There are three important considerations to keep in mind when choosing a design for a hen house that you plan to build yourself. The first is the size. The size of the building will depend largely on exactly how many chickens you want it to support. Smaller houses can only support a handful of chickens, while the larger models can support dozens. You’ll want to give each chicken at least 2 to 4 square feet of space – so you can simply multiple that number by the number of chickens to get an idea of how big a coop you’ll need. You should also plan to build a run – a small fenced in area where the chickens can move about more freely. It can be either attached to the coop, or separate.
The second is to keep in mind is safety. In the grand scheme of things, chickens are pretty defenseless animals, and so its up to you to provide protection for them.
Threats to your flock include not only predators like foxes and raccoons, but also just the ravages of weather. If you want your chickens to thrive, choose a chicken house design that provides the right blend of warmth, dryness, proper ventilation, and predator protection.
The final consideration has more to do with you, as the owner of the chickens, than the birds themselves – and it’s looks. While it’s possible to build a totally utilitarian poultry house design that just consists of bare wooden planks and lengths of chicken wire, it’s certainly not going to look very attractive in your yard. It will certainly lead to some additional expense and work, but its quite possible to build a lovely little coop that’s properly sanded, painted, shingled, and even has some personal decoration, too.
James Eden is a chicken keeping enthusiasts. He owns and maintains Chicken House Plans, a resource for chicken keeping hobbyists.