When it comes to chicken coop design, there are so many things to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to create a chicken house that is safe for your flock. You also need to keep space in mind; it’s important that each chicken has between three and five square feet of space inside the coop. Of course, if you’re anything like me, you also want to beautify! There are other elements to factor into your chicken coop design as well, so let’s dig a little deeper.
Chicken Coop Design Basics
Most chicken coops incorporate two main areas: the hen house and the run. I’m going to focus first on the hen house and then the run.
The hen house is the portion of the coop in which chickens will sleep and lay eggs. They may also need to retreat there if the weather is especially cold, which is why it’s important that they each have that three to five square feet of space I mentioned earlier. Our hen house measures 8×12 feet.
When you open the exterior door and enter our hen house, you’ll find a 2×8 foot space that the chickens cannot access. A sliding barn door keeps the chickens on the opposite side of this area. We use the chicken-free zone to store feed, treats and chicken first aid essentials.
We opt to keep our chicken feed in these food-grade, airtight containers. Our feed is kept in an 80-gallon capacity container and our treats are kept in a 2-gallon capacity container.
Once you go through the sliding barn door, you enter the area of the coop where the chickens live. In this area of the hen house, we have roosting bars, nesting boxes, storage and a confinement area.
Our roosting bars are ten feet long and are made from trees that were cut on our property. While there is some debate on whether 2×4’s or real branches are better for a chicken’s feet, we decided to use the material that they would have naturally roosted on in the wild: trees! Our roosts are about 2.5 inches wide and very sturdy; they provide a comfortable place for our chickens to rest at night.
Our hen house has two roosting bars placed directly opposite each other. Below those, we created poop shelves. When the chickens sleep at night, their droppings fall directly onto this area.
The base of the poop shelf is made of OSB. I layered heavy duty mats on top of the OSB to protect the wood from moisture. These can be removed as needed and sprayed down with a power washer.
We use an animal bedding product created from recycled and refined coffee grounds on the poop shelves. We purchase this locally at Rural King and though they do ship, that cost is very high.
We chose coffee ground bedding because when the droppings fall onto it, it functions similar to kitty litter and clumps the poop for easy sifting and daily cleaning.
Under the poop shelf on one side of the hen house, we created storage space where we keep extra bedding, feed and supplements.
Our chicken coop design features a confinement area under the opposite roosting bar. This is a space that we can use as a chicken hospital or brooding area as needed in the future.
Our nesting boxes are placed between the roosting bars, at a lower elevation than the roosts. We did this for because chickens prefer to sleep in a high spot and by placing the nesting boxes down low, they’ll be discouraged from sleeping in them. We want them to be reserved for the laying of eggs so as to keep them as clean and fresh as is possible.
The floor of our hen house is made from OSB. We lined it with cut to fit rubber mats not only to protect the floor from moisture, but also because the mats can be easily removed, sprayed down and returned to the coop when they’re clean.
We layered hemp animal bedding on top of the rubber. This provides insulation, absorbs moisture and reduces dust in the coop (as compared to a material like pine shavings).
You might also have noticed the wallpaper. While it may seem like a frivolous detail, I’m happy to report that this wallpaper was intentionally included for two reasons.
- Wallpaper is super easy to wipe down, should any poop splash on that area. It’s much easier to clean than the painted OSB walls.
- Pomegranates symbolize fertility. We’re hoping that this feature subliminally influences our hens to lay more eggs! Okay, that part is a joke. But I always love my decor to tell a story and this does exactly that.
We also use solar-powered cameras (that require wifi) in our coop and run. These allow us to monitor our chickens from anywhere, anytime.
The chandelier we hung was a thrifted find. We placed battery-operated candles in it to provide a light source.
Oh, and we also included a thermometer in the coop so that we’ll always know the environmental conditions of our hen house.
Now that you’ve learned all about the hen house portion of chicken coop design, let me tell you about the run.
Our run measures 12 x 24 feet and is both fully-enclosed and covered. The entire perimeter of our coop (including both hen house and run) features buried hardware cloth that prevents predators from digging under and into the safe area for our chickens.
We keep food and water in the run so that our hen house stays dry. We use a CoopWorx feed silo and this 2-gallon corner waterer.
I hope this post has inspired you with some great ideas for your own chicken coop design! Here are a few more FAQ’s about our coop.
Q: Can you share building plans/layout/floorplan of your design?
A: We don’t have building plans, unfortunately. My husband built this coop based on some very rough sketches (he’s an overachieving engineer). Because I’ve had so many requests, I am making his coop sketches available as a PDF download, but again, it’s very important that you understand that I am not offering these in any way as building plans. Rather, I am sharing these layman sketches we personally used only as a gesture of kindness for you to use in planning and designing your own coop. I am not liable or responsible for the accuracy of these sketches if you decide to use or misuse them.
Q: What color paint did you use on your coop?
A: It is Sherwin Williams Iron Ore.
Q: What brand is the automatic door?
A: It’s made by Omlet, and we are very happy with its form and function.
Q: Where did you get the windows for the coop?
A: My husband made them. They are constructed from polycarbonate panels and framed with wood.
Q: How often do you have to clean the coop?
A: We sift and compost the poop every day or every other day. We’re two months in and we haven’t had to do a deep clean yet.
Q: Can I see more?
A: Yes! I posted a tour of my coop on Instagram!
Would it be possible to show a layout or floor plan of your coop?
Hey Alexander, I just finished updating this post. If you scroll down to the questions near the bottom of the post, you will find a link where you can download the VERY ROUGH sketches my husband used in building our coop. These are the only sketches we have; I do not have any sketches for the interior. The pictures contained in this post should help you draw a layout that mimics our design. Good luck on your coop!
Love your coop!! Do you mind sharing what paint color you used?
Thank you! We used Sherwin Williams Iron Ore.
This is beautiful and wel designed! Do you have a price breakdown or a total on what you spent?
Thank you so much for that compliment. We do not have an exact total on what we spent, but it ended up somewhere between $8-10k. That includes a lot of power tools and Hardie siding, which added a lot to the project. I hope that helps!
Hi great job! How do your chickens get to the roosting bars? Did I miss a ladder?
We originally had ladders made of branches, like our roosts, but the chickens had a hard time navigating those and so we switched to a ramp after these initial photos were taken. That has worked really well.
Instead of coffee grounds, do you think it’s possible to use unscented cat litter?
I have used exclusively the coffee grounds, so I can’t speak to the use of cat litter other than to say that I’ve read that it is never okay for use in a chicken coop. I don’t know the reasoning behind that, so perhaps it was a scent thing, but I would not suggest using cat litter in a coop to be on the safe side.