The first thing to consider when planning your chicken coop is size. Obviously, the more chickens you have, the more space you’ll need – for standard breeds, think 2 sq ft per bird indoors, 3 sq. ft per bird outdoors. Also don’t forget that in addition to room to run, scratch, nest, and perch, they’ll also need access to fresh air, clean water, light, shade and greens (if you want rich orange yolks).
Another major consideration when choosing a coop design is protection; protection from predators like dogs, raccoons,and foxes, and protection from the elements and extreme heat or cold. Your chickens should have a safe, dry, draft-free shelter with both light and shade.
And if you live in a city or town, there’s a good chance there are specific rules and regulations regarding housing, especially with regards to size and location of the coop. Be sure to check with your municipality regarding your local ordinances.
Selecting the site:
Coops need access to light and air
In summer, the hens need airflow and access to shade
In winter, access to as much sunshine as possible is best
You will need to access the coop to feed, water, and clean the birds
The outdoor run should be in a spot with good drainage – too much wetness is bad for chickens, it can cause disease and unsanitary conditions
Think about positioning your coop and run facing South which can take advantage of the sun’s drying power warmth
In our cold climate, many people insulate their hen houses
If space is limites, you may want to consider a portable coop/pen. Primary benefits are allowing the birds to eat the bugs and fertilize the lawn one patch of at a time – and chickens raised on pasture produce delicious pastured eggs.
You want to protect your hens from the elements and from predators (fox, coyotes, raccoons, and hawks in addition to cats, dogs and even rodents!)
To keep animals from digging under the fencing, try to bury the bottom 12″ of fencing; deep; 6″ deep and 6″ of the edge turned outward like an ‘L”.
To keep your flock safe from predatory birds hawks, and from contact with wild birds that might carry diseases, cover the run with wire or aviary netting.