How to Build a Free Range Chicken Coop

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Raising chickens not only provides a source of eggs and saves you money but also enables you to naturally fertilize your yard with chicken excrement. Free range chicken coops can also benefit your property by breaking up any leaves that fall, creating a rich layer of mulch. Build your own free range chicken tractor so that you can move your chickens around your property easily and efficiently.

Things You'll Need

  • Lumber
  • Measuring tap
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Plywood sheets
  • Skill saw
  • Dollies with big wheels, 4

Design Basics

  • Design your chicken coop. You will need higher fencing surrounding your coop if you have coyotes or large birds of prey nearby. If predators are not a threat you may not even need fencing, making your job of raising chickens much easier. Designing a flat-roofed, low-lying coop can help increase wind resistance. A 10- x 12-foot pen will produce good results with low start-up costs.

  • Construct the frame of your pen. Place the frame on dollies so that a dolly is placed at each corner. If you are an experienced welder, you can weld some brackets onto the dollies and simply nail the frame to the dolly. Alternatively, you can use other connections such as zip ties that pass through drilled holes in the frame and wrap around the dolly.

  • Lay a floor on your chicken coop. The ground clearance the dollies provide ensures that the floor does not drag on the ground, so the chickens will have a platform that is slightly raised off the ground. When you move your coop, you will not disturb the chickens or their nests and eggs.

  • Lay chicken wire on the front part of the chicken coop, securing it with a staple gun. You can choose a plywood or a sheet metal roof. Either way, you may want to paint your roof white to provide added cooling and shade for your chickens.

  • Place tarps on either side so the chickens can freely go in and out of their coop. Also use plywood to construct a back side for the chicken coop. If you live in a hotter climate, you may also want to consider inserting vents into the back side of your coop.

Alternate Plans for Predators

  • Build a bigger coop if you have predators that are likely to snatch your chickens during the night. A bigger coop can still be supported by dollies and utilize the same design with an additional seven to ten feet of width of yard space outside the coop.

  • Be sure to fence over the top of the pen to keep predators out. Inspect the pen daily for any holes or potential breaks in the coop's security.

  • Surround the yard space with chicken wire and barbed wire if there are many coyotes or other predators in the area. This way, the chickens have a coop as well as a small pen to look for food in the ground or feed on grass. You will need to move the pen once or twice a day depending on how many chickens you have.

References

  • Photo Credit many chickens on the farm image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com
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