses, dogs, cats, chickens and bees. We have a large garden that provides lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We get honey from our bees and our chickens provide us not only eggs, but hours upon hours of entertainment as well. It all makes for a very peaceful life.


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